Reaching out with Christian Literature in Balbriggan, North County Dublin

I remember seeing this small town for the first time back in the early 1980’s when it was little more than a village with a few extra housing estates under construction. I don’t know what the population was back then, but according to the census in 2006, it had reached 15,559. Today it is estimated that more than 20,000 people live there, many of whom are of African and East European origin. Last week, armed with Christian literature and a burden for souls, I apprehensively set out to reach one estate in particular. It was a cold, dark evening as I rang the first doorbell. No one was in! I found this to be the pattern at quite a few houses, although perhaps people were reluctant to come to the door after dark – especially when they had to climb down a couple of flights of stairs, as this particular estate had narrow three-storey town houses. On these occasions, I pushed a tract into the letterbox. After a time I came to a house which was completely decked out for Halloween – although Halloween at that point was nearly three weeks away! I felt suddenly an evil presence and also very despondent and alone in my endeavours. Here I was trailing around houses where the vast majority of people probably just didn’t want to know. Recent disclosures about the clerical abuse of children in Ireland have resulted in anger, cynicism, apathy – and a reverting to old Pagan ways. Many feel justifiably hurt and furious about the horrific abuse that took place over the decades, but sometimes they look at anyone whom they would view as ‘religious’ with this same cynicism. Despite this, the human soul has a need to worship and some are turning to systems of belief other than Roman Catholicism.

This is where other cults sometimes step in. A Bible study set up by a group in this town is mysteriously unforthcoming about who is running it; I have reason to suspect that these may be ‘Cooneyites.’ My conviction is that any system of belief which has its roots in ‘salvation by works’ as opposed to faith must be termed ‘a cult.’

I thank God for His gifts of freedom and faith – something that is missing from erroneous systems of belief. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36) I do not have to ask permission from anyone before I embark on telling others of the wonders of His love for mankind. He sent His Son to die that people in Balbriggan, in Dublin; in every country, city, town, village, hamlet and tiny homestead in the world might have life – and life that is more abundant. And so those of us who know Him as Saviour must keep our lights burning as we witness to others until the Lord calls or comes to take us Home.

Above is a photograph of Balbriggan lighthouse which reminds me of that hymn: “Let the Lower Lights be burning!” The story behind this hymn by Philip Bliss is that many lives were lost on a ship, all because the man who was supposed to light the lower lights along the shore, failed in his duties. In this allegory, the lighthouse is that Great Light of the gospel, through the Word – while Christians are ‘the lesser lights along the shore.’

Let us never fail to serve Him on the darkest, most depressing nights; in spite of the prevailing cold winds of apathy, cynicism and the threat of ‘spiritual wickedness in high places.’ May the Lord empower all who do so with a clean heart, a bright light, courage – and a love for the souls of this world for whom He died.    

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/l/llowerlb.htm

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