“Please, please, please, come back to Ireland.”
As we sat across the dinner table from our friends and ministry partners who were in the States on furlough, we listened to them talk about their plans to plant a new church in a town in County Roscommon. We shared good food, laughs, memories, and we talked about the hard realities of the spiritual hurts and needs in Ireland.
Somewhere in the midst of the weekend-long conversation that had danced around the idea of Brian, Jacob and myself heading back to Ireland to help with the new church plant, our hearts gave in—to the need and to the desire: the need to serve and the needs waiting to be met; the desire to help and the desire to be in a place that felt like a different kind of home to us.
We never wanted to leave in the first place.
We’ve been back in the States for a little more than two years, and rarely does a day pass when we don’t wonder how our friends and church family are doing. Here, life is good (And warm! Sometimes too warm!), and we get to see family often. That has been such a blessing. We can see how God directed us to people back in the States—people we have loved and who have loved us well—and places where we found unexpected opportunities to get involved.
And, so, after that dinner, when the three of us were back in the car alone, I asked, “What do y’all think? How do you feel about it—about going to Ireland. Let’s hear it.”
Jacob surprised us, “Let’s do it. Let’s go now.”
I had to chuckle a little. This was our kid we had talked to God about when we came back in 2015: “God, if you ever want us to go back, You’ll have to do a miracle in this kid’s heart.”
At age 9 (just a few weeks shy of 10), Jacob didn’t really get what was going on when went to Ireland the first time. He thought we were staying for three months because that’s how long we had to arrange for our visas. So when we stayed much longer, he was ready to come back—and not anxious to leave the U.S. again. But two-and-a-half years is a long time for God to work on anyone’s heart, and this past summer, especially, has been a time of maturing and spiritual growth for our not-so-little boy who told Brian, “If God wants us to be in Ireland, that’s where we need to be.”
Brian and I had been talking around the idea of returning to Ireland for weeks (months) prior to meeting up with our friends. We knew they would ask. What would we say? We’d wondered what if? Could we? Should we…? We just bought a house! Seriously?!
But the call to our hearts is undeniable. And personally, I can’t help but think of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23). I don’t want my life to be held captive by the cares of this world—the things and stuff and worries that try to take our focus off God’s purpose for our lives: To know Him and make Him known. It would definitely be easier to say, “no, we’re just getting settled into life here.” But… the need and desire are too great for us to ignore.
So… we’re going back. We’re making plans to move in late-summer 2018 so we can get Jacob enrolled in school. And time is rushing forward. Nine months feels like a long time away, and yet it feels like it’s just around the corner. We have a lot of practical preparations to do and a lot of praying to do, but we are thrilled to be on this journey.
If you want to know more, if you want to stay informed about our plans, if you are willing to pray, or if you or your church wants to hear about the work we’re going to do in Ireland, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to receive our prayer letter (see the right margin of this page).