Fall 2020 Ministry Update

Dear partners,

The past 6 months have been really unique and filled with so many opportunities. For this update, I thought it would be great do to something a bit different and allow you to see our ministry in Québec from another angle so I invited my friend Norton Lages to interview me. Norton is my direct supervisor/mentor at Église 21 and is the director of Mission Québec for AÉBEQ (Fellowship Baptist denomination office of Québec).

The conversation went a bit longer than we had planned but I think you will enjoy our candid approach and the wide range of topics we discussed.

Hope you enjoy our conversation and don’t hesitate to share your comments bellow. Also, since we’re all pro at ZOOM meetings…..let us know when you’re available and let’s connect. We would love to hear from you and your family.

We are so thankful for your continued support!

-The Desbiens

Please continue to pray with us about these specific things:

  • Pray for patience and wisdom for Naomi in her homeschooling efforts with Madeleine and Sebastien
  • Pray for patience and wisdom as we continue to look for the right house and the specific area where God is calling us to live
  • Pray for Église 21. Our volunteers and city group (missional communities) leaders are facing a lot of uncertainty caused by the strong second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that is hitting the Montréal region.

Time flies when….

Hey there!!!

Happy 1 year anniversary partners! We have been serving in Québec for a year! Can you believe it?

Here’s our very first video update. Hope you enjoy it and don’t hesitate to share your comments.  Hope you are doing well and to have the chance to chat with you soon.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog to receive a notification when we upload a new post and please share this link with anyone who might be interested in joining our support team.

 

Lost in Translation

Dear partners,

It is such an honour to be on this journey with you and we are so thankful for your continued support. Here’s a glimpse into our life and how God has been moving in our hearts and ministry through the fall. 

Parlez-vous… Gospel?

Who knew that language is such a big deal!  We are discovering some aspects of our move to Québec that we didn’t anticipate.  We are experiencing the subtle impact that learning how to speak and worship in a different language can have on our hearts. Learning French has been both a challenge and a clear way that we can see God moving in and around us.  

Naomi is experiencing the disconnect that can often result of being part of a community that is worshipping in a different language. While she knows/understands some French, speaking it is quite difficult.  But God is good and is meeting her in this challenge through a friend from our city group named Lori-Anne who is spending time with her once a week to practice speaking French. God also answered my prayer about this situation last week.  I met Jason and Andréa, another missionary church planting couple from the States, and Andréa happens to be a certified French teacher specializing in helping adult anglophone who are learning French as a second language. Please join us and pray for the continued strength that Naomi needs to sacrifice comfort and familiarity on Sundays. Also, join us as we praise God for providing great friends at the perfect time to help us navigate this challenge. 

Madeleine’s, Élise’s, and Sebastien’s French is progressing very well. It is such a privilege to see them grow and learn so much over the past few months.  Their courage and flexibility is inspiring us to face some of our fears and to step out of our own comfort zone. Please continue to pray for the girls as they attend school in a very secular environment. 

The impact French language is having is different for me.  Praying, worshipping and preaching in French is not challenging in the way that I had anticipated.  God is good and is unlocking the linguistic information stored in my brain in a way that allows me to communicate clearly when given the opportunity. But the fascinating challenge that I am experiencing is that speaking to Him and sharing about Him in French just doesn’t feel “right” to me. I experience the same feeling each time Naomi and I try to speak French together. I believe that the feeling is triggered by the fact that English has become the language of my heart.  It is the language that I used to process the emotions and relationships that shaped me at the deepest level.  It is the language that God used to bring me from spiritual death to life. It is the language that I have used to cry out to Him in despair and to praise Him for all the good gifts that He has bestowed upon me/us. I find this dynamic fascinating and I am prayerfully exploring it’s impact because I don’t want it to become a blind spot that the enemy can exploit in moments of doubts or weakness as we continue to step into what God wants to accomplish through us in Québec. 

All of this leaves me with the realization of the importance of learning how to speak the Gospel as a second language.  To be so familiar with the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ that we are able to communicate it, in words and actions, in a way that transcends linguistic or cultural barriers. I am so thankful for the work of Jeff Vanderstelt who guides us through this idea so well in Gospel Fluency. Gospel fluency is constantly on my mind as I am thinking through how to effectively plant a church in the south shore region of Montreal.  I am increasingly aware of how “good” the good news is to me and I believe that it has the power to transform lives the way it transformed my own.  I am so thankful for the people God gave us the opportunity to connect with in the past few months and I pray for the wisdom to speak the gospel fluently as we share our life with these amazing families. 

