I have a theory that there comes a moment in any worthy endeavour when you get discouraged and wonder whether you should go on, and what you do in that moment will make all the difference.
That moment came for me in December 2010. We were four years into planting the church, and there was still very little visible fruit. We had given out literally hundreds of thousands of gospel leaflets. We had large outreach events. We even has some people believe on Christ and be discipled. But for one reason or another, our church still remained very small and struggling.
And so, though I would not have told many people, I was wondering if we should continue on with the church plant or try somewhere else. Conventional wisdom might have said it was time to see if there might be fruit elsewhere. But I didn’t have peace about that. And so, we decided to keep on going and see what the next six months would bring.
A few weeks later, after this crisis moment, the first Sunday of 2011 came. Normally, the winter months are particularly difficult for churches in the cold/windy/wet northwest of Ireland as people tend to not be as interested or able to come out to services. So expectations were not very high.
But on that Sunday morning, three first-time visitors walked in the door. They seemed to enjoy the service. And two of those visitors came back on Saturday to a help with a brand new outreach endeavour! This was totally unexpected and very encouraging!
Little did I know that years before God had put the desire to serve Him in the heart of young man living in Corby, England. This young man was born in County Donegal, Ireland and then spent a good part of his childhood growing up in Corby.
There in Corby was a Bible-believing church and a wonderful pastor and his wife named Frank and Marjorie Thompson. This couple faithfully reached out to the community, ran a mini-bus to collect people, and had lots of activities for the young people. And it was through their efforts and a series of circumstances that this young man, James Wilson, and his family were reached with the gospel.
Years later, they moved back to Ireland. James, had drifted away from God for a time, but God was drawing him back. After visiting a number of different churches, he decided, in a Christmas carol service, to go back to the same kind of church where he was saved and volunteer to help out in any way he was asked.
And so, being a small church with lots of work to be done, I started asking! James went through the discipleship course, joined the church, worked as a volunteer in a number of different ways, attended our Bible institute, and eventually became the pastor of the church!
As you can see, this was a huge turning point in our ministry. At a very low time, God rewarded our faithfulness and helped us turn a huge corner. That year, God did some other amazing things that confirmed to us that we were on the right track and that He did have big plans for the church.
I guess, we were a bit like Paul at Corinth the first time. In a discouraging moment, the Lord let him know to keep on going because He had much people in the city (Acts 18:9-11).
I believe the work in northwest Ireland through Northwest Baptist Church is just beginning really, and all the seed that has been sown and all the plowing that has gone on will bear great fruit in the future.
Building Fund Update
$75,000 – Needed
$15,659 – Donated ($300 was given yesterday by a friend!)
$59,341 – Remaining