ISSUE 20 / OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2013 / €2
FINDING FA ITH
SERIOUSLY FUNNY? Christians and comedy
HOPE STARTS HERE
“There are untapped resources in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that this society cannot even begin to imagine.”
In search of faith found it in the most ordinary and unexpected places. I saw it demonstrated by the most unlikely people. Over kitchen tables, in restaurants and art galleries, through graveyards and ancient ruins, in churches and retreat centres, bookshops and buses, from offices to living rooms, what I discovered was humbling, inspiring, moving and often surprising. It all started as a rather mad idea to travel around Ireland looking for what God is doing. The result was an adventure, a “road trip” that saw me clocking up 1,200.7 miles (1932.3 km) and visiting five cities, 12 towns and eight villages in 20 counties over the course of seven days. It was one week of my life that remains a kaleidoscope of emotions and impressions and, for all my efforts, it is impossible to adequately document or describe.
IT ALL STARTED AS A RATHER MAD IDEA TO TRAVEL AROUND IRELAND LOOKING FOR WHAT GOD IS DOING.
Weeks later, I’m still grappling with questions that emerged and considering what might be the implications. I interviewed 21 remarkable people and spoke with many more about their faith and their lives, typing 22,500 words in the process. (And that’s not counting seven blog entries on the VOX website, so I guess we’re talking in the region of a small book!) The whole experience left me with an overwhelming sense that faith is alive and well in every corner of Ireland. People are being radically changed through their relationship with Jesus Christ - many of us know that in theory but it was amazing to see it right in front of my eyes. I heard powerful words like hope, freedom, purpose, identity and love as people described the difference God has made in their lives. And that faith is overflowing into local communities, bringing life, light, beauty, kindness and compassion into brokenness, pain and despair. We don’t have space to print every story or capture every experience, but we hope you’ll enjoy just a taste of VOX magazine’s “Finding Faith in Ireland” tour (pages11-15) along with the prize-winning entry from our Writing Competition (page 24). And, of course, you can visit the VOX website for full-length stories and blog entries from the tour.
Ruth Garvey-Williams Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
NEVER TOO OLD
HOPE STARTS HERE
TIME TO 'GREEN' YOUR CHURCH
OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2013, ISSUE 20
PUBLISH E R Solas Publishing EDITOR Ruth Garvey-Williams email@example.com OPERATIO N S & A DV E RT I S I N G Jonny Lindsay firstname.lastname@example.org LAYOUT Krista Burns email@example.com PROJECT D I R E C TO R Tom Slattery SUBSCRI P T I O N S Ireland & UK: €10 for four issues / €16 for eight issues Overseas: €18 for four issues / €30 for eight issues All cheques should be made payable to Solas Publishing. SOLAS P U B L I S H I N G Ulysses House 22 - 24 Foley Street Dublin 1 Tel: 01 443 firstname.lastname@example.org | www.vox.ie DISCLAIM E R
The views expressed in letters and articles are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Solas Publishing or its partners. The acceptance of advertising does not indicate endorsement.
PRINT Castle Print, Galway VOX magazine is a quarterly publication, brought to you by Solas Publishing.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH: 04
VOX OCT - DEC 2013
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COVER STORIES Finding Faith in Ireland - VOX special feature Hope starts here - “There are untapped resources in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that this society cannot even begin to imagine.” FEATURES AND INTERVIEWS Of Bishops and Bibles Time to green your church? - Are we careless with creation? And the winner is…. VOX Writing Competition 2013 Marathon man - Running 52 marathons in eight weeks to share good news Never too old - knitting woolly hats for the shoebox appeal at 100 years old! Where hope and dignity meet - leprosy patients experience the touch of compassion Under the sun - the conflict of perspectives in Ecclesiastes The heart of worship - “Music seems to go deeper into the soul and captures something that words can’t express” VOX VIEWS Seriously funny? - Christians and comedy Abortion - Are we making things better or worse? Still inspiring 50 years on - the power of vision REGULAR FEATURES
19 VOX: World News 43 Your VOX: Letters to the editor 44 Facts from Acts 46 VOX: Shorts
Confessions of a Feint Saint Reviews Event Listing VOX: PS with Seán Mullan
Get everything you need to take part, by calling (01) 294 0222
Paradoxology at Electric Picnic
“Paradoxology (combining paradox and doxology) is about discovering, exploring and celebrating the Christian faith in the midst of questions, struggles and doubts,” shares Scott Evans. It was the name of an experiment at this year’s Electric Picnic - Ireland's version of Glastonbury. The Picnic is an experience of music, art, education, spoken word, comedy and creativity. For some, it's a chance to have their horizons broadened and their minds blown by artists and their creations. For others, it's an opportunity to drink and take drugs. This year, for the first time, Picnic also featured a sacred space, a Christian prayer tent. The little 6m x 6m tent was located on the Arts Trail. “Our worst fears were that we would be laughed at, vandalised and warned off. Instead, the feedback and impact was beyond our wildest dreams,” Scott said. Paradoxology featured three interactive installations. The first was a Wall of Lament where people could write their doubts, questions and accusations to God. This conversation-starter led to long chats about life, love and faith.
hmm ... what to blog about today...
The second was An Altar to an Unknown God, a place where people could write down things they wanted to leave behind as an act of crying out to God for help. And many did. The third (a bit of a risk) was a full size confessional. On one side, a member of the team prayed silently for those in the tent. The other side was open to the public; a place where they could come, sit and vent. “We didn't encourage people to confess; we encouraged them to talk in a place where they knew they would be alone but not alone and loved without being judged,” Scott added. “We served a thousand cups of tea and engaged with festival goers, most of whom had no time for Christ until their experience of His presence in our little experiment. It was one of the most profound experiences of the Kingdom of God I've seen.”
Here are three Irish Christian blogs we enjoy - check them out Just another Christian woman talking through her hat www.auntyamo.com Our own “Feint Saint”, Annmarie Miles’ blog has been nshort listed in this year's Irish Blog Awards! It’s funny and thought-provoking with beautiful poignant accents.
Faith In Ireland www.faithinireland.wordpress.com Patrick Mitchell is a lecturer at the Irish Bible Institute. He combines theological insight with thought-provoking commentary on current affairs, new book titles and controversial issues.
John’s Ramblings www.johnsramblings.com John Wallace describes himself as, “… an ordinary family man with a regular day job who just happens to love the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” His blog likes to look at issues of faith from different perspectives and ask questions. And this month, in partnership with VOX magazine, John’s blog is hosting a new series called “Cry from the Kells”, featuring Christian writers and bloggers from across Ireland. It is a series that will explore the Gospel in the modern Irish context and asks the questions. - What is Gospel? - What are the challenges to communicating the Gospel in modern Ireland? - What relevance does the Gospel have in Ireland today? - How are we to communicate it?
Looking for resources for your church?
Create International offers quality video, films, stock images and many other resources suitable for use in churches and other groups with a focus on world missions. www.createinternational.com “The Good Neighbour" is a free 20-minute modern video version of the Good Samaritan story from Luke chapter 10. Great for discussion groups. www.vimeo.com/69331429 The 4/14 Window: Excellent free animations, info graphics, videos and other resources about reaching and teaching the world's children: www.4to14window.com
VOX OCT - DEC 2013
According to the latest government figures, Ireland’s population is now 4,593,100. The estimated number of people aged 14 years and under now exceeds 1 million for the first time since 1987. Emigration continues to rise, with an estimated 89,000 leaving these shores in the year to April 2013, an increase of 2.2% on the previous year.
From September 2013 to April 2014, four friends from Rathmines will cycle from Cairo to Cape Town, a distance of 12,000 km through 13 countries, to raise money for charity. Kyle Petrie, Sadhbh Mckenna, Niamh Allen and Isidro Carrión are not cyclists, and Niamh didn’t even own a bike until March this year. The two girls began dreaming about doing the trip from Cairo to Cape Town after spending time volunteering in Africa. Last year, things fell into place, allowing the adventurous four to take the time off work. “We wanted our trip to be more than just travelling around, so we decided to cycle and raise money for two charities close to our hearts: Medecins Sans Frontieres (a medical NGO) and Room to Read (a charity that promotes literacy and access to books),” Kyle explained. The friends spent months in preparation, planning and nervous excitement before they finally set off a few weeks ago. “For the next seven months, we will be living in a tent and carrying everything from water and cooking equipment to medical kits in two panniers on the back of our bikes,” Kyle explained. “Please follow our journey online and spread the word of what we are doing!” Kyle added. “When we can, we will update our blog - www.rotharafrica.org and our Twitter @rotharafrica as well as Rothar Africa on Facebook. All money raised will go directly to the two charities.”
An adventure of faith NEWS
THE NATIONALIST | �� July ����
The power of prayer?
Have you got a story to tell? We want to hear from you!
When Carlow Christian Call our newsroom in confidence on 059 9170100 or email:opened a “Healing Room” Community Local woman is convinced that devotion to God saved her life email@example.com in March, they had no idea what would happen. The room, in the centre of town, offers people the opportunity to receive ���� ������ prayer for healing. Nine ��������� ����� ������ volunteers from the church give up ��� � ������ ��� ����� ���� their����� time����to � pray for those who come �� ��� into the healing room or for requests that come in from the community. ����������� The healing room is open four times a������ month and by appointment. ����� ���������� ��� ����������� Since its launch, there have been so many answers to prayer (backed up with medical evidence) that even the local newspaper took notice. Healing of leg ulcers, a foot injury, arthritis and a brain cyst are among the miracles reported. Describing this as an “adventure of faith”, Pastor Seamus O’Callaghan emphasised that this was not an alternative to medical treatment and they always urge people to see their doctor. “A miracle is an answer to prayer. Someone asked for something and God answered,” he said. “We just pray for people to be healed. It’s rewarding to see people change and the joy and hope that comes to them.” By Clare Minnock
A CARLOW woman who survived a “life or death situation” believes the power of prayer saved her. Ciara Collins from Carlow town went into anaphylactic shock after having a severe allergic reaction to medicine for a back injury. As her throat closed and her eyesight disappeared, the 40year-old prayed to God for his help, something that now, almost two years later, she believes he delivered without question. “It felt like something was choking me. I was gasping for breath. I couldn’t see anything. It was really frightening. My mother was praying with me and then it just started to reverse. I believe 110% that if I hadn’t prayed I would have died,” explained Ciara, a member of the Carlow Christian Community. Along with other members of her church, Ciara came on board with the Healing Rooms, a place of prayer and healing in Carlow town centre. Recently, a number of other miraculous stories have come about, thanks to the volunteers at the Healing Rooms. One such story is that of Ray Byrne from Palatine Road. Ray, who suffered from agonising pain in his right foot and walked with the aid of a crutch for five months, attributes his healing to the prayers of a visiting pastor. “I was in pain every day. It was tough going; even doing simple messages was a killer. It was five months of agony,” explained Ray,
Seamus O’Callaghan and Mary O’Hara pray for Ray Byrne (seated)
Photos: Michael O’Rourke
who experienced “a total transformation” when Rev Yinka Ojo ‘laid his hands’ on Ray during Sunday morning service on 30 June. “He took my crutch and told me I didn’t need it anymore. I cautiously put down my right foot and applied weight on my heel and found that all of the pain had disappeared instantly,” added Ray, who now prays for healing for others as part of the Healing Rooms. “We don’t go knocking on doors and we’re not pushing this on people. We’re not trying to convert people; it’s just people we encounter and a lot of people come back,” remarked Ray. Seamus O’Callaghan, pastor of the Carlow Christian Community church and the driving force behind the Healing
Rooms, has seen many miracles through the years. “We started in the location on Barrack Street the first week of March but we’ve been doing it for a number of years anyway. We’ve been seeing answers over a period of time,” Seamus told The Nationalist. Nine local men and women give up their time on a completely voluntary basis to pray for the health and wellbeing of others. While they have seen several miracles, like that of Ciara’s close brush with death, Seamus is quick to point
out they are not offering a medical alternative. “A miracle is an answer to a prayer. Someone asked for something and God answered. It can be a small thing or a big thing,” said Seamus, who added: “We don’t diagnose or prescribe or tell people to come off anything. We tell them to go to the doctor; we’re not crossing over
to medical things. We just pray and want people to get well.” The idea behind the healing rooms began in America in 1911 and there are now several similar centres around Ireland. “It’s a very simple idea, we just pray for people to be healed. It’s very rewarding seeing someone change and you can see the degree of joy and hope that comes to them,” stated Seamus, who said feedback so far for the Healing Rooms has been positive. “It’s to give people hope. You see the best of things and the worst, we pray for everybody.” The Healing Rooms are open at 72 Barrack Street on the second and fourth Monday of each month, between 11am and 1pm, and the second and fourth Saturday, between 4pm and 6pm. Appointments can be made for other times by contacting 059 9100444 or through their website.
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Calls for a new approach
Non-profit pressure group “Social Justice Ireland” has called for large-scale investment to create jobs in Ireland. “Austerity is not working,” they said. “Facing into Budget 2014, the economy remains depressed. Unemployment remains high, job creation has been limited, emigration has been growing and more than 58% of those without a job are long-term unemployed. A new approach is needed - one which focuses on delivering growth, jobs and real recovery.” The group has called for a budget that limits cuts to vital services and protects those on low and middle incomes. Find out more at www. socialjustice.ie.
