Northern Ireland 2004 (Scroll down for updates in order)
Posted August 28, 2004
Great news, we found a way to get internet access for today, so here is another update.
We are all fine and healthy, but please pray for the band members. Two of their vehicles were broken into last night in the carpark (parking lot) next to the church while we were sleeping. Nothing was stolen but both vehicles were damaged. One has only a small window broken out, but on the other, they bent the passenger door with a crowbar and the door will have to be replaced.
CASTLEBAR, WESTPORT AND DUBLIN
God’s word says, “Be happy if you are cursed and insulted for being a Christian, for when that happens, the Spirit of God will come upon you with great glory.” I Peter 4:14.
All of us are very happy!! While both the members of “The Agape Puppets” and “Reality” have been experiencing a lot of cursing as we have shared Christ on the streets of Castlebar, Westport and Dublin, even more, we have seen the glory of God!
QUESTIONS?? DUBLIN LAST NIGHT
Why would over 100 people gather at 11:00 at night in the city streets of Dublin to listen to a children’s Bible story? Why would 40 people stop at midnight to watch Sam juggle and listen to his testimony? Why would over a 100 adults crowd together and try for a better position to watch a puppet show? Why would several hundred non-believers ask for and some actually beg for a CD from the band “Reality”? Why would all these people, who had stopped during their walk from pub to pub, stay and clap after every song, story, puppet show and testimony?
These are the questions that we asked ourselves and each other last night after seeing how God had answered our prayers. Yes, we had many drunks dancing in front of the band and with the puppets. Yes, many people yelled curses and profanity at us. Yes, others walked off in disgust as soon as they heard the name of Jesus. However, many, actual the vast majority stopped and listened to the things that we had to sing about and say to them. They applauded freely and many stayed around to talk with the team members as we disassembled the equipment and packed up for the night.
SHARING WITH HUNDREDS
This is only a small part of the story! Each day, we are sharing with hundreds and hundreds of adults, as well as children, who stand and really listen! In their willingness to ignore all the distractions that are a part of a street show in the pub district, we see the great glory of God. Yesterday afternoon, we shared with many people from Dublin, but also university students from France, Germany, USA and China. Tourists from every European country come to our shows and hear about the love of Jesus where most of these never hear His name in their home countries.
Two days ago, God poured out His spirit on a street show in Westport. The crowd enjoyed everything so much that they didn’t’t want to leave. A local pastor said that he had never seen such a sweet, positive, presentation of the Gospel in his hometown! Praise God!!
All of us have had many conversations with the people who have attended the street shows, but consider one lady, Theresa’s story. She and her young son had just moved into town a few weeks before and had no friends. She had been kicked out of her home and into the streets by an abusive and violent husband. He had told her that he did’t want her or their son. She told Linda that she loved the music and the puppet show and that she had never felt as welcome and loved as she had that night.
She came to the show, because earlier in the day, she had broken her own rule of never listening to street speakers and she had listened for about five minutes and learned that we were performing again that night. She went home and brought her son with her to the show. She arrived very hungry to hear about Jesus. In addition, we were able to introduce her to the pastor and several in the church family. She and her son are now not alone.
Pray for her and all the others whose eyes are full of hurt and despair.
Pray that God make us light to the people of Ireland as this trip comes to an end. We have a final show in city center of Dublin this afternoon and then to Bangor for two or three shows on Sunday. Monday we will sort equipment and repack to return home on Tuesday.
Mike & Linda For Sam, David, Jesse, Hadia, Jonlyn and “Reality”
Posted August 25, 2004
Each day we see that God is the one great God!!!!!!!!
We were finally able to get to a computer this morning. Traveling to a different town every day and sleeping on the floor of church halls makes it very difficult to get access to the internet. This will probably be the last email until we get back to Sam Shaw’s house, late on Sunday night.
THE ROSE OF TRALEE FESTIVAL
We are seeing such amazing things in ministry. None of us could believe the hundreds of people that gathered for each show, even in the rain, and listened to the Gospel. We were presenting at the “Rose of Tralee Festival” in the town of Tralee in south west Ireland. This is a large music festival that brings in thousands of people from all over Europe. Many people from all over the world live in Tralee. We have been sharing with many Slovaks, Germans, and Africans form Nigeria. Linda shared on the street with a man from Ecuador in South America.
We have never seen such huge crowds attending our street performances! Many times, 300 to 400 and more stopped to listen, while on holiday, to hear about Jesus from our friends, the Irish band “Reality”. Some cry as they here about the hope that is in Jesus. We shared both, in the music and in the personal testimonies as well as through our puppet shows.
