It’s amazing how a certain place brings up memories long forgotten. Moriah and I (Dave Howell) recently flew into the San Francisco airport. As we were deplaning, we came out of the walkway, into one of the gates. I was immediately transported back ten years. I saw not the fifteen-year-old young woman next to me, but the five-year-old girl running around, trying to burn off the excess energy before we boarded our flight to Ireland. I remembered the smell of the clam chowder that eight-year-old Jonathan was eating. As we continued walking through the gate to get on with our day, I became very aware of the blessing of serving in ministry over these last ten years.
Last Sunday, I was preaching at the church in the village of Redcross. My text was Isaiah 35:3-4, “With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” This is such an amazing passage that speaks to the heart of why we serve our Irish friends.
Two weeks ago, the community of Tiglin (the drug and alcohol recovery center we partner with) was rocked with a tragedy. During this painful time, Trish and I were able to cry with them and share comfort and support for them. For a group of people who were hurting and weak, the news of a Father who hears and loves them was desperately needed. It was our privilege to have that opportunity to serve.
Not long ago, another friend was struggling with severe issues. As Tricia spent time caring for her and guiding her in this struggle, the news of hope was desperately needed. As Tricia spoke love and healing into her life, she was told how much it meant. She shared that Tricia was often the only source of such news that they heard. This is something that has been repeatedly spoken to us.
The Irish people are some of the most passionate people that you will ever meet. Their joy and exuberance in storytelling or reliving an experience is mesmerizing, except when it comes to faith. As we have lived and shared among them, we have seen this spark fanned and that topic coming back into play. As they hear and see in our lives, the one true living God, it brings with it options. They can know that faith is not dead or irrelevant, they can challenge perceptions of what a religious one would look like, and they can freely wrestle with a God who we don’t understand.
Our prayer is that for the next ten years, we can continue to begin “with this news” and through that to strengthen, encourage, and build up the Irish in their new understanding of Faith. Please continue to pray for us as we minister among them.
Grace and Peace,