Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland 2003
(Scroll down for beginning of the trip updates)
Posted July 11, 2003
Our last Sunday in Scotland, we sang a song that I have not been able to stop thinking about. It asked this question: “Who will weep for the hearts made of stone?” This is the spiritual reality for Scotland today. Most do remember or have never even heard of their great spiritual heritage. Please pray for John and Sandra Stark, our puppet directors, and their team as they seek to share Christ with thousands of school children who will not hear about Jesus at home. Agape Puppets in Scotland already has shows scheduled. Praise God!
This place feels like a second home to Mike and I. We were all so blessed by the incredible opportunities that Sam Shaw and John Moxen provided for us. This is a great place for your church to schedule a mission trip. Murlough House can feed, train, house, and equip you. More, you could supply and deliver to Sam Shaw a set of puppet equipment so that he can plant a puppet ministry in another country. Pray for Sam and his team as they continue their work. We identified many schools that Sam wants to share in during this coming year. Ask God to please open the doors!
On our way to our last show, we asked God to be big! We asked Him to show us His awesome power and do something incredible. All of us were amazed as He caused hundreds of people to gather in downtown Dublin at a busy intersection and listen to the Gospel. We worked with Reality, a Christian band from Northern Ireland, who have a great sound and a humble spirit. Maybe your church would like to schedule them for a USA ministry tour? They sang and shared and then , we would do puppets and storytelling. None of us believed that it would work when we arrived, but no one said anything. We prayed and God answered.
Street shows are always interesting. We had people doing things in the crowd that were really disgusting and distracting, but no one paid any attention to them. The drunk who hugged me and even started drawing on Sam’s storyboard did not hold anyone’s attention. Twice, vehicles drove through the crowd, the people stepped back and then returned to listen again. People stood spellbound as they listened to the Gospel. This was the work of the Holy Spirit! Ask the Lord to pour His spirit on Reality as they regularly share in Ireland!
We are home, safe, and busy sharing the hope of Jesus on the streets Inner City Atlanta. For the last 2 days, we worked with Ben Wilkinson of Synod of the City and did 7 shows in rough places. We heard hope born in children’s hearts as they prayed out loud in whispers to ask Jesus Christ to be their Savior. One little boy was very excited, prayed to receive Christ, and said, “I have to talk to Jesus. I have to learn. Tell me what to do!” These were the best shows that we have ever had in inner city Atlanta. The children really listened! Praise God!
Love in Jesus, Linda for the team
Posted June 30, 2003
By the time you read this e-mail, we will have begun our trip home. We will be arriving in Atlanta, Tuesday July 1st at mid-night. Please pray for us as we are travelling and ask the Lord to give us opportunites to talk about Him throughout our journey.
When we are home, I promise to send you a final report on Nothern Ireland and the ministry that we were able to do in Dublin, Ireland. It was awesome! God answered our every prayer.
As we were sharing at an estate (housing project) in Dublin, a little girl came up to Jesse and asked him a question. She said, “Are you a God lover?”. Jesse quickly answered “yes” and she then began to ask the rest of us the same question. I have never before thought to describe a Christian in this way. This little girl does not know Jesus Christ as her Savior, but she recognizes what a Christian is supposed to do. Please pray for her to come to faith and experience what it means to be a “God lover” .
We are especially grateful to John and Jo Moxen of Project Evangelism for the wonderful care they have given us over the past week. Please ask the Lord to bless them and their ministry with an outpouring of his Holy Spirit.
Love in Christ, Mike and Linda for Aaron, Sam, David, Jesse, Daniel and Thomas
Posted June 28, 2003
Please forgive our delay in writing. We arrived in Northern Ireland at around 3 AM in the morning, Monday night. After a couple of hours of sleep, we began to do puppet shows. So far, we have done 17 shows, attended 4 Bible Studies with John Moxen (Director Project Evangelism), trained people, and visited with Irish friends until late at night. We have been so very busy! Praise God!
