O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together Ps 34:3
We returned last week from Ireland after leading our largest team ever: 27 campaigners plus the two of us. In truth, I have never prayed more for a team, or trip, than I did over this one. I was nervous about all the moving parts. So many documents and finances to manage, flights for such a large team at a time when airlines are canceling flights regularly...you get the point. The prep work that goes into a trip long before we depart is always a lot of work. I prayed diligently for unity, safety, uneventful flights, planning, open doors for the Gospel and also for the Lord to grow me as a leader.
The Lord put together such an incredible team. Even with having very long bus rides to our ministry sites, sleeping dorm-style with people we just met, late nights and early mornings, shared bathrooms, this team was unified and no one complained because we all knew we were there to serve Jesus and make Him known. We had a team from Texas that served with Tony in Donegal and a team from South Carolina who I served with in Dunleer.
Stories from the field
God is at work in Ireland. So many spiritual conversations took place and I want to share a few of those with you.
- A young man whose family are all agnostic, said he had a desire to learn more about Jesus and had been reading the Bible online and listening to sermons on YouTube. He thought sin in his life was holding him back from coming to Jesus but was surprised when he heard a personal, clear Gospel presentation. He is very interested in coming to a Bible study and learning more.
- A homeless man who wasn't the least bit interested in receiving prayer or hearing the message we were there to share. However, the next day, he was completely open to both!
- A young mother in a coffee shop who said she didn't know if God would let her into heaven. When asked if she would want to know, she said "no." Then she asked our team member, "would you want to know?" They responded with a strong "Yes!" And then 1 John 5:9-13 was read to hear, and she wept. She said her grandmother had been a very devout Christian and hearing the Scripture brought back all the things about Jesus her grandmother had told her.
- A middle-aged Muslim man with two children was very moved by the Gospel he heard and is interested in coming to a Bible study and learning more about Jesus.
- One woman was very noticeably moved by the Gospel she heard, but when asked if she would like to learn more and participate in a Bible study, she became hardened and said she would stick to her own prayers and belief system.
Overall, our team had around 150 Gospel conversations during our trip! One last, amazing story.
The Gospel at the Sin Bin
After a long, discouraging day, two of our team members needed to find a restroom before the long drive back to Ballyards. They found a rugby club that allowed them to use their facilities. This club was called "The Sin Bin." One of our team members had a very in-depth conversation with the bartender about Jesus and he shared the Gospel with him. The conversation went so well, with many questions being asked about Jesus and what Scripture says, that our team member thought this man may make a decision to follow Christ right then. He didn't, however, he said he was extremely open and eager to learn more and very interested in attending a Bible study.
Please pray for all of the precious people mentioned above and for all the others who heard the life-saving message of Jesus Christ.
No matter how much we try to prepare people for how hard the soil is in Ireland, they are completely taken aback once they actually go out into the field. But we talked much about planting seeds and being patient for God to grow them. Afterall, He is the One "who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ep 3:20). I look forward to seeing what God will do with all the seeds that were planted last week.
Part of the South Carolina team and me in Dunleer.
Sharing the Gospel and Scripture with coffee shop baristas
The entire team, and our host Nigel, at the Ballyards Castle where we stayed.
We were blessed to have so many musically gifted people to lead us in worship each morning before our devotional.
It is challenging to find accommodations for such a large team. But the Lord provided us with the beautiful Ballyards Castle which is a Christian Retreat Centre in Co. Armagh, NI.
Looking ahead to October
After we dropped the team at the Dublin airport, we took the train to Cork to meet with ministry contacts and start planning our October trip. Over the last two years, God has raised up laborers for us to partner with so this will be the first time we will be taking a team to this area. Please be praying for us as we plan, and train this team as well as for open doors for the Gospel in Cork.
Praise - For all the spiritual conversations and Gospel presentations our team had - For the growth of the brand new Discovery Bible Study in Dunleer - For the Partnership the Dallas Team (Willow Bend Church) has committed to by adopting Donegal. They will focus their giving and trips to this area! - For one of the South Carolina churches who would like to have us take their church to South Africa - For a couple who came with us that are praying about coming on staff with e3 - For all of YOU who partner with us in praying and giving!