June 8 – Pentecost Sunday

We were at the Trinity College Chapel on Pentecost Sunday (first time ever) for the opening ceremony of the interdenominational Bible week in Dubin. It was a wonderful service and we had the surprise privilege of reading some scriptures for the service.

Stained glass windows above the altar

Stained glass windows above the altar

Sam and Patti after the ceremony

Sam and Patti after the ceremony

The organ/choir balcony

The organ/choir balcony

We will have the entire program Monday and Friday nights at other Dublin-area churches to share about our ministry with Community Bible Study International – Ireland (our facebook page) to include introducing the beginning of the CBSI Children & Youth ministry in Ireland. We already know of some who are coming Monday night to learn more about the Children and Youth resources to consider using them among a Christian community consisting of more than 200 people. Several people in this community are already part of or leading ongoing CBSI studies, so using it with the children could certainly lead to wider use throughout the community.

Pray with us for the impact of these evenings, that they will bear much fruit in connecting us with people desiring to be in God’s Word and looking for resources to help them get started.

Mar 6 – A Valuable Meeting

I mentioned earlier that we had met Peter, the new director of Alpha-Ireland, at the Tine conference in Feb. Peter expressed interest in meeting with us to look at CBSI as a potential follow-up to Alpha. We arranged earlier in the week to meet today in downtown Dublin.

Peter and I (Sam) had a very productive time together and the future looks bright for ongoing collaboration between Alpha and CBSI in Ireland. The problems we face in Ireland are:

  • Very few people have any experience in personal Bible reading,
  • A very limited number of churches promote personal Bible reading / study,
  • Of those who are willing and motivated to study the Bible, a very small percentage are willing to be responsible to lead a study

With these problems existing, we have learned over the years that Alpha is a much easier “entry-point” for the Irish than CBSI because Alpha does not involve any homework/preparation for participants and less leadership responsibilities for the organizers. Unfortunately, there is still a “huge jump” from Alpha to CBSI. We have found good success with Alpha graduates using CBSI, but it required an experienced leader who was willing to give it a try.

Peter and I agreed that the major drawback for leaders in CBSI is the requirement for them to do a teaching / wrap-up talk after the discussion time. We felt that an effective alternative would be to provide video teaching to go with the discussion as Alpha does. Fortunately, this is a project that is already being pursued in the U.K. with a CBSI study called “God’s Amazing Book”. Peter and I felt that this would be a good study to use as a transition between Alpha and CBSI and that it would be even more effective with Irish teachers.

The U.K. CBSI director was in agreement and thought that it would be good to have the different voices for the different countries. The job now is to organize the teachers … pray that God will lead us to the right ones who are available and willing.

Peter was ‘on-board’ at the end of our meeting and told me he would be calling four of his Alpha leaders who were looking for good follow-up to recommend us and give them my contact information. He also had some other contacts that he thought might be interested and was also going to contact them. One of the main struggles he is facing in Alpha is expectations in churches that doing the Alpha course is going to revolutionize their churches when they don’t provide anything to follow Alpha that would help reap the benefits of going through Alpha. We are hopeful that this partnership will produce lasting results within churches that will contribute to the growth of both Alpha and CBSI.

Pray with us toward this end. Thanks you for standing with us!

Feb 15 – Tine Conference Report

Thank you all for praying for the Irish Tine Conference this weekend. Tine is pronounced Chĭna. It was a fruitful time for us, both learning more about the Irish religious mindset and making some key strategic contacts. Being able to have an information table at these type of conferences is proving to be quite beneficial.

Last night we reconnected with a couple who hosted us at a B&B when visiting the western side of Ireland this summer. They were keen to talk more and were very interested to learn more about the Bible studies.

Over lunch we met Peter, the new director of Alpha-Ireland. Alpha publishes videos about the basic doctrines of Christianity to be used in small group discussions. We have been seeking for several years to connect with Alpha-Ireland to pursue a collaborative relationship as we see CBSI studies as an excellent follow-up to Alpha. Peter seemed to be very open to pursuing a relationship with us as he is looking for more effective follow-up to Alpha. I hope to have a meeting with him within the next couple of weeks, so pray for some productive time together.