Scotland’s Last Shows
We finished our time in Scotland by doing a puppet show for 600 people at a praise and worship service that Convoy of Hope, an American ministry, sponsored on Sunday night. This gave us an opportunity to introduce our Scottish puppet leaders, John and Sandra Stark, to representatives of more than a dozen churches who were in attendance. We had participated in an outreach with them on Saturday that reached over 5,000 people with the Gospel. Muslims, Hindus, and many unchurched Scots attended our shows in the Kid’s Zone under a big tent. Your prayers opened the doors for some wonderful conversations as we did street ministry and tied balloons for hundreds and hundreds of people. Many were open to hearing about Jesus because of this small kindness to their children.
Report on Belfast puppet shows
You could feel the hate as the children entered the room. They did not even respond as other Irish children have to the puppet shows. Instead of smiling and laughing, they simply stared. Though they live in a place where people proclaim a knowledge of the bible and talk about Jesus, forgiveness and love are not discussed. We challenged them to let Jesus Christ change them from the inside out.
These children live in Belfast in places that are often in the news when reports are given on Northern Ireland. The trouble that politicians talk about these children live. Many of the children will have seen riots and all kinds of violence. The older ones may even have participated. Murder is not uncommon in their community. The sides of the buildings are covered with giant murals of men carrying machine guns and wearing ski masks, proclaiming their Protestant and British loyalties. Their schools are hidden behind high walls topped with rolls of barbed wire. The word Protestant does not denote faith; it is simply a political and cultural badge. Hate is all they know and how they are raised. The opportunity to share in these places the real love of Jesus is incredible. Best of all the schools have been open to having our Irish Puppet Director Sam Shaw return and even recommended him to other schools.
One principal told us that he was very grateful that we had come. He told us that most people would not come to his school. Their fear kept them away. The children are often afraid. For the past two nights, many had been unable to sleep because of riots. Crowds of people carrying baseball bats roamed their area. There is only one answer to such anger and fear and His name is Jesus. It was wonderful to speak to these children about the love of Jesus and tell them about how they could have hope.
Ministry in Dublin, Ireland
Tomorrow, Sunday, we are going to be doing ministry in Dublin, Ireland. In the past we have only worked in Northern Ireland so this is a great opportunity. Please pray that we will be very wise in what we say and how we present the Gospel. Ask the Lord to open people’s hearts to the truth of God’s word.
Monday, we will take the Irish puppet team, the American puppet team and part of the Scottish puppet team on a trip up the northern coast. Pray for a sweet time of fellowship, and for the opportunity to finish some training with the Irish puppeteers.
Love in Christ,
Mike, Linda, Aaron, David, Jesse, Daniel, Thomas and Sam
Posted June 21, 2003
SCHOOLS IN SCOTLAND
Super! Tremendous! Wonderful! Brilliant! These were the words that different teachers, at 3 shows today, used to describe the puppet show. These words were an answer to prayer, as not all of the teachers who spoke them were believers. This was amazing, since in each program, we presented the Gospel and told the children how they could ask Jesus to be their Savior.
Our pastor friend, John Stark, works at this school as a chaplain and will continue to teach these children after we leave. He and his wife, Sandra, have been our hosts while we were in Scotland. They have done an amazing job, scheduling, feeding us and participating with us in the ministry. Sandra is learning to tell stories, while Stewart and Thomas, 2 young men from their church, are studying puppets and juggling.
Stewart is praying about joining us next summer in the states, while Thomas will come with us to Northern Ireland to do ministry. In Northern Ireland, we will be joined by the young woman who heads up the French puppet team.
The puppet team in Northern Ireland for the next week will represent 6 countries. Praise God for His faithfulness!
Our friend, Duncan MacLeod, a pastor with the Free Church of Scotland, arranged for us to share in 2 schools in Perth. We had an awesome time and best of all, Duncan was asked to return to that school on a weekly basis to share with the children. The headmistress told us that if we were ever in Scotland again, we were to come to her school. She said that there would be no discussion. As the children started to leave, many came to me and hugged me. This had not happened at any other school. These children were especially hungry for love. We later found out that many of these children had suffered abuse of different kinds. I am so blessed that we were able to tell them that there is a Father who loves and cares for them!
At the second school, we were welcomed by the children singing Christian songs. With the present attitude in American schools toward Christianity, this was a real surprise. This group loved the show and thanked us by singing a special song. They used the tune to the old Flintstone’s cartoon show and sung “God’s love is the best love, the very, very best love”.
