ADAM MILLER/Baptist Press
LENNOXVILLE, QC (BP) – Canadians easily dismiss Christianity – especially in Quebec. The history of mistrust is woven deep within the fabric of Québécois culture – a culture that’s decidedly Catholic and, at the same time, increasingly secular.
But Lucas Aube in Lennoxville, Quebec, has worked to make rejecting Christ a greater challenge than ever among the thousands of students of Bishops University and Champlain College. The immediate response many give to Christian outreach has been one of disdain, skepticism and even, as Aube has experienced, disgust at the crazy religious people. Intentionally engaging people in ways that destroy stereotypes is changing that perspective.
“We are living as the hands and feet of Jesus on a weekly basis,” says Aube, who is planting Encounter Church with the goal of having a self-sustaining church that reaches students and the families in the surrounding communities.
Aube is one of six missionaries featured this year in the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) 2014 promotion of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
Aube and his leaders train members to share their stories and to talk of faith in Christ as a journey and a process.
“When you talk to them in these ways they see you as at least an option on part of their journey instead of something to avoid at all costs,” says Aube.
“They expect Christians to be nasty and terrible to them,” Aube says. “They’re blown away with the love and hospitality that we are showing them. The barriers seem to be coming down. They’re like, ‘Wow. We can’t believe you guys are Christians. You’re so nice.’ They’re blown away that Christians are there in a way that has no strings attached.”
Hospitality along with Tuesday night home-cooked meals for about 300 students have provided the primary opportunities for students to emerge from atheism, agnosticism or some other belief into belief in the gospel.
“These opportunities really take a lot of time and energy and sometimes you feel like it’s going nowhere,” said Aube. “But over time we’ve seen people experience radical transformation.”
Aube says that in a lot of ways the work of reaching students in Quebec often boils down to working hard to remove every barrier, but then working hard to get out of the way to watch the gospel bring people to life.
“At its very core the gospel is offensive,” Aube says. “We aren’t supposed to add to that offense. We are supposed to seek and create opportunities for the gospel to do the work.”