The SOMA mission to Northern Ireland saw all of the SOMA branches throughout the world being invited by Bishop David Mc Clay of the Diocese of Down and Dromore to come under the directorship of SOMA UK to take part in a mission throughout the Diocese. Thirty-three parishes were visited by more than sixty international SOMA missioners from more than fourteen different countries for up to two weeks. The SOMA International team met the Friday morning for worship, prayer and commissioning before setting out to the parishes.
I had the privilege of joining two mini mission teams to the parishes of Carryduff and Banbridge and leading two mini mission teams to the Cathedral parish of Dromore and (Lecale Area Mission Partnership) known as LAMP.
The two scripture readings that I used as my theme personally and in sharing were John 17: 20-26 and Ephesians 1: 15-23, it is God who provides us with his Wisdom, Hope and Power. All we need to do is open ourselves to the work of God in us.
I had the opportunity to share my faith story at each of the mini missions showing that we as humans are not perfect yet God uses us with all our imperfections and shortcomings to his glory if we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit.
The Sunday worship at the Cathedral of Dromore was amazing. They have four services, three in the morning and one in the evening. A wonderful example of how the Anglican Church can accommodate the varied spiritualties present in the church, from the traditional said service right through to the contemporary lively worship service and bringing the three together in a joint evening service of worship and testimony. A young woman on the team named Jen who had never preached before, preached for the first time at one of the services and wow the Holy Spirit used her obedience in a most powerful way reaching both the young and old. Jen and I then shared at the evening service that we all have the ability to be evangelists, if we allow God to work in and through us.
At LAMP we experienced a very different mission journey. We teamed up with Billy the local fulltime children and youth worker. Because it was during the week, we spent our time witnessing to the children and the senior citizens in LAMP as well as going from church to church in Lecale praying for the different congregations and listening to what God was saying to them. This was a powerful experience as we experienced from a spirit of sadness in one church to a spirit of warmth and joy in others. The Irish speak of ‘a thin place’ meaning where spiritually heaven and earth are extremely close to each other, we experienced this at St Patrick is Saul. This is the site where the cradle of Christianity for the Irish churches is situated. This is the site that St Patrick lived, built his first church and started evangelising the Irish in the fifth century. https://youtu.be/MLk9t6oi_-8
We spent five hours in prayer here and we as a team felt that God was wanting us to share the following with the ecumenical community in the area as well as the wider church;
- All clergy and lay leaders are exhausted and are in survival mode and God wants to restore them for the renewal He is planning.
- Clergy: Phil. 4:13 Do not be discouraged but keep sowing the seed in faith. Nevertheless, you must own the hunger for revival.
- There is a great need for reconciliation and forgiveness in some places that will lead to healing. Once people are healed the community will then thrive in these areas.
- The church needs to move ever closer to unity and truth in God. Once the truth is clear, the church will know wholeheartedly what it is fighting for, then be able to fuel, and direct that fight.
On the last day, those of us that were still in Ireland attended the Diocesan Synod at Dromore Cathedral, and oh, what a breath of fresh air, it was all positive proactive planning and reporting for the continuous growth of a Diocese that is moving forward in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Revd. Norman Allkins