����� ������� ���� �������� ��� ���� ��������� �� ��� ���� �� ����������� �� ����� ���������� ������ ��� ���� ���� �� ��� ���� ������������ ����� ���������� �� ��������� �������� ����� ��������� ���������� ��������� �� ����� ������� ��� ������ �� �� ��� ��� ������� ������ �������� ���� � ����� �� ����� ��������� ����� ���� ��� ����������� ��� �� ������ ��������� ����� ��� ��������� �� ����� ��������� ��� ����� ��������� ����� ��������� ��� ������������� ����� ������ �� ��� �������� ��� ����� �� �� ������� ����������� �������� ���� ������ ���������� ������� ��� �� �� ���� �������������� ��� �������� ������ ���� ���������� ������� ������� ����� ��������� � ������������ ������� �� ��������� �� ���� ��� ��������� ���� ��� ����� ������� �� �����
Margaret Collins, Sean McCarthy, Ray Byrne, Mary O’Hara, Seamus O’Callaghan, Eilish Molloy, Ger Moore and John Coogan, volunteers at the Healing Rooms (Inset) on Barrack Street, Carlow
DCAF : a celebration of creativity and life in Dublin City!
Creating a platform to express and develop creative gifts is at the heart of Dublin's first Christian Arts Festival this October (Sunday 27 October - Saturday 2 November). DCAF (Dublin Christian Arts Festival) is a weeklong celebration of life and creativity. Across the week there will be daytime master classes and competitions with a range of evening events including art installations, DCAF MIC nights, film reel, ceili and dance sandwiched between the opening night and closing celebrations. iCreate on Saturday 2 November features multiple creative workshops running at the same time across the city - check the website for details. Artists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, dancers or just passers-by - there is something for everyone. The Festival is sponsored and supported by Arise Dublin, Spirit Radio and VOX Magazine and our Thursday events 'Celtic Rhythms' are held in association with The Gathering. Further details are available online and tickets to all the events are free - simply register for the event on the website www.dcaf.ie.
OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
HIDDEN FROM THE WORLD’S GAZE
While crises in Egypt and Syria have dominated the headlines, tragic events in other parts of the world have gone largely unnoticed. Five months ago, Islamist rebels seized control of the Christianmajority Central African Republic (CAR). There are reports that agents of the new CAR government selectively attack Christians, their villages and churches. Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Commission, has called for an immediate end to the breakdown of law and order. He condemned the selective attacks on Christians and called on the international community to rally round suffering CAR Christians and give them needed support. CAR Bishop Albert Vanbuel reported that church buildings and workers have been attacked and people traumatised. “The population is living in permanent anguish, fear, pillage, rape, injustice, violence and the settling of scores,” Vanbuel said. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are more than 206,000 displaced people within the country and 63,000 others that have fled to neighbouring countries. Christians have expressed fears over the direction of the Islamic-led government. With ongoing humanitarian, economic and political chaos in the country, representatives of various groups are seeking to prevent the imposition of sharia law.
THE SYRIA CRISIS - AN IRISH RESPONSE
Syria has dominated the headlines with both the humanitarian crisis and the political response changing, almost on a daily basis. But how should Christians in Ireland respond? The Evangelical Alliance of Ireland gave this input: “Use of force will always be a dilemma for Christians. Two principles are key: the use of ‘minimum force' and '’prevention of loss of life'. To prevent the loss of life, UN peacekeepers often put themselves in danger between the aggressor and the weaker opponent. It doesn't always work but in some cases it can act as a positive deterrent. “There are always challenges of political, economic, national, moral and Christian motivation in intervening in any conflict situation, and especially when working in the Middle East, where motives are never clear cut. When you see the Russian and American approach to Syria, it is very much in keeping with their political interest in the region. Perhaps surprisingly, the Russian proposals would tend much more towards the moral and Christian view than a military strike against Syria. “Overall, for Christians in Ireland, this crisis should cause us to pray and help those devastated and homeless by the war rather than focusing on criticising the political responses.”
VOX OCT - DEC 2013
DAY OF DESTRUCTION - EGYPT
Church in Chains reports: On Wednesday 14 August, over 50 churches and Christian institutions were attacked across Egypt in what has been described as “the worst single day of violence against Egypt's Christians since the 14th century”. The attacks were perpetrated by supporters of deposed President, Mohammed Morsi, angered when security forces in Cairo forcibly cleared pro-Morsi camps with the loss of hundreds of lives. Church buildings were attacked and set on fire. Homes and businesses were also attacked, along with a monastery, Christian schools, an orphanage and three bookshops belonging to the Bible Society.
CHRISTIAN RADIO IN MONGOLIA
In just 20 years, Christianity in Mongolia has grown from almost zero to 3% of the population. There are now 100,000 Christians, many under 30, according to Christian broadcasters FEBC. "Wind-FM" was established by FEBC Mongolia in 2000 in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and broadcasts 24/7 on 104.5FM. It is the country's only Christian radio station and is considered a trusted voice in the community. Radio is particularly helpful in reaching the large nomadic population who live in remote areas.
WHAT DO THESE PEOPLE HAVE IN COMMON?
ad THEY HAVE DISCOVERED: a diverse community, a unique learning environment, flexible and accessible courses, that are
relevant to life and ministry.
Phone Deborah on 01-8069050 or email Deborah@ibi.ie
to read their stories and find out about the many course options available.
Letters to the editor
of VOX we In each issue all of a €25 One4 ize pr a d ar aw r. tte le ite r favour voucher for ou u! It could be yo
Healthy relationships are a sign of our discipleship Reading your latest edition of VOX on Relationships in Ireland (VOX: July - September 2013), I was challenged by the number of times different writers referred to discipleship. I suppose that as we continue to live as a “learner” as highlighted by Nick Park or as we join Jesus in “the master class of life” as outlined by Sean Mullan, our relationships
CHURCH BUILDINGS OR BUILDING THE CHURCH
It took me over a minute to get to grips with the question "Is your church wheelchair accessible?", raised in VOX (Apr - June 2013). After assessing the various sizes and shapes of the church members, I concluded that they would all be capable of getting into a wheelchair but I was left wondering why they might want to do so. Then the lights came on. The question, allowing for all its kind intentions, was based on the idea of a church being a building rather than being the people of God. It's an idea that was completely foreign to the early Christians, who turned "the world upside down" without any buildings. The idea only came on the scene after Constantine became Roman emperor in 324. Once in place, church buildings rendered churchgoers passive by providing seating arrangements designed to enable docile crowds to watch up-front performances. Hardly something Jesus had in mind when He said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".
should improve considerably. Having healthy relationships might be a good indicator of whether or not we are indeed maturing as disciples of Jesus. BRENDAN HEALY MULLINGAR
The New Testament idea of building church calls for more personal interactions. "When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up" 1 Corinthians 14:6 (NIV). Rather than wondering about physical buildings, we might well ask the question, "Is your church accessible to interactions of the body that will build it up?" SEAMUS O'CALLAGHAN CARLOW
BOOKSHOPS UNDER THREAT
No doubt some VOX readers buy Christian books and music online and are unaware of the harm this practice is causing to Christian bookshops. The present financial problems in Ireland have brought about the closure of several well-known bookshops and small specialist bookshops are most at risk. Christian bookshops are not merely retail outlets; they are centres of Christian witness, often the ‘Godspace’ in the city, which Joel Edwards was advocating at the
Urban Nation conference in January 2011, but they need to sell goods if they are to survive. The loss of these bookshops will not only deprive the Christian community of places to browse books, cards and music but, more importantly, it will deprive the casual shopper of the opportunity to be exposed to the gospel message. Some Christian bookshops have been obliged to install CCTV cameras because so many expensive, leather-bound Bibles were being shoplifted. It is probable that these Bibles find their way onto sites of the Amazon or Ebay type – a double whammy for the shops when they are bought online, rather than from the shops where they were stolen in the first place. It is shocking that churches in the Republic of Ireland are sourcing bookstalls from internet sites or from bookshops in Northern Ireland. I would appeal to VOX readers to see the bigger picture rather than the few euro they may save by buying online. ELEANOR MOUSSOULIDES DUBLIN
SEND YOUR LETTERS TO EDITOR@VOX.IE OR YOUR VOX, ULYSSES HOUSE, 22-24 FOLEY STREET, DUBLIN 1 10
VOX OCT - DEC 2013
Sheila - Ardara
I remember so plainly the day wee Stephen was killed. He was four and a half years old. He somehow got caught in the door of the school bus and was pulled under the wheels. He had died instantly. I felt so ashamed of the house because we were in the middle of renovating and it was a mess. But then somehow I didn’t care any more because my wee boy was gone. I knew he was in heaven and I wanted to make sure I could be with him one day. I knew I was a sinner so I told my sister, “I’m going to be so good from now on.” Then she told me, “Jesus had done it all. You don’t have to do anything.” I thought, “It couldn’t be that simple.” Stephen was buried the next day and my sister gave me a New Testament. I read it the night of the funeral. The next morning, I couldn’t wait to start reading it again. I found a prayer at the back of the book and I prayed it. From that moment, I knew something had changed. I would still cry for Stephen but somehow I also knew that everything would be all right.
Eric - Carlow
This summer, VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams travelled around ireland to hunt down stories of faith, life and reality. Here we introduce some of the amazing people she encountered and share stories of what is happening around the nation.
Mary - Kilrush Nobody even owned a Bible in those days. I eventually found one in the bargain basement of Woolworths but when I tried to read it, it was in old-fashioned language and I couldn’t understand a word. I went along to a charismatic renewal meeting and the Lord really touched me there. At another meeting, I realised that Jesus died for me personally and that blew my mind.
My journey was definitely a gradual process - there was no road to Damascus experience. At 14, I decided to ask Christ into my life and I said a quiet prayer uneventfully in maths class in school (I don’t think I was paying attention to the teacher at the time). I was about 18 when I said, “This is it! There is nothing else for me.” I can’t imagine life without God. If you take God out of life, it would seem very hollow. He brings to me worth, meaning and purpose in life. It just makes life a lot sweeter.
Ciaran & June - Trim
Ciaran and June did not come from Christian families so meeting Jesus made a radical difference in their lives. Ciaran says, “Before I knew the Lord, I had no direction. I was aimlessly wandering. I watched life passively happen to me. I floated along with the next current. Now I have direction, meaning and purpose in every area of my life. The other word is 'mystery'. Because God is utterly mysterious, I will be forever learning." June says, "I'm no longer striving to find identity through my career, my ministry or my clean house. I have the freedom to be vulnerable because He loves me unconditionally. I grew up in a culture that hides - there are so many secrets. But through Jesus I'm free so I don't have to hide any more. That's why we named our first daughter Saoirse,which means freedom. It kind of sends you into orbit when you realise what He has done for you!"
CHECK OUT WWW.VOX.IE FOR MORE! OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
Faith in Ireland is...
PASSIONATE ABOUT PEOPLE
Never too busy
Business is booming at Sheila’s Coffee and Cream café in Ardara and it’s not just because Sheila is a master baker. Walking through the restaurant, Sheila stops for a quick word or a smile with her customers. She’s just spent the last 20 minutes cleaning toilets. “There was a bad smell and no-one wants that,” she grins. “Being a Christian, I want to show my customers that I really appreciate them,” Sheila says. “Taking time out to talk to someone is important. People love you to say hello, especially when they know you are busy. In winter, there is more time. People come in here feeling sad or lonely and it is a chance to speak with them.”
Ellis painstakingly grinds beans and then carefully adds water at just the right temperature. “Good coffee takes time,” he explains. And he’s not kidding - about the time… or the coffee. [I fear the coffee I enjoyed at the Cleenish Retreat Centre, near Enniskillen, will forever ruin me for any other blend.] For Ellis, making coffee is more than hospitality; it’s about valuing people, developing relationships and creating community. “Coffee culture creates the opportunity for us to engage. It is about truly seeing that people are loved by God and taking time to listen. “The Gospel is not “one-size-fits-all”. Jesus meets people where they are. We have the wrong idea of being in the world but not of it, being so scared of compromise that we don’t connect. The kingdom of God is like yeast; it is only useful if it works its way through the dough.”
“We are reaching our community not through programmes but just by being here,” explains Roland in County Wicklow. “We meet people who are suffering from depression or whose lives have been destroyed by others. One woman’s brother took a brain tumour and she asked for prayer. Sadly, he died and we thought, ‘Oh no,’ but that experience brought her to God.”
VOX OCT - DEC 2013
Dermot - Limerick At 13, I went to a Christian camp run by CEF. That was my introduction to Christianity. I flirted with church but everyone was 20 years older than me so there was an immediate disconnect. I stopped going to church and from the age of 14 to 19 I did every stupid thing on the planet. I went out every night, going from the nightclub to school. Thank God I didn’t do any lasting damage. At the time, I enjoyed it. At 19, I woke up in Ennis, no idea where I was and with no idea how I got there. I remember thinking, “Is this it? Is this the sum of my life?” The CEF workers had kept in contact. They knew I was doing all this stuff but they still treated me the same. I knew they disapproved of the way I was living but they did it in the most loving way possible. I decided to go back to church. Although I didn’t like it at all I realised, I’m here to connect with God and that’s what matters.
