Rocks, sticks, small coins, soccer balls and one bottle sailed through the air. All of them were aimed at us. They even threw string cheese, which we all thought was very funny. Immediately, we noticed one thingÂ since we were here last year, their aim had improved!
They screamed insults and cursed at us and several children tried to steal everything that we had with us. One little boy stole part of the stage frame, but Sam caught him. Another stole my cane, but we also got it back. We set the stage up against a high metal fence to limit our exposure to the rear of the stage.
Perhaps you are reading this and are thinking, how horrible these children are to steal, curse and throw things. Please see the deeper truth in this situation. Except for Jesus Christ changing you and me, we would be just like them. Our "goodness" does not exist in ourselves. We act differently because of faith in Jesus gave us a new heart!
In the midst of all this insanity, a group of 20 precious children sat on the pavement of the basketball court and listened with their ears and their hearts. Ask God to send a local person to start a weekly Bible club in this place. Some are very hungry to hear the Good News.
Our Safe Arrival
We had a great trip and all our bags arrived safely. We left the airport for a two-hour drive and we went directly to a local church and had the privilege of giving a mission report.
Many people in the audience were so touched by the stories that they cried, but currently, they do very little to reach outside of their own church. Each year when we come, the congregation is smaller.
Most churches in Northern Ireland are like this, shrinking, but with no desire to change. They have beautiful building, great theology, but little or no impact on the lost people that surround them. Pray for God to send a revival to these churches.
The Caravan Parks
Twice, we have shared in caravan parks (vacation campgrounds), places where people come to stay for a holiday (family vacation). Big crowds of children, teenagers, parents and grandparents came to the shows. Some of the children remembered us from last year and were very excited to have us come again. The families are from all over Northern Ireland and many are from the mostly Catholic south, Republic of Ireland. Many good conversations happened with the team before and after the programs.
Yesterday, we heard the sweetest soundÂ. Children praying in soft whispers, asking Jesus to be their Savior. We were in an extremely beautiful park and God sent us a crowd of 150 people. As soon as we said the name of Jesus, one mother grabbed her children and left. Other parents took their children to a nearby playground, but the children wanted to hear so badly that they climbed up on a fence and continued to listen.
That evening, we trained a team in Ballymena that is committed to going into the schools of the area and presenting chapel programs. They are a very prosperous church with a unique vision for reaching the children of the housing estates (government housing) for Christ. Their desire to share with these very difficult children is extremely rare in Northern Ireland. They have been punched, kicked and cursed, yet they continue to reach out to these hurting children. Please pray for Norma as she trains to be the team’s storyteller. Ask God to increase the skills of the puppet team in their church.
We have two more days of street shows and caravan parks. On Friday, we leave for the music festivals in the south to work with the Christian music group, "Reality". There will be 18 people of all ages, travelling together and sleeping on the floor of church halls while washing clothes and bathing in sinks. We had a wonderful planning meeting and a great time of prayer with the entire team on Monday night and we are all so excited!!
We have many more stories to tell, but no more time. Please pray for us. Ask God to make us wise, patient and kind.
Mike and Linda
For Heather Kelley, Katie Humfleet, Brittany Hornbuckle, Jeremy Snow and Sam Shaw (Our Irish Puppet Director)