On a much more pleasant note, I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to have been in Quebec twice in the past two months. Once for the Montreal Calvin conference (see the picture of the participants attached) in late October (thanks to Drs. Andre Pinard and Jason Zuidema for arranging the details of this), and then just this past week, teaching La Reforme at SEMBEQ.
The needs of Quebec are great--in some ways, greater than any in the rest of North America: a largely Roman Catholic society that, since the Quiet Revolution, has thrown off all of the legalism of the Roman Church, and embraced modernity with a passion. It is easily one of the most secularized cultures I have taught in. But teaching trips to la belle province are always a delight, mainly because of all of the dear brothers and sisters there.
Many years ago, in 1978 to be precise, I heard a French Baptist preacher, Elisee Beau (d.2009), speak at my home church of Stanley Ave. Baptist in Hamilton, ON. I had the distinct impression that I needed to learn French. That impresson was God-given and I wished I had followed it up. I spent time mastering written French, but I wish I had put the effort and energy into also mastering conversational French (my spoken French always embarasses me!).
It was five years later that Francois Picard--then a student at Central Baptist Seminary, Toronto, where I had just begun to teach, and now the President of SEMBEQ--asked if I would be willing to come to Quebec to teach at SEMBEQ. And over the past quarter of a century (wow, hard to believe it has been that long), I have been involved with teaching courses, mentoring, and giving conferences. I would not have missed it for the world. It has been so enriching!
Brothers and sisters: pray for Quebec, and for SEMBEQ and for the Evangelical Baptist churches there, for one of the most challenging mission fields is right on our doorstep here in N America.