SOAR Montreal brings together almost 200 youth and young adults from Quebec and across Canada for a 10-day discipleship and mission in the heart of Montreal. We live together at the Collège Notre-Dame in front of the beautiful l’Oratoire de St-Joseph, sleeping in classrooms, eating meals with one another, learning about God, and serving Christ together in the community.
As you can imagine, preparing three meals a day for 10 days for that many people, keeping floors, dishes, and bathrooms clean is a lot of work and requires a lot of people power to pull off. To keep costs affordable for the program, we rely heavily on volunteers to make this happen.
This year, God did something very special in sending us close to 30 teens and young adults to serve – we have affectionately named them “The Crew”. Almost all of them came from Quebec and most had previously attended SOAR as a participant. Four of our Alliance churches were represented in this group along with kids from Pentecostal, Mennonite Brethren, and other church families too.
As leaders, it was our desire that these teens and young adults would be discipled through the experience of serving others. Two mature young adults took on the job of not only overseeing The Crew’s work but also caring for them spiritually. The team met regularly for team time and devotion, as well as participated in all our evening sessions of worship and teaching.
It became evident very quickly that going deeper in Jesus and further on mission for this group of young people was not going to be a glamorous event.
SOAR creates space for some very beautiful moments where God encounters people through intimate worship and deep personal revelation that brings a whole new perspective to many who participate. The Crew, however, seemed to be in for another kind of transformational process this year.
Rising before 6:00 a.m. to prepare breakfast, staying up late into the evening to wash dishes after snacks, and scrubbing away dirty toilets sure created an environment where natural bents emerged. Tempers flared, some wanted to give up and go home, others stopped talking to one another altogether. By halfway through the program, things were at a bit of a crisis point, with some serious conflict hampering the work.
One evening, through a beautifully led foot-washing ceremony, the team had a chance to confess their differences and affirm their love and care for one another. They committed to praying through their difficulties instead of letting them pile up, trusting God to change one another and help them honour their leaders and the work they had been given to do. Although this didn’t make the job any easier, they began to grow in community and love for one another, bonding together and finishing strong.
Bihanca Alphonse, our logistics coordinator – one of the primary people overseeing The Crew, said afterward, “At first I thought this job was going to be easy, but after two days, I wanted to quit 100%. Because of God’s grace, I was able to keep going and I am very thankful. Working with this team has been one of the best experiences of my life.”
Sometimes sanctification, going deeper in Jesus, happens in the kitchen or when cleaning a toilet. There is much hope for the Quebec church if we keep nurturing these kinds of young leaders in service and Christ-likeness through the experience of living and working in community.
This story is taken from the Fall 2018 Alliance Connection magazine. You can get a free copy of the Alliance Connection at Alliance churches across Canada or view the digital copy online. We hope you will be encouraged and inspired to go deeper in Jesus and as a result, further on mission.
Lorilee Jespersen has been working with the C&MA within the St. Lawrence District for the last 20 years. She is married to Troy Wiesner and together they have four children and a dog. They are passionate about mobilizing people of all ages for missions and are excited by the opportunities to build God’s kingdom in Montreal, Quebec where they are surrounded by the nations.