Why Ireland? I answer that question a lot of times! I mean, really – coming from the sunny Okanagan to rainy Ireland? Sometimes I wonder why God couldn’t have brought me somewhere a little more tropical like the Caribbean or Africa. And what about Europe – isn’t it all Christian anyway?
My original reasons for coming weren’t so holy. I was in Calgary and needing to complete a four month practicum to receive my diploma in 2004. By then I’d already lived in Switzerland so the world seemed like a small place. Not being a fan of Calgary (sorry to all my Calgarian friends!) I asked God if there was somewhere else to complete my practicum. For some reason I thought of Dublin. I had been through Dublin briefly once when I lived in Switzerland (2001-2002). Oddly enough I was not one of those for whom Ireland had a romantic glow in my mind’s eye. A friend and I literally flew into Dublin then took the train out west for a few days. We did no sightseeing whatsoever in the city.
In 2004 I searched online and found Dublin Christian Mission. I was impressed that they worked with young people in a practical as well as spiritual way. Christian groups in Canada were either evangelistic or fully social gospel at that time (all the ones I found anyway). I thought that if I had to learn in any environment, the environment of Christian clubs, homework clubs, family outreach, and summer camps would be the one of choice regardless of where in the world it was. I applied to them and was accepted for a four month term. In 2004 I came from June through to October. One day while walking along the Liffey I had a flash back to a moment when I’d walked the same stretch on the way to the train station in 2002. I remembered, for the first time, the puzzling moment when I looked to the north side of the river and thought, ‘you are going to live here one day’. To me it was shocking – I was actually living there! That September I read through the proposal for Just ASK (After School Klub) and felt like I was reading through my own dream ministry that I’d put together a few years previous to that.
There was no sugar coating it. I loved the focus at DCM but knew that coming to work here would be hard work. Living in Dublin would be hard work. At the same time I knew there would be a place for me with what DCM needed and who I was. By the time I made it to the airport in Dublin to fly home God had met all my criteria about returning … I know I shouldn’t make a habit of it but God was nice and provided it anyway. Every single staff member at DCM had asked me to return.
Back in my home town in the Okanagan I was reminded that the same work could be done in that town. There was just as much need. During that first month back with no other plans I sought God to give me direction one way or the other. Eventually he gave me peace about returning. I applied for a full-time position with Dublin Christian Mission and applied to EMCC World Partners to be sent as a missionary. Both accepted me. In October 2005 I returned full time to Ireland.
Why Ireland? It isn’t just green fields and fluffy, jumping sheep. If you have the stomach for it, rent Veronica Guerin or look up our latest craze Love/Hate online. Read a book about an organization that does work similar to us: Just Walk With Me by Jude Simpson & e:merge. God broke my heart for this city and then led me to call it home.
First posted on my previous blog in November 2012. Since originally writing this post I have seen God continually expand my heart for this city. In 2013 I gave up my position with DCM to partner with the work of the community, local church, community services and Innovista Ireland. People continue to ask me, “why Ireland?”