Imagine a growing town with schools, shops, industries, clubs, sports and everything else a modern town ought to have, except for one thing: a church that faithfully proclaims the gospel. Imagine a town that has in fact never had an evangelical church in it, even though it has a very long history.
For the last 9 years, we have been living and working in the Republic of Ireland, where we don’t have to imagine a town like this. We live in one, and there are dozens more in the areas around us.
Growing fellowships to the south, east and west
Now imagine a Baptist church in the heart of Cork City, on the south coast of Ireland, established in the 1600’s. Imagine a small group of believers there in the early 1980’s, who were thrilled to see God beginning to grow their fellowship, as well as their vision. The church starts to think beyond their own city towards a dream of seeing churches all around them in the many towns and villages that simply have no access to the gospel. Although they didn’t have the manpower or resources to make this happen, they prayed and asked God to do it anyway. God answered, and soon they were able to plant a new church in a nearby town to the south.
A few years later, God provided, and they planted again to the east. Later, a team of missionaries helped plant a church to the west. Years later, Cork Baptist once again gave some of its most committed members to another new plant on the south side of the city.
Almost 10 years ago, the first ‘granddaughter’ church was planted by one of the early plants, further to the east, followed by a second granddaughter church to the south. All of these churches, plus a few more who joined in to help, continue to be committed to the original vision of seeing a gospel proclaiming church in every community in the counties of Cork and Kerry, which is why the partnership is now known as the Cork/Kerry Project.
In the last few decades, God has provided above and beyond what anyone imagined when this work began – but that doesn’t mean that the vision is finished.
Most of the churches are still small, outreach is still hard, and growth is slow. One of the planted churches has recently announced that it will close, after years of difficulty. The spiritual battle is real, and beyond these churches there are still dozens of towns and villages that continue to live in the darkness, having no local witness to the gospel.
New communities…new life
Which is why it is so important for the Cork/Kerry Project to continue to push forward. Currently, there are Project churches and Christian workers focusing outreach on two new areas with the goal of eventually seeing new churches planted. One of those areas is the growing community of Carrigtwohill, just to the east of Cork city, where our family moved in December to join Midleton Evangelical Church in their vision of church planting.
Carrigtwohill is a town that is booming with new industry, new shopping areas, and large new housing developments. It is one of the fastest growing towns in Ireland, almost doubling in size in just the past 10 years, and the Cork County Council has drawn up plans to nearly double the size again in the coming years. Many of the people who are moving to Carrigtwohill are young couples and families, often with small children. They are moving into a new community, looking for new connections, and building a new life.
The need to bring the light of the gospel into Carrigtwohill has never been more urgent, and the opportunity right now is incredible.
Imagine a local group of believers in Carrigtwohill who could faithfully share the wonderful good news of salvation with their neighbours, new and old. God is working: He has already brought together a group of a dozen local Christians who meet weekly to study his word and pray. Would you pray with us that God would build his church, and shine his light in Carrigtwohill?
Seth and Jessica Lewis