A mission team from Temple Baptist Church, Ruston, La., was in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, July 4-12, 2012. The group went to help expand and encourage the ministry of Connexion-Pont-aux-Trembles, a growing house church in a suburb there. Beth Boehm provided the following comments and pictures from the trip.
Quebec was settled by the French in 1608, and the Roman Catholic Church was the governing body.
In 1763, when the English defeated the French in the French and Indian War, the English took over the rule in central Montreal but allowed the Catholic Church to remain the governing body in the outlying areas of Quebec. The church suppressed modernization of society and strove to preserve rural values. It demanded families have as many children as humanly possible out of fear that the English would overpopulate the French.
In the 1960s, the people of Quebec could no longer bear the oppression of the Catholic Church, and they left the church en mass and abandoned religion all together. Although Montreal is a very clean, safe city, filled with good-hearted people, it is a city of very few morals. Montreal is an “anything goes” society. They are so proud to be “free” that they even display it on their license plates “Je me souviens” which translates “I remember.”
Quebec has a population of 8 million, and 4 million of them live on the island of Montreal. Only .5% (yes, point 5 percent) of the population are Evangelical Christians. Because they remember their oppression and their new-found freedom, one cannot just share the gospel of Jesus with them; the locals instantly put up a wall. They equate Christianity with religion and they want no part of it. Christians must befriend people and build their trust over many months so they can show them that faith in Jesus Christ is not religion, but relationship; it is freedom, not bondage.
We spent our time in Montreal with missionaries Michael and Kemi Okinpelu and their beautiful children Favour, 6, and Emmanuel, 3, who are originally from Nigeria. They conduct a home church of about 20 people in their community of Pointe-aux-Trembles. While we were in Montreal, a couple, who Michael and Kemi have been friends with and sharing the gospel with for many months, came to faith in Christ. I was able to share my testimony with them and I hope it was an encouragement to them.
We held a 2nd annual carnival for the community so Michael and Kemi can meet people and introduce the community to their church, Connexion Church. It was a great success. God provided everything that was needed and beautiful weather, too. Fun was had by all.
Please pray for Michael and Kemi, as well as the other church members, that they will be used by God in a mighty way. Montreal needs a Great Awakening!
This was Sol’s first mission trip and I can tell it won’t be her last. She was fantastic in her interaction with the locals, especially with the kids, regardless of the language barrier. A warm smile and a hug are universal. The Pathway Church in Calgary came to partner with us. In the days after the carnival, we did some cleaning, painting and repair work on a small church and prayer-walked the neighborhood of Pointe-aux-Trembles. We had a great time with our new friends.
Thank you all so much for sending us to do God’s work!