FRANCE & BELGUIM
BELGIUM: The work in Belgium has mostly been tied to the work in France. For a few years in the 1960s and 70s the staff was divided, with Belgium coupled with the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. However, they were soon combined into one staff again. In French speaking countries, the preachers are referred to by the friends and by each other as "servants," where the North Americans use the term"worker."
A 1917 newspaper reported: “In the summer of 1908 the sect had made such progress that a village at Crocknacrieve in Co. Fermanagh, were astonished, by the arrival in their midst of an international convention. There were 1,000 men and women evangelists who gathered there from all parts of the United Kingdom, besides travelling from France, Germany, Spain, Australia, the United States, South Africa, and New Zealand. They stayed there for a couple of weeks, living in tents in a great camp, which was conducted on communistic lines. The men did the cooking, tailoring, repairing, etc., while the women looked after other domestic duties.” ( July 19, 1917, p6, Impartial Reporter)
In 1922, the Blanck family returned from South Africa to their homeland, Switzerland, where there were no friends or workers. Violet Blanck was born in South Africa in 1907. In 1920, when she was 13 years old, she heard about the gospel through a friend at school. She and her mother then went to a meeting in Switzerland where Alec Pearce spoke. In a later mission, Violet and her mother professed.
Violet's father was unable to find work in Switzerland, so he moved his family to Paris, France. Soon after the Blancks arrived in Paris, John Baillie and Ray Bonds came to their door on the rue Godat de Mauroy, and the Blanck home became the first open home in France. In 1927 the Blancks attended convention in England.
In 1930, Violet Blanck entered the work at the age of 23. She was the first sister worker to begin preaching in France. She went to England in 1940 and helped in missions there at various times, where she also cared for her parents there and later married. (Source: First Missions in Switzerland)
When did the workers first arrive? John Baillie and Harry Dennison went to France about 1908, but left before World War I. There no workers or friends in France after the war until the early 1920s when John Baillie returned with Ray Bonds. Ray had been a US soldier in France during WWI, and offered to go back to France as a worker. John Baillie later returned to England in poor health.
A 1922 Workers List shows Ray Bonds by himself; and a 1924 list shows John Baillie joining Ray in 1924, possibly with Tom Kinglake.
Orin Taylor (Nebraska) and Jim Chapman (England) show up on the 1929 Workers list, along with Kitty Westerby and Dorothy Brown (both from England). Violet Blanck shows in 1930, by which time several others had arrived: Hubert Childers ( Texas), Arthur Boyce ( England), Marjorie Millward ( England) and Anise Duck ( Texas).
Who were the first sister workers? After the war, Kitty Westerby and Dorothy Brown were the first. In 1930, Violet Blanck entered the work at the age of 23 and preached in France. She went to England in 1940 and helped in missions there at various times, where she also cared for her parents there and later married.
Who was the first to profess? Soon after the Blancks arrived in Paris, John Baillie and Ray Bonds came to their door on the rue Godat de Mauroy, and the Blanck home became the first open home in France. In 1927 the Blancks attended convention in England.
Who was the first native to go in the work? Thérèse Behra appears on the 1935 Workers list, the first French native to start; however, French Workers Lists for 1933 and 1934 are not available, so she may have started before 1935. She continued until her death in 1987.
When & Where was the first meeting? Unknown
When & Where was the first baptism? Unknown
When & Where was the first convention? Probably in Alès in the south.
Where have subsequent conventions been held in France?
Chaintréauville is the main convention, held in early August. At some point the three smaller conventions were consolidated into one larger convention at Chaintreauville, where it has been held the last several years.
Alès – held mid August. First convention in France was probably held in Alès.
Former Small France Conventions no longer held:
Peumont was really very small and was just a one day event
Foljuif convention was moved to Chaintréauville in the 1990s
Congenies—closed due to owners leaving meetings around year 2000
Who have the Overseers been?
Tom Kinglake (from England)was the Overseer in France after WW1 (sent there by Jack Forbes, England’s Overseer) until 1975-76 when Tom returned to England where he retired from the work due to health.
Ray Bonds was in the work in the USA when he was drafted into the military service and served part of his time in France. After WW2, Ray offered to return to France and became the France Overseer after Tom Kinglake left.
Arthur Boyce was Tom’s right hand man for many years, while being mainly based in Belgium and Alsace.
Albert Gallichan (from the Isle of Jersey) succeeded Ray until his death at the Fosters, Alabama USA convention in 1993, where he is buried in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Jean Baxe (France) aka John Baxendale (England) was overseer of France from 1993 until 2000.
Peter Liddle (from England) may have been co-overseer with Cyril Barlow (from England) from 2000 to___?
Not long after Cyril died (around 2006-2008), Peter returned to England in bad health, but continued in the work there.
Dean Affleck (from Saskatchewan, Canada) is the current Overseer (in 2014), under Graham Snow, who is an Overseer of Overseers in Europe.
Cyril Barlow - 1996 Glencoe, NSW, Australia Convention
I have been in the work for some years in France and Belgium. The first workers went to France in 1907 and they didn’t know the language, so they took a job while they learned the language. John Bailey (aka Baillie) was first working with the French speaking people in Quebec, Canada and he came back to France but had a breakdown and could not continue. Then the first World War intervened and nothing could be done until 1922. Ray Bonds had been in the Merchant Army and perhaps that is why he came to France. Workers came to France from USA and from England. The first lady worker is now in NSW.
At that time the first friend came along, married and went to America but her husband died and she came back to France. She moved about among the few friends and was a big encouragement to them. She made it possible after this war (WWI) for the work to continue. Another sister heard the truth in 1931 in the center of France. She was a school teacher.
In order to have a home in Paris for the workers, she got a move to Paris. This was quite a sacrifice for her. She was not in good health, troubled with illness. She had this home in Paris for many years, struggled on till five years ago. She had a home for meetings through those years. We are grateful for some like that even today. Now there are a few younger families there and that gives us hope for the future, but we still need many workers.
We have three French boys in the work. One has had a stroke and may not be able to continue. There are two girls so we are glad it is moving, but it is slow. There is evidence that the Lord is working. There are three little conventions and we have good help. We get some visitors and have a translation system set up. You could fit them all into this tent and still have room.
NOTE: The work in Belgium has mostly been tied to the work in France. For a few years in the 1960s and 70s the staff was divided, with Belgium coupled with the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. However, they were soon combined into one staff again. In 2010, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium (Vlaanderen) is now together with Zeeland (a part of the Netherlands), in one area/field with two Dutch speaking workers.
When did the workers first arrive? The work in Belgium began in 1930.
Who were the first brother workers? Joe Hogan ( Ireland) and John Todhunter ( England) are the first ones listed in Belgium in 1930.
Who were the first sister workers? Simone Appart started in the work in Belgium in 1932.
Who was the first to profess? Unknown
Who was the first native to go in the work? Simone Appart started in the work in Belgium in 1932, so she was the first native Belgian to enter the work and she was only in the work until the outbreak of WW2.
When & Where was the first meeting?
When & Where was the first baptism?
When & Where was the first convention?
Where have subsequent conventions been held? Lillois - closed
Where is the convention currently held? Sart-Dames-Avelines - held in mid July
Who have the Overseers been? See above list of Overseers for France/Belgium.
TTT Editor's Note: In the absence of a written account, the above information has been compiled by the TTT Editor from various sources. Corrections or additions are most welcome; as well as other historical accounts for this country Email TTT