A Missionary’s Impact in the Faith Journey
“You have been a huge part of my spiritual journey,” Linda commented. “In fact, you were the first person who explained what grace meant for me personally.”
Linda had just taken the position of manager at the Riasc Center, a ministry of Swords Baptist Church in north County Dublin, Ireland. As one of the leaders at SBC, I had just reconnected with Linda after we hadn’t seen each other in over twenty years.
When Linda applied for the manager role, I was thrilled at the prospect of someone from our past taking the position. We first met Linda in the late 1980’s when she began dating Gerald, the son of our friend Daphne, another Jesus-follower who lived down the street from us.
Linda had a pretty typical Irish background for the north side of Dublin. Her perspective was like many in that Jesus was always seen as a dead man on a crucifix in a church building, not a living Savior who could transform her life.
As Linda heard more about having a relationship with Jesus, she not only came to a personal faith, but Gerald did also. They married and began a new life in Christ together as a couple. They got to know other GEM workers who were close to their age and helped them in their early walk with Jesus.
Not only did Linda and Gerald grow in their faith but they continued to respond to God’s grace in their lives and became actively involved in their local church. They moved to another area of Dublin and began raising a family. Linda worked in retail and advanced to managerial positions. She also took leadership roles in her church and studied at the Irish Bible Institute.
While Linda and Gerald were growing in their faith, God was also growing the local church in Swords. Swords Baptist Church is a GEM church plant dating back to the 1980’s. From its inception, the Irish congregation had been praying for a building to use for outreach near the hub of this town of 45,000. By 2012 they were able to construct a modern, purpose-built facility to be used for church gatherings and also to rent out rooms to local groups as an outreach to the community.
Fast forward to early 2021 when the church needed a new center manager. This strategic role needed to be filled by someone with the skills for the job as well as a heart and passion for Kingdom growth in north County Dublin, where Jesus followers and local churches are in short supply.
Linda was only one of two interested applicants, but it was clear to her and the church leadership that she had been hand-picked by our sovereign God for this strategic role! When Linda accepted the job, we rekindled our friendship which began so many years ago.
Missionaries invest their lives in others and don’t always know where God will take the relationship or what He will accomplish in the future.
My wife, Joyce, and I have been GEM workers for 38 years, and we understand that we don’t always get to see how the story plays out. Occasionally, however, God surprises us by revealing that if we continue to respond to movements of His grace in our lives, we will see Him do great things through the individuals and families He brings across our paths each day.
Linda is now well settled into her new role and the Swords church is reaping the rewards of not only her but other people like her who are responding to the call and movement of God. It’s a delightful reminder that we remain deeply connected to Him and His ultimate plan for each one of us.
About the author: Jesse and his family have lived and served in Ireland since 1983.