revised March 2004
La Clef \ la klay \ is a ministry based in North America that uses the arts to minister to a French-speaking world that, at its core, has been alienated from the gospel of Christ for over 300 years. (That separation has been systematic and thorough and can only be classified as a direct assault on the Kingdom of God.) Furthermore, most of the participants in La Clef are North American, French-speaking descendants; and while English and French are used interchangeably, all public ministry is done in French. (Acts 2:6, Romans 10:14)
La Clef began as an extension of the personal ministry of Greg Pitre Hardee, a classically trained musician and worship leader with French Acadian (otherwise known as "Cajun") roots from southwest Louisiana. In 1994 Greg visited Canada's eastern shores to participate in a reunion of 300,000 of these Acadian descendants, whose ancestors had been forceably removed in 1755 from these very same shores and exiled throughout the Western world. Systematically separated families eventually found refuge and remained highly intact Acadian communities in Canada, the United States, France, and Martinique well into the 20th century. And so in 1994 Le Congrés Mondial Acadian (The World Congress of Acadians) realized a 100-year goal of regathering the descendants of this "Grand Dispersion" along the coast of New Brunswick, Canada. It was there that the French-speaking world gathered to witness a "tribe" that only the Lord Himself could have sustained. (Revelation 5:9, 7:9)
The profound nature of this fantastic gathering and the stark absence of a visible church eventually drew Greg to discover well-known facts about the French-speaking world: mainly that the church there represents a true "remnant" (at less than .05% of the population, including Evangelicals and charismatic Roman Catholics) and that the church's presence is only sustained by the Holy Spirit. As such it became incumbent to look for ways to enter that world with the hope of the gospel of Christ. (Romans 11:5)
Drawing on his heritage and using music as an extension of his ministry, Greg continued his travels into French Canada and then into France, encouraging the believers that he found and seeking for ways to reach the culture. A fundamental prayer began to accompany the work.
Lord, the French heart has been systematically locked up. We could take take a hammer and break that lock, but You, Lord, are able to fashion a key for that lock and we trust You to do that. Give us, Lord, the key.
Signifying both a key to unlock a lock and a musical key, the French La Clef ("the key") was adopted as a name for the ministry.
Donne-nous la clef Seigneur. (Give us the key Lord.)
2004 marks the 10th consecutive year of travel into the French world. In the summer of 2000 a team of musicians from Steele Creek Church of Charlotte traveled into Québec to do a series of concerts in French. The results were overwhelming as the people were very much blessed and encouraged by the team's use of their "heart language" (a Wycliffe Bible Translators term). At the same time travel to France and to Québec both continued and remained somewhat unrelated until the fall of 2001, when the Lord revealed that this duplicitous relationship was indeed designed to bring France's North American descendants back to the mother country to minister. The history of France's relationships to her offspring has been one of neglect, which explains a lot of the political turmoil that we find in that world today. This neglect has for a long time meant that France's descendants, now in Québec, Louisiana, Haiti, and elsewhere have been and are considered inferior to the those on the continent itself. Therefore the Lord is choosing what is regarded as inferior to challenge France.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are, so that no one (France) may boast before Him. (I Corinthians 1:27-29)
France, and by extension her world, have not only rejected the living Gospel, but as a result have invested themselves in "man"; but not "man" in general -- specifically "French man." One of the products of that intense investment in "French man" is a high regard for aesthetics, creativity and the arts. At the same time, rejecting the Gospel has led to a high suspicion, paranoia, and an increasing hostility towards expressions of faith and an almost complete secularization of French society.
Examined more closely we find a contradiction, for to esteem the Arts is to esteem the Artist. And to esteem the Artist is to regard his voice. And that voice is one of the fundamental questions about who we are, why we are, and most often, how we are to respond to the pains and sufferings of life. His voice is qualified by both genuineness and an excellence in execution; and though he may be "touched", the Artist/Philosopher in the French-speaking world is free to speak -- in this climate of severity.
We find a breach in the wall. Lord give us La Clef (the key) to the French heart.
A willingness to explore the possibility of this type ministry in Canada produced a team composed of Canadians, French, and Americans that met in France in October 2003. This document is a result of that meeting. The team explored the possibility of beginning several years of ministry there, starting in Southwest France, considered to be one of the more neglected regions of the country. La Clef's artistic approach to ministry was very well-received by key leaders in the South of France and also has been viewed as an answer to prayer and the fulfillment of a vision. Alain Soudrain of SIM France said, "If 100 teams were brought to France, France would have 100 places to put them. The need is so great." May the Lord fulfill the need.
We continually pray for sensitivity as the Lord leads us and continues to fashion this key to open the lock that holds the French heart captive.
We find that our task is elusive and that we so desperately need to remain on task as the Lord leads us.
We pray for all of those who work in missions and particularly for those workers who so courageously confront the spiritual hostility that has so enslaved the minds of the French people.
We proclaim that although France has scorned her true love, Jesus, He has not forgotten her, and so we stand with Him in our desire that He be glorified among this people.
We so appreciate and understand that the Lord's kingdom, though unseen, is vibrant, and united by His Spirit which bears out the fellowship that we have with one another. We are continually blessed to come in contact with a myriad of agents in this kingdom who in their obedience to God's calling have crossed our paths, encouraged us, and engaged us. His kingdom come and His will be done!