We’re Praying for Axe21

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We’re praying for Axe21

One of my great joys is meeting leaders from other churches that I appreciate and have a heart for. As an ongoing series here on Resurgence, I thought it would be encouraging to share what God is doing in and through various local churches.

There are few places in the Western world where ministry is more difficult than in Quebec. The cultural, political, and language barriers combine to make effective Christian ministry very challenging there.

Jesus is at work in Quebec

But the Holy Spirit is at work in Quebec through some faithful servants of the gospel. One of them is my friend Pastor Marc Pilon. I have known Pastor Marc and met with him on various occasions since he first began assembling the core group for his church plant. He is very gifted, he has a wonderful wife, and Jesus has seen fit to do some amazing things through his church, Axe21 Urban Church. I am happy to share my friend with others, and I ask that you be in prayer for his work in Quebec. Please pray that it would continue to be showered with God’s grace and able to expand into more church plants throughout the French-speaking world.

Marc Pilon with his wife, Marie-Helene, and their two children, Audelie and EnzoMarc Pilon with his wife, Marie-Helene, and their two children, Audelie and Enzo

We recently asked Pastor Marc to share with us more about the story of his church, the obstacles to preaching the gospel in Quebec, evidences of God’s grace there, and how we can be in prayer for him and Axe21. Our Resurgence editorial team compiled the following blog post based on Pastor Marc’s answers.

A rare legacy in Quebec

In the 1950s, a movement began in French-speaking Quebec. Missionaries passing out copies of the New Testament were beaten, dragged through the streets of the city, and imprisoned. And yet from these volatile roots sprang the legacy of Remi Pilon. He became a Christian. His son became a Christian. And his grandson became a Christian.

There are few places in the Western world where ministry is more difficult than in Quebec.

Today that grandson, Marc Pilon, a rare third-generation Quebec believer, preaches the gospel from Axe21 Urban Church in Sherbrooke, Quebec. This region is recognized by many as North America’s darkest mission field, with evangelical Christians comprising only one half of one percent (0.5%) of the population.

Pilon explains:

The people of Quebec have gone from Catholicism to basically trying any other types of religion and spirituality, to having given up on any sort of spirituality, to ending up believing in pleasure, in themselves, in sex, and in money and everything that is material, physical, and tangible.

Very few people still think that any type of spirituality should have any place in their lives, and even fewer believe that it’s rational to believe in any supernatural being, especially one that would dictate to you how you should live your life.

According to Pilon, these factors help make Quebec one of the most depressed populations in North America, complete with one of the highest suicide rates. “People feel very empty and that life has no purpose,” he said.

On mission in a dark place

Despite these problems, Pilon says the people of Quebec consider it a waste of time to explore faith. This is why he believes that the greatest obstacle he and his fellow Christians face is getting others to listen. Befriending people and sharing their testimonies has been an effective means of stirring up the curiosity of others about Jesus, but it remains difficult, he explains:

The problem is that with less than one percent evangelical Christians in Quebec, that process is very, very slow. The gospel is rarely heard anywhere. The province is becoming more and more secular, with the government coming up with laws such as wanting to ban wearing religious symbols, such as crosses, etc.

The Holy Spirit is at work in Quebec through some faithful servants of the gospel.

Preaching the gospel in this environment hasn’t been an easy gig. Reflecting upon his experience, Pilon says,

It has been a long process examining our culture and finding out how to explain, how to word things in a way for the people to see their need for Jesus, but by God’s grace, through much prayer, much fasting, and through the power of the Holy Spirit we are now seeing the un-churched people of Quebec meet Jesus on a regular basis.

Axe21 started in 2011 with a core group of around 120 people who enthusiastically invited friends to their official launch. Close to 500 people came out for that Sunday launch, but church members knew their city well enough to know that only a handful of those visitors would come back. To their surprise, 300 people were in attendance the next week. 

“We experienced growth like I had never seen or heard of in my 30 years growing up in the evangelical church in Quebec,” Pilon recently shared.

God has drawn in a wide-variety of people with one common need—Jesus.

Every Sunday as the church continued meeting, about half the people who came were non-Christians. Currently, one third of the congregation has a church background, a third are converts from largely un-churched backgrounds, and a third are what Pilon refers to as “not yet Christians” from mainly un-churched backgrounds.  

People at the church represent a wide cross-section of society. From a teacher to a former strip club owner; from a lawyer to a blind piano player; from ex-strippers to former cocaine addicts; and even a man who sold his soul to Satan, God has drawn in a wide-variety of people with one common need—Jesus.

“It’s amazing to see everyone bring so many new people every week and to see those people meet Jesus, get baptized, and grow as disciples in community groups,” Pilon adds. Since the church began, 137 people have been baptized. What Axe21 is experiencing is rare in that corner of the world, and God’s grace is evidently being poured out.

Join us in prayer for Axe21

“Pray for our church to grow in conversions, in baptisms, in attendance, in discipleship, and in involvement in community groups as we seek to have a deep and lasting gospel impact in our city,” Pastor Marc asks. 

He also requested prayer for the funding, preparation, and launch of their new church campus in Magog, Quebec. He hopes to launch the new church in a few months, pending the preparation of their building.

Finally, please pray for the people of Quebec to meet Jesus, that they may be delivered from darkness and brought into the kingdom of light.