Newcastle – Gus McIlmoyle
In late October a team of intrepid students set off for sunny Newcastle to support the local Baptist church in a week of evangelism. Led by Mark Rooney, we consisted of students from the Preparation for Ministry course, along with our surrogate 7th member and press secretary—Emma (Mark's wife!). Having been briefed by Pastor Mark Patterson and elder Bertie Coffey, the plan for the week was a mixture of services, events and door-to-door work, along with some discipleship sessions.
On Sunday morning we had the pleasure of seeing Mark and Emma being inducted as members into the church, followed swiftly by Mark preaching—straight into duties! In the evening Jonny and Andrew addressed a few tricky faith questions: ‘How can a God of love send people to hell?’ and ‘Can you lose a genuine saving faith?’ This was followed by a message from Reuben on ‘Jesus being the Bread of Life’.
Monday saw 40 ladies attend a ‘Taste and See’ evening with no less than 10 courses (!) and Gus sharing a short message. Tuesday was the men’s turn with curry night: ‘Are you Starvin’—physically/spiritually?’ with Neil speaking (food seemed to be a consistent theme through the week). On Wednesday, people were invited to bring ‘something old’. An array of heirlooms, souvenirs and treasure finds stimulated conversation and acted as a segue for some testimony and Mark to speak.
The events were a good opportunity for people getting back together after a long time of groups being off due to COVID. It was clear to see the delight on people’s faces of being able to interact face-to-face.
A key takeaway from the week was seeing partnership in the gospel in action: within our own team; observing the church working together with other believers around Newcastle; or, learning about the work of initiatives including Street Chaplins; Murlough House retreat centre; and, further afield, insights on an East London Baptist church and the practical need to tailor a ministry to what is in front of you.
We cannot speak highly enough of the welcome we received, the openness of conversation and the blessing of fellowshipping together. Our thanks go to the Newcastle church, Pastor Mark and the leadership for so graciously letting us share in the ongoing work. Our prayers go to the church as they continue the week-in, week-out work of spreading the good news message and building believers up in Newcastle.
Brannockstown – Richard Donnan
We live in a ‘so-called’ connected world. Be it email, internet, social media connections, or road, rail and air connections, connectivity is central to so much of what we do. But the essential connection people need is with God, through what Jesus has accomplished in his death and resurrection.
Making ‘gospel connections’ was the theme for the Irish Baptist College Evangelism Team working with Brannockstown Baptist Church from 17–22 October 2021. Working closely with Pastor Richard Blayney we sought to build ‘gospel connections’ within the Church, its immediate community and the wider surrounding area.
The main objective for the team was working with the Church in their planned events. Gospel connections were made through sharing in the Sunday Service and the subsequent fellowship time, a Men’s Outreach, ‘Big Questions’ with the youth and participation in the Youth Club.
The immediate community was our next focus. Brannockstown is a small townland with a population of around 215 people. Each household in Brannockstown received a copy of the ‘3 Steps to Heaven’ booklet, along with an invitation to a Christianity Explored Course running from 24 October in Brannockstown Baptist Church Hall. The local primary school visited the church building to explore the beliefs of Baptists. This interactive event allowed the children to learn about the shared history of the church and the school and to experience first-hand how the church functions and how it differs from other belief systems. A range of gospel literature was made available to the children via the teaching staff.
We moved further afield to surrounding villages and towns including Ballymore, Dunlavin, Calvertstown, Kilcullen and Blessington. The team carried out a leaflet drop across all these areas, with homes receiving an invite to the Christianity Explored Course and either the ‘3 Steps to Heaven’ booklet or a gospel tract.
Approximately 4,000 homes were reached with ‘gospel connections’ made raising awareness of the Church, and a number of positive discussions took place with people on their doorsteps and gardens. We held a Bible Exhibition in Kilcullen Heritage Centre on 22 October, with several people attending. Again, gospel connections were made with good discussions and free literature taken. The Bible Exhibition featured prominently in the Kilcullen Diary.
It was a privilege for us to work along with Pastor Richard Blayney and be of service to Brannockstown Baptist Church. We were truly blessed by the warm fellowship of the Church.
Pastor Richard Blayney reminded us at the outset of the need to faithfully proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord to people whose minds have been blinded by Satan. We are weak, but God is strong. Over the week we knew God’s blessing and help, giving unity in purpose leading to Gospel Connections within the Church, in Brannockstown and surrounding areas. Seeds have been sown and God will give the increase. It is already encouraging to see some folks responding to the outreach through attending the church and registering their interest in the Christianity explored course.