Ireland? Why Ireland? This is usually the 1st question people ask after hearing where we are going and why. So I thought I’d try to explain why the Lord may be sending us to Ireland.
Ireland (and Europe in general) is like the US in so many ways. It has a deep and rich Christian history – giants of the faith have come from Europe – St. Patrick, William Tyndale, Martin Luther and C.S. Lewis to name but a few. Missionaries have come from Europe and shaped our concept of what church looks like. Ireland is a 1st world country – not one of the poorer countries so often associated with missionary work. So for many, it doesn’t compute why missionaries would go TO Europe at all. But the sad truth is that rich Christian heritage has all but died out. Church buildings are nearly empty, many are abandoned or being turned into dance clubs and mosques. People see Jesus as a religion of rules and requirements – not as a real person. People know OF Jesus, but they don’t KNOW JESUS.
1 ½% of Ireland is evangelical Christian! And the vast majority are in Northern Ireland. That makes Ireland the lowest percentage of Evangelical Christians in the English speaking world!¹ The typical Irish think they know him, but they have the perception that Jesus is distant and cold. Many think because they are Catholic they are saved and as long as they attend Mass at Christmas and Easter and give some money God will be happy with them. They don’t need to think any more about God- and they want very little to do with Jesus in their lives. It is very hard ground, indeed.
A Lack of Hope
Suicide rates in Galway, Ireland is the highest in the European Union²
Unemployment – being “no the dole” (welfare) is considered normal and accepted. Why work when the government will take care of you?
Homelessness – the homeless are readily apparent in Galway City. And in a city with THAT much rain… that tells you their desperation.
Drunkenness – unfortunately the stereotypes of drinking often and drinking to get drunk are becoming commonplace. Even our young children were starting to see indicators that someone was drunk.
Polytheism, Atheism & Agnosticism – The belief in false gods and denying the existence of God altogether are getting more common each passing day.
The need the hope that only comes from submitting to the one true God who loves them!
They need Jesus!