I have been thinking recently that I need to update our blog with some recent developments regarding the ministry that have been particularly encouraging and continue to do so on a regular basis so that it is not just a trip blog. Therefore …
What has us really encouraged recently is what has been happening in Galway. Rather than duplicating the beginning of the story, I’ll direct you to our latest newsletter, the Galway Report particularly, on the 2nd page. In that report, our key contact in Galway, provides a report of the response of the group participants to doing Bible study for the first time in their lives.
Since this study was a follow-up to an Alpha course, one of our Irish pastoral board members recommended that we contact the director of Alpha-Ireland to discuss their willingness to recommend CBSI as a good follow-up to Alpha. We have contacted the director who has replied with a willingness to meet and we are working on details of an appointment, hopefully on this trip.
Since those discussions began, we have also received two more emails from the Galway leaders with more good news. The first one did not actually seem good initially … after completing their 2nd CBSI study later this year (or early next year), they would be starting another Alpha group. We were disheartened at first, wondering what the problem was that they were returning to Alpha instead of continuing to use the CBSI. We thought that maybe that it was an interim move to recruit more people and they would be returning to CBSI.
Sure enough, we received a follow-up to that email clarifying that that they were starting the Alpha group to recruit new people and would be using participants from the CBSI study to lead it and then encourage the new participants to study the Bible with them using CBSI studies. This could turn out to be an excellent model as CBSI studies can be rather daunting for people who have not done any personal Bible study before.
The second email that encouraged us so much was another one from our key Galway contact with a scan of a 3-page hand-written testimony from one of the study participants. Here’s is that testimony:
When I started the Bible study on the book of the Philippians, I thought I just could sit back and listen & take notes. After the first night I discovered I had to do homework. I find reading the bible difficult, I open it then close it again. I’m not a reader so I went and bought cd’s on the bible which I found very good. But with this study we had to read scripture over & over again so that I could answer the questions. So I said I better do the homework or I’m wasting my time, I was also praying that I get a love for the bible and that I would learn to understand it. So the best time for me to open the bible was early in the morning.
In the beginning I found it difficult but as the time went by I was beginning to like it and use to enjoy reading about St Paul. I was amazed with the strength of St Paul and his joy while in prison. I couldn’t believe how could anyone be so joyful in them conditions, I became more interested. Reading the bible was better than listening to the cd’s because it had to be read a few times to understand it.
So when it came to the lesson about forgetting the past in Phil 3: 13, tears came to my eyes how St Paul could leave the past and move on. I found it hard to forgive something that happened to me in childhood. But reading how St Paul could leave the past behind and focus on the future, it was so encouraging. I got a lot of strength and hope from it. I often had hands laid on me for healing and I did get a lot of healing from healing ministries. But this was like if Jesus’ hand came out from the page and laid it on my head. I could feel a deep healing.
It’s hard to explain. The Lord I think was trying to show me how the scripture can speak to us and heal us also. I often heard people say how they were healed through scripture, but I experienced it myself and reading about St Paul has given me great hope and encouragement. If the Lord Jesus can give that joy to St Paul, He can give it to us too. I have a great desire and hunger for the scriptures now. I pray it will become a habit for me to read scripture every day. I thank the Lord for guiding me into Tabar Nua so that I can learn about his word and for the great work that’s been done, praise the Lord. As St Paul says, it is not enough reading and learning about the word, but I have to put it into practice.
I’m sure you can understand why this testimony has encouraged us so much. It is stories like this that make our efforts worthwhile.
Note: An Tabar Nua is a coffee shop & Christian training center that our key contact in Galway, Susan, manages. Mike, who led the Galway course and leads the CBSI study with Susan’s assistance, works with Susan at An Tabr Nua, pictured below.
Blessings to all,
Sam & Patti Allgood
CBSI Calebs to Ireland