The Gospel Coalition

 

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Reaching French-speakers in Quebec & Beyond

By Daniel Henderson and Patti Richter



Daniel Henderson is the Director of Development for the Evangelical Baptist Seminary of Quebec—SEMBEQ. He also serves as Director of Operations for SEMBEQ’s publishing arm, Editions Cruciforme, which produces French translations of Gospel-centered resources. Editions Cruciforme recently formed a partnership with The Gospel Coalition for a French-language project for Quebec and Francophone Africa. 

 
In the following article, Daniel shares his passion for reaching the people of Quebec, in east-central Canada, the country’s largest province and the only one with a predominantly French-speaking population. 
 
North Americans visit Quebec for its ski hills and to experience the European charm of Old Montreal and Quebec City. From a tourist perspective, “Quebeckers” savor the fun side of life. From a Christian perspective, the reality is quite different.
 
“The Quiet Revolution” is a label used to describe Quebec’s social development dating back to the 1960s. This era transformed the religious landscape of the province as it pulled away from Roman Catholic Church influence to form a more secular society.
 
Author Ernest Gellner defined Quebec’s entry into its postmodern era as favoring relativism, and hostile to the idea of “unique, exclusive, objective, external or transcendent truth.” This postmodernism in Quebec presents challenges to evangelical ministers. Diminished Christian influence has created a spiritual vacuum that encourages other religions and cults to grow. 
 
Quebec also faces disturbing social trends. Statistics Canada figures indicate the province has the highest percentages for divorce, abortion, couples living together outside of marriage, and out-of-wedlock births. Suicide rates in the province rank as both the highest in Canada and one of the highest in the industrialized world.
 
Reaching Quebec
 
Quebec has the largest people group in North America unreached by the Gospel—around 99.3% of its population. That statistic should strike us as urgent. But it is impossible to be urgent in the mission of Christ if we do not have a deep zeal for the Glory of Christ.
 
SEMBEQ, based out of Montreal, Quebec is working hard to reach people in the province with the Gospel. The non-residential seminary was founded in 1973 in response to a lack of formal training for church leaders. Previously, churches were planted, yet leaders and elders had no formal training. A four-year absence to attend seminary was not an option. SEMBEQ offers church-based training, working directly in and through local French Baptist churches, helping them to train pastors, evangelists, church planters, teachers and leaders within congregations. 
 
SEMBEQ has grown during its nearly 40 years of ministry. Having outgrown its original building, the seminary recently purchased a new building with twice the space. Another area of growth includes working with Editions Cruciforme, a francophone publishing house which facilitates French translation work through the support of other ministry partners. 
 

Reaching the World
 
Our partnership with The Gospel Coalition-International Outreach (TGC-IO) is exciting because of their desire to reach the unreached. They offer solid, Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting books and resources. Together we were able to translate and publish Tullian Tchividjian's book Jesus+Nothing=Everything for French Canada, as well as for French speakers in Europe and North Africa. This joint project has resulted in 3,000 copies available for international missions.
 
With the help of TGC-IO, Editions Cruciforme recently had the opportunity to also help relieve the theological famine of pastors in Africa by providing biblical resources in French for countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, and Côte d'Ivoire. This would not be possible to accomplish on our own. 
 
SEMBEQ and Editions Cruciforme are committed to a long-term partnership with TGC-International Outreach. We hope to make many more books available to those in need.
 
For further information, write to Daniel Henderson at d.henderson@sembeq.qc.ca.
 
Patti Richter is a freelance Christian journalist—a writer of news, essays, and profile stories for several publications. She and her husband, Jim, live near Dallas, Texas.