A weakened church, struggling for survival. Men of God burdened for their region. And a surprising collaboration, motivated by the Gospel. Such is the background of this inspiring story of faith and mutual assistance.
Due to difficult relationships between believers and leaders at the Evangelical Baptist Church of Sorel-Tracy, pastors succeed one another frequently. Attendance continues to plummet until it reaches only twenty people. Exhaustion and discouragement slowly but surely settles over the church board. Barring a powerful move of God, the future is bleak for this Church.
An Inspiring Vision for the Region
Three options are then proposed to the church. But for Jean-Pierre Gagné, regional coordinator for the Montérégie region, the path to take is clear: find a strong, well-established and mature Church, ready to sponsor and pool its resources with this struggling church. He knows that, historically, Quebec churches have been rather self-reliant and reluctant to enter into such collaboration. But the vision and call that the Lord has placed on his heart now run counter to this outdated paradigm.
For about two years now, he has been praying for the region with the leaders of the churches of Longueuil, Granby and St-Hyacinthe. Together, they aspire to see the churches work together in evangelism, church planting, and the restoration of churches that have become less than healthy. So Jean-Pierre already has a ”perfect match” in mind to help the Church in Sorel-Tracy: Yanick Ethier, pastor of l’Église de l’Espoir (Church of Hope) in Longueuil. Jean-Pierre knows that the Lord recently convinced Yanick to move forward with his vision for the region.
A Time Of Unsettled Prayer
However, there is much work to be done in Longueuil itself and the members of the church are sometimes overwhelmed by the great task set before them. It’s no surprise, then, that when the offer is made to sponsor the troubled Sorel-Tracy church, Yanick’s first reaction is to ask, “How could we help them when we already have so much to do in our own church? ” According to him and the other leaders, the church is not “ready”; there is still far too much to do in their own church, and the leadership is not inclined to pursue this new vision.
But a question from the Regional Coordinator undermines this vision: ”If you cannot help them, who will?” Seeking God’s guidance in this dilemma, the council meets and takes time for extended prayer. It is then that the Lord reminds these men of God of how they themselves have been helped by others in the past, often in difficult times, and how crucial such help has been to the survival and the growth of the Église de l’Espoir. “We are not the fruit of our own labour. If our Church is healthy today it is thanks to the help received from brothers and sisters elsewhere, and it is now our turn to give,” said Mr. Ethier.
“We are not the fruit of our own labour. If our Church is healthy today it is thanks to the help received from brothers and sisters elsewhere, and it is now our turn to give,”
- Yanick Ethier
Thus a new conviction settles in the hearts of the leaders. They are finally ready to reach out and help the Sorel-Tracy church regain its health and return to mission. The Holy Spirit has touched hearts so that the leaders in Longueuil consider it a blessing to give and let go of some of their assembly’s resources for the good of their adopted little sister. Uncertainty and fears fade away and make room for faith.
United in a Common Goal
The future is now much more hopeful for the church in Sorel-Tracy. Still passionate for God despite the difficulties of recent years, this assembly includes many potential leaders who can be trained in the coming years. She will benefit from Sunday morning preaching and teaching from their big sister (sometimes remotely and sometimes in person) and the elders of the Longueuil Church will lend a helping hand until the church can stand on her feet again.
The coming years will reveal the real cost of this decision for both churches and the sacrifices they will have to make. But we can already give glory to God for the decision to move forward together towards the advancement of the Kingdom and the spread of the Gospel in the Montérégie region!