Between 1954 and 1962, France and Algeria fought the Algerian War of Independence. By the end of the conflict, most French families living in Algeria, many having lived there for generations, were driven from their homes. Most of the nearly 900,000 displaced people, also called Pieds-Noirs, sought refuge in France.
The Pieds-Noirs met significant prejudice when they arrived in France. Many were forced to separate from their families. Resettling individually throughout the country to find shelter and work, they often felt isolated and sought acceptance and community. For some, the Church became a home where they were welcomed and cared for and where they felt useful.
In 1961, Jean Caussé, a young Algerian-born Frenchman, left his home in Algiers to follow his fiancée to Bordeaux, where she planned to study psychology. In Bordeaux, however, they could not escape prejudice. They found friendship by joining other Pieds-Noirs students for social activities. During the summer of 1963 they met Latter-day Saint missionaries, and in November they were baptized.
The Caussés found peace, community, and truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their later service took them to many branches of the Church throughout France. Although the Pieds-Noirs were often reticent to discuss their time as refugees with most, they shared a special connection with one another. “In Church units I visited,” Jean recalled, “there were always a few members who were Pieds-Noirs.” Many of these members have served in leadership roles in their local congregations.