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Archive for May, 2008

La Belle Province

The Quebecois call their province “the beautiful province,” and I’ve found it to be exactly that.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my travels through this province.  I started in the SW and then headed north along the St. Lawrence River for my second meeting.  My third meeting required that I go SW along the River again.  I ministered in Mike Webster’s church last Wed and then again on Sunday morning.  Dick Teachout, a stewardship representative for BI, pastored this church for a number of years, so it was good to see this work.  I enjoyed getting to know the Websters and their work in this city which is so full of historical significance for Quebec (more on that later). 

As I ministered with the Websters, I quickly came to realize that the composition of this church is quite unique.  Among the believers are 4 missionary families (the Websters, the Garrises, and two families in language school), a Quebec couple working in a translation ministry based in the church, and a former linguistics professor.  So, I enjoyed being able to speak to Americans, linguists, translators, and of course, Quebecois. 

The translation ministry is called “Editions Ekklesia.”  I’ve come to realize that the French people are truly deprived of conservative Christian resources.  They have much more than the minority languages of the world, but that doesn’t say a whole lot.  While I was there, Mrs. Webster, Guy (the former linguistics professor), and Sylvie (whose with EE) were working on the translation of Berg’s Changed into His Image.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to see a translation ministry of a different sort, and I’m glad I was able to offer some suggestions.  This ministry needs prayer that the churches will get behind them fully so that they can produce much needed resources for the edifying of the Body.

On Friday Mike took me to the old area of Quebec city.  We were able to tour the Museum of French America where we learned much about the Catholics’ founding of the city.  The first bishop, Francois de Laval, did much to gain control over the people, even after the French lost the battle to the British.  He founded the University of Laval, the third oldest university in North America.  The greed and emptiness of Catholicism were quite evident.  Many of the Quebecois are so disgusted with this religion that they have jettisoned all religion.  In fact, some of the French swear words evidence this, since they profane even the words for the instruments of worship.

It was refreshing, however, to visit the exhibition of the Huguenots.  After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, the Huguenots faced great persecution, but thankfully, some remained true to the faith.  In this exhibit the musuem stated some of the core truths of Protestantism–the sole authority of the Word of God and the equal access of the believer to His God.  What a stark contrast to what we saw in the other exhibits!

While in Quebec city we were also able to visit the Canadian Bible Society, where we came across a treasure trove of technical French resources.  I was able to stock up on some for my use and for the use of our French consultants, and I plan on going back later this month as I travel back through there. 

The Lord gave me a great morning of ministry last Sunday morning in Webster’s church.  I preached on Psa. 19 in the morning service, and then did my Prov 2 lesson in SS.  But instead of teaching out of my French Bible as I do in the US (to give the believers a sense of what it’s like to have to listen to Scripture in another language as many around the world do), I used my English Bible.  Though the French translating was more difficult for me, I think it went well. 

I had to drive all afternoon to head south to Laval, which is near Montreal.  I think the combination of fatigue and pride (because I thought I had this French thing down), I had a hard time preaching.  But the Lord helped me through, and I think I was able to connect with the people.  The Q/A time felt more like a linguistics course, because the people had many language-related questions.  It was a blessing to minister in Paul Pelletier’s church, especially since they support BI and since Paul’s wife’s parents were members of my uncle’s church a number of years ago. 

John Van Gelderen is coming to Laval later this week, so Steve Faucette (I’m staying at his house now and will be speaking at his church on Wed) were able to pass out some literature yesterday.  The Lord gave us a couple opportunities to share the gospel.  Please pray for God’s working in these hearts and in the meetings.

Today I’m going to tour Montreal with some friends.  I’m looking forward to seeing this diverse, cosmopolitan city which is actually situated on a large island.  Tomorrow I get to minister in English in Faucette’s church, since they have an English ministry.  Please continue to pray for the Lord’s strength. 

I’m so thankful for His provision and protection.  It was a blessing to eat with the Rob Spare family yesterday.  I was very encouraged when their two oldest boys (ages 4 and 6) volunteered to give my monetary gifts toward my ministry out of their own allowances.  What a blessing to see their giving hearts for the work of the Lord!  Please keep praying for God’s provision and protection.

