“What would our world look like if more Christians took risks, made a ruckus, walked through ‘portals’ into the unknown for the sake of the gospel?”
Our team made it safely back to the United States! Janna arrived on Tuesday, and Dan and I arrived yesterday afternoon. This trip has held so many memories that I am sure will last a lifetime. In this post, I am going to try to sum up our experience (though words and pictures do not do it justice!).
The purpose of our traveling to Ireland was to participate in a “Missions Exploration Team” in which we would learn and experience what it is like to be missionaries in a Western European country. Our goal was to integrate with the urban context of Dublin, using our artistic gifting as a bridge builder into people’s lives and networks. Our goal was to find “portals” (ways we could enter into their world with the gospel of Jesus Christ). For me personally, my desire was to see if I could live in a European context for a period of time that was longer than two weeks.
As a team, we were able to go through 18 “bridges” or “portals”
Here is the list:
- Dan ran with the Dundrum Running Club
- We all Illustrated and Volunteered for Fighting Words Organization
- Dan attended a Galway Painting Workshop and interacted with several individuals in New Quay
- Kate attended a silk dying workshop with Mrs. A. in Dingle in the West of Ireland.
- We all sought out and visited Museums and Galleries to learn about Irish art and culture.
- We met with A.Family’s Friends (Billy, Ian, Karl, Clodagh, Pam)
- We all traveled to Kilkenny/Thomastown and attened the Grennan Mills celebration and Gallery opening.
- Janna had repeated contact with Icon Factory shop owner “Agga”
- We had continual contact with International Students at Fiona’s House (Countries: Kuwait, Spain, Russia, Italy).
- We all attended Crossroads Church (and Myself and Janna taught art to kids at the Mom’s & Tots group)
- We followed up with Niamh, (Director of Costume Dept.) at Abbey Theater (whom we met at Grennan Mills), and she gave us a personal tour of Abbey Theater.
- I (Kate) attended Writer’s Group meetings, and met with a girl there “Sarah” for coffee
- Kate attended Socrate’s Cafe’ meetings centered around talking philosophy.
- All of us went to Willowview Hospice for Children and Adults and did art with severely physically and mentally handicapped teens and adults. Our host Mom volunteers there, and asked us to come help there.
- Kate Swam at Athletic Center and met a couple of ladies there.
- We lived for a week with some American Guests from the US at Fiona’s
- Janna attended a Life Drawing class
- All of us interacted with our Irish Host Family.
It was through these opportunities we were able to interact with people who do not know Christ. In our experience, we learned a lot about being “gospel seed” in cultural “soil”. It brought us down to the nitty gritty of how the gospel can be acted upon in a culture that has run away from the reality of the living God and the church as a whole.
In Matthew 13 Jesus speaks in several parables. Two of them involve seeds and sowing. One of those the disciples ask for Jesus to explain to them. Here is Jesus’s reply
“Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;”
We became those seeds that the Son of Man planted. And we remain those seeds even back in the States. We learned again that the gospel is harder to live out than it is to talk about. When all you can do is live (and not speak directly), it shows how centered your life is on the gospel.
Even within the last 24 hours of our being in Dublin, God opened up opportunities to have great conversations with people. I (Kate) had an amazing conversation with Sarah at the writer’s centre. The conversation went to almost directly to spiritual things after a few minutes. I may share more on Sarah and what I learned from that conversation in a later post. Dan had the opportunity to talk with our host mom about Jesus the very morning we left.
In each opportunity we were faced with the lostness of those around us. When you are living in an urban setting, it is impossible to escape people. I remember walking around, and riding the bus while thinking to myself…”there are so many stories here…so many stories of joy and pain…stories of searching.” The population of real believers in Dublin is scarce. Ireland is a “relational machine” and runs on networking, organizations, and clubs. It was clear for me to see how I could get involved if I lived in an urban context. It was a lesson in seeking out opportunities as if we had just flown over to live long term. SO much of our work was learning how to live long-term in the short-term.
Here are some questions that the Holy Spirit probed me with while in Ireland:
- Are you willing to step up to the plate when it comes to risk in situations that you may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with? Sometimes it is easy to just stay in my own little relational bubble and interact only with believers. While fellowship is incredibly important, am I wiling to step out and plant your life among those that don’t know Christ?
- Are you willing to willing to live, serve, and follow up on relationships with people even if you never get to have a “spiritual conversation” with them in your short time there? Are you willing to be faithful where you are, and when God leads you there? Even though you are only here for a short time, will you be faithful?
