Monday, 9 June 2008

June True

Guys...true is back on this wed night at 8pm at emmanuel. It has been an interesting journey of discussion and exploration this last year and Wednesday will be our last night of the year. We are going to be exploring the radical and revoluntionary idea of the servant heart, that should characterise the followers of Jesus...would love to see you there..

Monday, 12 May 2008


So we finsihed our trip last Friday, arriving home about 2pm. We finished with Spagetti Bolognase, which Steve does brillinatly, and talked/prayed about our trip. It really did make an impression on us and hopefully more of thoughts will be blogged soon!!

We may share a little bit about it this wednesday night at true but we are mainly going to be exploring the idea of community - what should the heart of a community of Jesus-followers look like?? It will not be a long night as we thought we may even go out somewhere after for food or a drink as we explore how community should be lived out in the there guys!! 8pm @emmanuel - everyone welcome...

Friday, 9 May 2008

Day 5 – Punk Monks!!

So we left the brilliant city of Galway this morning. We had a great time last night talking to two girls Naomi and Alice who are both living in Galway, working for a church and studying respectively. It was great to hear their hearts for God and their desires to represent Jesus to the people of Galway. We felt it was a real significant conversation and are praying that God continues to use these guys as they seek to find ways of building the kingdom in this city.

We left about 10 this morning and headed to Athlone. On our way we visited Clonmacnoise, a ancient Celtic Monastery. I have wanted to visit this place for a long time and I was not disappointed!! The monastic settlement was planted by Saint Kevin (who apparently had a vision of a tree that grew large, where the birds came and found refuge) in the centre of Ireland. It became a place of deep spirituality, learning, community and mission. Many people from Europe visited this place to learn and study literature and the arts and today many people make their pilgrimages to this place. I know I am a geek but I am absolutely fascinated by these monastic settlements. While they are places that now are dead they seem to attract so many people because at one point they were centre of life. A place where people shared life together in a community rooted in a deep spirituality and passionate faith. This spirituality was characterised by great freedom and openness to the Spirit which resulted in wonderful creative forms of worship, hunger for learning and a launch pad for mission. I spent half an hour sitting contemplating this centres of life and spiritual activity wondering what they should look like now in the 21st century and being inspired by the saints of old who surrendered their lives to the call of God and to the Wind of his Spirit. I am still processing my reflections and no doubt they will appear on another blog sometime soon!!

We moved on into Athlone around lunch time and met there with a guy called Trevor Hill who with his wife Diane have been planting a church in Athlone for the last 11 years via a few years in Galway serving and being trained in Galway Christian Fellowship (where the church in Athlone was birthed out of). It was great to connect with Trevor and one of the elders of his church. Again we were challenged by the fact that this was a couple who had left everything they had and come down to give their lives to what they are doing. We could see in them a heart for the people they are trying to share Jesus with. We could see compassion and love in them for the people of this Island and a down-to-earth nature that we have found to be important in seeking to win the favour and respect of the people. For example Trevor’s work servicing vending machines and his social networking though playing golf gave him a growing sense of favour and respect amongst the people. Trevor reminded us of the openness of the Catholic people to the supernatural and the mysterious and therefore a willingness to connect with God. Trevor and Diane are seeking to plant small communities/churches in 7 of the surrounding predominantly rural towns of Athlone, where there is little or no church presence..e.g. Roscommon, Ballinasloe, Longford. They have called this project Impact Ireland. It was great to see this kind of vision here and while the work may at times look pretty slow it is so amazing to see people prepared to build God’s kingdom in areas where there is little or no resource. As I sit and listen to these people around the South of Ireland, something inside of me jars at the fact that we have so many talented, gifted and passionate people in such small concentrated areas in the north, while these people struggle for help. E.g. In my church we have at least ten really good worship leaders who we are trying to fit onto a rota once every two months when there are churches down here crying out for help.

We then moved onto a little village called Lecarrow about a 20 minute drive North from Athlone and met up with Graeme Wylie and his family. Graeme and his wife Fran helped plant Galway Christian Fellowship over the last twenty years and have overseen the church plant in Athlone and now the project Impact Ireland. Graeme is a great man, with an apostolic role in the church, who has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the South of Ireland and it was great to glean from him concerning the people and the church here. They like most people we have met up with have showed us amazing hospitality and love.

