Beautiful people, complex city
Living the good news of Christ in Quebec
Quebec society is a beautiful and challenging complexity.
Consider the student-initiated protests, which were at the centre of life in Quebec for much of 2012. It’s beautiful to see people join together to express their passion for building a society that’s more just, more democratic, and less driven by corruption. It’s also a challenge to move beyond protest and opposition, and actually find ways to move ahead together.
Quebec society is beautiful in its spontaneity, creativity, and hunger for authenticity. At the same time, it’s difficult to inspire confidence in the future. There’s relational poverty, leaving residents with few models of faithfulness and love. The result is wounded individuals and families. And the church is seen as a relic of the past – of little interest to anyone.
My wife Patricia and I were both born in the U.S. and grew up there. But Quebec is home to us. Twenty-four years of living in this context has shaped and transformed us. Two of our three children were born here, and all three were raised in this province. It’s difficult to explain the connection we feel; God has built a love for Quebec into our hearts and lives, and we are thankful.
Over the past six years, we’ve walked together and learned to follow Jesus with the L’Intersection community, a young francophone MB church, located in the greater Montreal area. The following are some things we’ve learned about reaching Quebec with the good news of Christ.
In the midst of a society so weakened in its capacity to sustain relationships and experience community, it’s not surprising that the power of God should be demonstrated through the Spirit bringing reconciliation to our lives. We are reconciled with God, who then renews our capacity to live in love and faithfulness. As 1 John 3:23 says, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he has commanded us” (emphasis added).
This combination of faith and love is an engaging witness in Quebec. It demonstrates the reality and relevance of faith in Christ. Therefore, we openly identify with Jesus as the centre of our lives, and joyfully live out that commitment in a sustained relationship with a community of believers.
Faith expressed in love is possible only when our attitudes are transformed. Surprised by the welcoming and supportive attitude they find in worship gatherings and home groups, people with no prior connection to church are drawn to listen to the good news of Christ, and discover the reality of his love and truth.
Faith and love are evident as God builds bridges of collaboration among communities of believers. There’s a network of fresh connections between MB churches in Quebec with churches in B.C., Alberta, the Prairies, and Ontario. People are sharing financial and leadership resources, bringing encouragement and a deep sense of gratitude. Denominational leaders are creatively seeking to listen to the Spirit, inviting us into new forms of collaboration in which we can move forward proclaiming Christ together. The L’Intersection community, begun in 2006, is an expression of this kind of collaboration. Patrice and Cindy Nagant had a desire to see a new church planted in Terrebonne. Patricia and I, sent to the Montreal area by Brethren in Christ World Missions, were able to join them in leading this new community of faith. Collaboration is hard-wired by the Spirit into the character of L’Intersection.
3. Community involvement
True witnessing in Quebec must reach the very people who have dismissed the church and see its message as irrelevant. They need to hear that God is there and the good news is for them. At L’Intersection, we’ve established relationships with community organizations in order to understand the needs they address, and to support their efforts.
We’ve been struck by the reactions of some leaders of these organizations. Their perspective on the church is changing as they see the reality of the good news of Christ making a difference in our community.
There is beauty as God’s Spirit transforms the church in Quebec in faith and love. This is where we live – our place to respond together to the call of Christ to be witnesses in the power of his Spirit.