In the last 3 days, the school programs have given us the opportunity to share Christ with over 1700 children and teachers. After each show, I have talked to many of the children and encouraged them to remember the stories and grow up to be people who love Jesus Christ!
PUPPET TEAM IS INCREDIBLE
The team is incredible! Aaron Stewart has delighted children with Rocky, a furry friend and challenged them to find their answers in Jesus. David Thomson uses balloons to present the Gospel message, something that he learned in Malawi from James Grant, our South African puppet Director. Jesse Southerland tells the children that Jesus can take away their fear! Daniel Cruz juggles rings and speaks with power of his best friend who died for him. Sam Shaw’s juggling and testimony are a very special part of the program as the children really respond to his message. They have all distinguished themselves as young men who have true passion for Jesus Christ!
We will not be able to send another email until Tuesday night, as things are very busy. Please pray for the following people and events:
- Saturday, we will be sharing all day at a fair sponsored by Convoy of Hope. We will have multiple shows and lots of one on one street ministry. Pray for open hearts!
- Sunday, we will participate in 2 worship services and organize the equipment that we will leave for the new Scottish team. Ask God to give us His words and organize our thoughts.
- Mike is joining us in Northern Ireland and begins his journey on Sunday. Please pray for his safe travel and the safe arrival of his bags as they are filled with ministry supplies and thank you gifts for Project Evangelism, the ministry hosting us in Northern Ireland.
- Monday, we will take the day to play tourist and see Scotland. Our ferry to Northern Ireland will leave at midnight and we arrive at Murlough House at around 4AM on Tuesday. Mike will arrive hours before us. This is our first day off since we left home on the 8th of June. Ask the Lord to give us a wonderful day of fellowship and fun!
- Please pray that we can sleep on the ferry as we have shows starting at 7:30AM on Tuesday in Northern Ireland after arriving at 4:00 AM.
We are enjoying haggis (stuffed sheep stomach), tatties (potatoes) and nips (turnips), and have drunk an ocean of tea. Hot cross buns are great, but curry is our favorite food. Cookies are biscuits, potato chips are crisps, “French fries” are chips, suspenders are braces and cars have boots (trunk) and bonnets (hood). I am often confused.
In Jesus, Linda for David, Jesse, Aaron, Daniel, and Sam
Posted June 21, 2003
We are seeing wonderful answers to your prayers. All of the empty places in our schedule filled up. A Scottish team is beginning to form and that is good because we helped to schedule them 3 shows. More, we are seeing difficult doors open for ministry.
Today, we shared Jesus with over 470 students and teachers at a Catholic school. The teachers expressed amazement that the students listened so well. One lady said that she felt something in the room as she listened to the story and watched the puppets that she could not explain. She described it as something wonderful. We knew that sweetness to be God’s Holy Spirit.
I had a very interesting conversation with a man who told me that he was raised as a Communist. He described Jesus as only a great teacher. I explained to him that a man who made the claims Jesus made was either crazy, a terrible liar, or the Son of God. His option did not exist. He seemed to trust in his goodness and believed that when he died his soul would merge with others into something bigger. As we finished talking, he expressed a desire for a faith that was confident, but he was just too confused. Please pray for “Ian” that God would lift the blindness from his eyes. Ask the Lord to show him truth.
Many people spoke to me today and told me that they had seen us at the festival on Saturday. They were amazed at what they had seen and heard and very grateful for our kindness to the children. We tied and gave away hundreds of free balloons, in addition to doing 4 free puppet shows. Most of these people were not believers. To all of you who contributed to this trip, their gratitude belongs to you. You made it possible for us to bless the children and offer them real hope.
We are having incredible opportunities to share. We have done programs at an after school care program, a high school for young people with physical, emotional, and mental disabilities, and at primary schools. We have also had 2 training sessions and shared at a church.
Tonight, we were especially blessed to share at the Port Glasgow Mission Hall. The people in attendance represented many different churches and we received many contacts for future work in Scotland, for ourselves, Sam Shaw and the Irish team, as well as the new Scottish team. Our 2 new Scottish puppeteers shared their testimonies and did a great job! Please pray for Stewart and Thomas to learn quickly. Ask God to strengthen their commitment.