The band would share with several songs and testimonies, then, the puppet team would present a puppet show, chalk talk Bible Stories, testimonies, fiddle music and “Rocky.” God has poured out His Spirit on these opportunities.
We had arrived in Tralee with no official permission to perform in the city center. God gave us favor with the officials who issued us a festival pass, which allowed us to perform on the main street and to drive the sound equipment and most of the puppet equipment past the security barriers. We received plenty of exercise, with most of us walking the 1/2 to 3/4 miles from the church where we are staying to the festival site, with Mike, David, Sam and Jesse carrying the stage on their shoulders, twice a day.
The crowds were made up of many disillusioned people, many from a Roman Catholic background, searching for something different. We were heckled by many drunks as well as a tall, very skinny man dressed as Elvis who danced and played his fake guitar in time with the band. Later, a man dressed as Wyatt Earp, (maybe the same man) shouted that he wanted to use the puppets for target practice.
It was amazing to see how much the people in the crowd wanted to hear. They watched through the many rain showers, moved away as vehicles came through the crowd and then returned to their places after the vehicles had passed. All the time, they were ignoring the verbal abuse of the drunks in the crowd. The people in Tralee listened and heard presented clearly in many different ways that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life”.
The weather is a constant need for prayer. It rains every day, “Irish Sunshine”, and our last night in Tralee, it was raining so hard that the band could not risk setting up their equipment. We prayed and since our equipment is battery operated and mostly water resistant, we decided to risk getting everything wet to share with puppets and story telling.
At 10:00 PM, we began our program and to our amazement, hundreds of adults gathered and stayed to watch the puppets and hear children’s Bible stories for over an hour. Why would they stop while going from to pub to pub??? Why would they stay??? It is only because you are praying for us. Praise God for the hunger that we see and the questions that are being asked. Each day shows us that God is the one true God!
Two nights ago, we shared for several hours on the streets of Galway with hundreds of people who stopped and stayed to listen to the puppets, the band and the testimonies. They clapped for everything that we did!! It poured down rain, but the crowd remained. A very loud drunk man, came up, sat down in front of Linda and faced the crowd. While Linda was telling the story, he shouted his own message, with much profanity. She kept talking about Jesus.
Ironically, if you removed his coarse vocabulary, his theology was “spot on” as Sam says. As I stood there, and the team prayed for wisdom in how to handle him, the entire crowd turned against him. Linda did not get upset with him or try to argue with him. Suddenly, the crowd shouted for him to be quiet and to leave, and then, three men, who had stopped to listen, started moving toward him, to physically remove him. At this point, he got up and left, as the crowd listened, even more intently to the rest of the program. It was awesome!!
Yesterday, we were on the streets of Castlebar in the afternoon and the evening, sharing with multiple programs. We had the adventure of dealing with many streetwise children who tried to steal everything we had, threw the CD’s that we gave away at us, spit on our equipment and cursed constantly. In God’s mercy, they came to all of the shows and David bribed them into listening to the program by agreeing to play football (soccer) with them after the show. Who might they become if they trust Jesus?
One lady came to both shows, having just moved from a distant village to escape a violent, drunken husband who did not want her or their son. She is close to faith and will return tonight. Pray for Teresa who needs to see that to God she is a treasure.
We are traveling with the Irish Music group, “Reality”. With our team, the band and their families, there are 21 of us (2 babies), with two trailer loads of equipment. We are traveling to a different town and staying in a different church hall each night. Loading, sorting and repacking all of our equipment as many as three times a day becomes very confusing as things get misplaced and moved, but we are all so excited by what God is doing, no one minds!
We will be sharing in Westport, Dublin, Bangor, and more.
Praise God for His greatness,
Mike and Linda for Sam, David, Jesse, Hadia, and Jonlyn
Posted August 19, 2004
How do you respond when children throw bottles and sticks at you? What do you do when they spit on you and bite you? Do you give up in frustration when a few mothers come and remove their children because you are talking about Jesus? Do you stop the Bible story when they yell obscenities and curse words during the entire Bible story?
By God’s grace, the German team and our puppet team remembered the words of James. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Our puppet team has been memorizing the first chapter of James this summer. God’s perfect timing! Because of Jesus, we all continued the program, smiled and put our trust in God who can change these children’s hearts.
We returned to the same place the following day and saw that in the rain, some children had come. So, we told a story in the rain and watched God pour His spirit on those children. None even threw anything! Today, while we took a little time to see Northern Ireland’s beautiful coast, our German friends did a program at the same place without us. Finally, the children began to listen and stopped yelling. Your prayers make a difference!