Église 21 South Shore French City Group Update

We continue to take steps toward the official launch of a French city group (missional community) that will be “multiplied” out of the anglophone city group that we are currently part of.  We are so excited and thankful for the fact that our friends Trenton and Lori-Anne will be stepping into this great opportunity with us and can’t wait to see how God will be moving through this “groupe de quartier” in 2020.  

Alpha

Back in the summer I was offered the position of regional director for the province of Québec with Alpha Canada.  After spending a number of weeks praying and going through the interview process, Naomi and I discerned that this role is part of the good work that God had prepared for us to take on here in Québec and I accepted the position on a part time basis.   I am very excited for this ministry for a number of reasons.  I believe that Alpha could be a tool that God will use to begin to restore unity between protestant denominations and the Catholic church and my role gives me a backstage pass into this very unique process.  We are also very thankful for the fact that my role with Alpha, when combined with the financial support of our partners, takes away the financial pressure for Naomi to find work and allows her to focus her attention on the needs of our kids as well as learning French as we continue to navigate this year of transition.

Fundraising Update:

We continue to praise God for all of you who have been partnering with us so faithfully so far.  Thank you for praying for us and for supporting us financially with such generosity.  Our list of partners continues to grow but we invite you to pray with us for the faith we need to continue to raise the last $13,000 we need to reach our goal of $61,000 per year for the next three years. 

Peace be with you my friends!

– JD

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Growth Spurt

This week marked four months since we moved from Quesnel, BC to Longueuil, QC.  I feel like the past four months has had a great impact on our family and our faith. Naomi and I had the chance to go out yesterday evening and we were reflecting a little bit about how God called us here and the things that we have experienced recently that confirmed or affirmed that we are exactly where He wanted us to be. Our desire and prayer while preparing for our move here was that we would meet new people with whom we could live out our faith and also to share our faith with. God has been faithful and surrounded us with a great community already.  Our church’s south shore city group — or missional community — that we were invited to join has been a real blessing to us since moving day. We are so thankful to be surrounded by families who are fully invested in living out the gospel in all aspects of their life. 

Naomi has been very intentional in her efforts to connect with people who don’t know Jesus. She has been spending time with another mom she often ran into at school pickup (her kids and ours also get along well) and we continue to invite their family to join some of the activities organized by our city group. I am extending the same invitation to a family for whom I had the privilege of officiating their wedding ceremony a few years ago and who lives about 15 minutes away from us. Please pray that our friends will come to know Jesus.

On the church front, I can honestly say that the past few months have been filled with great learning opportunities.  I feel very supported and I am invited to contribute at all levels of leadership and decision making.  Église 21 is a great place for us to learn how to belong in and potentially lead a church built on the philosophy of missional communities. I feel like I am being challenged to grow in my leadership in the best possible way and I am very thankful for the mentors God has provided to guide and support me in this very unique season of ministry.  God has been good to us and has recently given us a vision for our future in ministry. We are officially preparing to launch a Francophone missional community for the south shore region this coming January and are excited by the fact that God has blessed us with another family to join us and co-lead this great ministry with us. 

This summer has been good for our family. The weather has been amazing so we are taking advantage of the free outdoor local public swimming pools in our area and it’s been amazing to see the kids get more confident and courageous in the water. We like to go on family bike rides around the neighbourhood and are taking advantage of some of the family friendly activities the city has to offer such as the circus festival that took place in Montreal in July.  I feel like we are still only scratching the surface of the potential of the amenities and services our new location has to offer and I can’t wait to see what treasures we will discover along the way.  We visited my family in Saguenay in early July and are planning another trip in late August.  It’s been great to reconnect with them and for the kids to have the opportunity to get to know my side of the family. 

How to pray with us:

The pain of mourning the life that God had blessed us with in BC is intense for all of us. Having to start fresh and make new connections is a challenge that pushed my introvert wife right out of her comfort zone and she often finds herself missing the friends and tight-knit Bible study group she had in Quesnel.  I invite you to pray with me that she will experience comfort by submitting her grief to the hands of our Lord knowing that He knows our pain and wants to meet us in it.  Also pray for faith and courage for Naomi who will be taking a full-time French class starting in September. This will help her continue to tackle all aspects of our future life and ministry here in Québec, including the job market in the field of nursing, with confidence. 

