East Texas churches expand Montreal ministry
December 25th, 2013 / By: Stephanie Heading / comments
Bowie County, Texas and Montreal, Canada, have almost nothing in common. Bowie County is a rural area with fewer than 100,000 residents in the entire country and Montreal boasts 3.5 million inhabitants. Bowie County is in the heart of the Bible Belt and Montreal is considered one of the great lost cities in North America with less than 1 percent of the population calling themselves evangelicals.
While they differ in size and scope, Bowie County and Montreal are connecting through two small churches that feel the call to reach the people of Montreal with the gospel as part of SEND Montreal.
Pastor Brian Leverett of Malta Baptist Church, DeKalb, began to feel a call to SEND Montreal during an SBTC New Pastors’ Banquet last February.
Leverett and his wife headed to Montreal and caught a vision of the work of SEND Montreal. “Following the vision trip in May, we shared with Malta Baptist Church what we learned and experienced. Within a couple of months we voted to support Le Contact, a church pastored by Joel St-Cyr.”
Already, Malta is seeing fruit from its partnership with Le Contact Church. Recently, Leverett received an exciting report from Pastor St-Cyr. “Yesterday we had a wonderful morning with 193 people showing up at our two services. After the sermon, nine persons gave their life to Christ and were saved!” said St.-Cyr.
“For the past weeks, we sent invitations to the new comers from the past months to a lunch after church and 40 people showed up, most of them non-Christian. The pastors and I were able to have lunch with them, and I did a presentation of our church and our vision to transform our city for Christ. The atmosphere was indescribable!
“We are starting to see more and more new Christians, not only giving their lives to Christ but already starting to invite their friends to Church. To me, this is just awesome!”
Currently, Malta sends $100 a month to support Le Contact, as well as prayer support, but Leverett hopes to see that involvement expand in the future. “As of right now, I am working with Jim Turnbo of the Bowie Baptist Association in putting together a vision trip through our association,” said Leverett. “We would also like to take a trip during the summer of 2014. I am hoping to get several members from Malta to go.”
Mark Ritchey, pastor of FBC Maud, is one of those pastors planning to go on the SEND Montreal Vision Trip. He first heard about SEND Montreal at the SEND Conference in August. “We were praying and looking for a mission project,” said Ritchey. “I asked which city is the most unreached and it was Montreal.”
This February, Ritchey is planning to be part of a four-person team visiting Montreal and seeing how his church can be involved. “We are going to widen our vision,” said Ritchey. “I have a sense that we need to be doing something else.”
FBC Maud is a church of about 170 people, but Ritchey says his congregation is becoming enthusiastic about the possibilities of reaching outside their usual area of ministry. “They are excited to go and be a part. God has given us a vision to go plant churches and that’s really going to build long-term. We have to evangelize outside of Bowie County.”
The next nine months will be crucial as FBC Maud, gets involved in SEND Montreal, according to Ritchey. In addition to the vision trip, he is also hoping to send at least one mission team from FBC Maud, to Montreal. “We have caught the vision in evangelism and grabbed a hold of it.”
“As we get more involved with seeing and doing ministry in locations like Montreal, our church will also be gaining experience and wisdom for ministering to our neighborhoods and communities around us at home.”
Both Ritchey and Leverett encourage other churches like theirs to get involved in projects like SEND Montreal. “Don’t have the mindset that this is for someone else,” said Leverett. “Get involved. Pray. Give. Seek God’s will and direction for how you can get personally involved with going on mission trips. We’re a church of less than 100 active members. If God can use us to impact Montreal, he can use you too!”