France Forward

France Forward
France-Forward was founded by Michael and Synthia Baynes in 2008 who, up until August of that year, lived in Orange County, Southern California. The call to make a difference whether locally or international began 3 years before as the couple began to sense a need to stretch themselves beyond the comforts of their lifestyle. Having served in community building projects using their gifts for teaching and child care they travelled to Mexico, Nepal, Thailand and India for a series of mission trips serving communities and families in need. Michael was appointed to the board of the international charity ServLife which later led to a two year period serving as chairman. The experiences gained refined Michael and Synthia’s desire to make a difference in the world, which led to the launch of a new vision.
Although a developed country, France is beset with deep rooted social challenges which hide beneath the relative abundance of a socialist political environment. This malaise is particularly evident in rural and farming communities. Soaring suicide rates and fractured families provide a clue to France’s cry for help. According to the WHO, France has 13.6 per 100,000 of population with a rank of 3rd behind Belgium and Poland in Europe. Interest in spiritual and moral traditions that have played an important role in France’s history are heavily in decline. There is an average of one priest per 50 church parishes in France.
France-Forward has based itself in the rural South West of France and reaches local families and communities through the local church. This leverages the assumption that French individuals may seek help through the church whatever their spiritual orientation. The underlying value for France Forward is relationship. Building communities one individual and one family at a time and seeking to model our battle cry of being self-giving other centred.
Over the past 6 years France-Forward has helped hundreds of French people through a series of community building classes averaging two per year. We have focused in particular on support for families and marriages with classes held in local village halls over a community dinner for between 20 and 50 people. We have also held more intimate home and discussion groups enabling more specific encouragement and teaching. Home groups have an emphasis on mentoring with the hope that we can duplicate ourselves and increase the number of helping hands over the longer term. Home groups are developed over a 12 month period that culminates in a short term mission trip to another French speaking country. This strategy is based in the belief that to understand what it means to be self-giving and other centred, we have to first get out of our daily patterns and be amongst those who have greater needs that our own. We believe that there is great therapy and a sense of authentic participation in the process of giving to others.
France-Forward is self-funding for all its activities except for the home group mission trips. In 2014 we have decided to travel to French speaking Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world. The mission will be approximately 10 days and 12 children, that we have been sponsoring and writing to for several years, would be visited. We will partner with Compassion International with whom France-Forward have a long standing partnership, due to the extremely high quality of their charitable and humanitarian work.
Donors’ investments would be used 100% for the mission trip with all of the funds going to Compassion International who will organize and structure the entire trip.

Purpose Statement
France-Forward seeks to build community in rural areas of South West France in the hope of tackling widespread depression and hopelessness. The formula is not complicated and involves building personal relationships with individuals and families in larger teaching venues and smaller more intimate home groups. Being a source of encouragement and building value into people’s lives through intentional meetings, groups and mission trips form the methods for teaching community and the value of giving to others.

Vision Statement
Through intentional relationships, teaching and humanitarian mission trips we envision French families seeing hope in a future built on the biblical principles of loving others as we love ourselves. Stimulating individuals to community life built on being self-giving other centred – starting with spouses and children and building concentric circles outwards to neighbours, regions and the world beyond.

Mission Statement
Leaving people and places better than we find them by being self-giving other centred in our local French community.
Project Manager
Michael and Synthia Baynes

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