The 103rd Tour de France, the world-famous bicycle race, took place from July 2 to 24, 2016, in a tense atmosphere. The preceding year, several terrorist incidents in France had claimed a total of more than 100 victims. Then, during a national holiday on July 14, 2016, a terrorist drove a truck into a crowd of people who were watching a fireworks display in the city of Nice. The attack left 86 people dead and many more wounded.
In this atmosphere of fear and mourning, Jehovah’s Witnesses were eager to bring hope and comfort to France’s shaken population. Therefore, Witnesses set up mobile literature carts at the intermediate stages of the Tour de France. More than 1,400 Witnesses volunteered to participate in this effort, and they provided over 2,000 pieces of Bible literature to people looking for answers to some of life’s most important questions.
‘You Are Everywhere!’
Fans who followed the racers from town to town were surprised to see Jehovah’s Witnesses at so many locations. More than once, members of the Tour de France management staff commended the Witnesses for their efficient organization, saying: “You seemed to be everywhere, at every stage of the race!” Many fans exclaimed: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are here too!” Several days into the race, a bus driver politely refused the tract that was offered to him, explaining that he had already received four tracts!
Intrigued by the constant presence of the Witnesses, some individuals took literature from the carts for the first time. That was the case with an employee of a television sports network who remembered seeing Witnesses at the previous year’s Tour de France. This year he decided to approach the cart, and he selected the book The Secret of Family Happiness because it discussed a subject close to his heart. After reading some of the book in his vehicle, he spoke to his colleagues about the literature carts, and they too helped themselves to publications on a variety of topics.
Inspiring Hope and Confidence
Some visitors to the event sought out Jehovah’s Witnesses and opened up to them. One young woman confided that she felt hopeless and that she was even thinking of committing suicide that very day by throwing herself under a train. But after hearing the Bible’s reassuring message of a peaceful future under God’s Kingdom, she took comfort and decided not to end her life. Another woman told the Witnesses: “Continue your good work!”
A man on crutches, who admitted that he is usually suspicious of strangers, accepted a helping hand from a modestly dressed lady after identifying her as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He said: “Thank you for your smile and the way you are dressed. You inspire confidence.”