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Newsletter April 2012


Persistence in faith

Easter is about the Resurrection and we have good news to report.  We will have a new work.  We have been with Crumlin Road Presbyterian for four years.  A month ago after much prayer, we started putting feelers out to see if anyone else can use us.  It has been a very active month with all the 1912 centenary of the Titanic and Ulster Covenant with discussion about looking at the past to inform the future you want to create.  We have seen many people this month.

A while back Rev Jack Lamb popped in to inform us about the many Centenary events encouraged by the South Belfast Presbytery.  We have known Jack Lamb for four years as he is active with the Shankill Ministry Fellowship and he recently invited us to go with the Youth Hostel Association to Rathlin Island

and then again to Armagh.  He was very excited about these events as he is active in cross community work.  His church is literally at one of the gates in the Shankill/Falls Peace Wall.

We committed to stand at that Peace Wall with Rob Ballard an American who organized the Bible Reading last year.  While we were there two of the leaders of the Townsend St church came around and Rob introduced us to Paul and Colin.  After a brief talk Paul said, give me a ride into town and proceeded to ask us about our ministry.  He told us to tell his minister Jack Lamb that he changed his mind.  A week later he brought our names before the Session and Committee and they voted to ask us to join them. 

We met their Committee chair and she wants more prayer in the church.  Marda told her about the ATLPC prayer sheets and said she'd be glad to help in this area.  Later that night at one of the centenary events, a man I didn't know came up to me and said, I hear you are coming to Townsend frightening us that we had not told our own minister so we made an appointment to see him right away.  The month has been full of the same serendipity that first informed our journey to Ireland with many providential happenings.  We have met more Catholic believers this month than the whole four years put together.  God's leading has been very clear.

Mid March we joined an ecumenical group which does a prayer walk in the Titanic Quarter.  We meet Father Paul who knows the priest we had over for a chat the night before.  We drool to see the Titanic Visitors Centre and with the potential expenses looming over us we thought we should wait.  Surprise visitors from First Presbyterian Berkeley want to take us to the Visitor Centre on Easter Sunday.  Whoppee.

Marda is now taking two ceramics classes a week and has thrown her first ever pot on the wheel.  A group of artists from last year's Creativity Thirst program will have a group show in May at the SpaceCraft Gallery.  We joined a Faith and Art group which hopes to have a group show in May and be part of Belfast Culture Night in September.  We are finding more like minded friends.  The facilitator of the Faith and Art group greeted us with "I understand you are coming to Townsend Street".  She works there with the children.

This is Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter.  On Tuesday we attended the Ulster Orchestra performing Baroque including Vivaldi's Four Seasons in the renovated Clonard Monastery.  Tonight we will go to a Church of Ireland Maundy Thursday service.  Tomorrow we will gather at the Clonard Monastery for the Good Friday Walk from the Falls through the Shankill and back into the Falls.  In the evening we plan to go to the Service of Nails at the Shankill Methodist church.  Such a rich offering of Easter week celebrations!

Transitions are difficult.  Jack decided to make it quick so we are now without a job.  The mechanism for transferring us to Townsend Street awaits the return of the PCI Deputy from vacation.  The Deputy has determined that we need to resign, go home and apply for new visas, against all logic.  This is the same Deputy who delayed our visa renewal in 2010 causing us to lose our application fee, return to the UK as tourist to complete our house move, to be told we couldn't work on Tourist Visas, and then delayed us at least six weeks when we did return home for new visas in February 2011.  We have another year on our visas and the UK Border Agency rules allow change of employment without leaving the UK.  Our hope is a Sponsor outside the PCI.  Our response is to wait patiently on the Lord to work it out.  We don't have the money to fly home.  Both churches are poor urban churches and can't help financially.  We have a couple of months worth of opportunities and obligations here. 

Persistence in faith.

Email: wardstothers@cten.org
Phone: (028) 90 291986  From U.S. 01144.2890.291986

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