I was driving home from the dry cleaner when I heard the news blip on the radio. Something bad had happened in Paris, and there were hostages. Oh no. It couldn’t be affecting any of “My Frenchies,” could it?

I immediately began to pray. Oh God, protect the innocent. Help those in trouble to know that you are near. As people call on the name of Jesus, may they feel the peace that only the Holy Spirit can bring. Please provide miracles in the midst of the madness. Oh God. Oh God. Please be with my Frenchies.

I have come to love and pray for a lot of people from France and Spain in the last several years. I work with international high school students that come to the U.S. for short terms in the summer, just three to four weeks. But it’s amazing how people can invade our hearts in such a short time.

One at a time, they have stayed in our home and become part of our family. Groups at a time, they have come to our state and our cities, and they have undergone countless new experiences.

Many misconceptions have gone by the wayside. For them and us.

One phrase that I have heard over and over again as students come to visit our church is, “If church was like this in France, everyone would go!” For many, it’s the first time they’ve ever felt God’s presence or the peace that can only come from Christ.

And that peace is exactly what I’m praying for them now. I pray that they would know to call upon the name of Jesus and find him strong on their behalf. I pray that they will find Christians that will be good examples of Jesus that they can lean on and learn from. I pray that God will send them dreams to reassure their hearts of his love. I pray that they would understand that he doesn’t want to allow this horrific pain to go to waste (Romans 8:28).

I pray along with the prophet Ezra in 2 Chronicles 20:12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you [God].”

As far as I know, all of “My Frenchies” are ok. Most have checked in through Facebook or have messaged American friends to let them know they are safe. But they are hurting and grieving and feeling such loss. As they should.

#PrayforParis meme

And for those of us far away, it’s so important to remember that each one of
those victims is somebody’s brother, sister, son, or daughter. Individual lives impact countless others. May tragedy never inoculate us from the human,
painful realities. Fear is permeating many people in France right now.
Our prayers can make a real difference, even if we never discover the details.

May we grieve together, like Ann Voskamp poignantly shared on social media Friday night:  “… For all of us stunned and staggering about with broken hearts, for all the people of Paris: We weep with you. We grieve with you. We break with you. And there is never any grieving alone — God catches every single tear (Psalm 56:8), and the people of the world stand with all the grievers tonight, believing miracles are watered by our tears and shared tears are multiplied healing…. and that God never lets the last line of any story be shattered pieces.”

May hope and love spring forth in this midst of this senseless tragedy, may truth conquer abundant lies, and may light invade the darkness on every level.

Please, please, #PrayforParis.