Faith in Ireland is...
SERVING THE COMMUNITY Hosting a local youth club When Living Hope Church in Trim, Co Meath, re-located from a local hotel to a shop-front in the town centre, they were delighted that their facilities helped the community as well as serving their own needs. “A youth club wrote to ask if they could use our building as a youth café,” Ciaran said. “They really enjoy using the facility and we really enjoy hosting them. By doing things like this, we are able to be involved in the community. The idea is to bless the town, not just to preach at them. My question is: if this church closed down tomorrow, would the town miss us?”
Faith in Ireland is... CREATING BEAUTY
While music has a central place in most churches, many still struggle to fully embrace the arts. Around Ireland, Christians are using their gifts in a variety of ways. The Potters Hand coffee shop in Kilrush, County Clare is home to artist Aisling Hamilton. Pottery and paintings are on display alongside lattes and tasty bakes. Aisling also uses her gift to decorate the church building in neighbouring Kilkee, where colourful banners alleviate the cold bare stone. In the small village of Glencolmcille on the west coast of Donegal, artist Conal McIntrye runs a gallery to display his work. His paintings range from landscapes to abstract pieces in vibrant shades of sapphire and scarlet. The pastor of a small Christian fellowship in Ardara, Conal sees no disconnect between his faith and his art. He paints with the same vigour, passion and attention to detail as he applies to his sermons.
Supporting a football tournament Elton is passionate about sport and about Jesus. On the August Bank Holiday, he ran a refreshment stand at the annual men's football tournament in Drumgeely, close to Shannon Airport. "This is a great event. Our church is part of the community and we want to support it in any way we can," he says. With tea, coffee, squash and homemade cakes, the stand proved so popular that they soon ran out of cups.
Renovationg a Rape Crisis Centre Service is one of the core values of Elevate Church in Limerick city. The church helped re-paint the city’s rape crisis centre, bringing a much-needed facelift to this vital service. “We are not reinventing the wheel,” explained Dermot. “We will never start a homeless ministry if there is already one out there. We simply support what is already happening in our community.”
Roly - Redcross When Roly felt God calling him to become a minister, he thought it would be impossible because of his speech impediment. God reminded him of the time Moses had the same problem and God told him, “Who gave man his mouth?” (Exodus 4:11). He still has a stone that he found shortly before his ordination. "I was walking along a beach and thinking 'I can't do this' and then I found this stone. I've kept it ever since." OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
Faith in Ireland is...
Faith in Ireland is...
...or don't give up the day job! An artist, a baker, a student, a basketball coach, a process technician, an insurance salesman… these are just some of the people who live out their faith in day-to-day life in Ireland.
Churches come in all shapes and sizes and meet in all kinds of buildings, from ancient monuments to converted warehouses! With Christianity hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, today many Christian leaders are wrestling with questions like, “How can we re-imagine church?”
EMBRACING PLAN 'A'
Worship at work
Joe O’Donovan is a worship leader who used to dream of giving up his job as a process technician to lead worship full time. “Then I realised that my day job is God’s plan A. I was at work one day and I began walking around giving thanks to God. We can praise Him as much in our work as we do in church.” (Read Joe’s story on page 40)
Not a Sunday club
Church of Ireland vicar Roland Heaney shared, “I don’t want to play church anymore. I think the traditional church as an institution has lost the mission of Jesus. Too often, it is maintaining a system or just meeting in a building. I want to do what Jesus did. He focused on getting out into the marketplace. It’s not having a Sunday morning club but being a lifeboat rescuing people who are drowning.”
Hungry for God's presence
Paddy de Lasa is pastor of Killult Christian Fellowship in Falcarragh, County Donegal. He is convinced only one thing is needed to make the difference in his community. "We might have the best programme or the biggest church, but if we don’t have the presence of God, it is worthless. God creates the space where He shows His glory. It's not about us."
Mark Forsyth is a Methodist Minister based in Dunboyne. He works in insurance while reaching out in his local community. “I’m passionate about evangelism but more about relationships than events. It’s about being missional where you live, work and play. “For me, it is making friends with my immediate neighbours. I do Bible studies in work. And I go to the pub on Saturday evenings. If every believer could get into the mindset that they are on mission, not just when they are going door to door, it would make a huge difference!"
After running the “Unbound” Christian bookshop in Cork for many years, Padraig had a growing sense it was time to do something more radical. But when someone suggested opening a shop in the Outlet Centre in Killarney his first thought was, “Absolutely not!” Although God had been speaking to Padraig and his team about taking risks, the extortionate rents seemed a step too far! What followed was an amazing series of miracles, which led to the opening of a gift shop that also sells “a fabulous range of Bibles” alongside hand-made cards and gifts right opposite O’Brien’s Coffee Shop. “We’ve ended up with a gift shop that sells Christian stuff. People are buying cards with Bible verses on them and we have so many conversations with people,” Padraig explains. And business is booming! 14
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Real life, real people
Pastor Dermot O’Mahoney launched Elevate Church in Limerick City in January 2012. The church has a strong focus on connecting with newcomers. “My standard for Elevate is, ‘Would my brothers go to this?’” While the church is passionate about teaching the Bible, the emphasis is on applying God’s word to real life. “If you can’t use it on Monday, I won’t say it on Sunday,” Dermot explains.
Faith in Ireland is...
ENGAGING WITH THE PAST
History profoundly shapes our psyche and our society. Across Ireland, Christians are engaging with the past in order to understand the present and transform the future.
Telling the truth In Kilrush in County Clare, Mary Hamilton grew up near a mass graveyard, from the Famine. “The subject used to be taboo because it was something so awful and there was so much pain associated with it,” Mary shared. “We were told that 500 famine victims were buried in the graveyard but research revealed that there were in fact more than 3000! It was important to find the truth.” Mary’s church supported the Famine Commemoration, praying for healing of wounds from the past. Engaging with history requires a delicate balance, Mary explained. It is important to sift truth from legend and to avoid cover-ups that “white-wash” the ugly bits. But we must also find a way to move on so people can experience healing. “There needed to be closure. [The victims] were crying out from the grave. They needed to be a remembered without dwelling on bad history in a way that incites bitterness.”
Faith in Ireland is... EXPECTING MORE
One surprising discovery was a sense of hope among Christians in Ireland. As the country experiences economic, political and social upheaval, there is a growing confidence that God is able to do more than we could ask or even imagine… and a determination to take Him at His word! “People are saying, ‘Show us your God.’ There is real spiritual hunger,” said Roland Heaney. “God is more passionate about the church than we are and He wants His church to grow. We open up our building for healing prayer every Thursday. We are seeing more and more people from the community coming in… and God is answering prayer!” “Spending time in prayer has made us more alert and in tune with what God is saying and more bold in believing what we hear from Him,” shared Mary Hamilton. “We’ve seen people getting healed and I’m clinging on to the scripture that says we shall do even greater things in Jesus’ name.” Paddy de Lasa is excited about what God is going to do. “All we have to do is turn up. God calls us to be obedient but He is the one who performs miracles and transforms lives. It’s not about us! It has to be about God doing it so people will look and say, ‘God is alive in Ireland’.”
Doing the hard work of reconciliation Rev Roland (Roly) Heaney was brought up in a staunch loyalist area of Northern Ireland during the Troubles. His two cousins (policemen) were killed and he still remembers when the headmaster took a young boy out of class to tell him that his dad had been blown up that morning. “God having me work in the Republic of Ireland shows His sense of humour," he shares. “The Troubles left pain. When you label someone as Republican or Loyalist, they become your enemy and therefore they cannot be trusted. But when you meet someone face to face, you realise they are the same as you. “God did something in my heart. I no longer see labels but I meet people as people. It is time to end the pettiness. Here in Wicklow, we try not be to be tribal.” When Roly discovered that some of the worst atrocities afflicted on the Irish during the 1798 Rebellion happened close to Redcross, he made a public apology for the role of Protestants in those events. It symbolised just one small step towards healing. OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS ON ME, BECAUSE HE HAS ANOINTED ME TO PROCLAIM GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM FREEDOM FOR THE PRISONER AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT FOR THE BLIND, TO SET THE OPPRESSED FREE, TO PROCLAIM THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOUR.” Luke 4:18
Joel Edwards International Director, Micah Challenge
GUEST SPEAKER REVD JOEL EDWARDS Wednesday 15 January 2014, 10.30am CORE, St. Catherine's, Thomas Street, Dublin 8 TO REGISTER: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 611 0801
Tea and light lunch provided.
Produced in partnership with
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PART 7 BY WARREN NELSON
How the other half served rom the frequent mention of women in the Acts of the Apostles, we can see how extensive a part they played in those early days of Christianity. Luke, the author of Acts, was obviously positive about their involvement. On a number of occasions, where he need not necessarily have done so, he makes a point of including women. You will find women like Sapphira, Lydia and Priscilla and the women of Berea as leading participants. You will find those who were believers and some who opposed the good news. Wherever you look in Acts, women are an integral part of the story, e.g. Timothy’s mother and Philip’s daughters; we even read (just about) of Paul’s sister. In the light of debate about the ministry of women in the Church, the most striking thing about the place of women in Acts is the normality of it. I can think of no other way to describe it. In a world that took little heed of women, unless they were exceptionally noble or notorious, Luke neither elevates them onto a pedestal nor downplays their contribution. He is completely even-handed. So we find women in Acts having varied ministries: some needed ‘handouts’ (the widows of chapter 6) others made clothes as a charitable activity (Dorcas in chapter 9) but they also ran what could be described as the headquarters of the
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early Church (Mary, Mark’s mother, in chapter 12). They helped sort out theological problems (Priscilla, chapter 18:26), held prayer meetings (Lydia in chapter 16) and had a prophetic ministry (Philip’s daughters, chapter 21: 9). In all this, Luke was in keeping with the practice of Paul, who gladly accepted the work of women connected with house-churches (see Romans 16:1-15, 1 Corinthians 16:19 and Colossians 4:15 - there is variation in the early manuscripts, but the balance favours that Nympha was a woman). Churches and denominations have built differing rules, traditions and practices on these foundations, and we cannot explore the whole territory here. I can only express my view that the ministry of women in the early church was normal, in keeping with each situation and each individual’s abilities. The issue has been distorted through the creation by some churches of a special order of ‘priests’, differing in essential function from the laity, while other churches have tried to play safe by severely limiting any participation by woman in church life. If we follow the pattern of Acts, then women can have worthwhile ministry, only differing as needs and circumstances require.
OF BISHOPS AND BIBLES At the Church of Ireland synod of 1634, Bedell proposed the translation A surprise discovery at Hillsborough, of the Old Testament into Irish, to and some Irish Christian history, helped complement William O’Donnell’s 1602 confirm that this new role was God’s idea. translation of the New Testament. He “When I came to be rector, I employed Murtagh King and an assistant, James O’Neil, to undertake the translation. Bedell was a considerable Irish scholar himself and reviewed and corrected their work. “Bedell believed that the language of the Bible should be understood by the people and questioned why the Old Testament had not been translated into Irish,” Bishop Ferran explained. “[Together with others] he translated the Bible into Irish so the Irish people could hear the scriptures in their own language.” By 1640, the translation was complete but before publication HE TRANSLATED THE BIBLE INTO IRISH SO THE IRISH PEOPLE could take place, the Irish rising of 1641 COULD HEAR THE SCRIPTURES IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE broke out. Bedell, then 70, was imprisoned in a semi-ruined fortress during the thought I’d be here for a long, long cold winter of 1641, and though he was covering much of North West of Ireland - from time,” he shared. “One of the pieces of released in an exchange of prisoners, Fermanagh to Cavan through to Longford and memorabilia we have in the church in his health was broken and he died a few Leitrim across to Roscommon, Sligo and south Hillsborough is a Bible that used to sit up weeks afterwards. Donegal). "Don't worry," a friend and advisor in a glass case. I did not realise it was an The manuscript of the translation was told them. "There is absolutely no chance that original.” rescued by his friend Denis Sheridan, you will be elected as bishop, so relax and settle The Bible was in fact one of only two who many years later gave it to Narcissus into your new parish." originals of Bedell’s Irish Old Testament Marsh, provost of Trinity College, Ferran admits he was not looking for that exist in Ireland today. Dublin. With the aid of two Jesuit "promotion" and was happy working away as The inspiration behind this first scholars, Andrew Sall and Paul Higgins, a local rector. So it came as a shock when he Irish translation of the Old Testament and of the scientist Robert Boyle, Marsh was in fact voted in with a strong majority. was the churchman and scholar William revised the translation. Boyle nursed it "Miraculous" was one of the words bandied Bedell (1571–1642), who was appointed through the printing process in London around. But it was also painful to leave Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh in 1629, and an edition of 500 copies was finally Hillsborough so soon after arriving. over 380 years before the new Bishop published in 1685. Ferran took on the same role this year. Bible Photo by Colin Boyle o you believe in coincidences? I believe in God-incidences," said the Rt. Rev. Ferran Glenfield, Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. Just over 12 months ago, there were no thoughts of purple cloth for Ferran Glenfield. The Church of Ireland clergyman had been serving at Kill o'the Grange church in Dublin for many years but finally decided to move north to the Hillsborough parish church in Co Down. The Glenfield family had barely arrived in their new situation when news came that Ferran had been nominated as bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh (a diocese
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Finding Faith Stephen Cardy from Focus on the Family Ireland is based in Limerick and has been part of a work going on in Moyross. Here he shares part of the story. Writing this piece, I am reminded of the message in Luke 18 when Jesus asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Well, in our story, there is the evidence to show that He would find faith in Moyross, Limerick. It began over 14 years ago when church leaders began to humble themselves and pray together. More than a decade later, when the Government announced a major initiative to help some of the distressed neighbourhoods in Limerick, the ground had been prepared for us, (the church) to play our part. For two years, we met for prayer in the Community Centre in Moyross. Since July 2011, we have been privileged to see 27 people who have responded to the invitation to meet with the Lord. For many of these people it is quite unexpected. Family and friends have brought them to a time of worship, teaching and prayer in the Community Centre on Monday nights. On each of the Community Fair Days in 2011 and 2012, the churches working together rose to the challenge and took part, feeding over 800 people on each occasion. We take no credit for what is happening, other than that we were seeking and praying and willing to act. God opened this door and He is orchestrating the show. Two years on, there is a steady rhythm to the work going on. “When He comes, will He find faith?” – I am sure He will. He started it!