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Beginnings in Quebec

I’ve been to Canada before, but that was when I was in high school, and it was a trip to Ontario, not Quebec. I entered into Quebec on Saturday morning and had no delays crossing the border. I drove 9 hours to Saint-Jérome and enjoyed the beautiful countryside, especially since I traveled next to Lake Ontario almost the whole time.

My DVD is, of course, in English, so to show it in Quebec I thought I could just play a music-only version while I read the script live in French. Since I didn’t have much time to prepare my presentation or my sermons before I left Grand Rapids, I had to do most of my preparing Saturday evening. After I settled into where I was going to stay for the night and began preparing, I quickly realized that reading my script in French while also keeping up with the photos on the DVD was going to be basically impossible for me. There were two main problems: I can’t read quickly in French, and what I had to read had grown. I’ve discovered that it often takes a few extra words to say the same thing in French that was said in English. I began to get pretty stressed out about my presentation, especially since I also needed to work on my SS lesson and sermon (thankfully, I was going to preach only once). I was hoping the pastor would volunteer to read it for me, but that didn’t happen… at that moment.

So I went back to the DVD to see if I could learn how to read faster. I decided to cut out a few extra details in the script and I abbreviated some of the names. Then I realized the only other thing I could do was make good use of the pause button. So that’s what I did the next day at church. I believe it went quite well under the circumstances, though it took twice as long to complete, leaving me only a few minutes for my lesson. Thankfully, the Lord also helped me to preach my sermon in French. The people said they understood me quite well.

After the service, the two pastors came to me and volunteered to help me with my presentation. Praise the Lord! The one pastor (Simon Ouellette), who is a BMM missionary and a native Québécois, said he could transfer the music and photos of my DVD onto another DVD and also add the text read in French. The other pastor (Benoit Carrier), who is not a missionary but who is also a native Québécois, volunteered to read the text for me, though Simon read the recommendation by Pastor Minnick (he enjoyed playing that part!). The final product is quite good, and it has the Québécois accent, which the people will understand better than mine.

Speaking of the Québécois accent, I’ve found it to be quite difficult to understand. Though I am a little rusty in my French, I’m not that rusty! But I’ve been having a hard time understanding the Québécois French. I think if I were in Africa, I could pick up on it much more easily. I’ve found the Québécois up north here to be much easier to understand. Pastor Maxime Rioux is the pastor of a small church here in Riviere-du-Loup, and I’ve enjoyed speaking with him. He is also a native Québécois, though he is supported as a missionary, so I can speak to him only in French. The Lord gave me a good meeting with his church on Tuesday night. I leave for Quebec city this afternoon to be with Pastor Mike Webster, who is an American missionary. I will be with him for around a week.

Going back to the first church, I wanted to add that I greatly enjoyed the fellowship at Benoit Carrier’s church. I stayed with him from Saturday to Tuesday morning. He was one of the pastors that I met at the preaching conference at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. I stayed at Benoit’s house, but I was also able to enjoy a day of fellowship with Simon. We had a great time fellowshipping about many different things and were able to develop a good friendship very quickly.

I also enjoyed getting to know Jonathan, a new believer who attends their church. He was drafted second in the NHL draft a few years ago. He started training to play for the Florida team, but the Lord took away his heart for hockey. He started playing the guitar, but the Lord removed his desire for that as well. Unbeknownst to him, the Lord was pursuing him for salvation. Someone at his work witnessed to him when he was going through some other tribulations, and the Lord had prepared him for that encounter and was soon after saved. He wants to serve the Lord; in fact, he said he would be disappointed if he couldn’t serve the Lord full-time. But he wants to be sure that the Lord is calling him. Please pray that the Lord would give him clear direction.

Praise the Lord for keeping me safe as I’ve already traveled over 1,000 miles in my yellow rental car. Pray that the Lord would continue to keep me safe, protect me from evil, and bless my ministry. The Lord has already graciously provided through generous gifts from the first two churches.

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