By Joe Murphy
(From the January - March 2019 issue of VOX)
It’s 7.30am on Monday morning and preparations are underway to open the Taste & See Café in Chancery Place. Open Monday to Friday from 8am - 1pm, this café serves a variety of coffees and teas, pastries and cakes. Its purpose is to see people from the community come through the doors of the mission to provide a welcoming gathering place. Carlos Lewis oversees the operations with many dedicated volunteers engaging and connecting with community. It provides a great atmosphere for sharing about the work of the DCM. The café is also used as a meeting place for small groups and special events in the evenings.
Carlos comments, “Our purpose is to connect with people, build relationships, and care for others within the community. I have seen God working in this ministry by the simplicity of a cup of coffee while sharing about my faith and my testimony daily through the work of the Café.”
THE LIGHT HOUSE
Meanwhile, over on Pearse Street at The Light House, early Tuesday morning volunteers are heading to pick up a food donation. The Light House operates a drop-in centre for the homeless Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons providing an open door and a warm environment for those on the streets and in need of a hot meal or simply a place for friendship. Many guests and visitors describe us as a family, a place of trust and love. Friday is our day for small group meetings and street work, before finishing the week with a delicious Saturday night dinner.
At The Light House, while serving hot meals, we also provide basic personal items such as clothing, toiletries and sleeping bags. Our greater purpose is to develop friendship where we know and care for each individual by name, helping in both their practical and spiritual needs. We participate in the application process to five Christian rehab centres and provide resources to other services. Our days are full of sharing personal stories and providing advice. What we hear over and over again from our faithful volunteers are powerful testimonies of sitting with the guests and sharing our own story of hope and faith.
In a practical way, we help our friends with the housing process and encourage those seeking a new way of life to volunteer with us, developing good practical experience. We help prepare CVs, assist with job referrals and training, and provide a back to education course. It is exciting to witness the impact of example. Sean Donohoe, who oversees the work at The Light House, was homeless and in addiction himself and effectively uses his story to encourage others..
“I was brought up in Dublin and ended up running away when I was 13 years old due to a lot of family problems,” Sean shares. “I was homeless and lived on the streets. I also spent many years in prison and ended up on drugs. Eventually, I went into Tiglin, a Christian residential treatment centre in Wicklow, where I had a powerful encounter with God. I started doing outreach on the streets, praying with people and seeing God touch lives. Street outreach was the passion of my heart, I knew if God could change my life, He could do it for others. A friend told me about The Light House, which led me to a position, doing what I loved to do! We love and feed the homeless and help people with life controlling problems such as addiction, referring many people into Christian rehabs. We have an active prayer room where we listen, console, advise and pray with our guests, sharing our hope and faith in Jesus. There is nothing like seeing God touch and change lives!”
Even with the many success stories through God’s work at The Light House, the homeless situation continues to worsen in Dublin. This is a complicated issue. Weekdays, we welcome between 80 and 120 guests per day and at our Saturday night dinner up to 150. The challenges, causes and needs of homelessness are extensive and yet it is our desire to engage with each individual God sends through our doors in a loving way, participating in His restoring work in each precious life.
David progressed from guest, to volunteer, to student. “When I first came to The Light House, I was homeless and a friend told me that I could get food and clothes there. I was introduced to Sean, told him about my situation and he was able to get me a place to stay. I later started volunteering at The Light House. It was strange at first because it is a Christian place. I didn’t know who God was at all but after a few months being there, I was brought to church for my very first time. I liked it and a few months later I was baptised. Now I know who God is! Being in The Light House changed my life completely. I have been trained in the kitchen and now assist in a variety of activities. I began a CE scheme a year ago and just recently started college. Who would have known the plans God had for me? I would not be where I am today only for the kindness that everyone at The Light House has shown me.”
YOUTH WORK AND AFTER-SCHOOL CLUBS
Back over at Chancery Place, youth work and after-school clubs are active and lively five days a week. The clubs provide a variety of activities, sports, crafts, life skills, Bible stories and songs. We use our facility at Chancery Place as well as community spaces such as schools, community centres and even football pitches. This has opened great opportunities to engage with parents and local residents.
In these challenging environments, it is our hope that we can build influential relationships that will help direct the paths and decisions of our young people and that they would see their personal need for God at a young age. During the summer months, we change our focus to camps, three-day clubs and special outings. We are also involved in events that gather the parents and senior members of these areas. Anto Fermoyle and Leanne Shields oversee our youth and family outreaches with many committed volunteers and short-term teams.
Anto says, “I started to work with the mission in 2015 and love being a part of what God is doing in the city. As a kid, I attended youth clubs and summer camps with DCM and they are some of the best memories I have. Now, years later and after many personally challenging years, I am happy to give back, knowing from experience what effect a youth club or camping week can have on our young people. As a team, we are thankful that God is using us to reach out to youth and families in Dublin.”
Leanne adds, “As a young teenager from Co. Down, I volunteered at many Christian summer camps in Dublin and instantly fell in love with the city and its people. I always knew I wanted to move here when I was older and continue this work after graduating college. Ten years on, my dream is a reality and I have been working as a youth worker at DCM since 2016. I love having the opportunity to connect with kids and young people and with communities as a whole. It’s exciting to see what God is doing here in the city!”
Comments from the children show how much the clubs mean to them. “I don’t just like club, I love club,” one said. While another added, “This is my favourite thing to do in the week, and I have been looking forward to coming here all day since I woke up for school!” One parent admitted that she uses club to bribe her child to go to school! They are also learning how much God loves them.
Our greatest desire is that others would see and hear Jesus! Even with all the despair and challenges we encounter each day, for each one of us our greatest need is relational, and especially our relationship with God. That is our mission - that others would know the love of our God!
If you would like other information or would be interested in supporting this work in some way, please contact our office through firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 677 5548.
Joe Murphy is the Operations Manager for Dublin Christian Mission.