Ministry in Ireland (I)

On Friday, September 7, I did e-mail catch-up work for ten hours while sitting in the Newark airport, waiting for a flight to Belfast, Northern Ireland. The overnight flight was uneventful, though a bit tense since the flight was to land at 9:00 a.m. and I was scheduled to speak a half hour drive from the airport at 10:15 a.m. Rev. Paul Thompson, my itinerary guide, felt badly that he read my ticket wrongly. He thought I was landing on Friday morning, so he scheduled me to speak three times on Saturday morning. Only a few days before the conference did I realize the error, but , after discussing what I would have to cancel to come earlier, as well as the sky-high price for changing an overseas ticket the last moment, we decided to commit the trip prayerfully to the Lord, and surrender to His providence.

When we landed in Belfast, I ran to the head of the line and was the second person from the plane to pass through customs. Everything went incredibly smoothly (my suitcase was the third item of hundreds off of the plane), and my driver drove as fast as possible. Kind providence brought me to the Mount Merrion Free Presbyterian Church at 10:00, so I had 15 minutes to freshen up before speaking.  Despite having only an hour or two of sleep on the plane that night, the Lord strengthened me to deliver three addresses in a row on the theme of living coram Deo—living in the presence of God.

Rev. Andrew and Joan Woolsey

I then spent some time with my dear friends, Rev. Andrew and Joan Woolsey, whom I have known for about a dozen years. Presently, we are about ready to send brother Woolsey’s outstanding dissertation on the development of covenant theology to the printer. After having supper with the Woolseys, we went to a buffet reception at the Lisburn Free Presbyterian (FP) Church, to which about 75 ministers and their wives and a several other FP people had been personally invited to meet me. I was asked to speak briefly about the seminary and various ministries of our churches, and then open up the meeting for a Question and Answer session. It was great to finally meet Rev. John Greer, whose ministry many of us have profited from. A few days ago he was elected to serve as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of No. Ireland—a conservative, largely Reformed denomination of about 65 churches that stresses salvation by the blood of Christ and separation from the world.

Dr. John Greer and Me