Rainbows, lush green rolling hills, friendly people, ancient castles and lively music are what most people imagine when they think of Ireland which is why I believe Ireland is on most travel bucket lists. While all those thing are true, spiritually, Ireland is very dark. No matter how much we try to equip our teams for the obstacles they will face doing evangelism, there is always at least one person who says they didn't quite believe us until they went out to engage people in spiritual conversations.
With less then half of 1% of Irish people identifying as Christian, Ireland is the least reached English speaking country in the world. This is difficult for most Americans to wrap their minds around. Throughout the years, there has sadly been much abuse within the church and since the church was so influential to the government, most people don't trust institutions of any kind. This is probably the biggest barrier we face. But there are also things like suicide, unemployment and broken homes that are widespread across the island. This team spent our time working in a coastal town called Youghal (pron. y'all) which is a stronghold for witchcraft. Over the weekend, we witnessed their rituals as they called on evil spirits to take part in their festivities and lead the townspeople in a parade through the streets with an effigy of a dead witch that they called forth from the sea. It was incredibly heartbreaking to watch parents take their children to take part in such things. Unfortunately, the old Celtic traditions are growing all across the island.
But we know that our God is bigger than all of these things and the darkness cannot overcome the light. We were very encouraged to work with a new ministry partner, Ross, and the team from his church Breaking Bread. Although the ground is tough, our team did have the opportunity to pray for people and share the Good News of Jesus and praise the Lord, there are 6 people for Ross to follow up with!
Ross also has a podcast and he invited three of our team members, Tony, Terri and Jonathan to record an episode. The link is below. I pray that you will take approx. 30 minutes of your time and give it a listen. Tony and Jonathan talk about the relevancy of the Gospel today and Terri shares her very powerful testimony of what Jesus did in her life. My prayer is that it will be a blessing to everyone who hears it, especially those in Ireland.
Whether God used this team to till up the soil through prayer, plant a seed of the Gospel or water one that has already been planted, I truly believe that there will be a great harvest across the whole of Ireland. Our God is more than able and we know it is His desire to do so.
It is such a privilege to serve Him in this ancient and beautiful land that I've come to love so very much.
Over the past several years, I have had many challenges with my family, which I have mentioned before as well as some personal health issues, the loss of my mother this year and still dealing with my father's ongoing, declining health. For almost 17 years, we have been leading teams and training new staff and this year was especially busy. I love what I do, however, I have come to realize that I need to take a sabbatical and let the Lord refresh me. I thank you all in advance for your prayers and support through this time which will be from Thanksgiving to the end of the year.
May our wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus, bless you all richly the holiday season.