Jean-Denis Desbiens is a Quebecois living in British Columbia. For some time now, God has been pressing on his heart the desire to return to Quebec to serve as a missionary. He recently sat with Jonathan Clermont to share his story. They visited Quebec last February to meet with key players in the AEBEQ network.
To read the first part of his story, click here.
A first visit to Quebec in February 2019
You came back to Quebec after living in British Columbia for 17 years. What stood out when you came back and how did your visit go?
JD: Since I headed out west, I have returned to Quebec a few times. Last time I came back was in 2018 and had visited four years prior to that. Regarding the associative context, my eyes were opened to the beautiful dynamic within the family of Churches in Quebec. Because I became a believer in the west, I had never heard of the AEBEQ. However, when I visited Quebec, I saw how God is at work throughout the province and through the AEBEQ. Seeing firsthand the dynamics of the mission in Quebec made me eager to come and serve here.
During this trip to Quebec, we experienced great cultural and social shock. Currently, we live seven hours from downtown Vancouver, in a small city of 25,000 people, scattered over a large urban area. On the other hand, living in Montreal involves traffic jams, difficult road conditions, and incessant roadwork. What a contrast with our daily lives in British Columbia! Our February visit confronted us with the different reality waiting for us compared to our quiet country life, where everything is a 5-minute drive away.
Also, for the very first time since my conversion, I attended an evangelical service in French on February 10, at Église 21. It was quite an experience to hear the Word of God preached in French and to sing praises in French. It is my mother tongue, but because of the context of my conversion, it was my very first time. What a great experience!
You had many meetings during your time in Montreal. Which ones stood out?
JD: Meeting the Église 21 team was a highlight for us. God used this time to confirm our call to serve Him in Quebec. What impressed me, among other things, was the elders’ stewardship of each other’s gifts. It was important for each person to use their different gifts for the advancement of the Gospel. It was very inspiring and it was yet another confirmation of our call to serve the Lord here.
Another meaningful meeting happened with Jean-Pierre Gagné, who was a great blessing to us. God showed us that he was definitely calling us to Quebec, and that he would be with us in the process leading to our future involvement in the field. I also greatly appreciated meeting Dominique Guichard, who explained the AEBEQ’s history and the way Churches operate in the Greater Montreal area. Understanding the origins of the AEBEQ was very inspiring. In addition, we had the pleasure of getting to know Norton and Tatiana, role models for us.
Finally, I would say that meeting brothers and sisters from the Saint-Hubert community was a great blessing. We felt at ease and eager to start friendships with them. We seem to share many affinities with the people of the Longueuil and Saint-Hubert areas. The prospect of living out our faith and sharing our lives with them is very exciting to us.
Imminent arrival to Quebec
Why did you choose Church 21 as an Integration Church?
JD: I was touched by Church 21’s leadership as well as its Sunday morning ambiance, as they were warm and welcoming, and we were able to see how the Church community lives out the Gospel in a very special way.
After you move, what are the next steps awaiting you and your family? What will your biggest challenges be?
JD: The next steps for us are all marked by two key words: transition and adaptation. We will have to adapt to our new environment and to the culture of Quebec. We will also have to integrate and root ourselves in our community at Church 21. This is a whole new reality for us. In terms of challenges, my wife and children will be learning French. Also, Naomi will need to find a job. She is in the process of obtaining her temporary nursing license, so she can work as a nurse in Quebec. We are job hunting in English-speaking facilities for now. We must also continue to find partners to reach our financial needs. God is faithful in providing partners, but we are not quite there yet. We will also need to look into buying a house in Saint-Hubert as we will be renting a duplex for the next four months. One thing is certain, though, we are setting off on Monday morning March 18. Quebec: we are coming soon!