Our Holiday Bible Clubs are going remarkably well. Eighty-five children attend the evening session! The program is very much the same as last week’s except that the theme this week is the Great Escape. Bible stories have been told about the Israelites great escape from the Egyptian army as well as Daniel’s great escape from the lion’s den. Through God’s Word, the kids are learning that we can do all things through Christ and that He is our Protector and Defender. Before arriving in Belfast, we were expecting to be doing door-to-door evangelism. God, however, has brought those “doors” to us and is allowing us to be part of “in-the-door” evangelism. We use our time wisely and to the fullest while the kids are with us because what they learn at church they will take home with them and share with their families and other neighborhood children. The possibilities for whole-life changes are many! By going door-to-door, we never could have reached the amount of people we are reaching now. “We can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21)
On Tuesday, we visited the Carrickfergus Castle. It is probably the best preserved medieval castle in Ireland/Northern Ireland. As we approached, we were overawed by this magnificent and overpowering stone fortification, set dramatically on a rocky headland. This castle was garrisoned for the longest period of time as it was only handed over to civilian control in 1928! As we explored inside, we journeyed through over 800 years of its history. You will enjoy looking at the pictures your sons and daughters took of themselves with the historic figures we discovered placed about the grounds as we toured.
Wednesday found us taking another tour, but this time it was of the Belfast City Hall. Word has spread of our being here and we were invited to come as guests to see the magnificent landmark during “non-tourist” hours. A special guide was assigned to us and he welcomed us in through the impressive stone porte-cochere and marbled lined vestibule into the main Entrance Hall. I won’t mention everything we saw, but I do have to tell you about the Grand Staircase. Grand is an understatement for the beautiful staircase made from three different types of marble. The walls surrounding it contain large stained glass windows that record important municipal events like the granting of the city’s original Charter by King James 1 in 1613. As a whole, the ornate and detail-oriented building is a lasting landmark to Belfast’s success and civic pride.
Yoonho – I met this boy named Alex. I was sitting by his side and I started talking to him, but he couldn’t understand a word I was saying. You see, he is from Poland. Over a few days of Holiday Bible Club, I have realized that though communication was hard, God can reach out to anybody through our actions and the joy we express on our face.
Eliza – Last night I had a ton of fun being a leader of the 5 year old group. For the most part, they listened really well to the Bible story. It touched my heart how the girls wanted to “sit on my knee”. They didn’t even know me and they wanted me to hold them. I felt very special.
Benet – Last night, I had the privilege of being a leader for the 6 year olds. During the memory verse teaching, one of my little boys, Jay, really stood out as an example to me and his peers. As some of his compatriots were rolling around on the floor, he was listening intently and was able to repeat the verse flawlessly at the end. It served as a reminder that we should be listening to God’s Word and retaining it in our hearts no matter what the distractions are around us.
Taylor – Last night, I was a leader for the 4 and under group. Though many of the kids didn’t want to leave their older siblings, I was able to gain their trust and have them stay with me without their siblings. Throughout the whole Bible Club, each child was listening and wanting to be loved by me and the other leaders. Isn’t it amazing how we can gain people’s trust just by showing them love!?
Kaitlyn – I really like how the kids just trust us without even knowing us. It is a living example of how I am supposed to be with God. He wants me to love and trust him just as a child would, with a simple faith.
Tiffany – On Tuesday night, I was overwhelmed as I saw the continual flow of children streaming through the front door. I had a hard time adjusting to the loud, somewhat chaotic environment that resulted from the vast amount of children attending the Bible Club. As the evening progressed, I was really stretched having to step out of my comfort zone by reaching out to the many kids. I have learned to love more openly. God has also placed certain kids in my path to love specifically. I am reminded again that I am part of a team and that I don’t have to go it alone. We all have a part and I need to make sure that I am playing mine.
Nate – Kids…they can be wild
Or they can be mild.
I had the fun job
I led the 7 year olds
I wish there was a Bob
Ha ha! It is fun to mold
And lead them
It is an honor
To be their leader.
Meredith – Last night, I led the 9 year olds. I loved it when they asked about America and said, “What age are you?” instead of, “How old are you?” I was so proud of them when they stood up to say the memory verse because they knew it. Having God’s Word hidden away in their hearts means that it will go with them wherever they go.
Talia – I led the 10 year olds last night. It was cool to see that although they have a different culture and different accents, they are still so much like us. They like to play and run around and have fun too! Even though we have our differences,God loves us all the same! I love working with them and showing them that love.
Izzy – At the Holiday Bible Club, I met a kid named Joseph. I have really gotten to know him and have had lots of fun with him while doing crafts. I asked him if he would come again tomorrow and he gave me a BIG yes! Can’t wait to see him again! Maybe I will get to have a specific conversation with him about God today.
Sarah-Last night, I was one of the leaders of the 4 and under group. There was a girl named Cami in my group. After only knowing her for a few minutes, she ran over to me during the Bible story and gave me a big hug. It was really cool to see her open up to me that quickly without even knowing me.
Claire – Last night, I was working with the 7 year old group. I got to interact and connect with kids more than I ever have at home. Also, when we have been out in town, I have really seen a need for God while watching the people on the streets. Doing presentations and sharing God’s love wherever we go, we are helping shine God’s light into the darkness.
Evan – Yesterday was great. Between the clubs, I got to play soccer with a bunch of kids for over an hour. The coolest part was when the evening club ended and I was assigned the job of making sure that the kids got across the street safely. I went out and it was pouring down rain. I expected to get completely soaked! But oh well, that was the job I was given. As I walked out, the pouring rain softened to a light drizzle and I didn’t get soaked.
Karen – God has really shown me His presence this summer at the evening Holiday Bible Club through a nine year old girl named Jordan. Even though I don’t know her very well, she always wants to spend time with me. We always share a laugh and a smile. I spend a lot of time cooking in the kitchen and have come to realize that many opportunities to serve this team come by my ministry of being a part of keeping them fed and their tummies satisfied. Most of my life has been all about me and I feel so fulfilled giving myself to the team and to the people of Ireland/N. Ireland. This summer has been a time of stretching and growth and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Mike – I was encouraged yesterday as one of the kids came up and asked me what the verse meant. I was able to explain it to him. It touched my heart that he was eager to understand and that God gave me to opportunity to explain it.
Michelle – I was amazed by how quickly children will warm up to you just by smiling at them and participating along with them. I was in between two girls, Lucy and Magan. When we were asked to sit down, they both automatically sat down in my lap, one on each knee. I felt so loved! I also felt super young when they guessed my age at being 17! Of course, that moment quickly ended when I told them I was 32 and they couldn’t understand or fathom that number! I knew in that moment that being 17 was SUPER old to them.