Limerick Reformed Fellowship
Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland
Monday, December 18, 2017
Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,
Life on the mission field without a church building has its challenges. As you know, we rent a room in Conradh na Gaelige, an Irish language centre, in Limerick city. Until recently, we were on the first floor, with a main room for the worship service and an adjacent room for a “cry room” and storage (of the lectern, psalm books, Bibles, pamphlets, etc.). For various reasons, we recently moved downstairs to An Cistin, which translates as “The kitchen.” There are fewer stairs, which is helpful for Bill and Jimmy, who find the stairs a challenge. The bathrooms are on the same floor, which again reduces the need to climb stairs. The seats are also slightly more comfortable (cloth-covered instead of bare wood). And there is a kitchen, so we can make tea or coffee after the services on occasion.
As a small fellowship with several young children (ranging from 8 months to 6 years) we faced the problem of a lack of “cry room” facilities. To make matters worse, the kitchen has a wooden cabinet filled with delicate—and I presume expensive—china, something we don’t want little hands to handle! Therefore, some arranging of furniture is necessary every week to block off the cabinet and to free up some space for a nursery and cry room (during church) and a play area (after church). The next thing we need to do is to find a way to make it possible for parents with crying children to hear the service in the cry room. The door separating the two rooms is quite thick, which blocks out most of the sound. Our “tech experts” are working on a way to install speakers in the cry room. Thankfully, the saints are cooperating together on this, so that parents and children, young and old, can feel comfortable in public worship. “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).
Catechism with Sebastian (6) and Jason (5) is going well. Both boys learn their lessons well and are enthusiastic listeners and contributors. Last week, we reached the history of Isaac (Old Testament History for Beginners, Lesson 11). Catechism also continues (via Google hangout) with my nieces, Anna, Lily, and Hope; and with Chester and Dale Mansona (we are currently studying the Canons of Dordt, having finished the Belgic Confession). The other regular church activities are the Bible studies: the Tuesday evening study recently began Ezra (we have reached chapter 3—the postexilic history is fascinating, but less known than other Bible history); while the Bible study in the Mansona home has finished Romans chapter 1—the truth of God giving people and nations over to sin is both sobering and relevant in our day!
Yesterday morning, I finished a series on “The Coming of the Holy Spirit of Christ,” with the peculiar history of Acts 19:1-7: “The Spirit Coming on Certain Disciples of John.” I have almost finished my fourth series through the Heidelberg Catechism, having preached on the Sixth Petition yesterday evening.
I have also given speeches recently in Wales (23 November) and in Limerick (9 December). The latter speech was the seventeenth “Back to Basics” lecture, this time on “Peace with God.” These speeches are relatively short and simple introductions to the Christian faith. Rev. Stewart also gave a special lecture in Limerick (28 October), which we entitled, “Luther’s Great Discovery,” with 13 in attendance. I was also invited to speak on 24 November at the United Youth Rally of some local Welsh Evangelical churches. The meeting was hosted by the church of Brian Harris, who arranged for me to speak with his pastor’s permission. I spoke on “Who Is Jesus?” to a group of 55-60 people (mostly late teens and early twenties, with a few older people and one or two children). It was an enjoyable experience, and I stayed at the Harris’s house for one night and at a hotel (near the airport) for the second night. That weekend, Julian Kennedy from the CPRC came to visit.
On the weekend of 1 October, three young men from Michigan visited the LRF: Jason Corson, David Kalsbeek, and Eric Schipper. Our little fellowship enjoys visitors, so we would like to encourage as much of that as possible. With Dale Mansona we did a “walking tour” of Limerick. Do not forget the possibility of “Study Abroad” programmes at the University of Limerick, and the British Reformed Conference this summer!
Under the category of “evangelism” I mention my visit to Michigan and Colorado to participate in two Reformation conferences. First, I spoke on 28 October in Grand Rapids, MI; and second, I spoke on 4 November in Loveland, CO. Both conferences were very enjoyable. It was great to meet (Rev.) David and Ruth Torlach again (as Prof Cammenga mentioned at the Conference in Michigan, David graduated—with (Rev.) Dan Holstege and me—in the top three of his class!). In Colorado, I preached in Loveland on 5 November, taught a church history class on John Wycliffe in the Protestant Reformed school, and gave a short presentation on the LRF to the study hall group. What a blessing to see Christian education in action! Blake DeBoer, one of the teachers in Loveland, brought me to see Estes Park. It was a joy to meet the saints in Loveland, a congregation that I had not previously visited.
The exciting news, of course, is that Larisa DeJong and I are engaged to be married! But I am sure most of you already knew that, for Prof Cammenga announced it at the Reformation Conference, and, even without that publicity, news travels fast. Larisa and I are happily making plans for our wedding. We thank you for your prayerful support and for your many congratulations.
Pray for us, as we do for you,
In Christian love,
Rev. Martyn McGeown