For an informed opinion on local and global issues check out the blog at www.globalirishman.org
Where faith, critical thinking and the world meet.
CONFESSIONS OF A FEINT SAINT
I know I had it here somewhere... By Annmarie Miles am really starting to worry about myself! More and more I find I’m having to resort to code words to communicate what I’m saying – only because I can’t remember the real word. It quite often goes like this. Him, “Where’s the menu for the Chinese restaurant?” Me, “oh it’s erm, yeah, it’s on top of the… the erm... the erm…. Oh the….” Him, “The what? Sorry I didn’t hear you.” Me, “The thing. The erm… ooohhh… arrggghhh… the thing! You know what I mean. Where we always keep it.” Silence and a blank look. Me, “You know! It’s on top of the thing we keep the milk in!” Him, “The fridge?” Me, “YES!!! The fridge, sorry; couldn’t remember the word.” Concerned looks and silent retreat. I find myself searching for the right words and they escape me. I can see my waning years stretching out ahead of me as our conversations regularly feature, ‘the thing we cook on’, ‘the room where we sleep’ and ‘the big box with four wheels, a gear box and an exhaust pipe’! I look at my dad, who at the moment is single-handedly staging a full rebellion against his children and the whole of the medical profession. Asserting his independence, he is determined to live how he chooses, no matter how much care we ask him to take. He has kept his strength of character, his loud voice and his cheery demeanour, but lost any concept of his own health, safety – and the fact that his children are suffering with nervous exhaustion! What if I lose that stuff too? What if other things that I know now, desert me? I think many people have those days or seasons, where they think, “I’m losing it.” Whether it be memory, emotional strength or the name of the that thing we watch the news on… That is why I love that God made us with a spirit – I believe this is where we ‘keep’ our faith. If my eyes fail me, so I can’t read it the Bible, and my ears fail me so I can’t hear someone else read it. If my brain fails me so I can’t remember or even understand a prayer – my faith is safe because it lives in my spirit, which is eternal. I may lose my memory, I may even lose my marbles, but God’s love for me is safely stored in a place where age and infirmity cannot damage it. J I'd better save this document now so I can email it to… you know… wassername… yerwoman… the editor of VOX… hang on, it'll come to me...
God’s love for me is safely stored in a place where age and infirmity cannot damage it
Annmarie Miles is originally from Tallaght in Dublin now living in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. She is married to Richard, from Wales. You can find out more about her & her writing at www.auntyamo.com OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
HOPE STARTS HERE BY RUTH GARVEY-WILLIAMS
ords seem inadequate to describe my visit INTRIGUED to Ringsend in Dublin’s docklands. Here in "We call it a hope-shaped project," Joe the most unlikely of places I’ve seen what says, as he shows me around. "I grew up in hope looks like. And it is as beautiful and unexpected as the flats around the corner, with 10 of us the flowers that bring a riot of colour in the heart of the living in a two-bedroomed council house. inner city. I used to get drunk on cider in the back The Anchorage Project is an old Mission Hall yard of this place and throw stones at the overshadowed by concrete tower blocks. Today it windows. houses a playschool providing for up to 40 children “At the age of 22, I was ready to commit every day. A flower garden produces window boxes and suicide, but God transformed my life. hanging baskets while lettuces, tomatoes and peppers We're bringing something of the riches of flourish in the greenhouse. God's kingdom here. Forget about church Raised planters mean wheelchair users can help on Sunday; we live church Monday to out with gardening. At the far end of the yard, a derelict Saturday!" area will become a reflective space when funds allow for Enjoying a coffee and a slice of lemon landscaping and some comfortable seating. THERE ARE UNTAPPED RESOURCES IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST A mini menagerie of THAT THIS SOCIETY CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO IMAGINE. rabbits and canaries delights visitors of all ages. cake, I’m fascinated by one wall of the café And in the Fair Play Café, delicious, affordable meals that is papered with the front covers of come with a warm welcome and a friendly word. Irish newspapers. It has taken years of patience, love, vision and “That is the good news wall,” Joe perseverance for Joe and Sharon Donnelly to create this explains. “I wrote to every editor in the oasis of peace and beauty, which is making a remarkable country and asked them to send me their impact, both in Dublin and around the world. And yet favourite front page covers featuring good only a fraction of the vision has been fulfilled. news stories. It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I’ve had to beat the good news out of them.
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“Bad news has gone viral. This is not a denial that we are in a bad place but it is a statement that we need to celebrate any good news there is.” At the heart of the vision is the question, “How can we express authentic Christian hope in 21stcentury Ireland?”
NOT AN OPTIONAL EXTRA “Too often Christians see hope as an optional extra,” Joe says. “Hope has migrated from the church because there was an over-emphasis on faith (or objective reasoning). Hope is not so easily defined - it is all about metaphors. Jesus left things hanging in the air.” And Joe has done the same. All over this place are tantalising invitations to conversation and connection. A table and chairs are stuck upsidedown on the ceiling. “That’s about God’s upside down kingdom,” Joe smiles. “I tell people who ask, ‘Your destiny is the marriage supper of the Lamb, and that celebration is leaking from the future into the present.’” A sign on the wall warns, “Generosity is contagious”. Now averaging €20,000 a year, the
community of Ringsend is raising money for the world’s poorest people through the café and from the sale of flowers. This year, they are supporting former child soldiers in Africa. Outside the greenhouse, a weighing scale filled with flowers hints at the beautiful “weight” of God’s glory. “The gospel is fabulous. It affects the whole of life and the whole of the person.” Joe’s grin is so wide it’s infectious. I find myself beaming back even as I’m furiously taking notes. “There are untapped resources in the gospel of Jesus Christ that this society cannot even begin to imagine. Evangelism used to be, 'Come to our meeting and if you don’t, you can just go to hell.' A lot of what I’m doing now is in reaction to that. “If people are not ready to connect with things of the kingdom, they can walk out but others ask questions. I’ve discovered that this honours the work of the Holy Spirit. We get to pray, ‘Are you doing something in this guy’s life?’”
RESTORING DIGNITY AND COMMUNITY
“I went wild as a teenager, trying to process my father’s death. Drink caused a lot of destruction in my life. At the Christian Brothers’ School, I experienced a level of cruelty that made me think, ‘If those guys go to heaven, then I’d rather go to hell.’ " Joe attempted suicide when he was 22. “All of my hopes and dreams were slipping through my fingers like sand. It was a horrible feeling of despair like a python wrapped around my chest. My life was reduced to a pinhead.” Joe as he describes his journey to faith. As an atheist punk rocker, he began reading the New Testament so he could argue with a friend who was considering joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “As I read about Jesus, I began to think, ‘What if this is right?’”
A tips jar is matched each year by a donation from a local company to provide lunch vouchers. St Vincent de Paul and the local priest give these vouchers to needy people in the community. “The vouchers look the same as the SHOWING GOD’S REDEMPTIVE WAYS loyalty scheme, so there is no sense of shame for people coming to buy a hot lunch,” Joe explains. ‘NOBODY GIVES A *?!@ ABOUT US AND NOBODY EVER WILL.’ It is a way to provide more than just a food parcel. “I’m trying to get people to socialise and to re-enter the “God transformed me and He is human race. When they come to use their transforming this place. People here told voucher, they get to talk to people.” us, ‘Nobody gives a *?!@ about us and Joe knows what it is like to feel trapped nobody ever will.’ I was stupid enough to in a cycle of poverty and misery. Born and come back with raw, reckless faith.” bred in Ringsend, he was sent out to work Initially, Joe was horrified at the idea at the age of 15. of using the old Mission Hall. “It was a
Protestant relic and it seemed the last place we should use. I had to learn that the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom. God wanted to take one of the lads who used to have cider parties here and fire up a vision to show His redemptive ways.” Without money or help, Joe and Sharon started with a clean slate, loads of passion and a belief in what God could do in the community they love. “Because I grew up in the local flats and knew what it was like to drown in a sea of concrete, we create an oasis for people, an island for them to row out to and inhabit.”
I leave reluctantly, wanting to breathe in every ounce of inspiration. Those looking for formulas would re-create “The Anchorage” in other places. That’s not the answer. But my imagination is fired with a vision of what might be… if similar love, faith and hope inspired passionate, creative engagement with communities all over Ireland.
o t e Tim
? h c r u
h c r u yo
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world and all who live in it ” - PSALM 24:1
hristians believe the world is God’s Creation. But you wouldn’t think it sometimes, given the careless manner in which we fail to care for it. If we truly believe that creation is “very good” (Genesis 1:31), then why are we not doing a better job of looking after it? Each year, the stark reality of the damage humans are doing to the earth becomes increasingly obvious. Climate change constitutes one of the greatest threats to the environment. Millions of people are already affected by desertification, water scarcity, rising sea levels and drought, while the frequency and size of extreme weather events continues to worsen. But what can we do? Problems like pollution, deforestation and global warming are so enormous that it is difficult to believe that any individual can have an impact. However, this kind of negative thinking can mean we do nothing. Eco-Congregation Ireland (ECI) is an interchurch project encouraging churches to adopt an ecofriendly approach to worship, lifestyle, property and finance management. We encourage churches to start by taking small steps, like including a prayer for the environment in services. We also encourage churches to celebrate Creation Time every year between September 1 and October 4. Taking small steps like these is a good way to become more eco-aware. Why not take the quick VOX questionnaire on this page. For a more serious evaluation, work through the church checklist on the ECI website www.ecocongregationireland.com/modules. This need only take about an hour and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised to see areas where your church is already being eco-friendly. It will also give you ideas of further steps you can take.
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Many eco initiatives are fun and can involve all ages. And they are often a good way to reach out to the local community and work together with other churches in your area.
GREEN CHURCHES IN ACTION •
Clonakilty Methodist Church, Co Cork, installed solar lamps and a more energy-efficient boiler. Church members planted trees and created a garden at the back of the church and an eco tip is posted on the noticeboard outside the church each week.
Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast installed recycling bins and switched to eco-friendly light bulbs and cleaning products.
The Oblate Parishes of Inchicore, Dublin, regularly invite the local community to gardening courses and alternative shopping days selling ethically-produced goods.
The Church of Ireland Diocese of Cashel and Ossory adopted a Green Charter in 2008. The diocesan eco committee produces a newsletter and organises seminars on topics like climate change and water.
ECI hopes to see more churches adopt these kinds of environmental initiatives and work towards a lowcarbon and more resilient future. Some doomsayers say that it is too late to turn the tide on environmental damage. But the Christian response must be one of hope. It is not too late to do our bit to bring about change. We must identify solutions and take our responsibilities seriously by making changes in our own lives and encouraging others to do the same. See www.ecocongregationireland.com for ideas and resources.
How green in your church? For each question, mark your church: 1 never / not at all 2 sometimes/ fairly well 3 always/ very well 1.
We are reducing and recycling waste.
We use energy-saving light bulbs.
Our building is well insulated and energy efficient.
Our church implements energy-saving policies.
Our church uses environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Our church uses fair-trade tea, coffee, sugar, etc.
Our church buys recycled paper and other recycled products.
Our church uses crockery instead of disposable cups and plates.
We have calculated the carbon footprint of our church building and implemented measures to reduce it.
environment or its impact on creation. Perhaps it’s time to ask a few tough questions?
10. We regularly teach about the responsibility of Christians towards creation and the environment.
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11. We regularly give thanks for God’s creation as part of worship services.
12. We educate church members on issues of environmental responsibility.
13. We practice ethical banking / investments (we know where money is coming from / going to).
14. We actively support community initiatives such as Tidy Towns and environmental protection.
15. We support and promote community gardening initiatives.
16. We are well informed about the global impact of greed and over-consumption in the west (especially on the world’s poorest people).
1 17. We regularly support the work of development agencies seeking to alleviate the human cost caused by environmental damage to our planet.
