In the conference room, I stare at four bright young faces; the interns have their laptops at the ready.
I open the meeting,
“Okay, so...how do we teach kids about God’s forgiveness?”
The wheels begin to turn. First one speaks up, and then another. Soon a chorus of ideas fills the room.
“What about that verse in Psalm 51? You know, about how God makes us white as snow.”
“Yes! It’s Christmastime. Snow is a great theme for the season!”
“Let’s have a snowball fight in church!”
I sit back and listen to the young team bounce ideas off of one another. They know that the crazier the idea, the more that I will love it. It is officially decided. We are having a snowball fight in church.
I live in Northern Ireland as a missionary.
People ask me all the time what exactly is my “role” here as missionary. After all, Northern Ireland is a first-world country and there are no poisonous snakes for me to combat. I don’t live in a hut nor have I had to learn a new language (although, I would argue the latter). Here on this beautiful green island, I am surrounded by all the modern frills that one would have in the States. While some of my fellow missionaries have had to learn to live without running water, my greatest adjustment was learning to live without Trader Joe’s. If you are a Trader Joe’s fan, I am sure you sympathize.
So, why Northern Ireland, where there are pots of gold at the end of each rainbow? Why leave my family and all my closest friends to join my husband and my two adventurous children on a crazy expedition to love this little country where the rolling hills host a choir of bleating sheep that sing Danny Boy on command?
Most people aren’t aware of Northern Ireland’s troubled history. Some people don’t even realize that it is still a nation quite divided between the Catholic and Protestant communities. No less than 20 years ago, it was a country where every time you went into a store, your bag was searched for bombs. Some people may have heard of the IRA or even some of the Protestant paramilitary groups that used illegal and sometimes violent avenues to govern their neighborhoods, but most people are quicker to think of a leprechaun when they think about Ireland...not so much “Bloody Sunday.”
Nonetheless, Northern Ireland is on the path to becoming stronger united. There are some that believe a peaceful existence between the two communities is possible. It’s a hard road of compromises, but many are committed to seeing it though. Still others would rather it remain as it was. They remember what has gone on, and it’s hard to shake that kind of pain...and choose to trust each other.
Though its culture is complicated, I love Northern Ireland.
Beyond fights over flags and parade routes, I see the potential for this little place to become a mighty lighthouse of hope for transformation. This is why I work with children. The most effective people group to influence a cultural shift is children. If we can teach children that because of Jesus’ love for them, they can love each other...well, who knows what Northern Ireland will look like in 20 years time?
My role as a missionary in Northern Ireland is to partner with the local church to reach the children in its’ city. We live in Derry/Londonderry and we work with Cornerstone City Church. Our primary role is to make the Gospel come to life for children. We go into local elementary schools and do funny skits that teach biblical truths. We run after-school programs in local communities. We try hardest to make our church’s kids ministry as fun and alive as possible because for many of these kids, Sunday School is the first place they learn about Jesus.
So, why not have children learn at a young age that Jesus is fun and very much alive? <<Click to Tweet
Sometimes being a missionary doesn’t require you to live amongst anacondas or gigantic bugs. <<Click to Tweet
Sometimes, being a missionary will land YOU inside a conference room with a group of young people dreaming up clever ways to teach God’s forgiveness to children. In fact, being a missionary doesn’t require you to have to leave your homeland at all. If you have a heart to see a place transformed by God’s love, then you are missionary. You can support the missionaries that are living in that country/city by sending financial support, encouragement, and praying for them every day.
- What city or country has God given you a heart for?
- What ways you can help be a part of its transformation story?
- Do you know missionaries there that you can partner with?
- Is it your time to go and take on the adventure of loving that place?
I am a missionary to Northern Ireland because I want to be a part of its transformation story. You can be apart of its transformation story too. To learn how you can partner with us, visit www.worldmissionsadvance.com and look us up: Troy and Noelle Rhodes. If you want to know more or just want to chat, you can contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noelle is married to her best friend, Troy, and 'mama' to two of the most hilarious human beings to exist: Silas and Olive Pearl. She and her family reside in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as missionaries. When she is not wrangling her children or beating her husband in a game of Scrabble, you would probably find her doing laundry. Noelle blogs at Coffee with Noelle.