We were even heckled at a nursing home. Because Sam’s great aunt lives there, we presented a program and some of the residents were glad we came, thanking us for what we said and did. However, some had no love for God and were offended by the story of Jesus. They yelled at us during the entire program and we kept smiling.
One lady said, “I’m bored to tears.” A man asked a lady beside him, “Why don’t we leave.” She shouted, “I can’t get out of my chair.” Again and again, one woman said very loudly, “This is an insult to my intelligence.” Finally, an older lady called me aside as we were leaving, patted my hand, and said, “This is a pile of rubbish.” I thought of someone else’s words. He said, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Please pray for the people at this home to put their trust in Jesus.
Tomorrow, we begin our ministry in the south. Ask God to pour His spirit on this time as we work with the Irish band, “Reality,” sharing Christ this weekend at the “Rose of Tralee Festival.”
Love in Jesus,
Linda for Mike, Sam, David, Jesse, Hadia, and Jonlyn
Posted August 17, 2004
We are in Northern Ireland, the land of 40 shades of green. At least, that is what our Irish friends tell us. God has created such a beautiful land, but many here do not have a personal relationship with their Creator.
WE ARE AGAIN IN IRELAND
Our flight was delayed with a mechanical problem in Amsterdam, so we arrived in Dublin two hours late. We drove straight from the airport, 2 hours north, to speak at a church. Consider the exhaustion of a day and a half of travel and a 5 hour time difference, you can understand how hard all six of us prayed as we shared. God answered all of our prayer!
As we entered the church, we heard the sweetest praise music. They were singing, No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. Here in the power of Christ, I’ll stand.
At Murlough House, we are working with a German team of 13 young people. Yesterday, all of us went to a Caravan park, (vacation campground and cottages) a place filled with many Catholic children and some Protestant children from Belfast. (in Northern Ireland, Catholic and Political are political and even ethnic groups more than religious). When we finished, a little boy came up to me and wanted to share with me his testimony. Last year, when he was 5, he asked Jesus Christ to be his Savior. He wanted us to know. Three mothers thanked me for the program and said, “That was brilliant.”
The response in the afternoon was very different. We were at a housing estate (low income government housing) with very rough children, who tried to steal our equipment, including Linda’s cane. They climbed up on a basketball goal so that they could get a better shot with the sidewalk chalk that they were throwing at us. They had stolen it from the German team. Several tried to grab the puppets and even the little ones screamed extremely bad language at each other. We had a great time! It is an awesome privilege to stand in a very dark place and be able to speak for the Light. I gave my story drawing to one little girl, who had listened to every work of the program and was thrilled to get the pictures. She said, “Can I keep them forever?”
PLANNING FOR TRAVEL TO THE SOUTH
Last night, we met with the Irish band, Reality, that we will be traveling with in the south of Ireland for 10 days. The schedule is well planned and very busy and we had a great time of fellowship and prayer together.
Please hold us in your prayers. We have 2 more days like yesterday and then we travel south.
Love in Jesus,
Mike and Linda For Sam, David, Jesse, Hadia, and Jonlyn
Posted August 14, 2004
Today, we are leaving for Northern Ireland where we will be sharing with children on holiday (vacation) and in housing estates (low income housing). For the first five days, we will be working with John Moxin of Murlough House and Sam Shaw, the Northern Ireland director and David Thomson from England. Then, we, along with Sam and David, will travel to the south, working with the Irish band “Reality” and share Jesus at the music festivals. Please pray for open hearts and attentive ears!
Praise the Lord that I can write the following words. Mike is coming with us. We are very blessed.
God has poured His spirit on the last few weeks of summer ministry and we leave for this trip very excited for all that we have seen God do. For years, we have prayed for an American Hispanic puppet team and 2 weeks ago, we began training friends from 3 Spanish churches south of Birmingham. Praise God! Please pray for this new work. Steve and Carol Tipton’s vision gave us the opportunity to share Christ with people from El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Columbia. The world is coming to us. What will we do with this privilege?
We finished the summer doing street shows in inner-city Atlanta, setting the stage up on ground covered with empty crack bags. The children live in terrible places and see things everyday that you do not want to read about. We asked God to make us light and move mightily! He is always faithful! At every show, we had more children gather than we had ever had before. Sometimes, 40 plus children would sit on the pavement or in the dirt to hear Jesus. In 100-degree heat, 10 children crowded under a small tree, the only shade, and listened. We held children in our arms, were hugged by drunks and dope addicts, and heard children discover that there is Father who wants them. Pray for us to see such wonders in Northern Ireland and in the South.
Love in Jesus,
Linda For Mike, Sam, David, Hadia, Jesse, and Jonlyn