How did you do? LESS THAN 25: Your church seems to have very little concern for the
Your church has shown some concern for the environment and taken some steps in the right direction. But there is definite room for improvement.
Your church is showing a genuine commitment to caring for the environment! Keep up the good work!
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BY DERVAL CROMIE - WINNER OF THE VOX WRITING COMPETITION 2013 - “ENCOUNTERS” Describe how meeting a particular person shaped you or changeed the course of your life in a significant way.
ther people have a youth worker or pastor or CU student as their biggest influence. But me? I’ve always had to be different. So, I would cite a tall bearded Breton by the name of Patrick Lefanic as mine. Patrick (2nd syllable rhymes with creek) was the Dad of my French exchange student. Anna and I had corresponded before I took the Cork-Roscoff ferry with a bunch of other Co. Cork exchangees. “Love you the sea?” she had written in her first letter to me, as her family’s house lay only a couple of miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Pumped and nervous in almost equal amounts, our pasty Irish faces emerged into a hot Breton morning before climbing into parental French cars with strange number plates, all beginning with 56. The Gallic cultural soup into which I was immersed was a profound game-changer. That first summer, Anna’s two-girl two-parent family expanded to include 13 more relatives, so lunch and dinner went on for hours with anecdotes, laughter, amazing food and a grand finale of smelly cheeses. A fish-kettle for an enormous salmon made an appearance. Red and white wines were extolled upon in great detail.
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When my birthday dawned, champagne was treated with great respect – being cooled to just the right temperature for all the adults. And the most irresistible chocolate cake was carefully baked and served with a crème Chantilly – thin pouring cream with a minty accent. I had come from a table where there was silence, rashers and sausages, pickled beetroot and onions at teatime. Lest the silent reference sound harsh, I doubt it was all that different from many Irish households of the time. My own Dad was from a small holding – farmers don’t waste time talking when there is a hunger, food in front of you and work to be done. So, the French custom of dining for hours at a time with huge appreciation for flavour, conversation and laughter was a revelation to me. I pursue it to this day! That’s the context; now for the particular. At the heart of it all was the strong silent figure of Patrick Lefanic. He was like the rock around which the whole family flowed. Working
in a profoundly vocational job, teaching Maths/Science and the very practical art of woodwork to teenage “delinquents”, you just knew that those kids would appreciated the solidity that Patrick represented. He would quietly withdraw to the garage to switch a wine if it wasn’t up to scratch. He would gently poke fun at an argument or point of view if it didn’t hold water – “Ah non, mais non!” He would notice if there was a lull in the conversation, getting up to help serve the next course. As Anna’s mum was a director of nursing, Patrick was the summertime parent who planned outings to the seaside, who cooked quieter lunches where it was just us three girls and himself, and who was well up
for discussions with 14-year-olds, Irish or French, daughter or exchange student. The following year, I got to explore Paris for three days with the family, marvelling at Rodin’s sculptures of the human body in the Musee d’Orsay and reeling at the scale of the Louvre. Being invited to join Anna, her sister Alice and Patrick and Laurette on a monthlong road trip to Morocco in 1987 was an absolute highlight. When we got back to France, we all saw that this great thinker had taken many unobtrusive photographs of us as we walked through souks, stopped at the edge of a dried-up riverbed, or bargained for bracelets. There wasn’t any hero worship going on here – just an exposure to a considered way of life. It was a way of life and a character that obviously made a big impression on me. Because for all the girlish crushes I had, my husband Sam was the first man who captivated my mind. Oh, and who also did a
neat line in quiet photography. A year after my 1987 road trip with the Lefanics, I was facing a test where I could not fall back solely on fluent French… the dreaded Leaving Cert (for which I had not studied in a foolhardy attempt at teenage rebellion!). When my back was up against the wall, I read a booklet which dissected the human search for God with the point of Jesus’ death on the cross being a massive act of reconciliation between us and God. To discover a Father who would want to communicate with me, forgive me all my nasty, petty thoughts and acts, and invest my life with significance, was the most important turning point in my young life. I can now see that all those conversations among the Lefanic family prepared the soil for the garden that sprung up when I invited God to make His home in my life. And the experience of being listened to, and considered significant, definitely
paved the way for me to choose a man of integrity and substance for my lifecompanion. Influence is a subtle but stellar entity. I am so very grateful for the two significant others in my life… the Donegal man Sam, and the most complete Man who ever lived on earth, the only Christ there is – Jesus of Nazareth. Derval Cromie is a newbie entrant to the 40+ category and is trying to embrace growing older with laughter and goodwill. She has been married to Sam for 16 years and they have two children.
VOX Writing Competition 2013 Winners Thank you so much to everyone who entered this year’s competition. With 26 entries and ages ranging from 12 to 74, the judges were faced with a tough challenge to select winners. The competition was fierce, especially when it came down to the final ten. With such excellent work, we hope to find opportunities to publish more of these wonderful stories.
1ST PRIZE (AND WINNER OF AN IPAD MINI) - DERVAL CROMIE
• • • • •
2ND PRIZE - HOLLY KREBBS, DUNGARVAN, CO WATERFORD 3RD PRIZE - SHARON O’BRIEN ALLEN, NORTH CO DUBLIN
KAREN STANLEY, EAST CORK CHRIS MAC BRUITHIN, DERRY, CO LONDONDERRY SHAUNA STEWART MAGHERAFELT, CO. LONDONDERRY VICKY GOOD, BANTRY, CO CORK GARETH DAVIDSON, CO FERMANAGH
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magine an uncharacteristically hot July up comedy develops new networks of friends, night in Carrick-on-Shannon. The pub suggests new ways of living your life for Jesus, is heaving. Behind the laughter and breaks moulds and creates new possibilities. conversation, there’s an expectant buzz in the air. Tobacco smoke drifts lazily in through the CAN CHRISTIANS DO COMEDY? open doors from patio and then a blast of trad Irish Some professional comedians seem to have music. a Christian faith “on the side” (no disrespect An unlikely figure bursts in and thread-dances intended) - think of Cannon and Ball or Tim his way through the crowd. He finds the spotlight, Vine. Their faith is a turns, and the private affair and its banter begins. It’s only impact on their well-rehearsed performance is in the and confidently JESUS’S PARABLES WERE PROBABLY NOT JUST choice of material delivered: think SEEN AS CLEVER BUT AS HILLARIOUS. and the language Jimmy Cricket used. meets Eddie Braben. Others – like The audience love Adrian Plass and Jeff Lucas focus on “init and the laughter rolls in waves around the room. house” comedy: Christians pointing out their Twenty…thirty minutes later and the music starts off own absurdities to other Christians. again. In reverse, he dances out of the room and the The problem – if it is a problem - in the first applause erupts. case, is that of a split personality. It’s something It’s an unlikely context for a church planter, but we all do, like splitting a work persona from somehow Noel pulls it off. And every piece of standhome life.
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In the second case, Christian comics the Crucifixion represents a few days BUT A STAND-UP COMIC? ISN’T THAT A run the risk of being thought lightweight in Jesus' life. The rest of His three-year STEP TOO FAR? and not serious about their faith. When ministry was spent doing normal stuff in In some senses, it is! In others, it C.S. Lewis created The Screwtape Letters extraordinary ways: attending weddings, provides a parallel. At a basic level, some to point out Christian failings, he said it sharing meals, welcoming those on the comedians are asking the question: Why was a rather arid territory that he didn’t margins of society, healing the sick and do we do things this way? By making care to inhabit for too long. If you’re preaching the Good News. And along the habitual strange and saying the constantly poking fun at foibles, you may the way, He showed some rare good unsayable, they challenge power and become something of an accuser. From humour. conventions. there, it’s an easy slide into cynicism. We may not notice because we’re too Of course, there’s a difference in Alternatively, there are Christians removed—culturally and temporally. intent and consequence. Though Jesus who use comedic insight to make us Jesus’s parables were probably not just and stand-up comics might both start consider the world afresh. I’ve seen this in seen as clever but as hilarious. The idea with the same questions, what happens the writing of Fred Buechner, Madeline that someone with a plank of wood in his next is profoundly different. L’Engle and a very few others. This is own eye would critique someone with a The comic conclusion is often a what Simon Page does in his recent novel speck of dust in his was probably laughrefuge in the absurd or some kind of Missing Gretyl. Beneath the veneer of out-loud funny. bathos. So the comics point out the burps and “bits” is a serious man using Some parables are ridiculous in their folly of life. It’s interesting to observe comedy to analyse the world. that the vigour of the “New It’s reminiscent of the slapstick Atheism” polemic derives from of Kingsley Amis and the crudities comedy (Ricky Gervais, Robin of Tom Sharpe but the context SO LET’S BALANCE THINGS OUT A BIT AND THINK ABOUT THE Ince, Stephen Fry) as much as is 21st-century London with from science and philosophy. The “MAN OF JOY” AS WELL AS THE “MAN OF SORROWS”. its massive racial muddle and questions of life are mostly an end confusion of identities. The story in themselves for the comedian. is woven through an intricate Jesus and the comics both web of marital frustration, poke fun at pretension, pomposity and disappointed hopes and chicanery in the exaggeration. The story of a rich man ignorance. He mocked – quite cruelly mode of a darker Only Fools and Horses. who gives to his servants “talents” is the fundamentalists of His day. And we And through it all strides the eponymous usually seen as a story about the proper laugh, because it’s true! And en route, we heroine, huge, ungainly and yet somehow, use of gifts. But we may overlook the sneer a little in a downwards direction eventually, sympathetic. fact that a “talent” represented 15 years’ because we (at least) realise how foolish wages. When the rich man gives five all this is. talents, it was the equivalent of 75 years’ JESUS THE STAND-UP COMEDIAN? But Jesus wanted to create readiness wages – a ridiculous amount! Jesus wasn’t playing for laughs. He was for a place where you are not selfElsewhere, Jesus gives Simon the dead serious about what He came to do. obsessed with how you look, how long name: "Peter", or "Rock". While some And yet… The common picture of Jesus as you live or how important you are; to understand Jesus was designating him the “man of sorrows” is mostly inaccurate. re-evaluate you and your life in the light as the foundation of the church, Peter When you look carefully at the Gospels, of an over-arching awareness of God (Cephas, or stone, in Greek) may also you find a man with an obvious joie de as creator and father. It’s like a child refer to the tough fisherman’s character— vivre, a storyteller who told jokes, a leader playing in a muddy puddle who hasn’t angular, sharp and hard-edged. In other who gave His companions nicknames and a understood that he has been given the words, it was a nickname: “Rocky.” carpenter who enjoyed a good laugh. whole seaside for himself. That’s the There are more overt signs of Jesus’s So why do many think of Jesus as dissonance that spurred Jesus’ wit. sense of humour. Hearing that Jesus gloomy? For one thing, it’s a reflection So for God’s sake, lighten up. As is from Nazareth, Nathaniel says, “Can of the historical emphasis on the death of G.K.Chesterton said: “Angels can fly anything good come from Nazareth?” Jesus. For the early Christians, Jesus’ arrest, because they take themselves lightly.” It’s a dig at Jesus’s hometown, which trial, torture and crucifixion was appalling was seen as a backwater. Jesus responds, "This article was prompted in part from and confusing. The Gospel writers took “Here is an Israelite without guile.” In James Martin's 2011 blog article "Jesus of care to explain this period of Jesus’ life, other words, “Here’s a guy I can trust!” Nazareth, Stand-Up Comic" to help the early Christians make sense So let’s balance things out a bit and of what it meant. But as a result, those think about the “Man of Joy” as well as passages dominated the Gospels. the “Man of Sorrows”. The time from the Last Supper to Ken and Val direct several missional communities across the midlands of Ireland. Ken’s books Evangelism in Acts and Evangelism as Encounter are available on Amazon Kindle. OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
MARATHON MAN "THERE IS A BURNING EVANGELIST IN ME" 52 marathons in eight weeks was the task Alastair Donaldson set when he came up with the idea of “Run 4 Christ” - circling the Irish coastline to share the good news about Jesus. Alastair, 31, from Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland, had just finished his first year at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute when he set off on his epic 1,298 mile journey. Although he had previously run five marathons, the grueling Run 4 Christ challenge meant an average of 26 miles a day, six days a week for two months! Supported by an incredible team who prayed, drove the van, financed the trip and offered hospitality as well as many who ran alongside him, Alastair completed his task on August 30. VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams caught up with Alastair and his running mate Noel Boyd just before they crossed the border from Donegal into Northern Ireland.
TELL US HOW RUN 4 CHRIST CAME ABOUT?
I was sitting in an armchair in May 2010 when I started getting ideas about running around the perimeter of Ireland. I remember thinking, “Is this just another daft idea?” And then I had a sense of reassurance that God was in it. I wanted to do it for the sake of the Gospel. That night, I looked up Google maps to work out a route of about 25 miles between each town. I kept asking my Da, “Have you heard of this place”. Eventually, he asked, “Why are you asking me 28
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about all these places?” I told him I was thinking about running around Ireland. His reply was, “Oh aye… will we have a cup of tea?” I parked it for a while but every few weeks, God would bring it back to my head. For some reason, I kept thinking about summer 2013. Eventually, that worked out as the perfect time.
people along the way. It talks about the first marathon and applies that to the gospel message. We’ve distributed close to 1500 already!
