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 the churches of the Union. Wishing to echo that sentiment the Executive Committee of the Association have issued a similar call: “unite to pray.”
I still remember the first time I heard about a virus in a market in China. It was just before Christmas last year. I have to admit that I largely dismissed it at that time and had little idea of how COVID–19 would affect our personal lives and the life of the church.
We were disappointed to hear that the Evangelism team due to visit in the third week of October was to be cancelled. Of course, this is both understandable and prudent. An Evangelism team that cannot meet people would not really achieve much! Also, the practicalities of accommodating the team would be restrictive.
I know the students are disappointed too. During my time in college the Evangelism Teams were a major part of college life. I forged many friendships in College sitting on the floor of a church hall eating greasy fast food at 3am.
We never really had the opportunity to plan any events for the team, but we had hoped that they would help with a ‘Lego Themed’ children’s event in conjunction with CEF. We were also hoping to lead a couple of school visits, both assemblies and RS classes. I would love for the team to have made inroads into introducing the church to the local area, especially a recently built large estate which is near the church. We are a fairly small group in the fourth biggest city on this island: we appreciate any help that we can get. The city has major difficulties with unemployment, alcohol and drug misuse, mental and social problems, as well as a soaring suicide rate. That makes spreading the good news of the gospel even more critical.
The church would certainly have benefitted from the team taking the weekly services and encouraging the congregation. A team would boost the outreach of the church as well as helping the church appreciate the work of the college as students are trained toward gospel ministry. I would have hoped that the team would be able to experience evangelism at the ‘coal face’ and even try things that they might be uncomfortable with.
We would still hope to host a team whenever it is safe to do so.
Please pray for the churches in this area as we continue to worship our living Saviour and spread the good news to those around us.