After the program, we drove to a high place that overlooks Port Glasgow. The view was awesome! We could see the sun setting, followed by the lights coming on in the town below. Mountains loomed in the distance, with lakes, blue and clear, in front of them. Creation here screams that God is God, but more than 90% of Scotts today do not claim Jesus Christ. Many church leaders deny that Jesus’ resurrection. We passed many churches that have been converted to theaters or private residences. The great legacy of faith that belongs to Scotland has been all but forgotten. Beg God to call Scotland to faith once more.
We have 5 days left to do ministry in Scotland before we move to Northern Ireland. Our schedule is very full. Please ask the Lord to give us strength and wisdom. We want to finish well and be a blessing to our Scottish brothers and sisters.
Love in Jesus, Linda for Sam, David, Daniel, Jesse and Aaron
Posted June 14, 2003
Yesterday, we had the privilege of sharing Jesus with 430 children and teachers at Westcoat Primary School. They loved the program and even gave us a recommendation for another school. The children were listening especially well and really responded to the puppets. During the puppet drama, The King puppet asked, “I need someone to travel with me. Who can I get?” Immediately, almost every child in the room volunteered to go with the King by raising their hands.
At St. Matthews Church in Glasglow, we shared during a lunch program for a large group of men and a few women. Some were homeless and others struggled with a variety of addictions. Many had already come to faith and were so enthusiastic when they sang “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” These friends had an advantage over many of us who sit in comfort in nice homes. They knew their need and knew that Christ alone could help them. It was a wonderful time!
There is no way to explain the things that we are seeing, outside of answered prayer. Our half filled schedule has been filling up and now we only need for you to pray for 3 missing programs, Monday morning, Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon.
Today, we participated in a local “Gala Day”, which means that we performed 4 street shows and tied an ocean of balloons, over a 5 hour period. When we arrived, there had been some confusion about where we were to set up and we were assigned to a place in a very noisy area. We prayed and were given a perfect place, in the middle of the fair with trees and a grassy place for the children to sit. And more, the weather report had promised clouds and showers all day, but we spent the day under a clear blue sky which is very unusual for Scotland. At each program, more than a hundred people attended and listened intently to the puppets and the Bible story. Most were that we talked attended no church. They accepted portions of scripture, applauded the boys’ testimonies, and some even came back for a second show and brought their friends. Praise God!
Our new Scotland puppet team, that is not yet fully formed, scheduled their first show as a result of today’s ministry. Please pray for the Lord to call some young people to this work.
We had so many wonderful opportunities to talk to people on the street as we tied balloons. People were shocked that we were giving the balloons away for free, they could not understand it. I told many people that Jesus gave me a free gift and I wanted to give them a free gift because of how He had changed my life. This prompted a lot of conversation. All of the team had great opportunities to witness, one on one, to children and adults.
Scotland is far from God and we were reminded of this truth as we shared during a show at a local community center. It was a very difficult show with lots of noise and distractions. The area that we were working in is a place where satan worship has more appeal than church. Please pray against all opposition to the Gospel.
Tonight, we stood in the very place where George Whitfield, more than a century ago, preached and saw thousands confess Christ. It was said that grown men wept as they were convicted of their sin. Crowds of 30,000 walked for miles to hear the word of God as he spoke. Few here remember what happened anymore. We stood together and prayed, but could not stay long, as the place was used for different purposes today. It is a dangerous place where young people come to cause trouble, drink, curse at other visitors, and destroy things.
Please beg God to call Scotland once again to faith!
Hold us before the throne!
In Jesus, Linda for Sam, David, Aaron, Daniel, and Jesse
Posted June 12, 2003
“JESUS IS DEAD!!! JESUS IS DEAD!!!”
A young teenager at a school for troubled and learning disabled teens, shouted these words at us as we shared our program at a high school. Another young man told us that he was bullied every day and he asked if Jesus could help him. We told them all that Jesus Christ is alive and that He can solve any problem.