TELL US SOME OF YOUR EXPERIENCES.
We met a guy from India in Wicklow town and he ended up filming a three-minute slot for an HOW DID YOU PREPARE? Indian TV station. The idea kept festering away. Every I remember one of the many fruit now and again, I would pray about it and sellers in Wexford. He was sitting ask God, “Is this something you want to in his car behind the fruit stall and I happen?” And always, I felt the answer, talked to him for over an hour. He “Of course told me, God wants it “I’ve got to happen.” so many THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE THOUGHT I WAS DAFT. The questions majority [about of people God] and thought I was daft but various individuals you are the first person I’ve been able and churches and a Christian trust all to ask.” He gave me a free punnet of helped out and supported the idea. strawberries when I left. A good friend created the website. Later on, I took the van onto Another friend gave me the van and Noel Rossnowlagh beach and got stuck! organised the T-shirts. For half an hour, Run4Christ took I trained regularly throughout the centre stage. I looked stupid but I year, getting up early in the morning to didn’t care. I didn’t intend to get stuck run six or seven miles. but I’ve come to see that even the We made a leaflet to give out to “wrong road” can have a purpose.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO KEEP GOING?
I’ve never woken up thinking “I can’t go on”. I can only put that down to so many people praying. Bar injury, we’re in it for the long haul and the injuries we’ve had have never been too bad. It has become more and more apparent to me that there is a burning evangelist in me. When I’m not telling people about Jesus, I’m grumpy. I’d rather not be a Christian than be lukewarm. I’m excited that I’m a Christian and I know that it has changed my life and I want to see that for other people.
“GOD, I KNOW I CAN’T DO THIS ANY MORE AND I KNOW YOU CAN. WILL YOU SAVE ME?” The good news is just really Jesus. There are so many “solutions” out there for people but none of them work. God has made us in such a way that there is a part of us that will never be fulfilled without Him. As Christians, we need to be a whole lot more specific when we are sharing the gospel. The majority of people seemed to know that Jesus died on the cross and rose again but they don’t seem to know what that means for their lives.
TELL US WHY RUNNING THROUGH CORK CITY WAS SO MEANINGFUL FOR YOU. That was where I became a Christian when I was 24 years old. Running over St Patrick’s bridge was a special moment - it was the first time I was back since I was converted. I was working in construction at the time - working nights and trying to sleep through the day. I hated being there. For three whole days I couldn’t sleep. I kept turning over and over and I felt I couldn’t settle. Life wasn’t getting any better. I just felt empty. No matter how much I tried to fix things, my life had got messed up. Part of me was always attracted to God. I remember thinking, “I definitely want to become a Christian but I’ll wait until I’m married.” I knew it would mean all or nothing. There would be no half measures. While in Cork I began reading the Bible but I didn’t understand much. Eventually, I said, “God, I know I can’t do this any more and I know you can. Will you save me?” I knew that Jesus had died on the cross and that He could save me, although I didn’t really know what that meant. I can look back on Cork city and there was
something so solid about what happened there. I always had the assurance that I was saved. I never doubted it. Many a time I act like an idiot and do stupid things but I never doubt my salvation. I’m so glad that God did that in me.
NOEL, YOU COME FROM THE TINY VILLAGE OF BUNBEG IN COUNTY DONEGAL. HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN RUN 4 CHRIST AND WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE? I was planning to run the Belfast marathon and a mutual friend put me in contact with Alastair. I checked out the website and thought I’d give him a hand in Donegal. Next thing I knew I was in Wicklow for one weekend and then running from Kerry to Galway for two weeks. Now, I’m back for another two weeks. I’m learning so much. I was wondering if I could hand out leaflets and talk to people about faith. It is kind of like stepping out of the boat but it is getting a bit easier. I’ve been really encouraged seeing so many different churches in parts of the south and west. For some reason, I thought there would not be a strong Christian faith in those parts of the country but for years, people have soldiered on and the churches have grown.
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NEVER TOO OLD FREDA'S WOOLLY HATS ARE KNITTED WITH LOVE
The 2013 Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal is now in full swing, and there are many ways you can get involved.
To find out more, go to www.teamhope.ie or call (01) 294 0222.
BY JUDITH MONK
“It was all my daughter’s fault!” That’s what 100-year-old Freda said when asked how she got involved in the Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal. Back in 1998, when Freda was a sprightly 85-year-old, her daughter Jackie began making shoebox gifts for children in Eastern Europe - the victims of war, disaster or poverty. Never one to miss an opportunity, Freda asked if she could help out. And that’s how it all started.
President Higgins but told us that her letter from the Queen must have got lost! Freda has lived through a lot: the 1916 rising, the War of Independence, two World Wars, and changes in society and technology that were unimaginable when she was growing up in South Dublin. She has had a rich life – reminiscing about her daily swims in Seapoint, and her love of gardening and art but above all, her family. Her testimony is of how God
has brought her through both the good and the bad times. When her husband died, she shared, “God tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I wasn’t alone, that He was with me”. It’s that precious experience of a God who cares, that motivates her to show care for children she will never meet. Freda’s woolly hats become prized possessions for the children who receive them!
IT’S THAT PRECIOUS EXPERIENCE OF A GOD WHO CARES, THAT MOTIVATES HER TO SHOW CARE FOR CHILDREN SHE WILL NEVER MEET.
For many years, Freda came to the Dublin shoebox warehouse to help Jackie check the shoeboxes. She was a well-loved figure. But when it became impossible for Freda to help in the warehouse, she put one of her favourite hobbies to good use – knitting! Now Freda occupies her free time by knitting woolly hats for shoeboxes destined for needy children in Africa or Eastern Europe. These children will treasure their hats for years to come, not knowing that a thoughtful 100-year-old Irish lady knit them. When asked about her 100th birthday last January, with a glint in her eye Freda said, “I had a week of parties!” She proudly showed off her congratulatory letter from
Photos: Krista Burns www.thecrimsonclover.net
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LR I FEEA L I T Y
ARE WE MAKING THINGS BETTER OR WORSE? BY JUDITH MONK
“I have something burning in my heart, to the extent that if I don't get it out, spontaneous combustion might be a real issue. So bear with me… you don't have to agree, but please give it some consideration.” - Judith Monk We thought this was the perfect description of “VOX Views” - an opportunity for Christians in Ireland to share their opinions on hot topics and important issues. If you have a “view” you would like to share, email email@example.com. Here, Judith shares her opinion on the topical issue of abortion in the light of recent legislation
Short of bowling along the road and being hit head on, leaving you paraplegic, there is nothing so utterly and irreversibly lifechanging as becoming pregnant. Even if you undergo the tragedy of a miscarriage, for those weeks, you were two and that can never be taken away. A new person has to be factored into every aspect of our lives. For most of us, that change is scary but also wonderful and exhilarating. But imagine if, instead, it is absolutely terrifying, the last thing you can face, a complete catastrophe? The creation of a new life has such enormous potential impact that the degree of panic may be proportionately huge. This brings us to abortion - the ultimate attempt to put the clock back. As Christians, we can say that the idea of abortion, the extinction of a God-given individual life for trivial reasons or even lifestyle choices, is appalling.
I BELIEVE AS CHRISTIANS, WE COULD HAVE AN ENORMOUSLY IMPORTANT ROLE TO PLAY...IN INFLUENCING THE OUTCOME OF MANY CRISIS PREGNANCIES, WHATEVER THEIR CAUSE.
all omas H by: Th Photo
But to the person facing an unwelcome pregnancy, none of that has any meaning - they cannot begin to admit to the reality of that new life because, if they do, an intolerable situation becomes completely impossible. Crisis pregnancies occur far more regularly than many of us admit. Although some might be the result of a casual attitude to sex, many are not. I find it impossible not to have a huge heart for those for whom pregnancy is a nightmare. As I have listened to the abortion debate, I’ve become more convinced that legislation will always be inadequate to deal with the intense emotional and moral sensitivities involved here. So how do Christians interact with the real-life situations that develop when
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pregnancy is unwelcome? …with the And then he told the woman, “Go, and the space and support to make a different blind and acute panic that makes it almost sin no more.” He didn't minimise or excuse decision. impossible to think clearly? … and with what she had done. He acknowledged that Jesus made it clear that He came to fulfill the reality - more common than we realise adultery is a sin. Neither, however, did the law. But the command He gave was not - of pregnancies resulting from rape, he preach or comment. Having obtained to stick to the law in a pharisaical way, not to incest, or abuse? mercy for her, He gave her space and a be known for being law abiding, but instead, Up to now, the Christian response chance to think about what she had done “Love one another. As I have loved you, so has been clear and simple. We assert you must love one another. By this, that abortion is wrong and that we all men will know that you are my are pro-life. But what is the effect of disciples, if you love one another.” AS CHRISTIANS, WE SHOULD HAVE THE BEST CHANCE OF these statements on those in crisis? And Jesus did love - not Who is likely to come to us for help SUPPORTING WOMEN TRYING TO MAKE A RIGHT DECISION IN just His disciples but all the when they hear us saying flat out that messiness of real life, the sinners, A NIGHTMARE SITUATION. “abortion is wrong”? the adulterous woman, the tax For many, an end to the collectors. He spent time with pregnancy may seem like the only feasible without being pressured. He did not send these people and did not condemn them. solution, and they will need a lot of the apostles after her to check whether she What would happen to the number of space, support and the grace that comes stayed pure - we never hear the end of the abortions, I wonder, if Christians were really from God before they can even begin to story. known as those who would love, pray for, consider other options - if they ever do. Jesus first freed her from the prison of support and listen to the potential mother Each year, up to 4,000 women travel to condemnation, then left her free to choose as well as taking the baby's side? the UK for an abortion. Tens of thousands what she did next. The early church What would happen if we put these are living with the aftermath of those reflected the same attitude. James says, women in God's hands, allowing Him to terminations. When we merely assert that “Speak and act as those who are going to make the judgment rather than feeling that abortion is wrong, do we help them to be judged by the law that gives freedom we need to do it ourselves? deal with their hurt, anger or deep regret, [that is, the law of love], because judgment We must also accept that some women or do we drive them deeper into silence? without mercy will shown to anyone who will choose abortion in the end. Is it better When we go on the streets with has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs if they do so having been loved, supported candles because we are pro-life, do we over judgment!” ( James 2:12) and listened to, or if they run off in fear and encourage someone in a crisis pregnancy condemnation? to come to us? Will they feel they will be As Christians, we should have the best MAKING A DIFFERENCE given time and space to come to terms chance of supporting women trying to make Whatever happens, the law will never with their pregnancy and consider their a right decision in a nightmare situation. At stop abortion. The hard cases will not options without feeling judged or that we the moment, sadly, because many of us have go away. Women will almost certainly will only consider one option? chosen “taking a stand” over love and mercy, continue to go to the UK for terminations. I believe as Christians, we could have we probably have the least. But we can do something about this. an enormously important role to play, By keeping open hearts, by praying not in the debate about legislation, but in for and making ourselves available to influencing the outcome of many crisis support those in crisis, by understanding pregnancies, whatever their cause. that they are like us and we are like them, by keeping our opinions to ourselves, A BIBLICAL MODEL being prepared to listen without judgment In the story of the woman caught in to what these women are feeling, by not adultery, the crowd was ready to stone her. expecting them to be “good” or come out They were within their rights - adultery with what we might feel are the “right” was against the law. They tried to trap emotions, by allowing all the internal mess Jesus, to catch Him taking, perhaps, what and contradictory emotions to spill out in we would call a 'liberal' view of adultery. a safe place, we just might give someone Instead, by saying, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”, Jesus helped them see into their own hearts. He reduced the immense gulf that selfrighteousness imposes between those in the right and those in the wrong.