Being a stranger in a familiar place is a very unique challenge that I did not anticipate while preparing for our move. I don’t really know how to explain the way it feels yet, but I am starting to realize the depth of the impact the past 17 years in BC had on my identity. Please pray with me for wisdom as I navigate this challenge so that I am able to identify the root of the challenges I am experiencing in order to be an effective guide for Naomi and the kids, and an effective ambassador for the gospel to the people God will continue to put on our path. 

Summer can be a bit lonely for an elementary kid who just moved to a new neighbourhood. Please pray with us for comfort and friends for Madeleine and also for Elise. They also very much miss their Quesnel friends. I also invite you to pray with us for wisdom as we continue to look for ways to effectively teach Godly truth to our kids in the midst of a public school curriculum that celebrates very different values. 

We praise God for all of you who have been partnering with us so faithfully for the past 4 months.  Thank you for praying for us and for supporting us financially with such generosity.  Our list of partners continues to grow but we invite you to pray with us for the faith we need to continue to raise the last $13,000 we need to reach our goal of $61,000 per year for the next three years. 

Blessings to you and yours and we hope to have the opportunity to talk with each of you soon. 

– JD 

Change!

I am sitting at Starbucks in an area of Montreal named “Le Quartier des Spectacles” where you can find all sorts of museums, art galeries, studios and concert halls. It’s in this creative space that I decided to write this brief update to share a few details about our recent move to Quebec and all the different changes we are experiencing.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel back to BC to promote the ministry of Mission Quebec at IMPACT — the FEB Pacific annual conference — and continue to invite people to partner with us and support our family’s new ministry.  Being back on BC soil and being in the presence of the FEB Pacific family made our move to Quebec so…..REAL!!! Each familiar face I encountered, each familiar road I travelled on or landscapes I got to see reminded me that BC is no longer home and made me feel a wide range of emotions regarding our move that I had not paid much attention to until then.  I felt a deep sadness about the fact that I will no longer have the opportunity to serve alongside my FEB Pacific brothers and sisters. So I took the opportunity to say an official goodbye and wrap a hug on friends, mentors and disciples who have been such a blessing to me over the years.  I felt a deep sense of hope and anticipation each time I had the chance to share the vision of Mission Quebec and the ministry that God has called us to step into in Quebec. Revisiting the old stomping grounds so soon after our move somehow gave me greater clarity and appreciation for what God prepared for us to step into in Quebec. In Eglise 21 and Mission Quebec, I have been blessed with more brothers and sisters in Christ who are on fire for the gospel and, because of the different spiritual reality of the province of Quebec, support each other more intentionally and deeply. In our past ministry and its many faces, experiences, victories and failures, all I can say with certainty is that God is good. In the recent goodbye and its many changes, lessons, smiles and tears, all I can say with certainty is that God is good. In our future ministry and its new….EVERYTHING – discomforts, learning, growth, energy and community, all I can say with certainty is that God is good.

One of the many changes we are experiencing right now is on the school front. Madeleine was finally able to start school on April 23 (just about a month after the whole family arrived in Quebec) and it’s been a massive change for her to process. We enrolled her in a school offering a 50/50 French and English program to make her transition a bit easier. She was very excited the day she found out that she would finally be able to start attending school again but after a few days the excitement turned into anxiety. The night before she started school I prayed with her and asked her to open up to God and share her fear with Him. I asked her if there was anything she wanted to pray for and she simply said: “Jesus, can I make one new friend tomorrow please?” I was flying to BC the following day but I had the opportunity to be the one to pick her up from school before driving to the airport. Immediately after getting into the van, I asked her if God had answered her prayer and she had made a new friend.  She simply looked at me and said: “no”.  My heart sank and as I was about to share some comforting words with her she said: “well, He didn’t give me what I asked for, He gave me something even better! I made five new friends not just one!” It’s when God shows up in moments like these that I am reminded of His presence and love over all aspects of our life and that I find the strength to face the ever growing list of changes and challenges.

