“Quebec is ripe for a profound new evangelization ...”
The traditional Christian church in Quebec, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, is in a period of soul searching. How can the church influence the lives of its people in a significant way?
“Where is Quebec going?” This question was asked by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Quebec, as he addressed the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2008. He spoke about “the profound faith crisis of Quebec society, which by its French culture and Catholic [tradition], has maintained a certain strength and stability for the past 400 years.1He spoke of its “increasingly fragile state as secularist fundamentalism and a crisis of values prevail”2: “Quebec’s real problem is the spiritual vacuum created by a religious and cultural rupture ... This spiritual and symbolic vacuum undermines the culture of Quebec from within, dispersing its vital energy and generating insecurity and a lack of grounding and continuity with the evangelical and sacramental values that have nourished it since its origin.”3 Some outcomes he noted are “the disorientation of young people, the precipitous drop in marriages, the low birthrate, and the frightening number of abortions and suicides … in addition to the precarious situation of the elderly and of public health.”4 He concludes his article with these words: “Quebec is ripe for a profound new evangelization ...”5
Two questions we should be asking ourselves are: “What should this new evangelizationlook like?” and “How can we, the PAOC, be engaged in a new evangelization of Quebec?”
I believe it is today’s youth who are hungry for God. This remains true despite the very strong public promotion of a secular society by many. In his book The True Path, Mark Hanna asks: “Can a secular education eradicate the hunger for God? Does God ignore those running down the secular path?” 6 The answers to these questions are obvious: no, it cannot; and no, God does not ignore them. God loves all people. He died for all so that everyone could live. We all have within us a hunger for God. I spoke with a worship leader this week who was lecturing at our Bible college, Institut Biblique Bérée (IBQ). He is on staff at a growing French church. He told me that the majority of their 900+ members are under the age of 35. Evangel Pentecostal Church, a long-standing English congregation in a now revitalized downtown core area, is experiencing growth, especially in the young adult population. Young people are eager to broaden their horizons.
I sense there is a new openness to the things of God. We know that truth, God’s Word, changes and transforms lives. If it is not proclaimed and known, it cannot accomplish this transformation.
My wife recently told me about an incident that happened at her workplace. She was having a lunchtime conversation with one of the doctors about a book he was reading by Malcom Gladwell, entitled David and Goliath.7 The title was chosen in reference to Gladwell’s challenges regarding how we think about obstacles and disadvantages. A bright young college age student, born and raised in a traditional French-Canadian family, was listening to the conversation. She interrupted the conversation to ask, “Who are David and Goliath?” How many times have you and I been inspired and encouraged by this story, likely first heard in Sunday school? Yet it was a mystery to her. It is truly a time for the truths of God’s Word to be proclaimed as never before in the province of Quebec. The Bible will change lives.
I believe that the political climate, which is always a major indicator in the province, is favourable for a new evangelization. In an article in The Métropolitain, Father John Walsh, a prominent Catholic priest in our community, remarked after last spring’s provincial election: “The new premier, Philippe Couillard, has promised a new attitude of reconciliation within the Assembly and within the Canadian Federation. It was a surprise to hear the first mention ever of a premier on election night of the native people, a reminder of the meaning of ‘all’ Quebecers and Canadians. The promotion of the French language as the language of Quebec and the reinforcing of the “culture Québécoise” are paramount, but the mention of the necessity of bilingualism to remain open to the world may now be regarded as complimentary rather than adversarial.”8
These realities, a spiritual vacuum, a thirst among young people, and a new political climate are all signs to me of a new opportunity for ministry here in Quebec.
In light of this, Mission Canada is looking for unique, called and gifted individuals who will come and minister in Quebec and other francophone areas of Canada. There are 10 million French-speaking people in Canada. This represents more than 30 per cent of our total population. Seventy-five per cent of Quebecers would be registered as Roman Catholics, but less than six per cent of these would attend church services on a regular basis.
With the launch of Mission Canada’s national initiative, French Intensive Training for Ministry (FIT4M), a new door has opened to encourage Bible college graduates and credential holders to come to Quebec, learn French, and minister in this needy field.
Ministry opportunities are also available to reach the residents of the province who converse in English (equivalent to the five combined populations of the Maritime provinces, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan).
There is a vacuum. There is a hunger. There are opportunities.
Are you called? Will you go? Let’s connect: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Connors is the Quebec and Francophone Canada co-ordinator for Mission Canada and gives leadership to the FIT4M Initiative. He is also the president of IBQ, our French language PAOC Bible college.
1 Description, Document Information, Wanderer Printing Company, St. Paul, MN, 2009, http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8749.
3 Bishop Marc Ouellet, “Where Is Quebec Going? On Faith and Secularism,” Catholic Culture, January 22, 2009, accessed February 20, 2015, http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8749.
6 Mark M. Hanna, The True Path: Seven Muslims Make Their Greatest Discovery (Colorado Springs: International Doorway Publishers, 1977).
7 Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2013).
8 Father John Walsh, “Faith and secularism after the election,” The Métropolitain, May 5, 2014, accessed February 20, 2015, http://themetropolitain.ca/articles/view/1418.
AT WORK IN THE NATION
Daniel Perrée is a Mission Canada worker focused on reaching French-speaking youth in Quebec. Daniel has a burning desire to proclaim the name of Jesus and to be God’s instrument to bring transformation in this province. He is involved with student ministry in CEGEP and university settings, and acts as chaplain to the Voltigeurs, a major junior hockey team in Drummondville. Daniel is also involved in prison ministry at the Drummondville Federal Detention Centre, where he meets with young gang members and others who find themselves in challenging situations. Pray for God’s continued favour and open doors, and that hearts would be open so lives can be changed.
See Daniel in action. Watch “Reaching the Next Generation of Francophone Canadians” at www.paoc.org/canada/videos. Also visit www.danielinmission.com.