Stonepark – Dean Lappin
Where do we begin? With the wonderful team fellowship or Stonepark’s hospitality (which challenged each of our waistlines)? Though only for a week, each of us will take something away from our time together that will be remembered for a long time.
Our time was bookended by the Sunday services and the Friday night Junior and Senior Youth Challenges. As well as this, we presented our take on the parable of The Unforgiving Servant to a local primary school which unlocked hidden individual creativity not seen in everyday College life. All of these were great opportunities to practice what we learn at College. While each occasion was a great learning experience, it is the moments in between that we want to share that further shaped our outlook on evangelism and pastoral ministry.
For any prospective pastor, evangelist or youth worker there is no greater privilege than to glean from the experience of someone who has been in ministry for over four decades. That’s what you get with Pastor Harry Dowds, a man who is as enthusiastic now as he has ever been and tells it how it is. Amongst other things, he shared personal anecdotes about the things he was glad he had done and the things he wished he had done. He guided us towards good books that would help develop our theology and emphasised the importance of teaching doctrine. Listening to him was like the human equivalent of a one-volume Essentials for a Beginning Pastor. Each morning we held devotions in which he continued to teach us demonstrating how to faithfully exposit and apply a passage of Scripture.
A large part of our daily schedule was doing door-to-door evangelism. This was a matter of ‘knock and wait.’ You never knew who was going to answer and what sort of reception you would receive and whether or not their dog was friend or foe. Regardless, it was during these conversations that you truly realise how much hurt, loneliness and hopelessness is out there. It made us realise that this conversation we were having mattered. We met a vast array of people: religious people, people who prayed to angels, spiritualists and even a Jehovah’s Witness thrown into the mix. There were people from Zimbabwe and Bulgaria. Apart from a man who shook his walking stick at us, people were very open to what we were about, and it was wonderful to see how God guided our conversations so that we could present the gospel. It was a blessed time which left each of us with a real sense of accomplishment.
Each of us will take away our own personal experiences from this week but it was a timely reminder of the importance of biblical knowledge, the importance of being ready in season and out of season to give a reason for the hope we were sharing and the absolute necessity of having everything bathed in prayer.
North Belfast Christian Fellowship – Valerie Roebuck
We started our week on Sunday the 17th of October. It was wonderful to spend time together worshipping God and learning from his word. The team had lunch together and then walked at Stormont Park. We then returned to the church for youth fellowship followed by the evening service.
Our week was a true reflection of the ministry that the church delivers each week. We began each day with devotions together sharing from God’s word then praying for the activities of the day ahead.
Sadly we were unable to meet on Monday because of a church funeral. On Tuesday we were given a brief history of the church and Pastor Albert McDonald shared photographs of the work that had been done to the building. Albert also shared a little of the history of the area and how diverse it has become. After this we went on a walking tour to help us get to know the area.
Each afternoon we put together a coffee table on the Antrim Road just outside the church’s front door. We were amazed at conversations and interactions with a wide variety of nationalities and ages. We had information about the church that we could share and invite the people along to.
On Wednesday morning our team was again divided into two teams, some visited homes while others stayed in the church allowing folk to walk in and have conversations. It seemed that these conversations always came around to God.
On Thursday morning we were joined by a few more people who meet each week to teach English. It was amazing to see the church gradually fill up with people of many different nationalities. The majority of the team were split between the three classes, it was a wonderful experience to see the church used in such a way.
Yet another busy time was had on Friday. The church opens its doors to anyone in need. We had 50 families come into the church seeking help with food, clothing and a few other bits and pieces that were donated. The team had time to sit and talk with people about God and faith.
Although we do not know of anyone coming to know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour this week, we know that he was talked about and shared amongst all those who come into the church. What a blessing to have spent time with brothers and sisters in Christ on the Antrim Road. Please remember them prayer as they seek to share the good news.