Greg and Judy Sirmons, serving the Lord in France
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History of SEE

Rev. Arthur Sommerville, founder and present European Director of S.E.E. accepted the Lord at an evangelistic service in his home church in Oshkosh, Wisconsin when he was 14 years old. Upon graduation from high school he enrolled in a Bible Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota to prepare for missionary service in Europe.

In 1946 he went to Czechoslovakia where he was actively engaged in an evangelistic ministry until forced to leave that country in the spring of 1948 by the new Communist government. Searching for a new place to serve God, he went to France where he soon recognized the tremendous spirituel need. While attending language school in Paris he met a young lady, Miss Irene Cochran, who had been a missionary in Africa for several years after graduation from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. She became his wife and helpmate that fall.

With several other missionaries, they first worked to establish a Baptist Church in Bordeaux. Then, in 1952, they settled in Toulouse where they founded and pastored the first Baptist Church in that city for about 25 years. They were joined in 1954 by Miss Laura Copp, an experienced children's worker and French teacher. Together they engaged in all kinds of activities to reach the people of Southwest France for Christ: tent meetings, door-to-door visitation, market evangelism, literature distribution, Gospel film showings, youth work and camp work. The French Christians helped, but there was still a great need for more missionaries.

In 1956, the Society for Europe's Evangelisation was organized and in 1957 it was incorperated as a non-profit religious association by the American government. Soon after that, the mission was officially recognized by the French government also.

In 1968 Rev. Sommerville conceived the idea for a new and unique approach to missions the Intensive Missionary Training Program - based upon the Apostle Paul's method of evangelization and church planting by using teams of workers. It was decided to give young people, both European and American, their Bible training in the field, at the same time using them in all phases of the work, thus giving them valuable missionary experience at the same time they were gaining Biblical knowledge. There were five Americans and five French young people in the first classes at the Baptist Bible Institute. In conjuncture with their Bible studies, the young people were placed in Gospel teams and sent out to evangelize in neighboring cities and towns. In this way, Arthur Sommer- ville was able to put into practice his unique idea of using permanent Gospel teams not only to evangelize, but also to plant indigenous churches.

Ten years later, the Bible Institute was moved to Paris where, with the help of a ten-member permanent Gospel team, they started the Central Baptist Church. New students came to the Bible Institute. To date, about 100 Bible Institute alumni are serving the Lord in France and other countries, many as pastors and wives of pastors. Twenty-one are presently ministering in churches founded by S.E.E.