Here’s how you can pray with us.

Strength for Madeleine: Finishing grade 3 in a completely new school presents a lot of challenges for a newly minted nine year old. Please pray for strength and protection as she continues to adjust to her new school and teachers.

Comfort and friends for Elise: Our little Beezy has been missing Quesnel very much.  She has been quite emotional over the past few weeks which made us realize how attached she was to Quesnel and the wonderful friends who were part her life there.  Please pray for wisdom as we learn how to comfort her in this season of transition and for God to help us continue to make connections with families with kids Elise’s age.

A job and French language for Naomi: Naomi received her temporary (due to needing to learn French) licence from the OIIQ to work as a nurse in Quebec and is actively looking for employment. Please pray for patience and peace as she continues to search for the opportunity/job that God has prepared for her to take on.

Patience and clarity in ministry: My transition into Eglise 21 has been amazing so far and I am very thankful that God has called me to join the leadership of this church. Join us as we praise Him for this great opportunity and such a smooth transition so far. Also pray with us for wisdom as we continue to discern the precise role and responsibilities that I am to take on moving forward. I am so thankful for the great level of patience and space the team and elders are giving me to focus on “living our transition to Quebec well” but I need you to join me and pray for patience so that I can truly enjoy this gift and resist the temptation to rush into “doing”.

Our financial situation: God continues to provide through new partners and a scholarship I was awarded by SEMBEQ related to the Immerse program. Through the counsel of the elders at Eglise 21 and the directors of Mission Quebec, we have adjusted our financial goal from $45,000 to $60,000 per year.  As of today, God allowed us to raise $44,000 per year in pledges and we have received $6,500 in funds from our current partners. We are very thankful and are really in awe of the way He is blessing our decision to take on this ministry and move to Quebec. Please know that God continues to use your support in a powerful way and that each prayer and donation has been an amazing source of support that has given us the strength to face all aspects of this season of transition. However, we have an urgent need to raise an extra $5,000 — in capital as opposed to pledges — in order to meet the financial requirements/structures established by the church to ensure the financial stability of its missionaries. Once we reach this target, we will be able to start receiving a regular pay cheque and we will be able to stop living off our savings.  Please pray for God to continue to provide new partners and consider giving the remainder of your annual support in 1 lump sum this year if possible to help us reach our target in accumulated funds as soon as possible and allow us to start receiving a pay cheque.

We are thankful for each of you and are blessed by your partnership.

Much love to you and yours!

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What a ride!

Dear friends and family,

I’m writing this update from the offices of Eglise 21 in Montreal QC. Our family left Quesnel 17 days ago today and so much has happened since we’ve left. 

We left Quesnel Saturday March 16th as planned but the rest of that day din’t go as planned. The moving truck broke down just south of 150 Mile House BC which threw a wrench in our schedule but turned out to be a great opportunity for the gospel. Scroll down to the paragraph titled “A Divine Appointment” for the rest of the story. 

I finally made it to Abbotsford at 2 am on the 16th and after a few hours of rest I was able to enjoy our planned activities for the weekend. The rest of the weekend was filled with hugs and great conversations with dear friends and family that filled my heart and gave me strength for the journey from BC to QC that started early Monday morning. 

The first few days on the road went very well. We travelled through BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba without any mechanical issues and enjoyed great weather that allowed us to appreciate the way God shaped the Canadian landscape. We reached Kenora Ontario Wednesday March 20. The plan for the following day was to travel from Kenora to Kapuskasing but we ran into a blizzard just before entering the city of Hearst and the truck didn’t feel safe to drive on snowy roads so we decided to find a motel once we reached the city and call it a day. The following day — Friday — was a very challenging day. The roads were slippery and the 80km/h wind made it very hard to keep the truck on the road but dad and I finally arrived in Longueuil QC at 11:30 pm which felt like a huge victory. We rested for a few hours at my friends Cendrix and Mylene’s place to recharge before unloading the moving truck the following day. 