Judith Monk is a member of a Church of Ireland parish on the outskirts of Cork. She has two grown-up daughters and works as a therapist dealing with physical and emotional trauma. OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
Photo: Brian O'Bryan Irish Times
WHERE HOPE AND DIGNITY MEET BY KEN GIBSON
learned last week that my friend Kalian has be used to cure and care for others with died. His loss will be great in my life for, leprosy. while we never spoke the same language, To be diagnosed with leprosy is Kalian taught me so much about hope, devastating. Men, women and children dignity, grace and unconditional forgiveness. His who hear the phrase “you have leprosy” personal story amazed me. have their world turned upside down. Kalian always had a cheeky smile that screamed It is one of the oldest and most cruel satisfaction with life. Despite all that others had done afflictions known to humankind. Since to him, he never uttered one word of criticism. it was first recorded about 600 BC, it has It was my friend Dr Robins who brought us been an enemy of humanity. together. He had found Kalian, beaten to a pulp and left to die on the local rubbish dump. His crime? He suffered from leprosy. LEPROSY AFFECTS THE WHOLE PERSON: PHYSICALLY, The Leprosy Mission’s medical team bandaged Kalian’s wounds. MENTALLY, SOCIALLY, ECONOMICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY. They took him to the hospital and dealt with his leprosy: a disease that is completely curable using Clofazimine, a drug discovered at Trinity Leprosy affects the whole College in the 1980s. person: physically, mentally, socially, A month later, Kalian lay on the same dump, economically and spiritually. When yet again beaten to a pulp. So he came to live on the Wellesley Bailey, the Irish man who hospital complex. That’s where I first met him. By then started the work of The Leprosy Mission, he had built up a successful business breeding goats. first encountered people suffering from But he had no love for money. He deposited his profits this cruel disease, he wrote home to his in a box in the hospital office, insisting that it should fiancée with these words: “ their first
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and greatest need is the gospel but in bringing them the gospel there is so much more we need do…” He went on to describe the medical care, food, sanitation and practical care needed. Today, that blend of practical care and gospel commission continues to inspire the work of The Leprosy Mission. Murugan’s story stands testament to that work. When I met him, it had been four years since he stood, desolate and despairing on the side of the road. He had a rope in his hand that day. He'd chosen the place himself. All he needed was to tie the rope. The moment arrived, but his fingers didn't work. Leprosy had cruelly robbed him of the use of his hands. Feeling useless and utterly pathetic, he couldn't even hang himself. Thankfully! Dr Paul Brand, known to many as a co-writer with Philip Yancey, has been one of God’s amazing blessings for The Leprosy Mission. He designed
a particular type of hand surgery. Using that technique, Murgan’s hands were restored. Today, they’re skilful. With Leprosy Mission funding, he established a ceramics business now employing five people. His business is one of the biggest in his village. More importantly, Murgan has been reunited with his family who had thrown him out because of his illness. The last time I visited, Murugan came to see me so that I could inspect his latest range of ceramics. His life is totally changed. Today, if he chose, his fingers could tie the rope, but he has everything to live for. His life has been transformed. As he showed me the new product range, he smiled as he pointed and named each of the ceramic figures: cow, sheep, donkey, wise man, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus. I sat fascinated. This man, living in a community 98% Hindu and once a Hindu himself, has come to understand the love made human flesh in the Christmas story. Fascinated, I asked about his faith journey. Nobody preached at him. The staff just loved him and served him. He simply asked why they do what they do and the story unfolded. On another continent, leprosy destroyed
It was a special moment for The Leprosy Mission to be able to introduce the patients to someone as important as President McAleese. But every day has its special moments because through the work of The Leprosy Mission, we introduce patients to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! The Leprosy Mission’s logo or emblem, recognised internationally, depicts that moment recorded in Mark’s gospel when a man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged him on his knees. “If you are willing,” he said, “you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Mark tells us, Jesus reached out and touched him, “I am willing,” he said. Maybe that was someone just like Kalian, Murugan or Akatot. Today, Jesus, through the work of The Leprosy Mission and its supporters, still reaches out with that transforming compassion.
Ken Gibson is CEO of The Leprosy Mission, Ireland. His new book, "Where hope and dignity meet: 140 years of The Leprosy Mission," will be available in January.
HER FAMILY FEARED THEY WOULD CATCH LEPROSY AND TURNED AGAINST HER.
Akatot’s life. It deadened the nerves in her hands. Slowly, she lost her fingers. Eventually leprosy robbed her of both hands. Ulcers formed on the soles of her feet, so she began to crawl everywhere. Her family feared they would catch leprosy and turned against her. For over 20 years she’s had no visitor at the hospital where she now lives. But in the midst of all of this there are moments of joy. Like the day President McAleese, The Leprosy Mission’s patron, called by. The moment was deeply emotional. The President reached out to an ecstatic Akatot. Two days later she was still talking about "Her Majesty" who came to see her. No visitor for 20 years and then the President of Ireland shows up! It meant so much that a woman of such dignity and importance would visit the patients.
PhotO: Maxwell Photography
Photo: Brian O'Bryan Irish Times
Photo: Maxwell Photography
OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
UNDER THE SUN THE CONFLICT OF PERSPECTIVES IN ECCLESIASTES BY KEN BAKER
f all the books of the Bible, none speaks so ISN’T THIS A “WISDOM” BOOK? WHAT powerfully to where we presently live than KIND OF WISDOM IS THIS? the little book of Ecclesiastes. I’m tempted to swap the word Ecclesiastes has often puzzled readers “realism” for “wisdom.” The writer’s by its depressive tone. It emphatically proclaims all two big reasons to be miserable come human actions to be inherently "meaningless" as the together. Hebel is the ultimate state of lives of both wise and foolish end up in the cemetery. the world in which he finds himself and So what’s the point of anything, after all? It’s the hebel is, ultimately, all the human effort biblical equivalent of a Leonard Cohen song. to change that situation. So where was this writer coming from? Was he You may seek for profit or for good, simply an out-and-out pessimist or a head-shaking but ultimately the world will wear you old, “things-ain’t-what-they-used-to-be” merchant? down. The initial conclusion is: The perspective of the book is summed up in (1) the meaning of life cannot be the phrase “under the sun.” It is repeated constantly, alongside the mysterious Hebrew word “hebel”. Under found in the created order (2) any apparent progress (in the sun, everything is ultimately hebel (variously translated using words such as meaningless, vain, empty, futile, fleeting and transitory). THE WRITER FORCES US TO REACH FOR ETERNITY So, according to this AND TO LIVE OUR LIVES IN LIGHT OF THAT QUEST. book, is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it just an oncoming train?
WHAT DOES HEBEL REALLY MEAN?
As well as the various translations around emptiness, hebel denotes a futile effort using the odd phrase “feeding on wind” (Hebrew) or “striving after wind” (Aramaic). Either derivation suggests a clinging to life itself, which is ultimately pointless. Sooner or later, you’re going to lose your grip. The writer’s goal is to find what is lastingly good or gives abiding profit or advantage. However, in his quest he finds nothing permanent in human experience, hence the verdict—hebel. Depressing, hey? No wonder I needed therapy.
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technology or morals or pretty much anything) is only illusory and not enduringly meaningful. This tirade goes far deeper than an old man’s grousing at the state of the world. Its realism is stark but honest. In some senses, Ecclesiastes may be considered to critique the worldview in which a life of success, power and prosperity is admired (sound familiar?). The writer turns life over and over in his hands so that we see it from every
angle. And he forces us to admit that it is vain, empty and futile; and yet there is more to say. The book records the search for the key to life but there is no key under the sun. If you want the key, you must go to the locksmith who made the lock.
WHERE’S GOD IN ALL THIS? IS HE THERE AT ALL?
According to this writer, God is sovereign over all of creation. As such, God has the right to rule! God foreordains a time for every event. God made everything. Mankind is not able to alter this nor truly comprehend it. Through all these references, we detect a subtle distance between the Creator and his creation. And this is where we come into the picture.
MANKIND UNDER THE SUN
The writer concludes that mankind is compelled to seek for an answer to the meaning of life. It is a task that wearies him and is doomed to ultimate frustration. The failure of the search seems to be designed by God to bring humanity to a point of trust. As Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”
Because mankind’s existence is perforated with puzzles, the pieces of which can never be assembled, our only recourse is to live life to the hilt knowing that someday the puzzle will be assembled by the One who created it and who will judge every deed. And that’s the point.
“LIFE ABOVE THE SUN”?
The writer is not shaking his head at the very idea of constructing a coherent reality. He’s not being a nihilist so much as a realist, but only from a particular perspective. The perspective is “under the sun”. If that’s where you live, that’s all you can see. It’s like living inside a box of jigsaw pieces, when the overall pattern is on the box lid. You can only see it from a different place. There can be no ultimate reality under the sun. The search for reality begins here but the search only takes you so far. And then, finally, when that futility is fully recognised, wisdom may begin with the fear of God, who is the only reality that is not under the sun. This is summed up in the penultimate verse: "The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep His commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone" (12:13). Since mankind is not able to discover the key to life by exploration, the writer counsels us rather to enjoy life as a gift, in fear of the good and sovereign God.
Repeating the phrase “under the sun” some 30 times in his book, the writer shows how death runs roughshod over everything. And we are left with the question: if death is just a natural thing, if we’re just a random concatenation of atoms, why do frustrations and fears arise at all? Might there be something beyond the sun? The writer forces us to reach for eternity and to live our lives in light of that quest. The quest itself reminds us that God made us. He has given us much good but because of our sin, we face frustration, struggle and death. However,
there is a thoroughly theocentric perspective. It is God who enables us to be happy, prosper, enjoy our food and drink and find satisfaction in work. We are invited to see the beauty of God’s ordered arrangement of life, even when we don’t fully understand it. At that point alone is the conflict of perspectives resolved. And once we tell it how it is, we can begin to see things from God’s perspective. Above the sun.
IT’S LIKE LIVING INSIDE A BOX OF JIGSAW PIECES, WHEN THE OVERALL PATTERN IS ON THE BOX LID. the pursuit of real good, joy and kindness is not in vain. There is wisdom from above. For the writer, mankind’s summum bonum (highest good) is twofold: the fear of God in ethics, and contentment with things under the sun in light of what is beyond it. Having searched for meaning and purpose in the gifts of life and subsequently realising that this quest had been foolishly misdirected, the writer finds the answer in God. Besides those carpe diem moments,
Ken and Val direct several missional communities across the midlands of Ireland. Ken’s books Evangelism in Acts and Evangelism as Encounter are available on Amazon Kindle.
OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
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Sam Moore from Innovista Ireland was struck by the power of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Here VOX has reproduced a shortened version of his blog post exploring the enduring power of that speech: Every time I listen, it grabs me and creates a lump in my throat. It is one of the supreme examples of the power of vision. But why is it such an enduring speech and example of the power of vision? Martin Luther King paints a vivid description of the future.Vision that inspires and moves to action is more about painting pictures than words. When we try to communicate vision, one of the main reasons it doesn’t catch is because we paint vague pictures that can’t be easily ‘seen’. MLK gives a vivid description of the current reality. He doesn’t pull any punches about how things are and, in doing so, he highlights the urgency of bridging the gap between the future and the present. When we communicate vision, we need to help people see that this gap between what should be and what is now is not right. We need to show why the future should be different. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Martin Luther King communicates hope that things can change. In Ireland, we can be very good at pointing out what is wrong, but not so good at demonstrating hope – at helping people to imagine the difference their contribution could make. Vision costs. The cost King had already paid in terms of jail, beatings and bombings actually fills us with even more hope – that despite these hardships, he still had a dream, and that dream in fact became more urgent. Read Sam's full blog entry on why "I have a dream" is an enduring example of the power of vision (with a link to MLK's original speech) on www.innovistaireland.wordpress.com
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OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
HEART OF WORSHIP BY RUTH GARVEY-WILLIAMS
t’s lunchtime in O’Brien’s coffee shop in A process technician who leads He began to listen to bands like Wilton on the south side of Cork city. worship at Grace Christian Church in Guns N' Roses, Megadeth, Napalm The café is buzzing but I’ve found two Cork, Joe once dreamed of being a fullDeath and the likes (“a lot of death comfortable seats and I’m enjoying an time musician. “Then, I came to realise back then”). When Joe and his twin Americano when I see Joe O’Donovan weaving his that my day job is God’s plan A. I was at brother got into trouble as young way through the crowds. I’d been stressing about work one day and I literally began walking teenagers, their mother enrolled whether I would recognise him but his distinctive around giving thanks to God as I did my them in an advanced lead guitar long hair, tied back in a ponytail, confirms that I’m work. We can praise Him as much in our class. waving madly at the right person. work as we do in church,” he grins “That was it. That was the It’s lovely to congratulate Joe as he settles into the This proud Corkman (“Cork is the passion, the spice of life! We'd play chair opposite. His worship song “All I want” had greatest city on earth,” he tells me) is a three hours a day, every day, from just reached 11th place out of over 280 first thing in the morning to last entries into the “We are Worship” song thing at night.” writing competition in the UK. At 16, Joe’s life was to IN IRELAND, WE CAN BE VERY GOOD AT POINTING OUT WHAT change Joe, 35, is delighted with the forever, when his older IS WRONG, BUT NOT SO GOOD AT DEMONSTRATING HOPE response he’s had and that an Irish brother became a Christian and worship song writer did so well in invited him to a Bible study. “I the competition! “Music seems to remember hearing the good go deeper into the soul and captures news, really hearing it and the something that words can’t express. ‘All penny dropped. If I wanted to I want’ is about longing for God’s presence,” he shares. married father of four, himself one of nine get to God, I had to listen to His While Ireland is famous for its music all over children. Word. I’ve been a believer now for the world, original Irish worship music is almost “When I was 10 years old, I saw a band almost 20 years!” unknown on the international stage, Joe explains. playing on a kids’ movie. I remember One of the founding members Names like Hillsong (Australia), Matt Redman (UK), having a burning desire to play the electric of Grace Christian Church, which Robin Mark (Northern Ireland) and Chris Tomlin guitar. I had never felt anything like that started out with 15 people back in (USA) are far more familiar. in my life.” the early 1990s, Joe was thrown into worship ministry early on.
