DAY SEVEN: Finding Faith Tour 2017

Monday 8 May

After a lovely breakfast with Val and Bert in Ballycastle, I'm ready to hit the road again.  Sadly, I didn't manage to get a photo of this amazing couple before I left.  Like many others in Ireland, they have had to re-build their home following the discovery of faulty concrete blocks that were in danger of crumbling.  After working tirelessly for months, the marathon task is almost finished with many miracles along the way.  I'm humbled by the faith they have shown through this difficult time!

Mist was rising from the fields and from the river as I drove through the Mayo countryside on another glorious morning.  It is a good two hour journey to Longford town but thankfully the roads are clear.

In Longford, I've been invited to visit The Well Worship centre where a small group of Christians from different churches gather every Monday morning to pray for their town. I join the prayer time led by Linda and feel so grateful when this lovely group includes my town of Buncrana in their prayers!  

Linda.jpg

I'm running late by the time I get on the road again and my phone has stopped working, so no helpful GPS to direct me to the fastest route.  Add to that a rather high number of tractors on the roads of County Cavan (!) and I was already 30 minutes late before I arrived in Drung, for my next appointment.  Unfortunately, with no phone, I also had problems finding the rectory so it was 2pm by the time I finally arrived.  My gracious hosts - Rev Nick Jones and his wife Dorothy - had kindly waited for me before eating their lunch!

Nick shares encouraging stories about what God is doing in the Drung group of parishes - five churches in County Cavan that he takes care of.  He also tells me his own journey to faith.

"I grew up hearing about Jesus but my mum got cancer when I was 13, we were praying that she would be healed and so when she died, I was very angry with God and felt let down by those who had promised she would be healed. I felt that gave me licence to live however I wanted.

"I had the mistaken view that Christianity was about doing good things and if we do enough things we’ll get to heaven. Eventually, while at university I saw that it was about what Jesus had done for me (not what I had to do) and suddenly Christianity became about a relationship rather than rule keeping.

My big question had been how can a God of love allow suffering?  When I saw that his son had died on a cross, I saw His love.  The resurrection showed me His power. I had to trust Him that even though my mum had died, He was good and loving.  Once I figured out that was true, it changed my life immediately.

Nick and his wife, Dorothy, faced new challenges when their children were both born with health issues.  Their son, who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy, is unable to get the treatment he needs here in Ireland.  You can help by signing the petition Nick set up - please take a minute to do that if you can!

From Drung, I travelled back to Dublin in baking hot afternoon sunshine (sunburn on my right arm!) in time to see the premiere of Greg Fromholz's new film about Tony Campolo - Divine Dissatisfaction.  This is a powerful, thought-provoking and controversial film touching on some of the major themes of Campolo's life and it was a privilege to watch it in the cinema at UCD.  Not so great was the cost of parking which cleaned out every last cent of change in my purse (Seriously?? €6.80 for 1 1/2 hours!!) and meant that I had to slip out before the Skype call with Tony Campolo after the film (#disappointed).

An overnight stay in Dublin and after a few errands here I'll be heading back to Buncrana, County Donegal following another amazing Finding Faith Tour.  Or course, I'll be tractor spotting on the way home too so the final total is yet to be announced.  I'm still processing the journey but if I was to sum up the stories I have heard and the people I have met I would have to say this has been breath-taking!

Thank you for following!