Jean the Baptiste Day
Can you hear the sound of him calling in the wilderness "Prepare ye the way of the Lord!"
"He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:6
"You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:14-17
Why is Jean the Baptiste Day the provincial holiday of Quebec? This was the question I was asking myself as I researched the origins of the upcoming festivities. The very next day, I was delighted when at the Quebec House of Prayer, we prayed into the significance of the day. I just knew that this was part of my history and inheritance in Canada, but I was trying to figure out how to celebrate? Being in an English pocket of French Canada, did Lennoxville even have any celebrations? I started dreaming about the best place to go - what about Quebec City! That would be the ideal. There was a stirring in my spirit and not long after, I found out that a new friend from Germany, whom I had met in the prayer room, just happened to be driving up the following day with an Indian student from a university in Quebec City. It was such a providential set up! I ended up on a road trip, with two neuroscience students, to one of the most enchanting cities in North America, and as usual, God had a surprise for us.
We ended up staying right in the old city with a passionate French Canadian couple, who took us out for dinner at a charming Italian restaurant. We feasted on pizza, took a night tour of the majestic castle fort, and climbed up to a statue of Du Monde, overlooking the St Lawrence River. It was a good thing we arrived that night, as the big celebrations were happening that very evening in Quebec City, and in Montreal the day after. Our host was like a walking history book, pouring out the heart of God and revival history of Quebec. I was captivated by his stories and could have listened for hours. It was no coincidence that I had showed up, eager to experience and redeem the heart of this significant day, with a desire to share my faith! Our evening culminated in a time of ministry on the edge of the Plains of Abraham with fireworks and an outreach to French Canadians. Known for its bloody battle between the French and the English, it was significant that we should spend this night praying on this specific piece of land, for the healing of Quebec.
And here in the "heart of Canada", God had plans for another heart. Although we were few, we were open and willing. With just one question you can strike up a conversation -
"Who was John the Baptist?" Most Quebecers, especially in my generation, have no idea!
Testimony from the Plains of Abraham
Quebec is a forerunner province in Canada. The first missionaries and explorers in Canada came from France. Sadly, due to the past abuse of power within the Catholic church, many French Canadians have rebelled against God, and the only Biblical words they know are used as swear words! Inspite of this, there is great opportunity in a generation which is closed to oppressive religious systems, but open to the spiritual realm. It's never been about organized religion anyway! God is after the human heart, and wants relationship with all his children.
The following morning we joined Evangeline church for their bi-lingual service. The pastor shared on the theme of the day, Jean de Baptiste, and I was deeply encouraged through the relationships and words of affirmation I received that day. God is working in Quebec!
After church we headed off to the enchanting isle of Orleans to celebrate a truly Quebecer day at a local restaurant with Quebec's famous poutine. It was a delightful time of friendship, culture and conversation. A walk on the beach, driving passed strawberries fields and vineyards, and the fresh island air.
Was I supposed to stay in Quebec? I wasn't sure, but I sure did love this city! So much history and ambiance and as close to a European feel as you could get in North America!
A delightful taste of French Canadian hospitality!