Brian is safely home from Ireland! He got home around 5am Wednesday the 15th. We are very, very glad to have him home, though we’re also very, very glad he went and saw BCM Ireland in person. The picture up top is where he spent the majority of his time and where we are considering working. It’s a beautiful camp that is in a converted Manor. The Manor was originally just that – a manor – then converted into a large hotel, and is now BCM’s camp/retreat center.
We talked basically non-stop for the first three days he was home, so to sum everything up is going to take some effort! There was a lot of information gained in a very short amount of time. Let me see if I can give you some interesting bullet points:
- Ireland has a very small Christian population (“Christian” as in, Gospel believing, not Catholic). Gospel-preaching churches are very small (like 50 people is normal) and there can be entire cities with no church at all.
- In the area surrounding Castledaly, there are about three churches. No churches in Castledaly itself nor in the closest city, Moate. As far as we know, only three Gospel-preaching churches in the city of Athlone, which is quite large.
- BCM missionaries do not live near Castledaly Manor, therefore there are no Bible clubs or BCM influence there except when camps are running. But, the opportunities are there. Just no one to run them.
- BCM Ireland is working extensively with local churches (many in Dublin) to have volunteers to help with the work. BCM Int’l actually says, “We have 800 missionaries and average 10 volunteers per missionary.” In Ireland, this is definitely the case. Camps themselves are mostly run by volunteers. As well, BCM will help churches set up Bible clubs, then they train church members to take them over and BCM bows out to do other work. It’s really neat to see how many volunteers there are over there! The idea is not necessarily to raise up hundreds of missionaries, but to train the local church to do ministry themselves and equip them to carry it out.
- The camp itself is in need of some TLC. It’s in great condition for its age and the amount of use it gets, but most every room has its own full (on-suite) bathroom (there are over 20 rooms) and every room has furniture and some have fireplaces. Plus, there are the meeting rooms, the kitchen, dining room, and the grounds. Currently, no one is living at the Manor to take care of it, so the director is making frequent trips there to do work and mow the lawn.
- Sometime around May, another couple from the States will be arriving to take over the administrative/hospitality side of the Manor. But, they still need someone who could focus solely on maintenance.
So, where does this leave us?
We do not want to rush things, nor do we want to miss out if God is calling us there. Pray with us as we talk to leadership, pray as a family, and look at every angle of this opportunity.
We are so very glad that Brian was able to go in person and see all of this, meet Richard (the director), and spend time with the board. This has been a huge help in the decision-making.
In closing, I’ll leave you with just a few pictures:
Please email us if you’d like more info or if you have questions. If you’d like to read more about BCM Ireland, including the history of how they acquired the Manor (it’s fascinating!), please visit their website: www.bcmireland.ie