Stories from around Ireland
During Sligo 15, people had the opportunity to share their stories of what God has done in their lives. Here VOX Editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you some of those stories.
Martin is a Consultant Surgeon and Stephanie is a Nurse at the Royal (in Belfast). This is their story.
We have two children. Hannah our firstborn. Then in 2008 we had a miscarriage. The following year, we became pregnant again and at the second scan it became obvious that something was wrong. The consultant had seen cysts on our baby’s brain and thought it was Edward’s Syndrome - a condition that is not compatible with life. We were shocked and devastated but we went up for prayer and felt, “We can’t look back.”
Someone prophesied that we would have a baby with blond hair and blue eyes. The third scan was perfectly normal. Our daughter Hannah (2 ½) kept praying, “Baby be normally.” We read 1 Samuel 1 about Hannah praying and decided to call him Samuel Kingston. Eventually he was born on 29 December 2009. A few days after he was born, he was quite ill and was taken into hospital. There was concern because of what the early scans had shown. But eventually, he recovered and today he is a normal, healthy little boy!
Eddie from Cork is the eldest of six children. Twenty years ago he became a Christian. Here's a little of his story:
I was so on fire for God and I led two of my brothers to Christ but then I had a breakdown. I couldn't understand it. I was a Christian but I needed to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I kept asking, "How did I get here?" I felt like I was finished. Eventually I was discharged and God had to re-build my life from the foundation up. I realised that I had suffered multiple traumas during my childhood that had left deep scars. Healing can take time but God is changing me and healing me. I'm learning to trust Him because He is awesome! I'm also learning that God uses the weakest vessels. There is always hope!
Margaret from Killarney in Co Kerry was delighted with her new car which was her favourite colour and even had her date of birth in the number plate! She was determined to use her car for God's glory and as Team Hope Shoebox Appeal coordinator for the area once even fit 187 shoeboxes in the car. Here's her story:
I was taking a friend (who wasn't a Christian) for lunch with some other friends in Cork but I forgot to fill the car with petrol. When the red fuel light came on, I knew I only had 20 miles worth of petrol left but decided to risk it and continue on the Cork and get petrol on the way home. We stayed much later than we had intended and on the way home every petrol station we passed was closed. I began to pray, "Lord, please don't let me down." I didn't want us to be stranded on the side of the road in the dark. I encouraged my friend to believe as well. Eventually we made it all the way home to Killarney - a round trip of 87 miles on an empty tank! The even greater miracle was that my friend came to know the Lord.
Robert Graham is a farmer from Portadown (although originally from Monaghan). Three years ago, he started to get a real hunger for God and this is what happened.
I began to ask God, "What do you want me to do?" There was a real need in our local primary school for a breakfast club. I began to gather volunteers and then went down to our local Asda and persuaded them to supply bread and juice at cost price. I'm the sort of person who doesn't take "no" for an answer and I challenged them, "Put your money where your mouth is." Another Christian business also supplied us with fruit. We opened last September with 25 kids and ended up with a total of 80 kids. Many of them were coming to school hungry!
From there we got to find out about other needs in the community. We found families who were in temporary housing without furniture and we began to collect second hand furniture that people were throwing out and giving it to those who needed it. It was about, "Seeing a need and filling a need."
Since then I've been able to start Messy Church for our community with many people who wouldn't normally come to church deciding to come along. On our first meeting with had 80 people and that has risen to 140!
Richard Wallen works with Willowfield Parish Church in East Belfast, he shared stories from a recent Bible-reading marathon the church did in their community.
Over the course of 10 days, we read the whole Bible in different places in our community. People would read for 15 minutes at a time. We were out reading the Bible from 9am until 8pm in the park, at the shops, in a pub, near schools and even in the sheltered housing complex.
While I was reading from the book of Job, there was a screech of breaks. A man jumped out of his car and said, "Read on, brother! That was me. I lost my job, my family and my home. I still have my faith but I stopped going to church." We were able to stop and pray for him.
One lady hovered for five minutes before saying she'd love to read for a bit. She told us, "My marriage ended and I was left to bring up my three children along but my faith continued."
Another person stopped us when we were reading Genesis and said, "This is real life. This is my story!" They went home and read the whole of Genesis on the spot!
For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard - Acts 4:20