In a word: familiar. A pub in Ireland is no rare thing, so to see the locals frequenting one during a large annual event didn’t surprise anyone. In fact, for a local church, using a former pub to offer free tea and coffee proved to be a strong connection to the community. The comfortable atmosphere warded off any suspicions about ‘church folk,’ and the common love of tea created an instant connection with anyone.
I’d heard many things about the annual Ballinasloe Horse Fair. Former colleagues who’d attended told me about the grounds, the horses, the visitors and the locals who came into the pub the church group was renting out. I hadn’t attended myself until this year, an opportunity only brought about because we needed photos of our MDT Immersion students in action. Every year, our students partnered with Ballinasloe Christian Fellowship to serve the locals and (hopefully) strike up gospel-centred conversations.
While the students served tea and coffee to any locals who wandered into the pub, I had a chance to sit with a local Christian with a genuine passion for his country.
“We need to keep praying for revival,” he said. “We never know what God will do, so we just need to keep praying for revival.”
Looking around that pub at the various people enjoying their tea, I started really thinking about what he’d said. Praying for revival…In a country that many have come to learn is spiritually dark, have we given up on praying for the people? Has the belief in revival died, or are we still trusting that God can move in a mighty way?
“We don’t really know where people are,” he continued. “I have to believe that there are people out there who are searching.”
His optimistic hope got me thinking. Do I hold on to the hope that there are people searching for answers? Do I give up on seeking out those who are seeking? Honestly, it was humbling to think about. Sitting in that old pub, looking around at people who probably had no idea what came after death, it was a firm reminder that things in this world fade away.
Pubs are a place of community, a safe(r) place to let go and forget the worries of the day. Even if the only thing being served was tea and coffee, sitting in that pub gave me a further glimpse into the culture while inspiring very real thoughts for the people around me. Glasses clink, friends laugh, drinks drown out worries and life after death gets lost in the midst. A one-off conversation in a pub about Christ dying on the cross for the sins of the world is easily forgotten in the bustle of life.
It can be devastating to think that so many have given up on, or turned away from, the hope of Christ. In an era when it’s easier to drink into numb oblivion than to face the truth of our lostness, we can start to think that there’s nothing else we can do. If folks don’t want to hear about a better future, what can we do? Tea in hand, my new friend had a point. There is always something we can be doing.
We can pray for hearts to be softened, for minds to be opened, for the veil of spiritual blindness to be lifted. We can pray that Christ followers would be bold for the kingdom, that they would be a witness to their neighbours. No matter where you are in the world. No matter the current spiritual state of a country. No matter if you know the people or not. No matter if the people sit in a pub or a pew. We can always be praying, and the Lord hears our prayers.
He hears our prayers and moves in hearts. He draws a people back to Himself, sweeping through a nation. There’s nothing He cannot do, no place He cannot see, no person He cannot reach. He merely asks for our love, honour, praise for His kingdom and prayers.
Prayers for revival.
Hannah (USA) has been serving as OM Ireland's journalist for two years. A trained writer, she loves sharing stories of people and their God-inspired life moments. She believes that everyone has a story worth telling, and it's a true joy to be the one to tell them.