Saturday morning, a great crew of helpers from Church/Eglise 21 was ready to take on unloading the truck, assemble/organize furniture and unpack a few boxes for us. By 2 pm, all our suff was in our temporary rental place, the beds were assembled and the duplex was beginning to look and feel like a home. I really experienced God’s love on that day and our City Group’s generosity had a great impact on my family and friends who there to help as well. After returning the moving truck, I noticed that dad didn’t seem to be feeling very well and I asked if he needed anything. He told me he was probably just tired from the trip and moving day and needed to rest so we went back to Cendrix and Mylene’s place where we were planning to spend the night. Dad told us he wasn’t feeling very hungry and would prefer to just go to bed. The following morning, I found him sitting in the living room where he had apparently spent the night in pain and dealing with a high fever. I took him to the nearest emergency room where he was diagnosed with a severe prostate infection that was on the verge to contaminate his blood.  He was admitted on Sunday and spent the following 4 days in the hospital on IV antibiotics.  He was discharged on Thursday and I drove him to Quebec City where we met my brother so he could pick him up and rive him the rest of the way back to Jonquiere. I spoke with him today and he seems to be recovering very well. 

Naomi and the kids arrived the day after dad was admitted to the hospital. We spent our first few days getting used to our new city and all it has to offer. We found an English school that offers a French immersion program (half day in English and half day in French) for Madeleine and she seems to be excited to start attending once her registration will be processed.  

Our first week in Quebec was challenging but finished on a high note. We attended our very first Eglise/Church 21 baptism party on Saturday and it was a powerful experience that reminded us why we moved here.  It was amazing to see over 200 people gathered on a Saturday night in the heart of downtown Montreal to witness and celebrate 6 people being baptized. Each of the followers of Jesus who got baptized shared a powerful testimony of how Jesus has given them freedom and hope before proclaiming their desire to live for Him and Him alone moving forward.  The baptisms were followed by a time of fellowship where all the people gathered enjoyed food and danced. It was a celebration that showed us that God is on the move and people in Quebec are responding to His love and lives are being transformed. We are excited to see how God will continue to move in the coming weeks. 

Here’s how you can pray with us: 

Naomi has sent a few resumes to the different English hospitals in Montreal and is still waiting to hear back. Please pray for peace as we wait to hear and for faith that God will provide the right job for Naomi at the right time. 

Please pray for all the paperwork related to Madeleine’s school registration to be processed quickly so she can start school as soon as possible. 

God has provided in a powerful way for our ministry since we started inviting people to partner with us and support our work in Quebec. Our goal is to raise $45,000 per year for the next 3 years and so far (since we started mid February) we have raised just under $30,000. Please pray for God to continue to provide more partners willing to support our ministry. 

Please pray for wisdom around our housing situation. Our current place was always going to be a temporary solution (our lease comes to an end June 30th) and we need to reach our financial support goal and for Naomi to find work in order for us to qualify for the mortgage we need to buy a permanent place here in Longueuil/St-Hubert. 

We thank you for praying with us and for supporting our ministry so generously. 

A divine appointment: The moving truck broke down just south of 150 Mile House BC. Naomi and the kids were already ahed of me so we decided that they should continue to travel to Abbotsford as planned and that I would join them as soon as I could.  I was stuck o the side of the road for about 45 minutes waiting to be towed to 100 Mile House for the truck to be inspected and either fixed or replaced. I started praying the moment the truck broke down and I invited my brothers and sisters in Christ in QC to join me as I asked God for wisdom and faith. God’s presence gave me peace and during the drive to 100 Mile House, I had the opportunity to share my testimony with the tow truck driver and his girlfriend. This would be a great story in and of itself but what follows makes it quite clear that God wanted me to share with these guys on that sunny Saturday…. It turns out that the oil pan on the tow truck was loose and it gradually lost all its motor oil on the way to 100 Mile House and the engine quit right as we entered the parking lot of the garage/u-haul depot I was being towed to for service. Once the moving truck was unhooked, a quick diagnostic of the engine revealed that the mechanism operating the gas pedal needed to be replaced. I had thought about all the different possible scenarios in my mind and was prepared to be told that fixing the truck would take at least 48 hours since they would need to get the part delivered and etc,…but what came out of the service tech’s mouth was a different story all together! He came up to me with a big smile saying “I have the exact same truck/engine on the back lot! I’ll take the part I need from it to fix your truck and you’ll be back on the road in less than an hour!” That is not how I was expecting our journey to Quebec to begin but this whole situation reminded me of the reason why we are moving to Quebec which is to share the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how His love transformed our lives with as many people as possible. My plan on that day was to move our stuff from Quesnel to Kamloops and to travel to Abbotsford to say goodbye to friends and family. I made it to Kamloops then to Abbotsford a few hours later than we had planned but the issues I encountered were a divine appointment orchestrated for me to share the gospel with a tow truck driver and his girlfriend in the middle of nowhere BC on that day.