From here it was then a two hour drive to Enniskillen and on arrival we were met with the kindness of Joshua Jones who had our dinner ready for us when we arrived around 8pm. Joshua is a great guy working for YFC in Enniskilen. Joshua, originally from America is a great guy who has been involved in church planting over Europe and spent 5 years in Marseille previous to coming to Ireland. He is a gifted guy with a heart for young people and a desire to see churches planted over the country. He brought us down to the YFC centre in Enniskillen where they were preparing for Mannafest tomorrow (Friday) night and after it a night of prayer. We spent sometime praying with the guys down here for Mannafest and that God would work in the lives of the people, particularly the young, in Fermanagh.

One of the things that we are finding is most evident on our trip is the severe imbalance of resources between the north and the south. There are so many kingdom minded people down here, giving their lives to sharing the love of Jesus with people, but they need help – not the kind of help that is arrogant and pompous in its approach but the kind of servant-hearted, humble way of recognising and connecting with what Jesus is doing by His Spirit and joining in with it. There are beautiful forms of His kingdom here……

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Day 4: anyone got any wingmirrors for a ford transit?

I think I need to start this blog with the story of the tent. We arrived in Cloughjordan, Tipperary at around 11pm. We were exhausted, Ali had been driving for about 3 hours and we all just wanted to get to bed. We were kindly looked after and cared for by Shane and Christy Tucker (Church of Ireland Youth Department). They have a lovely home and great hearts for the Lord. We were really blessed by their hospitality. The girls got a room in the house and the three lads were camping in a tent in the garden. After lots of laughter and mistakes we eventually got our tent pitched around 1am. We were exhausted but praising God for safe travel, inspiring meetings and great fellowship.
We woke early this morning and after breakfast, some good time chatting with Shane, we packed up and headed for Galway via the Cliffs of Moher. The roads were awful and not really suitable for vans, not to mention the craziness of the local drivers. Within the space of a couple of hours we lost both wing mirrors. The final score was Ali 1 Steve 1. So if anyone has a contact who could help Youth for Christ get two new wing mirrors let me know.
The Cliffs of Moher were amazing. They were so stunning. If you have never been across to see this place it is definately worth it. We had a really cool time their and finished with a BBQ down at the shore.
We arrived in Galway tonight about 8pm and got our stuff into our room. I had wanted to meet with Naomi, a Youth for Christ worker here in the city, but God had also put Alice Dawson, a girl from the north studying down here on my heart. Amazingly I was able to reach her and she, along with Naomi were able to meet us and spend the night telling us about their lives and ministry here in Galway. Hopefully we were able to encourage them, but to be honest they encouraged us so much. God has created these guys with such tremendous capacity for the things of the Kingdom. They don't seem to lose heart, they have such deep passion for Jesus, despite being part of a Christian Union with only 15-20 people in a University of 16,000! They shared story after story of how God is working here and they taught us a lot about the context for missions here in the west. We are praising God for this meeting tonight, it was a divine appointment, in a pub of all places.
Another amazing day of journey, relationship and connection. Onward and upward...
Steve (Ali is too busy replying to all his emails, he has so many fans! Pete is currently writing the blog for Friday...he needs a couple of days notice!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Day 3- It actually is a long way to Tipperary!!

The wonders of modern technology! Ali is driving- Pete is leading worship on the ipod and I am blogging on my phone! It's my turn to write the daily update- so I am doing it as we make our way to County Tipperary. When we arrive at approx 11pm we have to pitch our tent in the dark! Living the dream!

Charles Fort, Kinsale

We have had a busy day today. This morning we met with Lawrence Graham. LG is a Methodist minister-who is doing some prayer room stuff in Cork & soon in Killarney. Lawrence also spent some time giving us some contextualizatlon for mission in Ireland- very informative.

We then travelled to kinsale. This beautiful little tourist village is buzzing and just crying out with evangelistic opportunity. Although we missed the Kinsale rugby 7's by a day we still got to enjoy some great atmosphere- oh and Ali & I got sunburnt!

We then met with John & Vanessa Purdy- an amazing couple loving & serving Jesus in Clonakilty. We spent a couple of hours listening learning and being inspired by these guys. I am sure at some point Ali will do an indepth report about all the prayer room stuff- all i will say for now is how a prayer room in Clonakilty brought catholics & protestants together to pray and allowed God to speak into the whole community: amazing.

Tonight we were back in Cork meeting a group of emerging prayer leaders at the Haven. We had an amazing time of prayer and fellowship with these guys- again it was so inspiring to meet people who have gone beyond talking and are going for it..
so we are now on the road after grabbing a subway. Next stop Tipperary.


