ISAIAH 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send
A Little about Ourselves… Matthew Renahan
Born in Albany, GA on July 13, 1987 and moved to Montgomery, AL in 1991. Active member of Dalraida Church of Christ from 19912010. -Assisted with Vacation Bible School -Inner city ministry -Participated in leading worship Participated in mission trips throughout U.S. with youth program at Dalraida. Graduated from Prattville Christian Academy in 2006. Participated in mission trip to Nicaragua, South America in 2006. Received his Bachelors in Business Administration in 2010 from Faulkner University. - Service projects with social club Kappa Sigma Phi - Member of soccer team Participated in mission trip to Northern Ireland in 2009. Currently works as Customer Service Team Leader with Publix.
Born on August 17, 1988, and raised in Fort Deposit, AL. Active member of Fort Deposit Church of Christ from 1988-2009. - Assisted with Vacation Bible School - Taught children’s Bible classes Graduated from Fort Dale Academy in 2006. Received Associates of Science from Lurleene B. Wallace Community College in 2008. Attended Auburn Church of Christ and Dalraida Church of Christ 2009-2010. Participated in mission trip to Kenya, Africa in 2009. Currently works as a dental assistant for Dr.’s Steineker and Dillon in Montgomery, AL.
In January of 2009 we met and were married on September 18, 2010. We are currently members of Landmark Church of Christ.
How we define our mission… In the gospels, Jesus gives us the Great Commission: “Therefore go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mathew 28: 19-20)
Simply put, mission work is Christians sharing the Word of God with all people. God calls all Christians to be “missionaries”, whether that is in your hometown, in your work place, or overseas. Our mission will be moving to Northern Ireland with a commitment of at least five years. In that time, we will focus on building relationships with the local community, showing them Christ through our lives and works. More specifically, we will be the bridge between the youth in the inner city and the church family at Westway. We will be working with the church and established youth group, while also focusing on bringing in other youth from the inner city.
Capital and largest city in Northern Ireland.
By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland (after Dublin).
With a population of 268,323, the population density of Belfast is 2,447 persons per square kilometer.
43.9% of the population is under 30 years of age.
In Belfast, 98% of the residents are of white ethnic origin. The largest minority ethnic groups within Belfast are the Chinese community (with 1,318 residents) and the mixed community (with 729 residents).
Religious Demographics Catholic
Church of Ireland
43% 16% 22%
Gentry and Liz Morris are the current American missionaries who work with the youth ministry at the Westway Church of Christ in Belfast, Ireland. They moved to Ireland in 2007 and began building a youth program with the existing members. Now that there is a solid youth group in place within the church, the elders see a need for more outreach to the community. Gentry and Liz have been praying for another Christian couple to come and join their mission team to make this outreach possible. They live in Bangor, which is about 30 minutes outside of Belfast. They are beginning to reach out to the Bangor community youth, but need another couple to live in Belfast, closer to the church, to reach out to the inner city community there. Matt befriended Gentry and Liz while on his mission trip to Ireland in 2009. They helped to open Mattâ€™s eyes and heart to the great need of Godâ€™s message in Ireland.
History of the church… The Westway Church of Christ in Belfast, Ireland where we will be working was formed in the early 1960's at the height of the political turmoil that the Irish simply call “The Troubles”. These “troubles” between protestants and Catholics in Ireland span back hundreds of years, yet still reach into modern day culture. In all, over 1,500 people were killed in political violence in the city of Belfast from 1969 until 2001. Because of these “troubles” most of the population in N. Ireland see religion as nothing more than a political viewpoint. This is the Irish equivalent of Americans choosing to be a Republican or Democrat. There is very little or no spiritual connection between this decision and the way they live their lives. If you are Protestant, you are considered a “unionist” and want N. Ireland to remain part of Great Britain. If you are Catholic, you are considered a “nationalist” and want Ireland to be one united country. Despite the violence and troubles, the church grew to around 200 members at one point but over the last 25- 30 years, due to deaths in the congregation and members moving away, its numbers have declined to today’s average of around 65 or 70. It is a church grounded in Scripture and sound in doctrine. The church has a 3 man eldership and 7 deacons that oversee and attend to the congregation. There is an established youth group of around 30 children.
The need… The main need of the church in Ireland is that when the youth reach the ages of 12-13, they feel that they are “too old for church” and stop coming altogether. This means that as the existing members get older, there is no incoming youth to continue the growth and the church is slowly dying out. This problem has taken its toll on all the churches in Ireland, and today there are only 5 churches left in the entire country and most of those only have around 15-25 members. These are the main reasons for the lack of young people in the church
Matt with campers and counselors at Camp Shamrock
today: Religion seen from a political viewpoint in most homes
the importance of and even the thought of God, Christ, Heaven, Hell are lost
the importance of being a Christian and attending worship have very little meaning
For many, the only taste of religion is the VBS once a year and the Sunday School class they attend but with no reinforcement of these values and lessons at home. They are merely stories and coloring book pictures.
Large Age Gap
25 youth between the ages of 10 and 18
no one with time or energy to dedicate to the youth
older members don't know how to communicate with younger members
youth feel alienated from church
youth eventually leave the church
Drugs and Alcohol
This is tent five, which includes: Austin, Cowan, Nick, Matt, and Tom.
