Dear Supporter of the Champion Christian High School Mission Trip to Canada,
As many of you might know, Champion Christian School is a place that is dedicated to helping students learn about the world around them, to understand and be able to integrate Christian principles in the daily scope of their lives, and to provide educational experiences that challenge them to learn and grow. We would like our supporters to see how mission trips have become important in our ongoing educational model. In fact, so much so that we have committed ourselves to attempt to provide four different but distinctly Christian mission experiences over a four year period for our high school students at Champion. This year, of course, was a trip to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In the past we have been to the inner city of New York, Salt Lake City, Utah, and last year, Mexico. We want you to know how much we appreciate your support of the trip.
We chose Canada this year specifically for two important reasons. First of all, it was an international trip which gave the students an opportunity to see and interact in a French speaking culture (last year’s trip was Spanish speaking), and particularly because it is a culture that has moved beyond post modernism and reflects post Christian values spiritually. This gave the students a chance to live and work briefly for the Lord in a post Christian culture which many predict will be reflected in America very soon.
Although this was and is a difficult idea to grasp philosophically, spiritually, and intellectually for young adults, those of us on the trip believe that they got it! As you can see from their comments below, they experienced some things that Canadian Christians experience daily. They saw a glimpse of the church and how it has had to respond to the culture it is in as well as how God has worked in that culture. It was truly amazing to talk with new Christians whom God has called out of nothingness to serve Him, and to see the excitement of the Church in Canada, and bring Jesus in newness and freshness to a culture that has so many barriers to it.
Read on, and thank you so much for your support of the Lord’s work in the lives of these students, and in the life of Champion Christian School. Your support is so meaningful to them, not only in being able to go and help; but in them seeing that the Lord and people around them will answer their prayers for needs in their lives as they choose to follow Him in new ways!
D. Merle Skinner, Executive Director
It all started at six o’clock in the morning at North Campus. It was freezing cold while we were putting the finishing touches on the bus. At about six thirty we were off. There were thirteen students and three adults crammed on a bus half full of luggage; needless to say it wasn’t long before we all became very close. A few hours and some rest stops later we got to Buffalo and realized that the route we planned to take was about to be hit with a terrible snow storm. So we decided rather than getting stranded we’d go around it, and in the process we added six more hours to our already ten hour trip. Every hour and at rest stops you’d hear the favorite question of the night, “How many hours left?”, and the favorite answer was always, “Just six more hours”. So finally after eighteen hours of being confined in a busload of kids where no one could agree on the heat temperature, we arrived at Terra Nova, the headquarters for Youth for Christ in Quebec which would be our home for the next five days.
Quebec on the surface is just like America economically, and physically, but not spiritually. The culture was close to ours, materialistic and self centered. But as far away from Christianity as we think America is, Quebec is worse. God is no longer just an uncool thing to talk about but an unacceptable, extinct idea. Christians were not able to even speak of God without closing the door to witnessing Christ altogether. The oppression and spiritual disinterest that Christians in Quebec have to face everyday is depressing. To have to defend one’s faith everyday and have to live in a society that has turned the word “Christianity” into a taboo is almost an unbearable thought to us as American Christians. We have our own adversity to face but none as prominent in our society as in Montreal’s.
In America we think about fighting against legalized abortion and taking prayer out of schools, but in Quebec those are issues they have accepted and figure they have greater battles to fight. As Americans, when we think about evangelizing people, we often think about going out to a public place and witnessing, but in Quebec some Christians feel that if they would do that the door would be closed to Christ immediately and there would be no way to express the love that God has for them without a negative impression. Many Quebecker (or Québécois) Christians feel the way to reach people with the love of Christ is to develop relationships with the person first and then progressively open their eyes to the word of God and the love He has to offer.
The culture is a lot like America in the sense they are very fashion conscious and enjoy the same things we do, with one difference- Christ. Americans often don’t talk about God or may be embarrassed to be a Christian at times but usually attend church and have some Christian fellowship in their lives, either with their parents or some family members. In Quebec, the Christian leaders in a church may have only known Christ for less than 5 years. Society has turned its back completely on Christianity, and this current generation has suffered from it. Many of the young Christians in this generation have come to know Christ without any help from their parents or family. They are on their own, defending their faith profoundly each and every day while trying to grow and develop their own newly found faith.
After we arrived and got settled in, Jaye Rice from Youth for Christ, oriented us to Quebec culture and then quickly put us all to work. Some of us organized storage rooms, others painted and others helped complete unfinished renovation projects over the course of the next three days. We were tired but were eager to help and felt that our work made a difference.
