Feb 18-24: 2014 RELaY Conference in Malta

We had a wonderful time in Malta attending the RELaY conference. RELaY stands for Reconciliation, Evangelisation, Leadership, and Youth and is a network of lay leaders throughout Europe working to bring spiritual life back into Europe. Due to limited flights and our desire to not arrive late and not to need to leave early, we arranged to arrive a day early and stay a day after. That gave us some time to get in some sight-seeing during our trip.

Everyone (except many of the locals) stayed at a nice hotel where the conference was hosted. This is a view from the balcony of our 6th floor room …

The view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

We were one of the few ministries that had arranged to have an information table in addition to teaching a workshop. Since we were there early we were able to secure a strategic location for our table and had a lot of people stop by to inquire about Community Bible Study.

Our Table and Banner

Our Table and Banner

We had 13 people attending our two workshop sessions. We took them through a short sample study and got great participation. There was much interest expressed and we expect to see several studies started as a result. Thank you for your prayers.

The hotel provided a variety of foods to experience so of the local cuisine as well as some foods you would expect to get anywhere. Meals were a wonderful time to meet new people and get to know one another better.

The Salad Bar

The Salad Bar

Fellowship Over a Meal

Fellowship Over a Meal

I will post pictures from our sight-seeing tomorrow.

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.

Feb 9 – Worship and Fellowship in Dublin City Centre

This was another great Sunday worshipping in Dublin at Grace Fellowship. In addition to its own primarily-Irish congregation, Grace hosts services for Lithuanian and Romanian congregations. Every other month they have a joint service followed by a cheese and soup lunch. It was not coincidental that we chose this Sunday to visit. 🙂

It was great to fellowship with several friends and to make some new ones. The Lithuanian congregation started using the CBSI studies in the fall and are preparing to begin their second study in the book of James. In addition, the leader is encouraging a new group to start soon. We are also working to connect soon with the pastor of the Romanian congregation to discuss their possible interest in using our Romanian-language studies.

Patti and I spent another hour or two walking around Dublin, enjoying an informal tour of Trinity College and a coffee break along the way.

Feb 5-7 – The Beginning of a Children’s Ministry?

We had the pleasure this week of having visitors from across the Irish Sea … the Directors of the UK Children and Youth Ministry. Wednesday evening they joined us in visiting one of the ladies CBSI Bible studies. This study has several ladies who had expressed an interest in using CBSI materials with children and youth, either for their own children or for those in schools where they teach.

After a delightful Bible study, 5 of the ladies joined us around the table to see some sample studies and to hear how they were being used in the UK, as well as how they were adaptable to many environments and situations. Two of the ladies in particular were keen to take several samples home to review and consider which best suited their situations, possibly for use in after-school programs. Discussions have already begun for Simon and Ann to return in April to train these ladies and other interested leaders.

One of the other ladies in the study came to our house with her husband for dinner and to learn about the C&Y studies as they are long-time friends of ours and have known Simon and Ann for many years also. We had another wonderful evening together discussing how the studies might be used with the children in their church.

We have been praying for years, as have many of you, for the right doors to open for the use of CBSI studies among children and youth here in Ireland. It appears that those doors are opening and God has provided the means to respond to these opportunities. Continue to pray with us that He would direct and give wisdom to those who are desiring to use these studies and those who make the decisions to bless their use, that the children and youth of Ireland can rediscover the joy of learning God’s Word.

Feb 2 – A Full and Blessed Sunday

Sunday was a full day, beginning with worship at Donabate Presbyterian Church which has become our church home here in Ireland. We’re enjoying making new friends there and connecting with the energetic young pastor and his wife. Having another worship gathering an hour away at 2pm, we grabbed a quick lunch at a little cafe in a local garden shop we enjoy.

In the afternoon we joined several friends at on the Dublin south side. This was another time of worship, testimonies, and fellowship with a couple of hundred Christ-followers celebrating their life in Christ.

After this we visited and had dinner with dear friends Jono and Denice who lead CBSI studies in Bray. It’s always fun to visit with them as the whole family is into learning to play multiple musical instruments … they should eventually be able to have their own band!

We finally got home about 9pm, 11 hours after leaving, making for a very full day.

Jan 24 – Dublin Area Ladies Retreat

Patti is away this evening through tomorrow night at a local ladies retreat. The retreat is organized by some current and former CBSI-Ireland leaders for ladies in their studies and their friends. They are expecting almost 100 ladies to come this weekend.

The organizer asked Patti to bring some CBSI brochures with contact information for the local studies so that those who are not currently involved will know where the studies and contacts are.

Pray for the new contacts they make and for renewed interest in studying the Bible with other ladies as well as for opportunities to engage interested husbands.

Jan 23 – Safely Back in Ireland

We arrived back in Ireland early Wednesday morning and were home early enough to go straight to bed to catch up on the sleep lost flying overnight.

During our time in Ireland during November and December we were kept so busy with visitors and the holidays that I did not get any blogging done, so I will be trying to catch up with all the news over the next week … so keep watching!