Ballinamallard 17-19 November 2017
The leaders of Ballinamallard Methodist Church invited a Lay Witness team to conduct a weekend mission in November 2017.
Stephen and Karen Orr (Glengormley) led the team.
Stephen and Karen Orr (Glengormley) led the team.
By team member Jane Searle
When I was asked to be part of the Lay Witness Team for this weekend, I had absolutely no idea what was involved or how I could be in any way of service or value. I thought about the American TV show of the 1980's “The A Team” and had images that such a mission team was perhaps some sort of trouble-shooting group of experts swooping in to spiritually support and rescue a struggling church!
How wrong could a notion be! That is exactly the opposite of what serving on a team is all about. 12 ordinary people from different Methodist churches – all ages, faith backgrounds and life experiences – we were no ‘A team’, no ‘fix-it band’ – we were just a motley bunch of people that God gathered together to share with Ballinamallard.
And that's exactly what happened – sharing! Fermanagh folk know how to welcome and host a team. We ate and ate (Rennies were needed!), homes were opened for us to stay in and for the coffee mornings, and the Church and the Church Hall were the centre for meetings when we would share together.
The people of Ballinamallard Methodist prepared well for this weekend, not only practically but more importantly prayerfully and, because of that, there was a real sense of God's Holy Spirit at work. Drawing close to The Father, burdens were unloaded and many were refreshed by the beautiful rhythms of God's grace. The meetings were packed out with the main problem being trying to fit everyone in!
Many people responded to God throughout the weekend and Sunday morning saw the team praying with many who desired to grow deeper in their walk with God or who wanted to bring various personal situations before our Almighty God.
I know that each of the team members went away blessed and revitalised by our weekend together. Many of us stepped out of our comfort zones to share our testimonies of what God has done with, and for us. But you know what? - When Jesus chose His disciples, they had to move way out of their comfort zones too! He didn't go for the high fliers or experts; he called ordinary people to follow Him. Isn't it good that He doesn't expect us to be the ‘A team’ but the ‘O (Ordinary) team’, for it is Jesus who is the extraordinary one, and Jesus who makes the difference in lives.
Jennifer Grey, a member of the congregation, writes
We had been looking forward to November 17th for some time- the day the Lay Witness team would arrive.
Our Mission Team met to pray, prepare and organise many times. As the event approached, a prayer room was set up and intense prayer became the priority. The church body was called to seek God, both together and individually, with the assurance in our hearts that He had great plans and purposes for the weekend. We were certainly expecting, but I believe He surprised us, “doing more than we would ask or think.”
How blessed we were by the team who arrived into our church hall that evening. Unfortunately, 12 had become 11, as one member was unable to come due to unforeseen circumstances, but, from the outset, we experienced a warmth and an excitement coming from God’s chosen witnesses.
They came with their personal stories, honest and sincere, holding nothing back. Before long they were our friends, sharing the painful with the good, but above all, testifying to the amazing love, power and grace of God. There was no pretence, their lives were similar to our own and we were able to relate easily. God doesn’t spare us trials and pain, but we heard first hand from those lovely Spirit-filled messengers, that our God, who loves us beyond reason, works in the storms and brings peace and joy through His close presence.
As the team led worship, at both evening meals and on Sunday morning, we were lifted up so beautifully in praise to the throne of God. Our church hall, both on Friday and Saturday night was filled to capacity. Between 120 and 150 arrived each night, tables were even set up in a large store, which got upgraded to the status of a conservatory!
Everyone there clearly wanted to come and we experienced a great time of fellowship. God’s Spirit was truly at work from the time invitations were given out, and indeed perhaps well before.
Thanks so much to a local catering team, who provided excellent meals, served them and cleared away. Just perfect!
Our young people enjoyed “time out” at the kid’s club on Saturday afternoon, and the Youth Fellowship event on Saturday evening after the meal and worship. We were delighted with the response from our teenagers.
The Men’s breakfast was well supported, as were the six coffee mornings held in different areas in the circuit. These proved important opportunities for meaningful chats, tears and prayer.
I am sure we would all agree that Sunday morning proved to be the highlight of the weekend. A packed church witnessed, once again, powerful testimonies and God worked in hearts and minds. Many people came forward for prayer ministry, and God clearly touched lives. We saw a release of the Holy Spirit amongst us in prayer and worship.
On Sunday evening, we had an opportunity to come together and thank God for the weekend. The team had left, but clearly our experiences were of the Holy Spirit. Many people openly shared these and were already testifying perhaps for the first time. God of course works in the secret places, and many stories have not as yet been told, but lives are changed nonetheless.
This is a wonderful beginning and has shown us what “church” should be like. As long as we remain dedicated to prayer, to seeking God’s will in all things and to faithful service, we can expect to see much more accomplished in the power of the Holy Spirit.
May God continue to bless our team members, and all others involved in Lay Witness and I would hope all churches would plan such an event as soon as possible. Not to be missed.