One evening we toured Montreal, and our first stop was St. Joseph’s Oratory which is a large cathedral on a hill in the middle of the city. To enter the cathedral you first had to climb three flights of stairs. The cathedral was larger than life and had an exquisite dome on its top! When you entered, you passed through doors that were crafted with wood and glass. There were many different levels, and there were multiple sanctuaries. On the first floor was the smaller sanctuary with pews and flowers at the pulpit. Then we went up the elevator to the next floor where there was an even larger sanctuary. This one had chairs instead of pews with a cross and a large mosaic around the altar. The other part of the cathedral had an historic area where you could learn about the Oratory. Then the last part of the cathedral was a room full of candles. This is where you prayed for those in need of the Lord, and there were three pillars that stood with literally hundreds of crutches and canes left by people who had been mercifully healed. Visiting the cathedral was a great experience, and some of us hope to go there again someday.
While in the city, we all went to the underground mall. It was awesome! We each went in groups and we walked around looking at everything, fascinated that we were five stories under the ground. I had never been in a mall that was underground. We had gotten there on the subway which was also under the ground and an amazing experience too. There were a lot of clothing stores since fashion is a large part of their culture and economy. We also stopped to talk to a guy who was selling jewelry. It was really fun, except the part when we weren’t sure where we were. We walked around the same spot at least 3 or 4 times! After the mall we went to a local restaurant to try the famous Canadian “smoked meat”. It was funny because they think it is very unique, but for us it was just a very large corned beef deli sandwich! It came with the most super sized order of fries any of us had seen, and many Canadians dip their fries in mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Some of us were adventuresome, some not, but it was so huge only one of us could eat the entire meal. The rest of us had it for lunch the next day. Canada wasn’t what I expected; it was more than I expected. I never really wanted to go to Canada especially, but afterwards I was so glad I did. It’s beautiful and I learned a lot.
The culture of Montreal was very similar to the culture we live in today. However, their impression of God and Christianity is even more negative than many Americans. They feel that Christianity is outdated and that God is no longer relative to their lives. The old beautiful Catholic cathedrals and churches are being sold because the attendance is too low to pay to heat the buildings. The churches are being remodeled into apartment buildings. Only 0.5% of those who live in Montreal are true Bible believing Christians. If nothing else, going on this trip showed us the great spiritual need these people have in their post-Christian society.
We got a whole different perspective after going on the mission trip to Canada. We didn’t know much about Canada’s spiritual status until we got there, but the people are definitely spiritually poor and their values about moral situations such as abortion and homosexuality was very accepting and already beyond what we are discussing in America.
We realized that it will take much longer for Quebeckers to have a personal relationship with God than people from very poor countries because they already have material things, and they don’t think they need God. We realized that we need a lot more mission work in that country to help them. Although Canadians are spiritually poor and they have forgotten about God, we still have hope that one day we will help them figure out the existence of God by showing them the love of Jesus. It might be a lot of work, but we believe that they will come back to Jesus if we are patient and continue to pray and minister to them.
In summary, as the High School Principal and the French teacher, I was looking for a mission trip with a cultural experience for the students. Quebec itself is a mixture of the French and English culture and everyone speaks both languages. They consider themselves to be very sophisticated and that religion and God is a concept that their parents and grandparents forced upon them, but that they have rejected. This has been the norm for at least the last generation. About twenty years ago a minister from the United States, Pastor Mike Walker, felt called to start a church in Montreal and be a “light” in the wilderness. He has persevered with his family there and his church has grown. He has one of the few evangelical Christian churches in the city.
About six years ago, after much prayer, he decided to start a sister church in a small town about an hour outside of Montreal called Granby. Most of the people speak only French. There was originally only a few people meeting in someone’s house, but the Lord has blessed it and they have grown to over 300 people with a thriving youth group of over 50 kids, and a large church to which they now need to construct an addition. We took our students to spend a day there going sledding and having fellowship with the others. It was quite an experience for the students to see five foot snow drifts and 20 below zero wind chills, and this was one of their milder winters.
We had a joint youth group and prayer meeting where the Granby students gave some amazing testimonies of how God has been working in their lives since they became Christians. Our students who take for granted our freedom of worship and acceptance in the community, were astounded with how these young people from 12-18 years of age maturely handle adversity and continue to spread the Gospel to all they come in contact. I pray that this will continue to be an inspiration to our students as they grow in the Lord and follow His path for their lives. C’était un voyage formidable, grâce à Dieu. (It was a great trip, praise the Lord.)
Mrs. Gloria Kerin
Champion Christian High School Principal
Check out a compilation of photos from our trip!