Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baptism makes waves in Ireland

God made history last September in Youghal, Ireland, a mostly Catholic city. Citizens in boats lined the river's beach to watch, loudspeakers broadcast to the city, two national newspapers reported the event - the first submersion baptism that ever occurred in Youghal.

No fewer than five people were involved in the chain of events that led to the baptism of this Irish believer. A teenager visited a youth group, and then invited her mom to attend the evangelical church. Then the mom invited her son, who brought his friend who was about to go to jail for repeated incidents of drunken violence. This son invited his father, Philip, to go with him.

Philip has heart problems, his wife has health problem, his other son has a learning disability. Life felt overwhelmingly hopeless, and Philip didn't know where to turn. He went to the CrossWorld church plant in Youghal (pronounced "y'all"). Philip listened intently to the sermon on 1st John. It was the first Bible teaching he had heard in his life.

"I have to go back and see what happens next," Philip thought.

He made friends with a Cross World worker who gave him a 30-day Daily Bread devotional. At the end of it, he read, "Is there any reson why you wouldn't believe in Jesus?" Philip felt God telling him to believe, so he prayed the prayer on the back of the pamphlet, surrendering his life to Jesus.

That surrender marked the start of a new life. The CrossWorld worker led Philip through the booklet Growing in Christ, and Philip raced through it, finishing all13 lessons in a few weeks. Philip also volunteered with the church to hand out Christian literature at a local festival. While there, he fearlessly shared his newfound truth with friends and neighbors. Five months after Philip's first visit, he was baptized: the first immersion baptism ever recorded in Youghal.

Although Philip's life situation is the same - he and his wife still have health problems and both of his sons still struggle - he sees life differently. He has a new sense of peace and hope, as well as resources and a supportive church to help him handle the hardships.

Those around him have noticed the change. Although at first his neighbors criticized Philip for leaving the Catholic church, they have now started asking him for prayer! They recognize that he has something they don't. Likewise, Philip's wife has asked him to do a Bible study with her because she wants the same hope she sees in him.

Praise God for planting new life in Philip, and pray that Philip's neighbors and family will find his same hope.

(based on Annika Bergen, Same Circumstances, New Life - An Irish man finds hope despite trials, CrossWorld Currents, July 2011)

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