I'm taking a wee pause in the Romans study (although, this could be a bit of a precursor for chapter 16) in order to participate in a meaningful project with Youth for Christ in Ireland and Northern Ireland (YFC-NI). One of the most treasured aspects of this trip for me will be the convergence of several groups of people with whom we've shared geographies (and life!) over the last decade. (Wow, tough sentence, sorry!)
The first geography (and life!) sharing with YFC-NI occured several years ago while I was serving as a youth pastor at Parksville Fellowhip on Vancouver Island. Chris Miller, one of the most gifted youth workers I have ever known, asked to lead a team of our youth to Ireland. Sounded great to me! So I called through some of my old Youth for Christ circles (I had served with YFC in NE Indiana way back in the early 90s)… and connected with some guy named Steve McCready in Dromore, NI. Our connection with Steve and the Dromore folks was magic. So encouraging was that first trip to both of our growing groups, that the "Dromorians" brought a large team to Vancouver Island for a project the following summer. Since then, the networks have blossomed beyond our expectations, as we've shared mutliple trips, retreats, ministries, interns, volunteers, visits, holidays, etc.
When Steve became the National Director of YFC-NI and I took on a couple new roles (at Brentview Hub in Calgary, and now Crown College in MN), and as Chris moved to a youth pastor role in Kelowna and Petey Mo toured the world with famous bands, and as _________ (e.g. Kathy, SMoore, Anne, Rachel, Wally, Billy, Dinger, Stu&Janine, Mandy, Connie, Jer-uh-mey, Jenn, Dan&Laura, Emily, Alicia, Jonny&Rebecca, Amanda, Tony, Adam, etc etc etc) increasingly shared life across the pond, and as youth became adults who became sold-out ministry-minded-catalysts, and as Steve transitions now to work at Brentview in Calgary, and as God stirred our hearts for one another over-and-over-and-over again, our have networks continued to become ever-increasingly entwined. So this year, friends from all over Canada and the U.S. are converging on Ireland and N.Ireland with friends from the UK and other places in the world.
I think this may be what heaven will be like… when heart-friends from all over time and space (not outer… well maybe… that's another post) join together. I'm am so amazed at how God's church truly becomes a body… it's like there were all these limbs and organs and sinews dismembered all over the world… and God is sewing us all together… not as frankenstien, but as his body… full of joy and encouragment and a deep sense of awe.
Please pray for us as we share with YFC-NI in their efforts to love the emerald land with Jesus' light and passion. We'll be serving youth and families and communities all over the little island… an island that fits into God's plan, an island that once saved the world, and an island that perhaps once knew Jesus better than anywhere else on the planet. I'll be teaching quite a bit, but it's our students and volunteers who will be doing so much of the relationship building and dynamic serving opportunities. Please pray for us all. Thanks for doing that! Here's the Project 32 link.
And here are some photos from years gone by:
Devotional about St. Patrick in Downpatrick, one of the possible sites of Patrick's burial.
In Calgary (Castors, McKnight's, McCready's, Leffelaar's, Monkman's) watching someting stupid:
The early days… at Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island ~ these youth and youth workers have gone on to live all over the world serving God: