In the predominantly French speaking community of Granby, Quebec, an hour from Montreal, you will discover a little church that was once located ‘on the edge of town’. A church that may not be deemed flashy by many standards but a church that has a big heart to minister to its community and express the love of Jesus to everyone.
As a young pastor, Brent Robillard became the shepherd of this little flock in 1995. Married to Carolyn and a father to small children, Brent began serving and ministering to the people in this church and the surrounding community. As with any church there are seasons of lack, seasons of just enough and then there are those times in which one simply looks Heavenward and praises God for His incredible faithfulness.
COVID-19 has been a time in which God has been richly providing in both tangible and spiritual ways. In the early days of this pandemic news reports detailed the high number of cases in the province of Quebec. Businesses and churches shuttered across the nation as families and individuals sheltered at home.
Well the doors may have shut, Pastor Brent knew the message of Jesus would not stop and could not be silenced. He jumped in with both feet to the unknown that lie ahead and began to swim the uncharted waters of technology. On March 22 he and his wife sojourned into the church building bringing their first ever online service to ‘the flock’ via Facebook. The encouragement was sincere and earnest as he reminded people, “Don’t just live in the house with your family members but take this time to really invest in one another. Read the Word of God together, talk about your faith, talk about the hopes and dreams you have. This is a gift of time that in our fast-paced schedule we wish we could have had. Let’s use this time wisely.” The church mission statement is that as a church they would be “Christ-like and Christ’s Light to their community.” At the beginning of 2020, never did Pastor Brent imagine ‘the Light’ would be conveyed through the ‘blue light’ of a computer screen! Through weekly online Sunday services this small congregation continues to be a beacon of Christ’s Light reaching people well beyond what their Sunday in-person gatherings would usually see. Granby’s congregation members have been sharing the messages to friends and family through various social media platforms. Pastor Brent now has people viewing regularly from Jasper, Ontario and the Czech Republic. Not only are they viewing, but these people are financially supporting the church too!
Through the years of faithfully investing and planting, Pastor Brent is seeing that this pandemic is bringing new growth in people’s lives and a greater hunger for the things of God. There is no slowing down for this church. Two dedicated ladies lead a fun Scripture-based Saturday Zoomkids each week for Granby kids and their friends. The women’s monthly group had shifted to a weekly Bible study gathering on Mondays. After years of praying, a men’s group actually took off! Eight or so men have been connecting online each week. Pastor Brent is so encouraged by the spiritually rich conversations and accountability occurring as men forge deeper relationships with Christ and one another each week. We have Bible study and prayer time online on Tuesday nights as well. These have been challenging times but spiritually rich times too.
During this time of uncertainty people are seeking for answers and many are looking to the Church for answers and even stability. Pastor Brent shares about some deep faith conversations he has been having with a man who is dealing with a terminal illness. “People are leery about connecting with those who are sick, especially those who are dying”, but believing that every soul matters to God I have to continue to talk with my friend and pray that God’s Spirit will lead him to accept Christ.” The pastor recounts how individuals dealing with tough issues during this time of isolation have turned to God and are growing deep in their faith as opposed to defaulting to unhealthy vices which had occurred in the past.
Just prior to COVID-19 Granby Pentecostal had been experiencing consistent growth in attendance, and they realized the need to increase their number of parking spaces. Through the steady and consistent faithful giving over these past months, the parking lot was enlarged! Not only were they able to expand the parking lot, but the Lord had provided the means to replace the grass the locust...err grubs had destroyed the last couple of years!
Pastor Brent is in awe of the faithfulness of God over the years and especially during this unique season. “To be a part of the discipleship journey and life change that God is up to in this church is incredible. Not being able to see one another in person has been tough, however it has been thrilling to see the ministry in the church body really take off. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, the body of Christ is made up of many diverse members that are unique and purposeful just like the human body. To see the way this part of ‘The Body’ has really dug deep in service to one another and to their friends and family is a tangible example of God’s transformational power at work. God is so good!”
In September of 2020, Pastor Brent Robillard will be celebrating his 25th year of ministry at Granby Pentecostal Church.