“For faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things that are not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval” (Hebrews 11:1-2, RSV).

One of the greatest privileges of my Christian life has been the joy of being around and knowing great patriarchs of the faith. Some of these giants are extremely well-known, with international ministries reaching millions, but there are others who, although much less known, have had a life-lasting impact on my faith and ministry.

I am inspired, provoked to good works, motivated and moved by the testimonies of these men and women of faith. One such man with character of tempered steel was Pastor Bernard Sigouin. Oh, I know, you most likely have never heard of him, but hell feared him and heaven celebrates his faith.

Pastor Bernard was among those believers who became a Christian in the fifties as severe persecutions were raging in the French province of Quebec, which at that time was engulfed in spiritual darkness. He became a believer in one of the first waves of Quebecers who responded with faith to God’s call for ministry in our nation. He was a heroic and precious pastor, as well as founder and builder of many churches in this part of Canada, which is still considered one of the most unevangelized fields in the world. I was honored to serve with this precious pastor as he entered the autumn of his ministry and his life.

Pastor Bernard and I became friends and one year before his death I was sitting with him in a restaurant having breakfast. As a young pastor I loved spending time with this precious man. Our church was taking care of him and I wanted to do something special—I wanted to bless him. I said, “Pastor Bernard, we would like to do something for you and your wife. Would you like to go on a trip and see the ocean or something?” I knew he had lived his entire life consumed by God’s work and had not done much in the way of leisure activities.

He grabbed my hand, and looking me straight in the eye, he said, “If you want to do something for me, pray that God would give me one more year to serve Him.” That’s all he wanted.

“By faith they pleased Him and by faith they possessed a testimony!”

Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.