In May 2019 an overnight electrical fire gutted the sanctuary of Le Flambeau Evangelical Baptist Church. The community of Granby, Que., responded with numerous messages offering help and encouragement.
Le Flambeau has become a staple in Granby, helping about 5,000 people every year through its food bank and used item store. François Provencher, the church’s senior pastor, has become known in the community as “the man who gives food.”
Statistics Canada (2015) reported 15.5 per cent of individuals in the city (population 70,000) were low income, with the highest numbers of these being single parents and seniors. “We received a lot of calls from people who needed help just to eat or feed their children,” says Nastassia Charest, Provencher’s wife.
The church started a food bank to respond to this need. Every Friday they provide groceries for 150 to 200 people. The thrift store offsets costs for the food bank and dispenses affordable clothing, furniture and technology. The church-run ministry doesn’t require extensive proof or limit frequency of requests, unlike other city food banks. “You can come every week, no questions asked. We just help,” says Charest.
“We take care of their hearts too,” says Provencher. Often food bank clients and volunteers ask questions about God or the church. Several of them have become Christians and joined Le Flambeau.
Provencher uses gardening examples from the church’s organic community garden to explain the gospel, such as how compost gives plants life-giving nutrients. “We help them discover why God created the plants and how they work together,” he says. “It’s a good testimony to have good management of our land.”
Throughout the pandemic the church has continued to run the food bank, which is an essential service. They hope the repairs will be finished on their damaged building by summer 2020, but this will depend on health regulations.
Previously the congregation of over 300 was mostly higher income. Now they have people from all economic circumstances. “The love has grown in the church.” –ILANA REIMER