Our 2014 – Naomi’s Cut

January 31, 2014 was “D-Day” for our family. One year ago JD was given his diagnosis: colon cancer. One year ago he tried to absorb this information in our GP’s office with Madeleine on his lap. One year ago he called me at work: “It’s cancer,” his voice wavered. I’ll never forget how pained he sounded.

He came to see me at work and we stood there staring at each other. It was like an explosion in the movies and all you can hear is a deafening silence. The shock waves reverberated around us. The unknown sagged in the air between us. I was two months pregnant.

We began the difficult but unavoidable task of telling our family, friends, and coworkers. We tried to answer questions that we didn’t even know the answers to. How bad is it? What is the treatment? I remember realizing that if this cancer stole my husband from me, Madeleine was old enough to have some memories of her Papa, but our unborn child would never know him. What would I do?

The following weeks were a blur, like watching the scenery whoosh by out the window at 200km/hr. There was bloodwork, caring for Madeleine, my job, surgery, arranging childcare, pain and nausea and starting chemo. There were hospital visits, questions, dressing changes and updates to all our people. There were friends and family and there was support. And there was God.

With wind and debris swirling around us, there was God in the center of it all, in the calm of the storm. And he was GOOD. He always has been and always will be. His goodness does not depend on our circumstances. We serve a faithful God who does not change, who does not abandon us and who is in control of the bigger picture. Of this I was, and still am, absolutely certain.

Last year was difficult for so many reasons. Looking back I didn’t even realize how hard it was sometimes, I was just in it, forging through, doing what I needed to do. We couldn’t have done it without the prayers, thoughts and practical support of so many people. There were days that were discouraging and then God would prompt someone to call us or write us a card. There were days I just did not have it in me to make supper and then dinner would show up at our door. There are MANY more examples of how God provided exactly what we needed at exactly the right time.

I am not, by nature, a calm person. I freak out, I stress out and I over-react. But I didn’t about JD’s cancer. Because of people’s prayers, I was engulfed with peace. God’s peace that transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds. I had only read about it before in that Bible verse in Philippians 4:7, but now I had the opportunity to experience it. A peace that wasn’t logical given the circumstances, but it was a solid sense that God knew what he was doing and that we would all be ok, no matter what the outcome.

I was asked if I wondered why this was happening, why did my husband get cancer at 33 years old? I didn’t wonder why. Being a Christian doesn’t mean life is perfect, a flawlessly iced cake with dark chocolate curls delicately zested on top. Even at our best life is still messy, more like a toddler’s attempt at pouring cereal into a bowl, but as a Christian I have God’s grace to bring me through the storms. The times when #@$% happens. Do I deserve the help? No. Is it there for me anyway? Yes. God reminded me of Job. Should we accept good from God and not trouble? Why JD had cancer doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that my faith was tested and taught to persevere as James 1:3 describes. What matters is that our struggles gave me the chance to completely rely on God and to be humbled and accept help when there was no way I could repay the favours. We got to see God’s grace in action through people willing to be used by him.

So, it’s one year later. Cancer sucks. Colonoscopies suck. Chemo sucks. But my faith and hope in God have become more tenacious. We have an incredible baby girl. JD has a cancer-free (semi-)colon. And I thank God.

The End of Fighting

Tests, the news, the surgery, 7 months of treatments. 11 rounds going toe to toe with an opponent who doesn’t fight fair.

But in the midst of all this: An amazing walk with my Lord and Saviour by my side. And a great blessing….

Shortly after being diagnosed, Naomi and I found out that God answered our prayer and blessed us with the ability to have another child. Since then, I had been praying that God would bring this child into this world in the pause between rounds; allowing me to truly live the arrival of my daughter rather than being a simple spectator affected by the side effects of treatment.

As He did on many occasions during this difficult season, God decided to remind us of His presence by answering my prayer just at the right time. Naomi’s water broke at 8:45 am on the day that round 9 was supposed to take place; giving me just enough time to contact the ward and postpone treatment for a week.

