Friends of the College - February 2020
Friends of the College – Unite to Pray – Churches in Belfast
2020 marks the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland (formerly Baptist Union of Ireland) in 1895. In February 1895 there was a “call to pray” issued to the churches, encouraging them to plead with God to move among our churches. Wishing to echo that sentiment the Executive Committee of the Association have issued a similar call: “unite to pray.”
Throughout 2020 the College will draw your attention to this call to “unite to pray” with a monthly “Friends of the College” blog post linked to the “unite to pray” prayer diary. The February notes encourage us to pray for the churches in Belfast. We currently have two students on placement in Belfast. Below they share their experience and give us an insight to inform our prayers.
Lewis Stephenson writes:
As part of the Preparation for Ministry course there is a requirement to complete a placement during second year. I have been placed in Great Victoria Street Baptist Church to work alongside Pastor Steve Auld. This placement has been valuable as I have been able to experience a different church context to my own. Although the church is situated in a city centre context, the church’s purpose and passion remain the same: they exist to glorify God by enjoying and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been so beneficial for me to realise that although the context may change the church’s purpose remains the same.
In particular, I have profited from the faithful preaching of Steve. When I first arrived at the church, a member told me that they greatly value Steve’s preaching because each week he gives them a ‘banquet to feast on, not rations.’ I have discovered this to be true each week. As I listen to him preach I am learning so much about how to rightly handle the Word of God.
At the start of 2020 the church launched their new building project. This project aims to build a larger and more contemporary building, with its front door opening right out into the city. The purpose of this new building is to help the church reach out more effectively into the growing city of Belfast. This is such an exciting time for the church, and at the moment they are praying earnestly that God will guide and bless their efforts for him, because without him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Please pray for Great Victoria Baptist in the incoming months and years, praying that God will indeed guide and bless their works of ministry.
Neil Verner writes:
In September 2019 I started a placement with Ballygomartin Baptist Church in West Belfast as part of my studies at IBC. Conducting a placement within a church based in a city comes with its own challenges. In this area there is a high rate of drug use, unemployment and suicide. However, as a church we seek to minister into these situations by providing services such as mental health counselling and, more recently, a small food-bank based in the church. This helps us minister to the practical needs of the community. However, it would all be vain without the opportunity to share the gospel.
I am involved on a Friday evening in the Good News Club. We usually have around ten children who come each week. I have found that being brought up within a Christian home we can take the Scriptures for granted. However, many of these boys and girls do not even know the stories of the Bible never mind having had the gospel explained to them in a manner in which they can understand.
‘Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honoured, as happened among you’ (1 Thess. 3:1). Please pray for Pastor Bradley as he ministers each week. Pray for the Good News Club that we will see boys and girls committing their lives to Christ. Finally, please pray for me as I continue placement and seek the guidance of the Lord for my future.
We would ask you to pray for all of our students on placement. Ask God to continue to develop and shape the students for ministry and that our students would be a blessing and encouragement to the churches where they are placed.