Chilliwack Alliance church has been in partnership for a long time with four outreach ministries: Bible translation in Peru, house building and pastoral training in Mexico, relief work through Don and Betty Orr in the Middle East, and Rimouski Alliance church in Quebec.
What has happened at Rimouski Alliance has been remarkable, and I have asked Wayne to share some of these Encounters as my guest blogger today...
Chilliwack Alliance church has been in partnership for a long time with four outreach ministries: Bible translation in Peru, house building and pastoral training in Mexico, relief work through Don and Betty Orr in the Middle East, and Rimouski Alliance church in Quebec. The latter has certainly been the toughest. Pastor Wayne Massey from our staff represented our church at the installation of the new pastor, he preached the morning message and led an elder’s orientation seminar.
What has happened at Rimouski Alliance has been remarkable, and I have asked Wayne to share some of these Encounters as my guest blogger today:
This past weekend in Rimouski we witnessed a decade of God’s faithful work in this church as it swam against the tide of the cultural opposition to Christianity and fiercely struggled with stumbling pastoral leadership. For 10 long years we worked to build a foundational church in the city of Rimouski to stand as a light on a hill proclaiming God’s amazing message of grace and salvation. On behalf of CAC, I was invited to attend the installation of a new senior pastor, Ruben Nicolas, in the ACM Church in Rimouski.
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER – MEETING RUBEN
My first wow moment occurred during dinner on Friday evening at the home of Ruben and Jessica. Their story is one of the Holy Spirit’s leading over 30 years in the making. Briefly, they met during a Campus Crusade missions conference that Ruben was leading in 1991 at the request of Pastor Allan Hack in Rimouski. Ruben had just completed his university degree and was working with Campus Crusade Ministries in Calgary. Jessica, who lived with her parents in town, went to the 2-week conference and met Ruben. They knew immediately that they were meant to be together. On the last day of the conference, they sat on the steps inside leading to the meeting room for a picture opportunity.
Over the next year they corresponded during the long-distance relationship and decided to get married. After being married in Rimouski, they moved to Calgary for the next 25 years where Ruben engaged in various ministry activities and teaching.
In 2020, Jessica expressed her yearning for Quebec and wanted to move back home to Rimouski. The effects of covid across the country were affecting every aspect of normal life and Ruben was told that his services were no longer needed.
They saw this as an indication from the Lord that their time in western Canada was over and they packed up and moved in with Jessica’s folks in Rimouski. Immediately they returned to the Alliance Church and were sad to discover that it was on life support, struggling to stay afloat. Somehow, they knew this is where God wanted them, and they engaged quickly to help the church.
Now, 32 years since 1991, the newly elected elders board saw God’s answer for their prayers in this couple, Ruben and Jessica, and called them to be the new senior pastor.
MY SECOND ENCOUNTER – DINNER WITH THE ELDERS
The second wow moment came the next evening at a dinner with all the elders, their wives, St Lawrence District DS Dr Kenzo, Barry Whatley, and a few honored guests. Dr Kenzo was the first to speak and he shared about the evening he came from District Office to meet with the Steering Committee (pre-elders). Dr Kenzo’s purpose was two-fold: remove the ineffective and negligent pastor; and to advise that the District had decided to close the doors of the Rimouski Alliance Church, sell the building, and use the proceeds to support churches elsewhere. The four men were shocked and speechless. It was a death-sentence, and the church was gasping its last breath.
They cried and pleaded that the district give the leadership team a chance to meet with the people before closing the doors.
The men spoke passionately and committed themselves to maintaining and supporting the “future church of Rimouski”. Jeremy shared about a vision he recently had in a dream of a lighthouse on a hill during a violent raging storm at sea and how people were reaching up out of the waters to reach the lighthouse for refuge and safety. That the men collectively and genuinely committed to saving the church was nothing short of a colossal step of faith. Dr Kenzo saw the passion in each man’s heart and after a monumental time of prayer bathed in tears and passion, he withdrew his edict.
Months of doubt and fear were overcome as God sent several key couples to attend the Rimouski Alliance Church as encouragers and helpers. The District sent a wonderful interim pastoral leader, Barry Whatley, to lead the church through the process of healing, reconciliation and restoration. It was during this process that Ruben’s pastoral qualities became evident, and the leadership team also decided to take the next steps towards becoming a standalone church with its own board of elders and a full-time paid senior pastor. Enough thanks can never be expressed for Barry Whatley’s Spirit-filled leadership during these times of rebirth.
MY THIRD ENCOUNTER – PARTNERSHIP WITH CHILLIWACK ALLIANCE CHURCH
Back in 2010, God planted a vision for our church to build a missionary team to go to the Province of Quebec which was very secularistic and atheistic. CAC took up the challenge and began building a relationship with the St Lawrence District and Rimouski Alliance.
It was not easy and for years we struggled to overcome suspicion and questions of intention regarding our interest in having a relationship with a partnership with the church in Rimouski. The leadership at the time even told us that there’s no way the people of Quebec will work with English Canadians, especially from western Canada so you might as well save your energy and resources.
This time the relationship and partnership were celebrated in love and joy over the faithfulness of CAC in wanting to work with God to build a kingdom church in Quebec. A new level of respect and friendship is so evident. This new church in Rimouski is overflowing with joy and appreciation for our partnership and support. They are anxious to come to BC and meet our people next year. Pastor Ruben has expressed a desire to get to know us at CAC and will bring his team as soon as he can arrange it.
IN CONCLUSION – GLORY TO GOD
I am so glad we fought to sustain this church and to, in essence, have a church plant in Rimouski. The people are beautiful, and they are so eager to reach their community for Christ. We fought a long and hard spiritual battle with Satan for this church to exist and God won.