In March 2023, Emily Firnstahl sat down with former Stonecroft missionary Sarah Page Friesen to talk about how God used her in Paris to start a Stonecroft group in 1980. As we celebrate 85 years of Influence, join us in praising God for Stonecroft’s worldwide reach.
Sarah was born in Bemidji, Minnesota, where her dad pastored churches and served on the faculty of what was then known as Oak Hills Bible Institute, a Christian school.
Sarah knew from age 4 that she wanted to be a missionary as she couldn’t think of anything more terrible than not knowing Jesus.
With her mother’s help, she found assurance of salvation at age 10. She attended Oak Hills and then Sterling College to obtain a degree in education, having been advised that a Bible degree alone would not equip her to serve overseas.
In 1966, after two years of teaching and a short-term mission trip with Operation Mobilization in Europe, Sarah decided to write to three missionary organizations to see about working with them.
TEAM seemed the best fit for her. At candidate school in 1967, Sarah was impressed by the founder of the French team, and nine months later, found herself serving on a church team in the Paris suburbs.
About the same time, Janet Evans (whose husband founded Greater Europe Mission) and Annabelle Sandifer, having experienced a Stonecroft Christian Women’s Club event (what they were called at that time) in the United States, got the vision to start something similar in Europe.
No one believed it would work. How could this possibly work in France?
So it was that in 1970, the first Stonecroft group tea in Europe was held in Paris. The entire program was translated from English into French and vice versa. The event had an enthusiastic response.
In Sarah’s words, “It went over really big.” In 1971, they also launched annual retreats, with great success. Stonecroft Speaker Millie Dienert came to France twice as the featured speaker.
Because the men saw the impact these events were having on their spouses, they requested an event for men. Aiming to please and fulfill a spiritual need, the Paris leaders organized a men’s night with over 200 attending.
Over the years, five additional groups were started in the Paris area from that original group.
In 1980, Sarah began working with the Stonecroft leadership and was soon asked to become chair of the Paris board, a position she held for 18 years. Lel Ficket and Susan Clifton arrived that same time under Greater Europe Mission to lead the Bible study ministry and to serve on the planning team with Sarah.
Stonecroft Bible Studies were steadily translated into French, and numerous study groups formed in homes as the work flourished. In addition to the six outreach tea groups, two-day seminars each fall and the popular spring retreats drew many French women.
Soon, all events were held entirely in French, and the name in France became “Contacts Chrétiens Féminins de Paris” (CCFP). From the start, French women joined the missionaries to lead the ministry and are now developing and expanding it.
In recent years, a second branch of the “CCF” began in the Lyons area of France.
Sarah retired and returned to the States in 2006. She said, “God used Christian Women’s Clubs to demonstrate evangelism to French evangelical churches so they could begin their own events using our model.”
Churches now do special outreaches to women and men alike, as well as Bible study groups, seminars, and retreats. The “Men’s Night” was adopted by many churches as “Soirées Restaurant,” where the Gospel is always shared.
CCFP recently celebrated 50 years of ministry to women in France. Countless women trace their spiritual birth or growth to the French version of a Stonecroft group.
85 Years of Influence Prayer Prompts:
Sharing Your Faith
Read: Mark 1:4
This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
Pray: Dear Lord, may we be faithful messengers like John the Baptist, bringing the Good News of repentance and forgiveness to all who need to hear it.
- For creativity in how we explain our faith to others so they can understand and receive
- To be befriending new people always with a heart to care for them