In the summer of 2009, 19-year-old Natasha Bass drove—alone—1,070 miles from Greenville, South Carolina, to Montreal, Quebec. She had no itinerary, no contacts at her destination, and definitely no notion of how a short-term mission of a few months in a highly secular culture would change her life.
Bass had intended to study French in Switzerland for the summer. Her plans fell through, so she prayed for direction. "I told God I wanted my summer to be used by him."
While researching housing options in Switzerland, she had received an e-mail about an apartment in Montreal. She found an inexpensive part-time French course and sensed a door opening. She prayed for two more days. The next morning, she had a sense of peace. "I got in my car and started driving."
A day later, Bass found herself in a situation that would have scared off many Florida-born Southerners. "The apartment was just awful," said Bass, "but I believed this was what I had to do."
Bass realized that she had landed in the middle of an enormous mission field: Montreal's famous Le Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, one of Canada's most densely populated neighborhoods and known for being literary, intellectually trendy, and artsy.
Despite its nominally Christian majority, Montreal and the larger Quebec Province are among the most underevangelized regions of North America. A 2008 Léger poll found that only 6 percent of Quebec's 6 million Catholics attended weekly Mass, down from 90 percent in the 1960s. About 7 percent of Quebecers are Protestants, and less than 1 percent identify as evangelical.
After two weeks, urban life began to wear Bass down. Then she found Temple Baptist Church, a congregation created 100 years ago by English-speaking residents. It ...