Vacations are beautiful things, right? They help switch our focus onto simple things and rejuvenate our spirits. They also cause bloggers like me to let up off the gas pedal and stop writing. I was in Montréal and Quebéc City last week on vacation and didn’t really have an opportunity (nor desire) to do much writing. Instead I took in as much as I could. I’m hoping that now I have new material for posts on all of the different things I saw and experienced.
While visiting Quebéc City, I was blessed to be able to have dinner and catch up with my friend Billy whom I had originally met when I was in Haiti. Billy lives in Quebéc now with his wife and son and studies at Laval University trying learn more that he could use to help his homeland. All three of them survived the infamous January 12th earthquake that happened just 3 days after I left Haiti. While we were together, Billy told me a story that really struck me.
Before I tell his story, I have to preface it by saying that the province of Quebéc in particular is very “post-Christian.” What I mean by that is that at one time, Christianity once thrived. Churches were full of people on Sundays and the vast majority of the population had some religious affiliation. That has since changed; most churches are either occupied by museums and historical societies or they lie vacant and in disrepair. A very small percentage of the population is religious and an even smaller percentage is Christian.
Billy told me that a few months ago he was on Laval’s campus and he noticed someone writing “I Love Jesus” on a wall. Graffiti itself is not that uncommon in Canada, but the message was so Billy kept an eye on it. A few days later someone had changed the original writing from “I Love Jesus” to “I Love Le Patron” by manipulating some of the letters. Billy explained “I Love Le Patron” literally means “I Love The Boss” and had a sort of “big brother” connotation to it. Considering Quebéc is not know for being anti-religious, but more non-religious, it was clear that someone did not want people to hear the name Jesus. They instead, wanted people to embrace “the establishment.”
A few days after that first change was made, he noticed that the person who originally wrote on the wall had changed it back to saying “I Love Jesus.” Now more intrigued than ever, Billy made sure to check back on in the next day. Sure enough, “I Love Jesus” was once again changed to “I Love Le Patron.” This back and forth graffiti war continued and Billy began praying for both people. He prayed for strength and encouragement for the person who had wrote “I Love Jesus” and he prayed for God to make Himself real to the person who was writing “I Love Le Patron.”
A few days later, the person who wrote “I Love Jesus” changed their message on the wall to read “Jesus Loves You.” According to my friend Billy, the opposition gave up at that point and “Jesus Loves You” remains on the wall to this day. Billy uses that story to encourage new Christian students at Laval to stay true to their relationships with Christ and to understand just how different the culture that they find themselves in is from what they might be used to.
Billy’s story reminded me of the passage in Luke 19 where a crowd of disciples is praising Jesus for the miracles he worked and for being the king who came to earth in the name of the Lord. The Pharassees ask Jesus to rebuke the disciples and he responded with one of the most memorable quotes of all time. He said to them, “I say to you that if these would be silent, the stones would be crying out loud.” (vs 40). I suppose in this case it was the wall that “cried out” but clearly the message of Christ’s love is not intended for silence. It’s meant to be shared throughout the world.
Since I met with Billy, I’ve been challenged to pray for the message of Christ’s love; that it would reach people who need to hear it, that it would change their lives, and that it would not be silenced. In fact, I think that every believer can be praying for that. I’ll close by saying that I really hope that you’ll sit and think about Billy’s story. Perhaps you can share it with someone or pass it along to a friend. You can also pray for the message of Christ’s love to reach the people of Quebéc and for people like Billy who are working hard to make a difference in the lives of those around them. There’s truly nothing more powerful than the message of Christ’s love, may you experience in its fullness.