Posts Tagged ‘westmeath’

“Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree”… a Weekend Journey to County Mayo

May 3, 2013

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Just recently my husband and I made a journey, in just one weekend, through our own County Meath and then on to counties Westmeath, Longford, Roscommon, Mayo and on the last day – a little trip to the golden (but very cold and windswept) beach in Enniscrone, County Sligo. All in all we covered six counties, stopping here and there to take photographs of some of the fascinating sights enroute.

Just into Mayo I noticed something which brought back memories of a visit to Westmeath once. There, by the side of the road and a river was an old tree which was covered in colourful rags of one sort or another. My thoughts returned to a much warmer afternoon when I had stood by a tree which was massed with similarly hanging rags. The sparkling river, too, was full of mostly copper coins, while the bark of the tree itself had dozens of small coins forced into it.

‘Pagan traditions,’ I remember thinking ‘are surely very much alive in Ireland today.’ In other parts of the world, too, this practice of hanging rags on trees is still very prevalent. In certain parts of Scotland one can still see ‘clootie trees,’ while coins battered into the barks of trees supposedly bring ‘good luck’ and are known universally as ‘money trees.’ All over this world of superstition and unbelief, across Europe, as far as Cyprus and even into Persia it has been documented that these widespread customs are still in existence.

It is interesting to note that Roman Catholicism adapts itself to the original (usually Pagan) beliefs of the inhabitants of any country where it becomes the predominant religion of the people; hence the Pagan goddess ‘St. Brigid’ became a Roman Catholic saint. Islam, too, has adapted itself to the original beliefs of the natives of many nations of the world.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14v12) Sometimes when we look at barren land, devoid of trees or growth, it reminds us of how barren and cold certain areas are in the spiritual sense. Churches where the gospel may once have been preached now lie crumbling; roofless and open to the drifting clouds of the heavens.

Yet the Lord says: “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Isaiah 66v1)

Oh to have humility, to love the souls of our fellowmen, to tremble at His Word… and to obey the great commission… “Go ye into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature…” (Mark 16v15)

“Every creature” in every tiny hamlet and every larger village, town and city on the island of Ireland and beyond… wherever the Lord calls you and I to live, or work or the places that we have occasion to pass through… hospitals, surgeries, shops and restaurants; how necessary to say a word in season to those whom we are commanded to reach in His Name.

In a small village near Knock in County Mayo, we had lunch in a little riverside restaurant. After leaving the restaurant, I suddenly felt a strong impulse to go inside again and give an elderly lady and her daughter some Christian literature. And we have this certain promise from the Lord when we distribute the Word to hungry souls…

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55v11-13)

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Church in Chains Conference – September 11th, 2010

September 9, 2010

Lord willing I hope to attend the annual Church in Chains Conference on Saturday September, 11th next in the Athlone Springs Hotel, County Westmeath in the Republic of Ireland. The special guest speaker this year will be Pastor Manuel Arias from Chiapas in Mexico who will tell of the long struggle for justice for a group of prisoners known as “The Innocent of Acteal.”

Church in Chains, an independent charity which is based in Ireland, encourages prayer and active support for persecuted Christians throughout the world. Evangelical Christians in particular appear to be targets for terrible forms of persecution, which persists in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, and Iraq to name but a few.

As recently as July last, two Pastors (who were brothers) were shot dead outside a court in Faisalabad, Pakistan. These two young men (30 and 32) were being led in handcuffs back to the jail when the murder occurred. Their crime…? Attempting to spread the gospel, for which they were facing blasphemy charges.

How thankful I am to live in a country where I am free to worship the Saviour, to seek Him in prayer, to read His Word and to tell others of His love. But I am ever aware that the devil is active and that some day even in my own country there may arise those in high places who oppose the liberty that Christians currently enjoy.

Jesus said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10v28)

We live in dangerous days, when the evil one is igniting the fires of hatred amongst those who are actively opposing the gospel and who hate the very name of Jesus. To Christians who read: please pray for brothers and sisters all across the world who are facing isolation; who are ostracised by their families; who are imprisoned for their faith and who may be facing torture and death. You may not know them all by name but the Holy Spirit will assist your prayer… “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8v26)

I have discovered, nevertheless, that not everyone who attends this particular conference is a Christian, even though they may find it of interest and are not antagonistic. For this reason it is good to be led of the Spirit in conversations with those we meet and to look for opportunities to witness.

My books: “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year, Singing on the Journey Home and the children’s book: “God Made You, God Loves You, God Saves You” will be available there, along with handcrafted scripture bookmarks – which are free with the books. With regard to the latter, my prayer as always, is that the Lord would use the words He has given me to touch hearts, whatever their spiritual needs might be.