I remember the day last year when I realised that the ongoing pandemic restrictions would end up scrapping every one of our carefully crafted plans for outreach events in our community, where we have been working for the last three years towards starting a new church.
France, the birthplace of John Calvin, saw a glorious revival in the mid-16th century with Calvin and others in Geneva training and sending thousands of pastors to evangelise and plant churches in France, and hundreds of thousands being converted.
'Oh no, please not again!’ Scovia had already suffered the loss of three premature babies. ‘What if my husband gets a new wife because I failed to produce a child? Am I truly cursed as my neighbour claims? Who will care for me when I am old?’
We’d never had to ask anyone for money. Tom had been working as a teacher for 8 years. Nerys was a community mental health nurse. We were comfortable financially. We’d saved up for a mortgage and bought a house. We enjoyed being able to give to church and other ministries without having to worry, and we loved having enough to go on holiday during the summer.
Ireland can be a confusing place: one island, but two jurisdictions (with an invisible border); Irish (Gaelic) is the first official language yet almost no-one speaks it regularly; we are fiercely proud of our native sports (Gaelic football and hurling) but you may see more teenagers wearing Premier League football shirts.
Julien left the Jehovah’s Witness movement, hungry for spiritual truth – one of a number just like him whom we’ve been amazed to see the Lord bring us into contact with in recent years. Then there’s Hassan, a refugee from a Muslim background, whose heart has been touched by biblical truth.
They arrived late, eyes anxious, and fidgeted throughout the study. As Marcelo spoke, he couldn’t help but notice a group of unfamiliar faces. When the Bible study ended, the group sprang up to approach Marcelo.
I’m ashamed to say that the COVID-19 lock-down came as rather a blessing. While acknowledging the trauma of this time for many, it felt strange to be breathing a sigh of relief to be able to take a break.