Monday, 5 May 2008

Day 2

So we set of from Dublin this morning about 9am and headed south. First stop was at Dun Loaire where we met up with Claire and Jeremy. Both these guys have such wonderful hearts for Ireland and we could tell they were people who spend time on their knees in prayer. We were welcomed with a full breakfast in claire's home and was such a privilege to share life with these guys and pray together. Claire, who was president of Trinity CU last year, has a heart for her home area in county Loais and when she finishes her studies this year feels that God is calling her back home. it is her heart to see God move in this rural part of Ireland and spill over into the surrounding counties. As I listened to her I was struck by how easy it would have been for her to stay in Dublin where many of her friends are and where there is much more of a Christian resource. But she knows God is calling her back and slowly opening little doors for her. Please pray for her as she seeks to be obedient to God and follow His call. Jeremy is also finishing a theology degree at Trinity this year and attends a church in the quays area of the city. He is taking on a 'ministry in training' year next year with his church and has a heart to get some 24-7 prayer going on there. Pray for him also, he is a great guy.

Next stop was Bray, which was totally jam-packed today because of the bank holiday with visitors and holidayers. We met Suzie Evans there who is the director of YFC in the Republic. Again it was such a blessing to see someone just getting on with it and doing the stuff. When we met her she was in a boiler suit and covered in paint as she was helping renovating a warehouse they had acquired to use as a drop in centre. Again it was so evident that Suzie is a girl who prays and her passion for Jesus keeps her going. They are seeking to have a prayer room in this drop in centre which is in a great location where they are seeking to reach the local young people from an extremely deprived local estate. Pray for Suzie, compared to us, these guys have nothing of the resource or Christian support we have, yet they are believing God to show up as they continue to carrying out His plans.

Leaving Bray we travelled down to Wexford and met the girls (our church interns) who spent a great weekend at a church down there. It was such a beautiful drive on a real belter of a a day. There were parts of the drive that were simply stunning, breathtaking. We left there and drove about 3 hours until we reached Cork tonight around 8pm. We took a walk round the city, got ourselves a nutritious meal in McDonalds and then got ourselves a drink listening to some music. Cork is a lovely city and much bigger than i expected. it is steeped in history yet increasingly modern and has a real buzz about it.

We are staying in a hostel here which isn't great but doing the job. We have a full day tomorrow. Meeting two Methodist ministers who have both been exploring prayer rooms over the last year and two girls who are seeking to open a prayer room in the city centre!! Pray for us.

This trip is showing us that God has his people everywhere - Wonderful, kingdom minded, sacrifcial Jesus follwers and it a joy to share life with them...

Sunday, 4 May 2008

The Tour Day 1: What a place to park!

Finding a parking space in Dublin was a nightmare. The Youth for Christ Van couldn't fit in any multi-storey car parks so we had to do a few laps to find some on street parking. When we finally got parked, imagine our surprise that our parking space was right outside a 'dirt shop.' This gave us a good laugh, and we got a few funny looks from some shoppers. What was more funny was the shop below, Christian Fortune Tellers!!

We have had a great first day. Pete, Ali and myself met with a twenty something emerging leader called Ferg Brown. We spent a couple of hours chatting over coffee, getting a glimpse into what God is doing here in Dublin. It was inspiring to catch this guys vision for community, mission and discipleship. What really impressed me about this guy is that he doesnt just talk about it, he is getting of his ass and bringing in God's Kingdom here. Ferg, his wife and their soon to be born little baby are moving into Temple Bar, to bring the presence of the Kingdom into this part of the world. He currently works about three jobs to support his vision and he is looking to get a property in temple bar to open a 3 story building with a 24/7 prayer room, a coffee shop and a discipleship training school. I was really challenged by one particular part of the conversation, when Ferg shared with us, about a conversation that he had with his elders, when he shared his heart to go and start new expressions of church but still be connected with the church, the result being that they have got behind him and have released him to go and do and be. Awesome guy with a big heart and the courage to go for it!

This evening we visited CORE Church. CORE has always been a leading charismatic anglican church here. I think we were expecting to go and be blown away by a huge fancy kinda churchy thing. We were in for a big shock. 39 people, in a very simple church building, two teenagers playing guitars, very average teaching and bread and wine. But as we reflected after, we all loved it. It was simple, raw, full of mistakes (broken guitar strings and 25mins late starting, because nobody came) but very authentic, touching and engaging.

After CORE, we met Alex and Keely Mosley, friends living for God, serving in Ballyfermot Community Church. Alex is an old friend from Bible College, Keely is a Children's Counsellor working at Oasis. They are good guys, with a lovely home...and who are letting us crash over.

Ali, Pete and myself will probably unpack tomorrow on the road, but personally I can say that God has already been challenging me. Tonight at CORE, the pastor Rob shared a word with me, during prayer ministry (yes, i went forward for prayer!!) something that God had already been pressing on my heart. Looking forward to Day 2!