Two overseas trips within the past 6 months. Quite unusual for me but we are so grateful that we were able to do it.
Maryka, my 16 year old daughter and I, left Canada on February 5th and returned yesterday, February 15th. Our first trip, back in August was very successful. We were happy that we were able to invest a lot of time in construction, repairs, and maintenance on the missionary residence in Gilford, Ireland. The church property needed a lot of attention, as does any property and we were delighted that we were able to help. The resident AIMER, Shauna Mansfield was on location and working with great diligence, and she was able to give us some real guidance as per what needed to be done.
This trip was different. The resident AIM family, Allan, Carla, Janessa, and Amy are now on location and are operating at peak performance. This trip featured more sight-seeing and a lot of trips to the coffee shops. Allan and I both love to read and study and talk and talk and talk, and argue; even when we agree we argue. Like the last argument (debate), we entered was in the car near a beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful little coaster town called Newcastle. He was talking about something and I said, “I really resent what you are saying to me right now.” He responded with something like, “Ed, you agree and you are saying exactly the same thing.” “No, I’m not saying the same thing, Allan…”bla, bla, bla. Does this sound boring and stressful to you? Well, actually, we were loving it. You see, when Allan and I get together, we don’t agree just because that’s the thing that two apostolic preachers are supposed to do. No, we are honest. Painfully honest. And when either he or I feel like we are about to lose, this is where we pull out the heavy artillary……Scripture…..yep, it’s “the Bible says,…and do you know what that reads in the greek? No, that’s not what it reads in the greek…I’m sure that’s not what it says….again…ya de, ya de, ya de.
Oh, I’m sorry, I’m not supposed to blog about all that. Nobody wants to hear all that. Anyway, back to what I learned in Ireland.
First, I learned that there are still people today who are willing to leave all behind, and follow the voice of God. This is what this family, and I’m sure, many other families, have done and are doing. The Calhoun family sold their house, furniture, car, personal items, and a secure, annual income to get on a plane and move to a country that desperately needs the Acts 2 message. I was very thankful for the sacrifice and tireless efforts of Missionary Terry McFarland and Family who established the work and provided a nice place for the Calhoun family to reside during their stay in Ireland. The Calhoun family are living far below the standard that was available for them during their Canadian pastorate. But guess what; they are very happy and very content. Thank God for the people who are willing to leave all behind, and follow the voice of God.
Second, I learned that God is still the provider. I know. Most of the people connected to us do not share this truth. Most believe that they are the masters of their own destiny. But I observed this missionary family and I have watched God supply needs and work miracles. Everything from basic living expenses such as food, utilities, travel, and gasoline. When you live in a country where you are not permitted to work more overtime, or to work at all, there’s only one place for the man of God to resort – and that is, to The Lord.
Third, I learned that the church is the body through which God meets the needs of his people. Of course, God can and does use whatever means he desires, but it still appears that God uses, primarily, his people to meet the needs of others who are called, as in this case, missionaries. Literally, millions of people have been saved as a result of missionaries. Even if they live a quality standard of life in the country of their call, there is still a lot of sacrifice involved. Missionaries encounter devils and evil spirits that have built kingdoms that have existed for thousands of years and missionaries wrestle in prayer and fasting to bring these strongholds down, thus opening doors for apostolic revival and harvest. Personally, I served as an Associate In Missions worker in the country of Pakistan and I felt like Northern Ireland is equivalent or greater in regards to spiritual wickedness. I firmly believe that the North American church needs to continue to bless and send missionaries; and sacrifice financially and prayerfully to do it. The church is the body through which God meets the needs and vision of missionaries.
One more thing that I learned was that there are people who are ready and willing to hear and obey the gospel. Sure, many are closed to saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, but many are ready to hear and follow The Lord. Paul wrote to the Romans and said, “how shall they call on him in whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher?” This is the missionary. We must send them, so that they can preach. When they preach, hungry people will call on the name of the Lord and be saved. I preached a simple message in Dublin, Ireland at the International Hotel ballroom. 75 or 80 people gathered for the service. The message preached was “My Miracle Now.” At the conclusion of the message when people were called to respond, 9 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit’ just like it happened in Acts 2:4. Several emotional healings also occurred and others were freed of addictions and other types of bondage. I realized, all over again, that there are people who are ready and willing to come to Jesus if only somebody will preach the good news to them.
These are some of the things I learned, or was reminded of during my last trip to Ireland.