Shortly after my discussion with Peter over lunch, Richard came by our information table and said he would like more information about our studies. I learned that Richard is the interim director of Evangelical Alliance Ireland. We know their previous director and still have a great relationship with him, but Richard was not familiar with our ministry. He was very interested to engage further also as he works to connect churches, ministries, and resources throughout Ireland.

We are very thankful for God giving us these connections and look forward to making similar connections at the RELaY conference in Malta next week. Thanks again for praying with us.

Sep 30 – Final Week in Ireland

Thank you for praying with us for the time with the Lithuanian congregation. The time went very well and we had a great time of fellowship over tea after the service. They started a CBSI Bible study using a Lithuanian language study in Cellbridge, not far from Dublin, this last Thursday.

We met with the pastor of the church that hosts the Lithuanian congregation last Monday and he was very encouraged that we were ministering to the Lithuanians. He is also encouraging us to connect with a Romanian group that they also host at their church and we plan to do that as soon as we return in November.

We are finishing up cleaning, organizing, and packing today for our return trip to the U.S. tomorrow. We leave Dublin at 11:30 (6:30am EST) and arrive in Virginia at 6pm EST. Pray for safety as we travel and for the continued progress of the studies here in Ireland.

Sep 19 – A New Study … in Lithuanian

Shortly after arriving in Ireland in July, our counterpart in Lithuania told us about a Lithuanian couple living in Dublin who had expressed an interest in possibly starting a CBSI study with the Lithuanian congregation that they help lead in Dublin city center. We had lunch with the couple last week and they were ready to go. They had already been trained when visiting Lithuania earlier in the summer and had 5 or 6 people interested in joining them.

We found out that their church meets in an Irish church that we have visited often. We have talked with the Irish pastor several times and he is encouraged by and supportive of our ministry. In addition, the Lithuanian wife meets regularly with a lady in the church that have known Tim and Cathy Rutman for many years (Tim and Cathy started the CBSI ministry in Ireland). She is an elder in the Lithuanian church and usually preaches when the Lithuanian pastor is not there (he lives in Lithuania and comes to Dublin once a month).

We delivered the Lithuanian studies to the couple at church on Sunday, so they will be starting the study this week or next once they have arranged a suitable day of the week. During our time together last week, the wife (the husband does not speak English) invited us to preach at the Lithuanian service this Sunday afternoon (@ 2:30, which will be 9:30am EST), sharing about the CBSI study and preaching about the value of getting into the Word. So I will be preaching to motivate and Patti will follow with a presentation about the CBSI studies.

Please pray for us the remainder of this week as we finalize preparations for this time. Our CBSI activities for the week have been completed, so we have a good deal of time to prepare. Pray that people would be motivated to make the Word of God a significant part of their lives and that the number of participants for this initial study will double. Also pray for the employment situation of these Lithuanians … as immigrants to Ireland, most are unemployed and unable to find jobs.

Aug 20-23 – Visiting Western Ireland

We traveled out west to visit some key contacts near Sligo and in Galway and took in some great sights along the way. It was an excellent and productive time of reconnecting with others engaged in ministry on the other coast and continuing to learn from them and their experience.

Before the first dinner meeting in one couples’s home on the 21st, we drove out to Sligo on the 20th so that we had some time to relax and do some sightseeing. The first night we stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast on the shore of Sligo Bay shown below. This first picture was similar to the one on their web site which attracted us to try it out as it had such a lovely view from the dining room.

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This next picture gives a better view of the bay, taken from our bedroom window. You’ll notice that the owners also apparently provide B&B services for sheep 🙂

Seashore Bed and Breakfast

While in Sligo, we toured Sligo Abbey in the city center, pictured below. It was a key burial site for Sligo during the Irish Famine, so there were grave sites and headstones throughout the site. It’s always interesting to tour such sites and learn more about Irish history.

Sligo Abbey

Since we had plenty of time to get to our dinner appointment we took a drive along the coast so that we could take in some of the beautiful scenery such as this coastal view.

Coastal View, Sligo Bay

We came across a beach resort town called Enniscrone, so we took the opportunity to walk the beach a bit and found it to be one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen.

