Thank you so much for your prayers since I last wrote. Summer is a mixed time – busy, and at other times not so busy. It was great to see friends and supporters in England over June, but I found it hard to be away from here for so long and was encouraged by the Lord that home is Calvary Church Castlebar now.
‘Intents’ summer camp in Cavan was terrific (pictured at the top of the page are the leaders preparing for battle with the campers!). Lots of mature, godly leaders coming together to provide a great week of Bible teaching and fun for around 90 teenagers – hugely encouraging! Thank you if you were able to pray for my talk prep (John 3), I was conscious of God’s help as illustrations and hooks seemed to be given to me as I prepared. Most of the girls in my group were professing faith but do pray for those who have yet to put their faith in Jesus. God willing, I hope to return next year with Mayo teens and leaders.
Our Holiday Bible Club here in Castlebar saw around 22 children come. Please pray for M: it became clear that she had heard a gospel of ‘Jesus plus’, as if Jesus only gets her so far and she must make up the shortfall – an all too common position. I’m hopeful she repented and believed. Pray also for another M – a downcast boy who would like to join us on Tuesdays regularly. Pray his parents will be agreeable to bringing him.
We really enjoyed hosting a UFM team from England who came to help with the club – it turned out that over 20 years ago I was part of a team that used to help one couple’s previous church run their Holiday Bible Club! Without the help of teams like this we would not be able to do the club, we simply don’t have the manpower as a church, so we praise God for their gospel partnership.
I’m settling into my estate and had a really encouraging encounter with a neighbour when giving out invitations to the Holiday Club. I had provided her with a children’s bible for her young son two years ago – they told me they had read it many times. I’m going to see her later today.
I’ve drawn up simple leaflets for a women’s neighbourhood group, ‘Neighbours Knit and Natter’, Wednesday evenings in term time at my home. I’ve started going door-to-door to meet more neighbours and invite them personally, we have about 100 houses. My prayer is that it will build genuine friendships and opportunities to care for one another, with my being able to serve them in and with the gospel.
I’m enjoying reading the Bible one-to-one with two young women. One has a great appetite to learn, I have asked for your prayers for her previously and the Lord has graciously answered – do thank him – it’s possible she’s come to faith! The other has been churched elsewhere but lacks conviction of sin. Another friend with whom I’ve had many conversations is interested to read the Bible, but we’re yet to do it regularly. As always, the battle is not with flesh and blood but with dark forces that mean buses are missed, shifts are changed, sickness comes, girls oversleep and relatives visit etc etc… Please pray I can meet weekly with these three women from now on, for how can they call upon the one they have not heard?
Our women’s bible study restarts on Fridays, please pray that all the women who could come do come. We’re convinced that testifying to Jesus is the work of the church and not just ‘the staff’, so teaching and equipping the church is an important part of God’s plan for his world (Ephesians 4).
In answer to your prayers and generosity I am around 97% funded for the next three years. This is a great kindness to me as it leaves me free to pursue ministry in the church and community. Thank you for loving Ireland in this way. I recently heard this from Crawford Gribben, speaking of Ireland only 15 years ago…
‘There are more people in Europe who have never heard the gospel than there are in Africa. Europe is the world’s forgotten mission-field. But of all Europe, surely nowhere has been neglected to the same extent as Ireland.’1
I’m also beginning to understand something of Paul’s desire when he grieves at how few of his own people turned to Christ. Our churches are very international, those who bring their children to holiday club are not local families but ‘blow-ins’. I don’t think there was one Irish Catholic background teen on camp out of 90. It is predictably sad to find that few Irish nationals venture near to hear the gospel and there are so few Christians here to lovingly speak it (0.47% of the population2). Keep praying for us, to him who can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.
To him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
With affection, Helen
1 Crawford Gribben, The Irish Puritans - James Usher and the Reformation of the Church (Darlingtom: Evangelical Press, 2003), 126.
2 National Evangelical Churches Survey 2011 conducted by Aontas, figure confirmed by Evangelical Alliance Ireland as <0.5%.
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