Friends of the College – Unite to Pray – Churches in Connacht
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 prayer” 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 March notes encourage us to pray for the churches in Connacht. We spoke to one of our graduates, Kenny Waring, who worked in a church in Furbo.
1. Kenny, you are a graduate of the College. Tell us when you studied at the Irish Baptist College, the thing you miss most, and the thing you miss least?
I was working in the I.T. industry but had a sense of call over my life for many years. Being a very hands-on bloke, I could not wait to leave school and start work. However, over the years I had considered the idea of going back to study to receive formal theological training. In 2012 my circumstances changed and I was given the opportunity to study at the Irish Baptist College, graduating in 2015.
The thing I miss most about the college is the comradery of student life and having access to a wealth of knowledge in both the student body and the faculty. I still maintain the friendships forged during my time at IBC.
While I think back with fondness, I must confess, college life was difficult at times. I had so many gaps in my understanding. These gaps required a lot of painful adjustment and relearning. While this was a difficult process, I am so very grateful for God’s moulding and leading me to an understanding of Himself and His Word. I am continuing to see the benefit in my walk with God and ministry for Him.
2. You worked with the church in Furbo for a while. Can you tell us what it is like to be a Christian in Connacht?
I am very grateful for my time of ministry in Furbo Baptist Church. Furbo is the most beautiful place that I have ever seen and is located between Salthill and Spiddal along the coast road toward Connemara. The people of Furbo are warm and inviting and have a heart for growth within their community. While I was there, I found very mixed attitudes within the Gaeltacht. I perceived a sense of disillusion with organised religion and a suspicion of the evangelical church. I also saw a tension between this suspicion and a tolerance toward the church. Galway is the City of Culture for 2020 and it is celebrated for its tolerance toward the many communities within it. Connacht is full of incredibly creative people who seem to love to celebrate the arts. Liam O’Neill is an artist and served as an elder in Furbo; he had the inspired idea to open the church hall as a gallery exhibiting art. Many from the community came in to view the art from various artists predominantly from Connacht. This is a very memorable event for me as so many unsaved people set foot inside the church building for the first time.
3. How best can we pray for the churches in Furbo, Galway, and Sligo?
I would ask for prayer for the people of Galway, that the churches would take advantage of the people’s willingness to include and accept them within their community and see a harvest. Please pray that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into the mission fields of Ireland and especially Connacht.
4. Where are you now and how can our readers pray for you?
In 2017 God gave me the opportunity to serve in Laois Bible Church. Founded in the midlands of Ireland in 2000, the church had known its fair share of ups and downs. We have known the favour of God in this recent season and have seen the end of a decade long search for a building as well as the recognition and installation of elders. During these changes we have lost some key members, but have also been blessed with growth. Over the last year we have had a wedding, and dedicated two children unto our Lord. We have also seen a new member commit to us. Please pray for myself and the church in Abbeyleix. Please pray for wisdom, pray that I may quickly learn the skills needed to serve my Lord better and pray that we may know a real growth. Please also give thanks for our building, for the unity that exists between the elders and for the opportunity to reach out into the Direct Provision, housing for refugees, situated near our church. Please give thanks also for His leading in both my personal walk and my church ministry.
Please pray for those who faithfully attend and serve in the churches in Furbo, Galway City and Sligo.