As we prepared to lead our first mission team to Northern Ireland, we were not exactly sure what to expect, but we knew if anything was going to happen, God was going to have to show up. And as always, God did not disappoint. Our National Director, Andrew Clements put it this way: "Sometimes people want to know, "if you pray and share the gospel in the streets and homes of Northern Ireland what kind of people will you be sharing with? Here's some of the people we met with last week: Pensioners, young people, Catholics, protestants, atheists, agnostics, drug addicts, alcoholics, paramilitaries, the terminally ill, Irish, English, Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Slovakian, German, people involved in cults, people who believe in reincarnation, people who have been victims of child abuse, new mothers, single men, the wealthy, and the unemployed...to name a few! Thank God that the one gospel we have, is good news for all kinds of broken people!"
As we set out to share the gospel in Kilkeel, Warrenpoint, Guilford and West Belfast, we knew the ground was going to be tough but we also knew there was power in the gospel; power to transform lives and power for salvation to all who will believe. Here are some stories from the harvest:
We set out with high hopes. The weather was beautiful and as we knocked on the first door we received a polite, "no thanks," and then the next door and the next and the next, only not all were polite. The first community was a little disheartening, but we pressed on. The next community we came to was a street lined with fourplexes, with two apartments on the top and two on the bottom. At the first home we met a man and his two roommates. They invited us in and were very receptive to the gospel. All three men had been homeless and living in the streets for about two years and were grateful for a roof over their heads and were willing to open up their home for a Bible study. At the next home, we were met with a little skepticism and were asked what we wanted. When we stated that we just wanted to pray for him, he invited us in, as he was a taxi driver on a mid-afternoon break. We prayed and shared the gospel with him. As he listened, his eyes started to well up and he explained that he wasn't sure why he let us in, because he usually ran people like us off. He then told us that he was concerned for his health and that he was struggling with alcoholism. We prayed for him and he also agreed to meeting for a Bible study. As we wrapped up our day in that area, we had five people committed to meeting for a Bible study which we hope will be the seeds for a new church plant that will reach that community. -Tony
Psalm 34:18 says, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit
. As I knocked on doors in Warrenpoint and West Belfast, God lead me to meet three wonderful women. He is using each of their situations to call them back to Himself. One woman, a single mother, just lost her beloved father and was struggling with grief. One woman, upon finding out she was pregnant, was abandoned by her husband and he had moved in just around the corner with his old girlfriend and the children they had together. The last woman was unsure of how to deal with the suicides of three of her friends within the last year, so she began self-harming in order to somehow cope. As we sat on her couch, not only did we pray for her and share the gospel, I also shared the parable of the Prodigal Son and she was enthralled. Afterwards she told me the most lovely part was that the son wasn't even close to the house when the father ran out to meet him. The father had been lovingly and diligently watching and waiting for his son and was ready to greet him when he did return. It is beautiful to see people discover God and His love for us by sharing Stories of Hope. Besides brokenness and hardship, these three women had several things in common. They all stated that they had recently been thinking about God, none of them owned a Bible, all were open to prayer and hearing the gospel and all want to have someone come back and study the Bible with them. -Lisa
We would love to tell you more stories, stories of young men dealing with drug addiction, men and women without jobs or hope, the sick struggling with the prospects of death, and on and on, but what we really want you to know is that the gospel brings hope. Andrew Clements and his team will spend the next few weeks following up with the 35 people that were interested in studying the Bible. Please join us in praying that the seeds of the gospel that were scattered across N. Ireland will grow up and multiply and bring hope, healing and salvation to all of Ireland and beyond.