We are "safe home." This was the blessing our friends spoke to us as we all said good-bye at a party Tuesday night. There were lots of tears and long hugs and we all struggled to say what can only be said best when we join forever in heaven. It was a very difficult parting as we have all become family. . . the Agape Puppets, the Irish Christian band Reality, Sam Shaw’s God’s Handiwork Irish Puppet team, John and Jo Moxen of Project Evangelism, and so many other dear friends.
Mike and I have been working in Northern Ireland since 1998 and so we have many friends there. All welcomed my new puppet team with the same love they showed Mike and I. After so many years, words fail me to describe what has grown in all of our hearts. Many of our Irish family tried to fly from Northern Ireland to Mike’s funeral, but the shortness of time kept them from coming. However, quite a few of them flew over in January because they loved Mike and wanted to comfort me.
All of these truths combined to give us an incredible time of ministry. Throughout Ireland, in Dublin, Tralee, Castlebar, Ballynae, Westport, and Galway we watched in amazement as hundreds and hundreds, finally thousands of people when added all together gathered in the streets and heard about Jesus Christ. They consistently stood in the rain, ignored cold and wind, and clapped, sometimes even cheering for the Gospel. As you prayed, you stood with us! Thank-you!
More, we were blessed to share with children in Belfast and in neighboring towns. In all of these places, both in the North and the South, we encountered so many hurting children, teenagers, and adults. Their only hope, our hope is Jesus.
Please pray for God to pour His Spirit on this land. Ask God to help people to understand that it is not religion that will fill the God shaped hole inside of them. Ask the Father to call Ireland to a relationship with his precious son Jesus Christ.
When I left for this trip, I asked all of you to pray for me because this was also the last trip that Mike and I made together. I will admit that I was often overwhelmed by the memories. During the time that I was in Ireland, we celebrated Mike’s 11 month’s being with Jesus. However, a friend helped me to put it all in perspective. She said, "Linda, be grateful. You were loved. Not many people can say that." Her words encouraged me and challenged me to be more grateful, to focus on the blessing above all else.
So here are two blessings of so many that I was given on this trip.
Blessing #1 & Last year, to celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary, Mike bought me a beautiful bracelet composed of Celtic war shields. He said that it would always remind us that we were in a battle for the hearts of children in Ireland. It was a beautiful and extravagant gift.
When I went back to the jewelry store where we bought it, the owner immediately recognized me. He remembered us and our conversation from last year. He asked me how my trip to Eastern Europe had turned out. It was while I was in Moldova last year that Mike went to be with Jesus and I shared that truth with Him. He was very moved and did a very kind thing. He offered to engrave my bracelet as a gift, a remembrance. I was very touched.
I beg you to pray for this dear man. We talked about Mike and the legacy he possessed by the life he led. I gave him a Bible. Please ask the Lord to bless him with a clear understanding of what it means to trust in Jesus alone. Ask the Father to call him to true faith. Pray for him to have a great desire to read the word of God.
Blessing #2 & If you know me, you know that I love rings and that I honestly do not need another ring. However, one afternoon in Dublin I had a real desire to buy another ring, a thought that truly embarrassed me. I went to see a street vendor that the girls had bought from, that I had spoken to about Jesus.
We talked a bit while I looked at rings. Then he asked me if I was married. I told him about Mike and the faith that carried us through our lives together, that sustains me now. I shared with him stories about the children that we serve and how faith in Jesus fills their eyes with a beautiful light.
Then he wrapped up the ring that I had chosen and said, "Will you please take this as a thank-you for the work you do?! God bless you, ma’am." Then he hugged me! I was overwhelmed by his kindness.
Please pray for this kind man to meet the One who is the source of all kindness. Ask Jesus to call him to faith!
Some of you will remember how our pastor and his wife, Travis and Kimberly Hutchinson, gave us the great pleasure and honor of being their son, George’s grandparents. Now we have the wonderful pleasure of welcoming George’s brother, Paul, as our third grandson.
Paul was born on Monday, September 4, weighing only 5 pounds, 4 ounces, but perfect in health. Kimberly had an extremely difficult pregnancy and had to have an emergency C-section 5 weeks early. Praise God that mother and baby are doing great.
Please ask the Father to call Paul to faith very young and make him a great man of God!
We have a show for Moslem children from five African and Middle Eastern nations on Friday night and two outreaches with Waterville Baptist and Highlands Presbyterian (our home church) on Saturday.
Sunday we fly to Ukraine to work in orphanages, schools, shelters, and churches. Start praying.
For Sam, Mykayla, Heather, Jon, Hannah, Jade, Katy, and all the members of Reality