My precious baby girl, Élise Faith Desbiens, was born at 12:30 pm the following day and I was given the privilege of “being fully there” to support my wife through it all. I am a blessed man.

Round 9 was hard to go through. My body and spirit felt broken. I wanted it to stop; Throw in the towel and fall in my corner. All I wanted was to be done and give my precious family my very best in this challenging period of adjustments.

I met with Dr W. just after round 10 and, based on the lack of sensation in my hands and feet (neuropathy), she decided to stop giving me one of the two chemo drugs I have been taking to allow my nerve system to start healing as soon as possible and reverse the effects it had on my body.

I anticipated round 11 to be a walk in the park. After all, my opponent now had a hand tied behind his back. I stepped in the ring with confidence for the first time since round 7. A few moments into the round, I noticed that chemo had an evil grin on his face and suddenly started hitting me in the gut with strength and accuracy. This round attacked my resolve so deeply. I thought this was going to get easier and it ended up being the most uncomfortable round yet.

God shows up by sending my mother in law and her husband our way to give us the space we need to tend to our wounds and adjust to “life with a newborn” once again.

It’s October 9. The day before the 12th and final round. We drive up to Prince George to meet with Dr W in person and begin the conversation about “life after treatment”. I share with her the discomfort I experienced during round 11 and the impact it had on my resolve to step in the ring again. She recommends lowering the dose of the one remaining drug I would be taking which prompts me to ask her this question: “Do I have to go tomorrow? What impact is it going to have if I walk away now?” Her answer is simple: “It’s not going to make or break our efforts at this point and it is entirely up to you.”

Before you start judging me; remember that this fight has been going on for over eight months and that we have a newborn at home which brings it’s own set of “complications” into our daily life. My decision is quick but has been brewing for weeks. I bow out of the final round. Dr W officially confirms that treatment is over and that the season of recovery is finally here. I can’t hold the tears. The weight on my chest is slowly lifting. My fight is over.

If you are reading this and you have been praying for me and my family: I thank you.

If you are reading this and you have let God use you to comfort us in simple but meaningful ways over the last few months: I thank you.

If you are reading this and you want to continue to pray for us please pray for a positive outcome for the many tests that will take place over the coming weeks and that I will receive a clean bill of health when I meet with the oncologist to go over the results on October 27.

My heart is full these days. My Lord continues to heal me every day and my soul is being restored as well as my body. It’s now time to train before getting back in the game. I’ll be swinging for the fences for my God with every opportunity He will give me to step to the plate in the future.

Final note:

Thank you my love for being by my side at my best and at my worst. I thank the Lord for you every day and I am so proud to be your man. Thank you for being the kind of woman who is so loving and courageous that it makes me want to be a better man. Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere!

Round 7 & 8

Round 7 is here. Doctor W has ordered a dose reduction for one of the drugs that she believes to be my strongest opponent. I step into the ring with a false sense of confidence that this round will be mine. Chemo strikes hard and fast. The side effects multiply themselves and strike my most basic abilities from the get go. My hands are so sore that I can barely punch back. The pain in my feet makes it hard for me to stand and fight. I have barely enough energy to stay awake for 8 hours between days. The round is long. I dont feel like myself until Tuesday morning.

It’s Wednesday. Since Naomi and I are both off work, we decide to travel to Abbotsford for the next 6 days to see fiends and family and to give me an opportunity to say goodbye to a dear friend and mentor. Our visit turns out to be packed with activities with friends and family. We are thankful to be able to have fun and get away from the fight for a short time.

It’s Friday. We get some well overdue face time with the Kinna clan. A fantastic meal and even better company makes this a special night for us. The Lord is great and gave us this night to reconnect with friends and we leave with full hearts.

It’s Saturday and God gives us another chance to reconnect with brothers and sisters that are so dear to us. Madeleine asks if she can sleep with Patrick again. I’m not sure I like the question but deep down I find the strength to let it go! God gives us another fantastic day to rest from the fight and we leave with full hearts once again.

It’s Sunday. God gives me the strength and opportunity to enjoy the musical fellowship with my brother Darcy that I’ve been missing so much this past year. God gives me the strength to worship Him with energy, spirit and truth. My brothers and sister are with me. I feel so close to Him that I feel His touch and my heart is broken for Him once again. He is good. He is with us. He fights with me. He loves me when I hate this life. He’s not done with me. My soul is at peace. Thank you Lord.