CONYOY OF HOPE
Earlier in the day, we met with a man from Convoy of Hope, a ministry that is planning a very large outreach in a park near here. They will have a number of tents set up on Saturday week and will give away 6,000 bags of groceries. We will have numerous opportunities to share on different stages. Please begin to pray for this outreach on Saturday.
Two weeks ago, we were sharing Christ in Blantyre, Malawi, a town in central Africa, named in honor of David Livingston and named for his home town. Today we were in Blantyre, Scotland, his actual home town. We had an unexpected break in our schedule when a puppet show moved to an earlier time, so we decided to visit David Livingston’s birthplace. I was challenged to love Jesus more and serve him with more passion as I read and heard great stories of faith.
Our guide, David, was an older gentleman, who genuinely loved Jesus. We had a sweet time of fellowship as we toured the house. As a young man David Livingston made the following resolution. He said, “I will place no value on anything I have or possess except in relation to the kingdom of Christ”. In one of his journals from Africa, he wrote, “I am a missionary heart and soul. In this service, I hope to live, in it I wish to die”. Ask God to raise up such men of faith again in Scotland.
PRAY FOR REPENTANCE
At a prayer meeting tonight, we prayed for over an hour, asking God to call Scotland to repentance. We asked the Lord to call many children to faith. Then we all sang some praise songs. I did not know any of them, but I thought that the words to one were very appropriate for Scotland. We sang of “a truth long neglected”. Truly, this place has long ignored the truth of the Good News. Ask God to soften people’s hearts.
Unfortunately, many here have not ignored “other” spiritual choices. On Thursday night, we have a program in an apartment complex where many practice witchcraft. Ironically, their commitment to satanic worship exceeds the commitment of most Christians here to share their faith with lost people.
Please pray for God to show Himself as the one true God to these children. Please pray for protection for the team and the equipment. Please pray that we remain faithful.
In Jesus, Linda for David, Sam, Aaron, Jesse and Daniel
Posted June 10, 2003
We are in Scotland! And YESS!!!! All of our equipment has arrived safely.
We left home on Sunday morning, traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, back to Dublin, Ireland, then by mini-bus to Sam Shaw’s parent’s house in Northern Ireland. Everyone enjoyed the hospitality of Sam Shaw’s parents, John and Catherine, as we spent last night at their farm. This morning, we left Northern Ireland by mini-bus and took the ferry to Troon, Scotland. Sam’s mother even got up with us at 4:30 AM to fix us breakfast before we left for the ferry. We have had quite an adventure. John Moxen, of Project Evangelism, provided us with a transit van for our travels. Praise God for his desire to help us share Christ in Scotland.
As we drove toward Glasgow, Scotland after we got off the ferry, we stopped off in Ayr to walk on the beach and see an old ruined home/castle, high on a cliff overlooking the sea. Jesse helped a lady, named Morag, down the cliff and we began a wonderful conversation with her about Jesus. She told me that she knew God had sent us to her today, as she was very sad. More, she said that the conversation had encouraged her and she promised to return to church and begin reading her Bible again. It had been several years since she had been to church. With her permission, I prayed for her as we walked along the beach. Please ask God to lead her to a good church and give her a great desire to follow Him.
This evening, as we were taking the guys to the church where they will be sleeping, Sam began a conversation with a man named John on the street. I joined him as he told us all of the false teachings that he had examined in his search for the truth. He was very hungry to know God. We told him that God could answer all of his questions. We asked our pastor friend John to join us. As he finished a long conversation with the man, he felt confident that he would ask Jesus to be his Savior tonight. Please pray that he will come to faith.
Clearly, we see God’s hand in leading us to Glasgow to work with John and Sandra Stark. Raised as a Catholic, she took her 4 year old daughter to a puppet show ,20 years ago, at a church and after the show, she asked Christ to be her Savior. They told us again today, that they know this is of God.
We all prayed together for the ministry here, especially that God would fill the remaining holes in the schedule and raise up a Scottish puppet team. Please pray for these 2 requests.
Stand with us in prayer! Beg God to call Scotland to revival. We need you to pray!
In Jesus, Linda for David, Aaron, Jesse, Daniel, and Sam