After several years without a ministry visit there, evangelist and author John Blanchard recently spoke at four separate meetings in the Republic of Ireland.
He began with a Saturday night evangelistic apologetics meeting in Springhill Court Hotel, Kilkenny. The suite was comfortably full and there was rapt attention to the message.
John told Evangelical Times that the Question and Answer session was the liveliest he had known for a long time. It was an added joy for him to meet two people converted to Christ by reading one of his evangelistic books.
The Sunday was spent at Kilkenny Presbyterian Church. Twenty years ago it was nearly dead on its feet, with just over ten members — now attendances approach 200. Pastor John Woodside and his colleague Billy Patterson are remarkably effective in reaching people with the good news of Jesus Christ, both by public ministry and in personal encounters.
The services at which John Blanchard spoke were very well attended, with numbers boosted by visitors from the surrounding district. There was excellent feedback from both the morning and evening events.
Still in Kilkenny, the following two days were taken up by The Irish Outreach Conference. Started some thirty years ago as a sharing session for a handful of Christian workers, it has become an important factor in the lives of many more.
The conference now draws well over 100 full-time workers involved in various forms of evangelism throughout the Republic. Pastors of mainly small churches are joined by church planters and missionaries sent from the UK, the United States and New Zealand.
The conference aims to encourage the delegates in their evangelistic work and equip them for the task — and by all accounts it succeeds brilliantly.
John told us how much he valued the depth of the fellowship and the benefit gained by all as they shared their aims, ideas and experiences. He spoke at three of the main conference sessions, one being devoted to the subject of ‘life after death’ and the way it motivates Christians to be serious and urgent about preaching Christ.
John Blanchard’s last stop was in Bandon, Co. Cork. Three nights of evangelistic apologetics (billed as ‘lectures’) in a small rural town sounded like a high-risk strategy! But Westside Baptist Church took the plunge — and was well rewarded for its efforts.
Many who do not normally attend the church came to the meetings and showed keen interest in the subjects.
Another highlight was an invitation by Radio 103FM (‘Cork’s favourite music mix’) to take part in an extended interview. The station was bombarded with telephone calls from listeners — and as a result the station invited John for another interview the next day.
Listeners were offered a free copy of John’s evangelistic booklet Why Believe the Bible? and there was an encouraging response. It was a good note on which to end a fruitful visit.
Plans are being made to have John return to the Republic for an extended visit at a later date.