Working Together

by Guy Bourassa

Guy is an elder at Shawinigan Christian Assembly and he leads a network group of evangelical Christian assemblies in Quebec, Canada.

Situated in Central Canada, Quebec is one of the country’s 13 provinces and territories. It is Canada’s largest province in terms of land area and the second largest in population with 9 million residents, 22% of Canada’s 40 million people. French is the province’s official and most widely spoken language. Quebec was a French colony in the 16th century, passing to the British in 1763 and then becoming one of the founding provinces of Canada by the beginning of the 19th century.

A substantial portion of Quebec’s population lives in urban centres along the St Lawrence River with Montreal being the most populous city and Quebec City the provincial capital. The province is known for being the heart of the Quebecois nation, a term denoting the unique cultural and linguistic identity of its people. Statistically, the province of Quebec holds Canada’s highest rates of suicide, abortion, divorce, drug and sexual abuse. Each day three people take their own lives and 77 others will attempt suicide. Almost half of all marriages end in divorce, 57% of teenagers use drugs and one in three women has been sexually abused.

Religious Beliefs

Quebec is a huge mission field. In Canada, 10% of the population are evangelical while only 1% of these are Quebecois, and although their number has increased in recent years, this is mainly due to immigration.

Quebec has been dominated by the French Catholic church. However, a good way to summarise the spiritual background of the Quebecois is this quote from a study about their beliefs: ‘In surveys we observe that the young people believe in many ideas which are false and old people doubt many ideas that are true.’ It has been reported that Quebecois people are more likely to have unfavourable views of all religions than the rest of Canada. Although a majority identify as Catholic, some use the term ‘cultural Catholicism’ to describe this tendency that maintains an identification with Catholicism while granting only a limited place for religion in daily life. Since 2010, a large movement of state secularisation has combined with a moral and ethical tsunami sweeping the western world, which includes support for same-sex marriage, transgenderism and medical assistance in dying.

Brethren Assemblies

In Quebec, there are 40 French-speaking and seven English-speaking brethren churches, with 43 full-time workers, and around 2,800 believers. The first Francophone assembly in the province started in 1934 with a missionary news publication News of Quebec founded in 1945. A legal entity of brethren assemblies was created to serve the assemblies and the workers to meet government requirements for funerals and weddings in 1954. In the 1980s, there was a big awakening in Quebec. With Catholic churches in rapid decline, many disillusioned people answered the Lord’s call to convert to His gospel and many new assemblies were formed.

Grace

Le Groupe Réseau des Assemblées Chrétiennes Evangéliques (Grace) is a mutual aid and development network of brethren assemblies in Quebec aiming to unite our strengths and resources under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to work together for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. This networking group was formed in 2004, to create communication and collaboration between brethren churches. This was in answer to prayer, since the number of full-time workers and churches was dramatically decreasing. For example, the number of churches fell from 48 in 1985 to 40 in 2005. With the support of the networking group, churches increased to 43 by 2015. We were able to see the impact of the networking effort by the grace of God! However, today we face a new decline. Just in the last three years, four assemblies closed and the number of full-time workers has gone down. We are working toward a greater level of collaboration to reverse this tendency once again.

many disillusioned people answered the Lord’s call to convert to His gospel

We have the utmost respect for the autonomy of each local church. However, our mission is to accomplish together what we cannot do alone. Over almost two decades, Grace has developed various services and activities to help all the believers and leaders in the network. Programme de Formation des Assemblées Chrétiennes (ProFAC) is a biblical training programme focused on the study of the Holy Scriptures, which is available internationally. Leader en Formation (LEF) is a biblical leadership training programme, which aims to ‘Pass…the baton to the next generation…and entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also’ (2 Tim. 2:2). There are programmes for new full-time workers, retired workers and those who are getting ready to leave the mission field. We offer administrative and fiscal services for workers, churches and organisations. Because we have seen the benefits of networking we now engage with many evangelical networks in the province, in Canada, in the USA and overseas. We are blessed by the support of many partners like MSC Canada, VMC Canada and Steward’s Ministries (USA).

Outreach

The vast majority of new believers come to the Lord through personal testimonies. With the support of Grace, assemblies reach out to their communities in various ways, such as running ‘Hope’ breakfasts and other special events. Public broadcasting is another means by which the gospel can be shared. Since 1965, L’Heure de la Bonne Nouvelle (HBN), a television outreach ministry, has presented the good news of Jesus Christ on a weekly basis, through a series of 30-minute broadcasts on two major TV networks in Quebec. These are also available worldwide on the internet. Since 2023, HBN programmes have been translated into Russian and broadcast on a television network and via the internet.

Over the last few decades, camp ministries have been used as an outreach to our youth in Quebec. They operate in almost every region of the province: Camp Joli-B, Camp Brochet, Camp Villa du Carmel, and Camp Parole de Vie. The majority of our young campers are not from a biblical family background. This last summer alone, more than 1,000 young people were exposed to the gospel – praise the Lord!

A new mission field has opened up among newcomers to Canada. Immigrants are often more open to the gospel than the Quebecois themselves. People from all around the world are now shaping the future of assemblies in Quebec.

Among the biggest challenges that the assemblies face are secularisation and the major cultural shift against biblical values. Within the assemblies there are challenges concerning transitions in assembly eldership, handing over the baton of leadership from one generation to another. In 2016 Grace set up a new LEF programme specifically dedicated to training new leaders and we are planning for a second cohort in the near future.

‘And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest”’ (Lk. 10:2).

Please pray for the brethren assemblies in Quebec, that they might share the gospel of Jesus Christ and that this ‘hard to reach’ province might hear and respond to the call of the Lord.

Pray

  • for new workers and volunteers in Quebec’s mission field
  • for more people responding to the Lord’s call to put their trust in Him
  • for growth and maturity of believers
  • for more disciples to become new elders and church leaders
  • for more evangelists and church planters
  • for unity between Christians.

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