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“My older brother, Mike, and I played acoustic guitar and the pastor played a tambourine. Our first Sunday, we were pretty low. The second week, it was like someone lit a match and set the place on fire. The worship was fervent, genuine, hungry for God. I'll never forget those days.” Since then, the church has grown to 700 people. Joe is now one of four worship leaders and leading three separate bands. Joe began writing worship songs in 2004, inspired by his own desire to worship God and by Ireland’s rich Christian heritage. Last year, filmmaker John Todd asked to use one of Joe’s songs in a movie called “A Belfast Story” (starring Colm Meaney of Star Trek fame). The song “God Save Ireland” is now available on iTunes. It’s release coincided with the movie release on September 20. Joe’s three-track EP - “All I want” - features the title track, which was so successful in the “We Are Worship” competition, along with “Stand in Glory” (about the cross and how Jesus now stands in heaven) and a song called “”Great Are You Lord” based on Psalm 46. It is also available on iTunes.
“A BELFAST STORY”
What is peace? Is it when the bullets stop or the wounds heal? Now in cinemas across Ireland, "A Belfast Story" explores life after terrorism set in a city that has weathered hundreds of years of hatred, 30 years of bombs, and a war without winners, just victims. Written and directed by Nathan Todd, the film also features the song “God save Ireland,” written by Corkman Joe O’Donovan. Colm Meaney stars as a man weary of doing right. Times are changing, car bombs are less common and terrorists find themselves out of work but old habits die hard. And while most go quietly into the night, he must find the few who won’t comply. When a series of murders awaken dormant memories, many fear the worst. Haunted by his own past failures, he knows that he may only get one last chance to repeat the same mistake, and this time, the blood will be on his hands.
OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
Brand New Radio Programmes on family.ie www.family.ie/radio
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Focus on the Family Ireland, Ulysses House, 22-24 Foley Street, Dublin 1 T: 01 806 6288 | E: email@example.com |W: www.family.ie
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Grosvenor Road Baptist Church
Assistant Pastor Position Longing to see people in Ireland know Jesus Christ? Hoping to serve long-term in the Republic of Ireland? Looking for experience as part of a church team? We are looking for someone with a third level theological education, the gift of teaching God’s word, the ability to train others in Word-based ministry and the capacity to develop the student ministry, to work with us full-time from August/September 2014. Applications must be received by 23 Nov 2013. A more detailed job description and application form is available on request by contacting by email: email@example.com, or by post: Richard Barkley, Administrator, Grosvenor Road Baptist Church, Grosvenor Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6, Republic of Ireland. www.grosvenorbaptist.org
SORTED BY DAVID WILSON: HAVING ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES IN IRELAND REVIEWED BY FIONA ORR
this book is dangerously applicable. Sensitive to ur normal progress in life is walking, according to New Testament our qualms and worries, of writers. Yet so often our Christian journey feels like a sprint and not being “the leader type” jump in the dark. In his latest book Sorted, David Wilson teaches or of harming a friendship, us to breathe and walk in the light, living lives that overflow. Wilson takes us through Having grown up Ireland, Wilson’s personal stories, from studying in practical steps for sharing Trinity College to teaching in rural Galway, testify to God’s love for this the gospel. He challenges nation. No stranger to a culture that declares that we’re not good enough us to take initiative for God, Wilson reminds those of us who wonder whether we’re even a and introduce Christian at all that we people to Jesus can be confident of our through simple salvation and live a life conversations, SORTED TAKES THE WORN-OUT BELIEVER THROUGH THE that delights both us and reliance on God God. STEPS OF REDISCOVERING THE TRUTHS OF THEIR FAITH and prayer. Getting to grips Through anecdotal narrative and clear with Jesus, however, biblical discussion, Sorted takes the worn-out is no doddle. To some believer through the steps of rediscovering of us, the promise (or threat!) that God will use us sits uncomfortably. the truths of their faith, and leads the new believer to Through wonderful anecdotes of witnessing to people on Dun Laoghaire discover the fullness of life with the living God. With pier to sharing his faith in the laboratory, Wilson explains God’s mission sound advice on further study in evangelism and a and command to reach all people. This Great Commission is not mission study guide accompanying each chapter, this book is impossible! essential for those seeking to deepen their relationship Wilson reminds us of great truths of our identity and inheritance in with God and those seeking to share their faith Christ. God has equipped us with every resource we could possibly need. effectively. Wilson is far from vague when he talks about sharing our faith. In fact,
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Sunday 3 November 2013 Join churches all over the world in praying for the Persecuted Church. The focus in Ireland will be on Egypt and Syria, where Christian communities have been targeted for destruction by Islamists marking a black X on their buildings.
Church in Chains will provide the following resources Bookmark with Prayer Points for every person in church Information Sheet for those who are leading prayers
FEINT SAINT FICTION VOX magazine’s own Feint Saint began writing fiction about a year ago. “Once I started, I couldn’t stop,” she told us. “The response has been amazing.” Watch out for Annmarie Miles’ first book, which will be published at the end of October. “The long and the short of it” is a collection of fictional short stories about “normal” people told in Annmarie’s unique style. While the stories are not about Christians or Christian life, Annmarie explores themes such as forgiveness, redemption, restoration and second chances. “One or two stories are more serious but overall it is quite light hearted. You know me. I’m not one for deep depressing themes.” With appearances in upcoming book festivals and opportunities to teach creative writing classes, Annmarie is delighted at the way her writing has been received. As we went to press, we were thrilled to hear that Annmarie's blog has made the shortlist for Ireland's Blog Awards 2013.
PowerPoint slide presentation – 2 minutes approx.
CHURCH IN CHAINS PO Box 10447, Glenageary, Co. Dublin T 01-282 5393 E firstname.lastname@example.org W www.churchinchains.ie
From the end of October 2013, you will be able to download The long and the short of it Kindle edition from Amazon or order a paperback copy on Annmarie’s blog at www.auntyamo.com.
OCT - DEC 2013 VOX
Events Calendar What’s happening where and when
OCTOBER 24-7 Prayer International Gathering 17 – 20 October Dublin www.24-7prayer.com/dublin13 Global Leadership Summit 25-26 October RCCG, Jesus Centre, Bluebell, Dublin www.willowcreek.org.uk/gls Inside Out Men’s Conference Saturday, 26 October Carlow Bible Church www.insideoutconference.org
Building Blocks Conference Ballymena: 16 November Dublin: 23 November www.buildingblocks.ie
Tearfund Walk of Hope Monday, 28 October Bray Head www.tearfund.ie NOVEMBER International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Sunday, 3 November www.churchinchains.ie Global Leadership Summit 22-23 November Open Arms, Newbridge, Co. Kildare www.willowcreek.org.uk/gls
JANUARY The Jesus Agenda Wednesday, 15 January CORE, St. Catherine's, Thomas Street, Dublin 8 facebook.com/thejesusagenda Got an event you want others to know about? Let us know - and we'll let everyone know. Email email@example.com
Go dtaga do ríocht…Your kingdom come
Church Plant now meeting every Sunday at 11am Finnstown House, Lucan All Welcome
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Wise man wanted. Busy Christian guy, in 40's, living in Dublin area needs wise Christian mentor for confidential prayer, chat and guidance. Replies to firstname.lastname@example.org
Building Blocks Children’s Ministry Conference for people who work with children in churches Keynote speaker: John Hardwick
Ballymena 16th November £25 Dublin 23rd November €35 More information and booking on www.buildingblocks.ie
Reviews by Amy O’Byrne
album, I was overwhelmed to learn that it grew out of time of incredible heartache as about 100 families from New Life Church were affected by the most destructive fires in Colorado’s history. Worship leader Jon Egan commented, “For five or six years, we were really just focusing on healing and restoration. As I read through the track listing of But, over the last two years, we’ve this album, two things struck me. Firstly, felt God calling us to raise up a new one of my favourite worship leaders, generation of musicians, worship leaders Cory Asbury, was featured on a few and songwriters. This new season can be songs and secondly, all of the song titles heard on Strong God.” appeared to be “declaring” in nature i.e. And, he is totally right. Jesus Reigns, Victorious God, Ascribe, Strong The second song on the album God and Unassailable. features Cory Asbury and again, the lyrics As the music kicks in with Jesus Reigns, declare the name of Jesus, “Our saviour is it’s evident that this album is going to be Jesus, our future is Jesus, we owe everything full of anthems. What a declaration of the to Him.” It’s evident that these songs flow power of Jesus! And what an awesome out of a place of rawness. song to start the album with. It’s so refreshing to hear a worship Reading up on the background to the album that is centred around honouring
Jesus rather than what God can do for me. This album captures the real essence of worship. It is nothing to do with us but all about Him - it’s about loving Him, worshipping Him, approaching Him with adoration and declaring His power over our lives. My favourite song has to be Ascribe featuring Cory Asbury (did I mention I think he’s awesome?). What a pure, beautiful and Jesus-centered song. It has quite a traditional feel, in terms of the lyrics, which really works. Maybe I am little bit of a traditionalist but I love to hear the word “marvelous” in a worship song. This is a great album - it’s refreshing, uplifting and powerful. Play it loud!
However, cynicism aside, this album is full of great classics - songs that are loved all over the world. It features Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Delirious, Rend Collective and Kevin Prosch. One of my favourite worship songs is Oh Happy Day, but when I listen to the version on this double CD I’m a little disappointed. It sounds rather overproduced. On the other hand, Kevin Prosch’s early songs were so influential in my own personal walk with Christ and it was great to hear Teach Us Lord again. The second CD includes favourites like the beautiful He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands and Consuming Fire. Overall, it is a celebration of Soul Survivor, and it
captures the well-known classics well. Soul Survivor has impacted the lives of so many young people. Founder and director Mike Pilavachi says, “It is incredible and humbling to see thousands of young people meeting with Jesus. But these numbers are made up of individuals with stories to tell of how their Saviour has impacted their lives. Our main job, as always, is to try not to get in His way.” Well said, Mike.
This double CD from Integrity Music captures 20 years of Soul Survivor summer festivals. Always one to steer clear of compilation albums (although I did own Now 72), there’s a part of me that feels somewhat hard done by. Why do we need a “best of”?
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BEYOND GREED AND FEAR BY SEÁN MULLAN
omeone (brainyquote.com credits that “enough” is an achievable state for I recently met a Dub who helped Einstein) said, “Insanity is doing the same individuals and nations; people who are recruit hundreds of volunteers, along thing over and over again and expecting willing to work hard for the kick they with companies, state bodies, colleges different results.” If so, someone in Ireland get out of seeing others thrive. There are and organisations to create and operate needs to check bulk prices for straitjackets. Five plenty of such people in Ireland but they a pop-up park on waste ground for a years on from the economic crash, our institutions don’t run the systems of power and they month. “Why just a month?” I asked. “It’s of power continue to act as they did not about the product – it’s about before the last counting of the chips the process,” came the reply. Now while expecting different results. wisdom. It is in the process WE NEED LEADERS WHO BELIEVE THAT VALUES LIKE TRUTH that’s In their make-believe land, that relationships are formed, AND JUSTICE MATTER IN THE REAL WORLD “adjustments” are needed but no values developed, beliefs altered questioning of the big assumptions, and people changed. That’s why values and beliefs. The market process trumps product. still rules and we must bow to its In our exchange, the Dub whims. Money remains the ultimate measure of all don’t make the big decisions. They may quoted another young leader, a Jewish things. “More” is always better – less always bad. be lauded, offered grants and awards, but carpenter, who once challenged one the Permanent indebtedness is normal. Greed is a minor they will not get a seat at the tables of mightiest power system the world had flaw. And fear is simply a way of life. power. That’s because people who believe seen. That carpenter questioned their Property under state control is sold to the such things clearly don’t get how the assumptions about power, and advocated highest bidder regardless of what purpose it will system works. Leaving decision-making trusting a different power, invisible yet be put to. Banks treat customers as debt to them could ruin the very real. The empire soon dealt with him repayment commodities, not people. economy… Indeed! – a state execution sorted him out. Corporate social responsibility is treated as But the empire that killed him half-time entertainment – not part of the real eventually disintegrated, undone by fear game. The notion of the “common good” or and greed. And the carpenter’s followers, economics built on relationships is an interesting confident in weakness, generous in sideline, not a central value in decision-making. poverty, became a movement that If we want different results, we need different changed the world. I wonder if that could practices. Different practices require different happen again? values. And different values come from different beliefs. Seán Mullan has been working in We need leaders who believe that values like church leadership for many years. He truth and justice matter in the real world, not has developed a new project in Dublin just in feel-good films; leaders who think City Centre called “Third Space”.
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TUNE IN to the Breakfast Show with Markon Fennell Dublin 89.9
Northern Ireland 549 Medium Wave
WALK FOR TEARFUND AND SPREAD A LITTLE HOPE Poverty, hunger, disease... it would be easy for Sina to give up. Despair spreads easily. But so too does hope. Sina has some ideas about how to build a safe and secure life for her children. ‘If I had some land, where I could grow vegetables, and maybe raise some chickens to sell at market, I would be so happy,’ she says. Hope is contagious. Want to spread it around? Join us in our Walk of Hope this October mid term and raise vital funds to change lives.
Meet at BRAY Dart Station FOR Walk to Bray Head on Monday Oct 28 at 12 noon
Organise your own event or join one of ours. Strike out and hit back at hunger.
‘Tearfund partners are infecting communities with hope.’ Belfast church leader Priscilla Reid
Call 01 878 3200