Pat Courtemanche: Faith Enough to Go

Pat Courtemanche: Faith Enough to Go

I grew up in a French-speaking home in Auburn, Maine with a sweet Canadian-born mother and an alcoholic father. My parents were Roman Catholic, though they allowed me to go to the Vacation Bible School (VBS) every year at the little Baptist church near my house. My friend’s grandparents were true believers and after VBS would run a little Backyard Bible club. This is where I first met Christ as a 6 year old and accepted him as my Savior. The leaders gave me a white Bible marked with the date that I’d accepted Christ. I didn’t know then that the white Bible would one day be precious to me.

As a senior in high school I began looking for meaning in life. I tried to find it in the Catholic church I’d attended since I was a child, but it felt like it was always the same thing and never meaningful. I made a couple new friends, Dave and Lisa, began working as a waitress and partying. Shortly after I started working at the restaurant, the manager asked if I would like to come to her church. Although I successfully put her off for a few months, I reluctantly said yes and accepted Christ on my second visit. Then I found that old white Bible with the date from 12 years earlier when I first met Christ and it occurred to me that God had been looking out for me from the time I first met him as a 6-year-old child.

I was newly graduated from high school and a new believer. Dave, Lisa and I began attending the youth group at the church but nearly everyone was younger than we were, so the fit was far from perfect. We each went away to our respective colleges and came back the following summer full of excitement for Jesus. It was then that I met a young man named Anthony who played drums.

Anthony and I dated for a few years, moved to Massachusetts, and married in 1982. We had our first daughters, Amanda and Molly, in 1988 & 1989. In the summer of 1993, we took a big step out of New England and moved to Florida. We lived there for 10 years and added Hannah (1995) and Max (1998) to our family. We were desperate to return to New England, but we could not orchestrate it and instead moved to Missouri in 2003. I hated it in Missouri and decided to pray about returning to New England, but I didn’t have much faith it would happen. About a year later, Anthony received a call from his company asking if we’d like to move back to Massachusetts. It was then that I recalled this verse from Psalm 139:  “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. When we were in Florida and tried to make the move to New England happen, we couldn’t. God knew when the timing would be right. He is faithful even when we are not.

We started attending Immanuel Church in Chelmsford in 2005.   One Sunday, we heard a presentation about a short-term missions trip to Russia. I didn’t believe God would ever call me to do something like that. I forgot about it and quickly began to be active in church, finally happy to be back in New England. It felt good to be in familiar, comfortable surroundings.

We heard about subsequent trips to Russia for the next few years and then in 2008, my husband expressed interest in going. I was pretty terrified and didn’t want anything to do with it. I knew that Jesus wanted me to share my faith but surely raising my kids and working at church with the youth and leading a small group were enough, right? Anthony, however, was so blessed by his trip, that he was determined to go again. In 2010, he brought our daughter Molly to Russia camp and she also had a life-changing time. Not only that, but, Larissa, one of the leaders at the camp told Anthony that she would pray that the NEXT YEAR he would be able to bring his whole family to camp.

I did not want to go to Russia! I didn’t know the language, how could I be effective? What was there to do? The kids were not impoverished like in Haiti; there was no physical need. I fought with God for months.

But God said “Go”. He paved the way and provided all the finances—down to the penny, for our entire family to go. The summer of 2011 changed my life and showed me a God bigger than I could ever imagine. Language barriers were nothing and my fears were gone as soon as I was at camp and experienced worshipping in both English and Russian with my Russian brothers and sisters. This past summer I made my 4th trip to Russia camp. I still know very little Russian but they know a little more English and we all work together to share our stories and our lives more and more each year. Our trips always begin with the thought that we are there to encourage the young Russian Christians in their faith but the truth is they encourage us just as much.

From the Backyard Bible Club to Moscow, Russia, there are people who need the Good News of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If God says “Go”, don’t be afraid! He IS faithful and will always equip you for whatever he has planned for you.

If you have any questions about my story, I hope you’ll come and ask me! I’d love to talk to you.

Patt was born and raised in the small town of Auburn, Maine and currently lives in Tyngsboro. She and her husband, Anthony, have 4 children (2 married and on their own, 2 still at home) and have lived in Florida and the midwest but have been back in New England for over a decade and are overjoyed that they are able to call it home. After homeschooling her kids for over 21 years, Patt loves being able to volunteer her time at Cornerstone. She enjoys traveling, weather, and cooking.