Montreal is a city of 4 million people and 99.3% of them are lost, making it the most lost city in North America.
It is a beautiful city. Full of culture and diversity. People everywhere speak French—the primary language of Quebec. When you go to restaurants, signs look like this: Rien de mieux qu'une une tasse de café Tim de qualité supérieure fraîchement infuse (Tim Horton’s). We were immersed in a different world, while being only 45 minutes from the border of the United States.
People from all over the world gather in Montreal. While it is a deeply French-English culture, the nations are there. We personally met people from Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Jamaica, South Korea, Morocco, Angola, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, France, China, Trinidad, Congo, and Algeria.
When I think about all the nations we personally encountered around the city, I am reminded of the promise of what heaven will look like when God’s people are united.
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” –Revelation 5:9
Many of the people we met were friendly and kind. But they lived a life full of sin and idolatry and were, sadly, completely fine with it. They are blind to their own blindness. Their ungodliness is not something that they think about. Many of the people we met were not necessarily hostile to the gospel. They just couldn't care less.
Now, we certainly did interact with those who were Muslim or agnostic or atheist. But for many people in the city, the mindset was: God might exist. He might not. It doesn’t matter. I’m enjoying life.
During our nightly church debriefs, our team expressed that they could feel the lostness and darkness in this city. It was in the air, like a hovering cloud. The only thing that could rid this darkness was light—The True Light.
“The True Light had come into the world, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5.
Our Gospel Mission
For eight days our team served with a current local church called Renaissance Church and joined them in the things that they already do.
We assisted the church during “Moving Day,” which is pretty big deal in Montreal (July 1, Canada Day). During this time, many of us were walking around neighborhoods asking people if we could assist them in their moving, to demonstrate the kindness of Christ. It wasn’t all random walking and hoping for the best. There were some families that we were scheduled to help move into their new homes.
A large portion of the week was spent doing evangelism training, going out and serving in the city, and also engaging people in the neighborhood parks in gospel conversations. One of our own, Nathan Pyle (who was basically like the apostle Paul all week), saw an 11-year-old boy come to Christ during one of their conversations!
We came back with story after story of gospel encounters. It would take too long to write them all out. But if you see Collin, Nathan, Maggie, Elisabeth, Grace, Lydia, Brandon, Trevor, Bruce, Julia, or Shannon, ask them to tell you a story from the trip. They will have one ready for you.
Deeper Love for Jesus and His Mission
One of the key takeaways for me from the trip was how proud I was of our students. They never complained, even though it was one of the hottest weeks in Canada in years. Days were long and they served their hearts out. They had smiles on their faces. They took care of each other. They told people about the hope they have in Christ. They prayed with people. They even sometimes used Google translator to talk to people who spoke only French.
They never mentally checked out, but were fully engaged in what God was doing through them all week long. As their student pastor, I just praise God and thank him for how he is at work in them.
Our students returned home with a deeper love for broken and lost people. They returned fully equipped to share the gospel well with unbelievers. They have been stretched beyond their comfort level. They mastered the metro-train system of a large city! They grew to see people, that have addictions and rough lives as people who are made in the image of God and need the same gospel hope that we have. They grew deeper friendships with each other. Most importantly, they grew a deeper love for Christ and his mission around the world.
This is what it means to live sent for Christ. I pray that it continues every day of their lives. Christ is still working here.