For many years now, we have been actively involved in ministry towards Francophones in Québec and elsewhere. Québec’s religious climate is very much like that of post-Christian Europe. Since the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s and ’70s, a period of social upheaval that led to the secularization of the province, widespread resentment towards the Catholic Church, combined with fear of all churches that are not Catholic, makes it difficult to talk with people about Jesus face to face. We are seeking to overcome those barriers through our online mentoring service, which offers Christians the possibility of coming alongside people in a compassionate and loving manner. This gives them opportunities to pray for people and help them discover who Jesus really is.
Jean is part of a growing team of enthusiastic Québécois francophone mentors seeking to reach their province and the rest of the Francophone world for Christ. He first heard about our ministry a few years ago while suffering from health challenges that included a chronic loss of voice. Sharing his faith by email from his home in a remote area of Northern Québec seemed a perfect way to continue serving Jesus despite his limitations.
One of the people who had the deepest effect on him this last year was a fellow Québécois living in Alma. When Richard * first wrote in, he was living in a small, dark basement apartment. Estranged from his wife and daughters, he was struggling with depression, alcoholism, and insomnia. He desperately wanted to change his life and return to his family.
As Jean interacted with Richard about his situation, he was gradually able to share how coming to know Jesus had helped him in his difficult moments. At that point, Richard asked a question that allowed the conversation to transition to his own spiritual journey: “How did you meet Jesus? How long did it take?”
Jean answered his question by sharing more details about his own arduous journey to faith as a young adult. His story greatly encouraged Richard, who thanked Jean for his friendship and his prayers. By then, Richard was reading a lot about God online. He was praying and learning to trust God more, but was still struggling with feelings of shame, even though he was drinking a lot less. However, he was still too shy to go to church alone, and when Jean tried to encourage him to go to a specific church, he ceased writing in. Jean had not realized that Richard did not trust the church, since he knew nothing about it.
This is one of the greatest challenges our mentors face: people are often very curious about Jesus and the life he offers. They will even begin seeking him as they interact with an online mentor. However, the idea of joining a church often fills them with fear, especially if their area of the world has been harmed by Christendom in the past.
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