Enniscrone, Ireland beach

We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Knock after a wonderful dinner and time of fellowship with friend Tim and Cathy in Kiltamagh. The B&B was being managed at the time by some Christian friends of theirs, so they made the arrangements for us. We did not realize until we arrived the significance of the location or the date though we were seeing some signs along the way that a significant religious event was occurring. We learned after arriving that it was the 134th anniversary of the appearance of an apparition at the local church and it is now one of the world’s major Catholic shrines (click on the image if you would like to learn more). There was a major event that evening while we were having dinner, so there was a continual stream of traffic leaving as we headed back from Kiltamagh to Knock that night. The church pictured is a larger capacity auditorium that was built next to the original church to house the huge number of pilgrims that come to the site each year. We took the time to tour the site and visit the museum there which was very enlightening.

Our Lady of Knock Auditorium

On the way to Galway for our next meeting, we again had plenty of time to do more sightseeing and took the scenic route along the coast. Again there were beautiful views everywhere. We had been encouraged to travel by way of Croagh Patrick, which is known as the Holy Mountain, recognized as the site where St Patrick tended sheep when captured and brought to Ireland as a young boy. It is a popular pilgrimage site where many Irish come to climb to the top of the mountain. Patti and I were not that adventurous, but we did walk part of the way, up to the point where they had a statue of St Patrick. It was an absolutely gorgeous view from there as you can see from this picture.

View of the Atlantic from Croagh Patrick

There were more absolutely beautiful views as we continued to drive through the mountains and along lakes.

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And as usual, you can always expect to see sheep feeding right next to the road, especially in the country.

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In Galway, we had a wonderful visit with our contacts who have previously led a CBSI study as part of their ministry and hope to get another one going in the future.

Hope you enjoy these bits of Irish beauty 🙂

Aug 5 – Another Ancestral Site

When we returned to Dublin from visiting Stradbally Hall, we decided to stop by for a short visit at another site with potential family connections, Rathfarnham Castle, which was built by Adam Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin in the late 16th century. The connection was actually through the Cosbys of Stradbally Hall. Charles Cosby, the first Cosby to come to the U.S. in the early 17th century, married Mary Loftus who was supposedly the daughter of Adam Loftus, but I have not yet been able to prove this.

Anyhow, we found it very interesting that this castle is very near to several of the CBSI Bible studies in Ireland, just a good walk from the home where two of the studies meet.

Rathfarnham Castle

Rathfarnham Castle

At the time of our visit I was becoming more and more convinced that there was more evidence that Mary was not the daughter of Adam, but since have found some sources that make me more confident that Archbishop Loftus is indeed my 10th great grandfather. That and about 2 Euro will get me a cup of coffee in Ireland, but it is interesting to discover.

We went back there for a visit later in the week with some friends and were able to tour the castle and have lunch in the tea room. I was surprised that they did not have any paintings of the Archbishop as we had see one that was almost from the floor to the ceiling earlier in Malahide Castle near where we live.

Sam at the entrance to Rathfarnham Castle

Sam at the entrance to Rathfarnham Castle

July 31 – Helping Out at the Irish Bible Institute

I arranged with Louise, who I met at the IBI open house last week, to come in today to help her with the area of search engine optimization of their web sites (improving their position of appearance on search engines such as google). This is obviously not my purpose for being in Ireland, but we are seeking to use all of our skills to network and open doors to meet people and engage them and those they contact to find those interested in in-depth Bible study.

Due to missing my intended train (pulled away as I was getting my ticket) and having to wait an hour for the next one, I was late for our appointment. The good news is that I arrived just as they were preparing for tea, so I got to join them (about half a dozen staff that were there at the time, including the Principal) and fellowship over tea, coffee, and biscuits (cookies). They were interested in knowing more about my background, so I shared some of our story. It was encouraging to get to share about CBSI and why we had come to Ireland with so many of the IBI staff and volunteers at one time.

Louise and I worked together for about an hour, looking at their web sites and discussing ideas for improvement, especially seeking to understand their search engine analysis and how to improve their chances of prospects finding their site when doing internet searches. We both agreed upon some assignments for our next appointment. It was again encouraging that she was wanting to know more about CBSI as I was preparing to leave and showed interest in exploring it further.

During both the open house last week and during this visit I was encouraged to consider attending (auditing) an intensive one-week master’s course at the end of August. Pray for God’s leading in this and for His provision (about $400) if He would have me attend. It seems like it may be a strategic opportunity to interact with pastors and ministry leaders from around Ireland.