Population: 35 million (2012)
Official languages: English, French
Major religion: Christian
IFES movement: Groupes Bibliques Universitaires et Collégiaux du Canada (GBUC), Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (Inter-Varsity)
Canada is a bilingual, democratic country with two official languages; French and English. As the first country in the world to adopt an official Multiculturalism Policy, Canada places a high value on the dignity of all Canadian citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, language or religion. The country is increasingly secular in practice. About 40% claim Roman Catholicism as their religion but this does not translate into regular church attendance. Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism are growing.
There are two IFES movements in Canada: GBUC and Inter-Varsity.
- 10 francophone universities; 4 have GBUC groups
- 5 staff, 8 volunteers
- 2 groups of graduates
- largest groups: Montreal, Trois-Rivières and Rouyn Noranda
- smallest group: Cégep Bois de Boulogne, in Montreal
GBUC is the Canadian IFES movement in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec. There are few Christians in this part of Canada. Often seen as people unwilling to adapt their thinking to today's society (which is very secular and permissive), Christians often feel marginalized. They therefore have a tendency to avoid being witnesses of the gospel and to be ‘lukewarm’ in their faith.
It has been encouraging to see GBUC university students grow in their witness on the campus, talking about God with other students and their friends, inviting people to explore the Bible and keeping all these contacts in their prayers. The movement also gives thanks to God for new students joining the group and personally meeting the Lord.
Prayer is central to their ministry. Students’ participation to the biannual weeks of prayer is significant and fruit is visible in their lives. The biggest challenge is encouraging students to be true disciples of Christ, honest and faithful, and those who love God’s Word, whatever situation they may find themselves in.
View from the inside
Marc Debanné has been General Secretary of GBUC. His enthusiasm for student ministry comes, in part, from his personal life. ‘I have adult children and I know that peers, the friends that one makes when a student, will influence the direction of their lives. But I’m greatly encouraged when I read Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” God is my source for everything.’
Line Kaffo, the movement’s administrative assistant, adds: "We thank the Lord for the great team we have. The volunteer staff's dedication is a real strength for the movement. We are delighted to see how God blesses us through each member of the team.”
- for more students to discover Jesus Christ, develop in spiritual maturity and become fulfilled witnesses;
- for search for and transition to a new General Secretary;
- for the movement to become more firmly rooted in the tertiary institutions where mobilization is weak.
- 85 groups on 65 campuses
- about 3,700 core students; more than 2,000 students involved in weekly Bible study
- high school, undergraduate, graduate and international student ministries
- 9 Inter-Varsity summer camps reaching 9,300 campers
- 166 campus and camp staff
- 1,375 volunteers
Inter-Varsity continues to focus on getting students into Scripture where they can encounter the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ. In-depth studies of Mark’s Gospel and seeker-focused studies continue to engage students, even though the Bible is less and less familiar to most Canadian young people.
Tolerance is a strong Canadian value and it is challenging to help students understand how to present the call of Jesus Christ as singularly important.
View from the inside
Geri Rodman has served as President of Inter-Varsity since 2003 and has more than 30 years’ experience serving young people through this ministry. She says, ‘Canada needs fully committed followers of Jesus who are so transformed by God they cannot help but love their friends, family, co-workers into God’s Kingdom.’
She looks to Paul’s letter in 2 Corinthians 5:18 as she calls young people into God’s ‘ministry of reconciliation’: ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.’
- that Christian students will boldly invite their friends and neighbours to discover God’s love as they gather for meals, parties and to study Scripture together;
- that more and more students will say yes to following Jesus.