It’s Monday morning. I call brother Jim’s house to check if he can/want to see me. He want’s to see me! I zip to Jason’s place to steal his bike and off I go to Jim’s house. There is so much care and love in this house. Brent is there as well. Bonus! Thank you God for allowing me to spend time with two of the most precious mentors God has brought into my life at once. Jim calls for me. I walk the steps and my heart jumps in my throat. I tell myself to hold it together so I’m able to tell my friend how much his presence in my life over the years has shaped the man that I am today. He’s strong enough to tell me a few words. I leave him knowing that I won’t see him again until God calls me to glory. My heart is conflicted. I desperately want more years with Jim to help me fight and continue to learn what it means to be a man after God’s own heart.

It’s Monday afternoon. It’s time to go home. We load up and are North bound in record time (for us!). I have chills on the drive up. I feel like my body isn’t quite right. I shrug it off.

It’s Wednesday. Doctor F wants me to be admitted to the local hospital because my white cell count is so low. They start the process but I end up going home with antibiotics and round 8 is delayed a week.

I’m able to come home and give Naomi her birthday card! It breaks my heart that I’m unable to give my wife the day she deserves. I’m unable to celebrate her the way she deserves to be celebrated. I thank God for her every day. She is the best partner and mother I could ever ask for and I am unable to give her the day that I believe her to be entitled to for being such a Godly woman. I’ll get to it baby. I promise.

It’s a week later. I’m sitting in the chair and the fight is on. Round 8 of 12. Only 4 more to go after this. It was hard to come to the hospital willingly this morning but by God’s amazing grace here I am. I am able to be here this morning because “I can see it now. Oh I can see the love in your eyes. Laying yourself down. Raising up the broken to life.”

Round 5 and 6

Round 5

I didn’t feel as strong going into round 5 than I did in the previous round. It’s Wednesday. The bell rings.  I get up and face my opponent.  Chemo seems to have learned how to get under my skin and make me wish we didn’t have to dance 12 rounds together.  It’s Thursday afternoon.  The side effects are making themselves at home in my system.  My mouth is raw and nothing has flavour or texture.  My hands are getting red and puffy.  My feet are sore and I’m able to peel chunks of skin off of them the same way we rip bandaids.  My energy is jumping ship.  

It’s Saturday.  Chemo’s got me in a corner is landing strong blows all over my body. I’m unable to join our community to honour the passing and celebrate the life of one of the strongest fighter I’ve ever met.  I get on my knees and I pray for the husband and children who fought with her throughout this long and difficult year.  I pray for them to find comfort and confidence in the fact that her soul is now at peace  and that she will forever live without the pain she fought against over the last few months.  

It’s Sunday evening.  The side effects made themselves so comfortable that they decided to stick around a little longer.  My appetite hasn’t returned.  My mind and my soul are tired.  My patience is very fragile.  I’m slipping.  My Lord feels distant.  I can’t let this happen. I lay in bed.  I pray for forgiveness and for healing.  

It’s Monday morning.  The bell finally rings.  The round is over.  I feel much better than last night.  I thank God.  

Round 6

It’s Tuesday evening.  Naomi helped me get some rest this afternoon. I join our fantastic volunteers and our fabulous students for Party In The Park.  God gives me the energy I need to close this ministry year with a bang.  I have the strength to officiate the World Series of Kickball!  I have the strength to win an Alka-seltzer tablet melting water gun duel! I have the strength to dance and run around.  I have the strength to say goodbye to some of our graduating students without melting down.  Man I love those kids!  I’m driving home. I thank God for leading me to this ministry. 

I finally lay in bed with my best friend.  She want’s to tell me about her day and the million different smart observations she’s made.  I do my best to listen but Chemo is on my mind.  I tell her I don’t want to get up and fight tomorrow.  She holds my hand and reminds me that we can celebrate the halfway point of this long journey tomorrow. My perspective changes. I close my eyes and silently ask God to help me rest and give me peace of mind.  I surrender my worries and sorrows.  A tear flows down as I feel His presence.  

It’s Wednesday morning. The bell rings.  I get up and face my opponent….