- Will you take joy in “planting” when you may never see “fruit?”
- What is your motivation to serve others? Is it to gain other’s approval and notice?
- Are you willing to take the “fruit” that God gives you in your life when it was not what you were looking for…”are you willing to take a banana instead of an apple when it comes from God?”
- Are you willing to let Christ stand as He is in all of His glory without the “Christian culture” in which you feel safe?
- Would you be willing to move to an urban context long-term for the sake of the gospel?
- Are you willing to let the gospel meet you where you are in your discontent and other sin, and do you realize that Christ died for those things as well?
- Where does your worth and identity stand? Is it in doing great things for God? Or, does it stand in knowing that Christ has paid it all, and will do the work through you?”
Here are a few of my favorite random memories that will be lodged forever in my mind:
- -Running with Dan to catch the 14A bus (and MAKING IT!)
- -Living in the same house as my teammates and interacting with Fiona (our host mom). Most notably, the moment she was singing “Oh Danny Boy” to us as Dan walked in from Running Club.
- -Laughing myself sick with Janna and Dan at the kitchen table over tea, blog posts, and stories from that day.
- -Learning to live life in metaphors of truth.
- -Illustrating a story about a flying sea-turtle for a group of 6th class girls.
- -Learning how to dye silk
- -Babysitting the B. Family’s four Kids (Meghan, Sean, David, and Joshua) (all under the age of 11) with Dan and Janna.
- -Meeting, interacting, and worshipping with a team of short-termers from Lidtz PA, and getting to share lessons we had learned.
- -Fantastic conversations with Dan and Janna (sometimes on separate occassions) about discipleship, family, introversion/extroversion, living centered on the gospel, talking with non-believers, leadership, and “what guys wish girls knew”.
- -Hiking up to the Wicklow Way in the Dublin Mountains as a team and remembering that My Father made all of this, and that it stands to glorify Him alone.
- -and a million other memories-
God was so faithful to us. As I looked at the 30 days of prayer list in the airport yesterday, I was so grateful for how God has answered so many specifically. Here are just a few from that list.
- Pray that we would have wisdom when making decisions overseas. (This was definitely an answered prayer)
- Pray that we would know when to speak and when to be silent. (learning to be ok with listening)
- Pray that we would be fully dependent on His strength instead of our own. (YES.)
- Pray that the Irish would open their lives to us, and engage us in conversation. (within minutes, Sarah opened up to Kate in conversation, Dan had great conversation with some people in Galway, and Janna spoke with Agga at a store downtown Dublin)
- Pray for God-ordained “appointments”. (We had many of these)
- Pray for safety in travel. (We arrived, got through customs, and lived in the country safely)
- Pray that God would provide financially. (he provided above and beyond our need!)
- Pray that we would be protected from spiritual attack before, during, and after the trip. (God’s grace was sufficient, and we bonded as a team through spiritual attack).
- Pray that our lives would be a testimony to the grace of God and His glory while we are in Ireland. (yes!)
- Pray for Crossroads Church in Dublin, and for the encouragement of the church body there. (God used us to help out and support and encourage them).
- Pray that we would be prepared even now for the challenges we will face. (yes!)
- Pray that we would be devoted to the Word of God and sensitive to the Holy Spirit before we leave.(yes!)
- Pray that God would use us to greatly encourage the A. family. (yes!)
- Pray that we would be self-controlled and alert so that we can pray. (yes!)
- Pray for good communication between our team. (This was INCREDIBLY evident).
- Pray that our hearts would remain thankful, humble, and patient. (yes!)
- Pray that the Holy Spirit would remind us of truth before we leave, and while we are overseas. (YES!)
- Pray that we would be open to the working of God and His will in our lives, regardless of the cost. (yes!)
God has been so faithful to our team. Here are some ways you can continue to pray:
-That God would be leading our hearts and lives to His purposes for after college (Dan and Kate’s last year of college is coming up in the fall, Janna’s Junior year coming up.).
-Pray for Sarah, Agga, Fiona, and Emma, Hadjar, Didac, . Pray that the Holy Spirit would begin working in their lives to bring them to Christ.
Thank you for your support! This blog will continue as it was before our trip to Ireland, and will have a guest post from Janna regarding her experiences in Ireland soon. Feel free to continue to follow my wonderings, ponderings, and writings and I continue to learn and live what it means for the gospel to be integrated and centered in my life.