I walked out of the train station and heard the familiar strains of French and English being spoken, sometimes both languages used interchangeably. I knew I was in Montreal. I was there to help support our CRCNA mission efforts through our partnership with Christian Direction. Montreal has a large population of Muslims and our denomination is committed to supporting efforts to reach them for Christ.
As part of the outreach to Muslims in the borough of Saint Laurent, Christian Direction held a Back to School family festival that attracted three to four hundred people. During the festival names were drawn and bags were filled with school supplies to be given to families. Many families in this area have recently immigrated to Quebec and so greatly appreciated the help in getting their children ready for school. At this same event there was a book table where Bibles in different languages were given out. One man came to the table a number of times until he finally put a Bible into his child’s stroller and walked away.
I also exercised a few muscles by helping to unload a food truck for the weekly food bank that happens in the ministry center every Friday. The food bank is an outreach of the area churches in conjunction with Moisson Montreal (Harvest Montreal). It was great to see so many eager people helping to unload the boxes so that they could benefit from the nutritious food available (in contract to a lot of food banks this one had vegetables and other produce).
Chad and Pam, the two leaders, also hope to start a conversation café in the near future where people can come and practice their English or their French language skills in order to help them in their studies or in the work place. Such conversations will also be open places for discussing faith issues. With the current Charter of Secular Values being discussed in the Quebec Assembly there will be lots to talk about.
Montreal is a large North American city that has undergone intense secularization in the last twenty years (hence the Charter of Secular Values). It is also a melting pot of many different cultures and faiths. As such it is an excellent place to gain experience in cross-cultural ministry, creating missional communities, interacting with university students (there are four large universities in Montreal) and reaching out to Muslims. The Christian Reformed Church can learn much from working with Christian Direction and supporting ministry in this urban context.