At the age of 10 many children in Belfast will start drinking alcohol
At the age of 12 many children become involved in drugs and crime
Once teens are caught up in this they lose interest in the church and leave
Alcoholism leads to drug use, teen pregnancy, petty crime, etc.
All this creates a negative cycle from one generation to the next.
Negative Outside Influences
Youth pressured to join paramilitary groups or gangs
Become involved in starting riots and terrorist activity
High probability to be eventually injured and/or arrested
Little Outreach To Youth No organized youth activities within the church Very little interaction with their peers in or out of church With so little outreach, they feel estranged and leave the church
Riots in Belfast, 2010
The solution… Youth Worker Areas of Involvement (as outlined by the elders at Westway)
Supplement and assist in teaching the youth in Sunday school classes
Arrange Westway youth weekends and coordinate with other congregations youth weekends
Hosting youth events in the home
Assist with the coordination and logistics of annual HBS (Holiday Bible School)
Attending and working with Camp Shamrock
Arranging home Bible studies with the youth and mentoring to them
Become involved with the local community and draw youth from the district to Christ
Arranging, involving, and coordinating youth in service projects within the church and local community
Singing classes for the youth with the aim of singing in hospitals and nursing homes
Youth workers to dedicate time to the youth
Someone close to their age to look to for assurance and support
Someone to keep them involved in the church and learning and growing in Christ
Someone to show them that they are loved and cared for
Someone who can communicate effectively with inner city youth
Since the work has begun, the soil has become fertile. The church now needs willing Christians to help plant more seeds in the local community.
Our Budget… Expenses Based On 2004-2011 Average Exchange Rate
Personal Expenses: Rent...................................£600 = $956 Utilities..............................£300 = $478 Phone/Internet….................£70 = $107 Grocery...............................£325= $518 Transportation/Gas…...........£150 = $239 Student Loans..............................$200 Savings...............................£100=$160 Emergency.........................£150 = $306 ___15% US Taxes…………………………$445___ Total..................................$3,408 /month
Work Expenses: Phone/Internet…………….………£70 = $107 Transportation/Gas……..…....£150 = $239 Activities with Youth…..........£200=$320 ___Annual trip to U.S……...………………$150___ Total………………….…….….$816 /month
One-time Expenses Car………………………………………………………..………£3,000=4,780 Plane tickets (one way)………..……………………………………. $2,000 ___Furniture/Furnishings/House Expenses…………..……£2,000=$3,200___ Total….........................................................................$9,980
A final message about our decisionâ€Ś
Renae and I have always felt strong desire to work in a great way for God. Being a good Christian example is very important to us whether it be through how we interact as a couple or on our own. The first time I felt I was being called to Ireland to be a missionary I was riding in the car with Gentry, after camp, on the way to a hotel near the airport. We were discussing the kids, and how a large number of them knew nothing about Heaven, Hell or who Jesus was. I taught a class at the camp for second and third graders and they asked me questions like; where is heaven, who is Jesus, and why does God love me? It shocked me how elementary their questions were, and then Gentry told me how few people in the entire country really cared about God or His love for them. I felt at that exact moment like leaving college and coming over to help spread the word. I later decided to stay in the U.S. and finish my education. I have been wanting ever since to return to Ireland and be a huge force of good for God and after a particularly moving worship service I sent Gentry an email and asked him if he knew of anything in Ireland I could be used for. I had no idea that Renae and I were going to be an answered prayer. Gentry and Liz had been praying for another Christian couple that could not only be a huge influence in the local area, but an encouragement and comfort in their own lives. Renae and I began to pray every night that God would open our eyes to the situation and put us where he wanted us. Over the next few months we began to see signs that pointed us to Ireland. After we told Gentry that we were fully committed to coming over, it was presented to the elders who approved the mission. Matthew Renahan
I always knew, to some degree, how important world missions were, but I never really truly understood until I left this country and spent a month with the people in Kenya. It opened my eyes and broke my heart in ways that I will never forget. In some areas, the people were so poor that in feeding the missionaries for one meal would cost them and their families a day without food. It s not just that they made that sacrifice for us, but that they were proud and happy to do it! Many of the people there were so rich in ways that I had never even imagined, in ways that made me, the rich American jealous! It’s because they had been given the greatest gift that has ever been or will ever be: God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s salvation. They needed nothing else. I had been holding this same gift almost all my life, yet never realized how wonderful and how perfect it truly was. That was when I decided that I wanted to devote my life to showing other people what God has done for me, and what He can do for them! I have always believed that God blesses us with different talents and abilities to be able to do His work, whether it be speaking publicly like a preacher, speaking more privately like in our workplaces, or even just being a dependable friend for someone in need. I believe that God gave me a heart for overseas mission work, and that to waste this talent would be a travesty. Praise God that I met a wonderful Christian man who has as much of a heart for missions as I do. Together, after much thought and prayer, we have chosen that we want to serve the Lord in the mission field of Northern Ireland. We want to do something radical for God, but we need support from our brothers and sisters in Christ in the U.S. We need financial, as well as spiritual support. Please help us make this dream become a reality! Renae Renahan