Pastor sets out on quest to see lostness penetrated in eastern Canadacomment (0)
April 22, 2010
By Grace Thornton
People in eastern Canada may drink the same Starbucks coffee as people in Alabama, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same as us.
Like the coffee, the lostness of the people of eastern Canada is as black as black can be, said Rick Lamothe, president of the Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC, a Southern Baptist-affiliated group).
And the resources being used to reach them are miniscule by comparison to those in the Bible Belt, he said.
“I compare it to football. In Alabama, there are hundreds of thousands of people who invest their time and money into the game. There are generations of fans with a longstanding infrastructure and incredible resources. In eastern Canada, a football game would only draw a few thousand people.”
It’s the same way with Baptist work in Lamothe’s part of Canada — there simply isn’t the long history of ministry and investment of people and resources, he said.
The strip of eastern Canada stretching from Windsor (near Michigan) to Quebec City (near Maine) is home to roughly 50 percent of Canada’s population. It’s an area about the size of California that Lamothe refers to as “the corridor.”
But despite the fact that the entirety of eastern Canada holds the majority of the nation’s people — 70 percent, it only contains 30 percent of the CNBC’s resources and members, Lamothe said. “There’s something missing out east.”
In Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, located in the corridor in the east, there are 101 evangelical churches serving more than 800,000 people, Lamothe said, noting that Montgomery by comparison has more than twice as many evangelical churches serving about 333,000 people.
Some of those evangelical churches in Ottawa and the rest of eastern Canada are affiliated with other Baptist conventions, such as the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec.
That said, national support from the CNBC is available but far away, Lamothe said. It’s difficult for CNBC leaders to travel as often as needed back and forth to the east from Cochrane, the western city that’s home to the convention’s headquarters.
To put it in perspective, it would be geographically easier for Alabama Baptists to support the work in Ottawa than it is for Baptists in Cochrane to do so — Montgomery is hundreds of miles closer to Ottawa than Cochrane is.
“They would burn out flying back and forth all the time,” Lamothe said.
So in the face of great need, he decided it was time for the east to make some major changes.
“Something radical has to happen,” Lamothe said.
Radical is not anything new to him.
He was saved during military college and served as an officer in the Canadian Forces, all the while working on a seminary degree in western Canada.
When Lamothe was just a few years away from getting his pension, he felt God calling him to sell everything, leave the military, take his pregnant wife and 1-year-old and move back to his home of Ottawa to plant a church.
So Lamothe did and in 1999, he started Sequoia Community Church. Serving as lead pastor, he recruited and mentored other leaders, reached out to the community and watched as the congregation grew to its current attendance of 275. In the last decade, it has planted two churches and started planting two others.
The church is one of the strongest congregations in the CNBC.
But Lamothe, once again, has committed to leave everything behind — including his salary — to pursue another vision from the Lord.
Lamothe’s vision? To have a thriving missions support center in eastern Canada. It’s a vision backed by the CNBC.
“There’s not a whole lot of (CNBC) support around us. We’re on the ground alone,” he said.
So under the umbrella of Sequoia, Lamothe founded the Eastern Canada Mission Centre, a convention satellite he hopes can meet the “urgent need” for support in the east.
The church built a temporary facility for the mission centre, but Lamothe said he’s looking for partners to help build a permanent facility that would help establish Southern Baptist work in eastern Canada.
“We need a satellite office to concentrate the resources of eastern Canada in this corridor,” Lamothe said.
The centre provides training for pastors and other church leaders as well as a variety of other support services and community outreach opportunities.
Once a permanent building is possible, a youth center will also be a part of its ongoing ministry.
“We are in need of Kingdom partners,” Lamothe explained — partners who will provide financial resources as well as manpower.
First Baptist Church, Montgomery, is one such partner that poured into the mission of Sequoia and has had an ongoing presence in its work over the past few years.
The help was wonderful, Lamothe said, adding that even more help is needed now.
“There’s not a history of believers here, and there are no resources at our fingertips,” he said. “In the U.S., there are a lot of Kingdom people with Kingdom resources who could help give legs to our project.”
Lamothe was so burdened about this that after prayer and fasting, he felt called to visit all his contacts in the United States — including those in Alabama — during the month of April, driving down from Ottawa in a RV. He’s trying to raise $1 for every person in Canada — $16 million total.
“The church in Uganda is doing better than the church in Canada,” Lamothe said. “The needs are huge and we need help to reach our nation for Christ.”
For more information, visit www.easterncanadamission.org or e-mail Lamothe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearer support needed — Baptists in eastern Canada (around the capital of Ottawa) are farther removed from convention support in Cochrane than they are from Alabama.