Not many people would say 'Europe,' let alone 'Ireland' as places that have a strong need for missionaries. Missionaries are more commonly thought to be most needed in rural places like Africa or religiously persecuted countries like China. Yet, Jesus followers who visit or live in Ireland know that the light of the gospel is very much needed here.
Twenty years ago, Brandy* (USA) went to Ireland for a trip after graduating high school. In July 2018, she brought her daughter Alexia* to be part of OM Ireland’s annual two-week outreach called Impact Ireland. While this was their first experience in missions (separately and together), the experience was merely the beginning of something far greater.
“People tried to discourage us from coming, because—in their minds—missionaries go to poor, isolated places like Africa,” Brandy shared during the training week. “They’d say, ‘Ireland has lots of religion already. You don’t need to go there.’ That’s exactly why we need to go [here]. I don’t want people to have a ‘religion.’ I want them to have a relationship.”
After a few days of ministry training at OM Ireland’s headquarters, Brandy and her daughter joined a team that would be spending a week serving in Lehinch, County Clare, Ireland. Between practical working in the community, hosting a kids clubs in a housing estate and asylum seeker hotel and doing music ministry at a local music festival, they saw God working through their team. As most participants are, they were drawn out of their comfort zones and stretched to show God’s love to those around them.
When the two weeks came to an end and it was time to go home, Brandy and Alexia looked back with amazement at God’s faithfulness. Shortly before her departure, Alexia shared the following:
“Impact Ireland: 14 days… it's been the most life-changing, challenging and amazing experience. There are no words that do justice how happy being in Ireland makes me. No greater joy than having the freedom to serve the Lord in such a beautiful country. I love that Ireland is a people culture: you don't meet a stranger; everyone is inviting and will talk to you for hours… most are the friendliest – some people can be hard to love, but you do it any way as Jesus would.
“I've learned more about the person I want to be. I've learned to trust everyone, to genuinely love all no matter the background, let go of selfishness, and have prayed more than ever for the Lord to open, transform, and renew my mind and heart. Being a Christian, living for the Father and having a relationship with Jesus means so much more to me now. There is so much more depth and a new sense of boldness.
“I'm so thankful to have gotten this opportunity to see the things I've seen, to have done the things I've done, to have met the people I've met, to have formed the best relationships with so many, to be here serving the Lord with the most precious people who are so generous, forgiving, encouraging, fun, loving, and kind. I am truly overflowing with thankfulness. My heart is content.”
Seeing Impact Ireland participants strengthened in their faith and emboldened in evangelism is one highlight for OM Ireland staff. There is a hope, a prayer that they will take what they’ve learnt and experienced in Ireland into their home lives. Sometimes, it’s the principles that are carried forward. Sometimes, it’s the new desire to continue being part of missions.
For Brandy, God touched her heart to continue serving before she even left Ireland.
“Y'all, God just straight up showed me the answer to a question I've had for months and I am so excited! I have dreamt for months now of me in a bookstore type setting; but in my dreams, it's always been more of a 'gathering place.' In my dreams, it’s a place where people come to talk about Jesus, get encouragement and hope, talk and read,” said Brandy.
“Since these dreams started, I felt like I was meant to do something with books and that never made sense because I had no idea how I could go about serving Jesus with books….
“And then tonight I happened upon the OM USA page and then I read that the OM Ships Centre in South Carolina needs people to pack the Bibles and books they take aboard the ship! There's an actual mission trip in the states (a three hour plane ride from me!) that involves books!
“If it wasn't 11:30pm, and if everyone in this house wasn't asleep, I'd be up having a dance party cause…. serving God by helping the Ministry Centre get the books and Bibles ready for distribution to the unreached people…. that's HUGE and exciting and SO my thing!
“I love Jesus and I've got a taste of what it feels like to be involved in mission work. I'm ready for more!”
Impact Ireland is far more than a once-a-year outreach. It’s a powerful experience that often encourages participants, like Brandy and Alexia, to continue in the love and light of Christ.
* surname not included for security reasons