It is a scary thought when the reality that you have lived in for the last few years is soon drawing to a close and when the thoughts of the future approach on the horizon of life, like a car coming round the corner, you can hear it, but can’t quite see it. This Tuesday ( 14 April 2015 ) I will start the long journey from Belfast to Musoma in Tanzania on the shore of Lake Victoria in the Mara District of Tanzania. Becoming a minister of some sort, or doing some Church work was always something I had felt was inevitable, I love the Church, and by that I mean the people not the buildings, it has always been something I am passionate about and that Got me excited, and God gives us the desires of our hearts and for me one of those passions has been church work. So September and what is coming then is something that has been coming for a long time and I can’t wait.
Why Tanzania ?
People keep asking me this, Why Go ? Why not work until September them go down to Dublin, why not even go somewhere for a few weeks and feel go about yourself. but three months ? it’s a good question, and I would say that the seed was planted somewhere in the depth of my heart, around the start of the year. I suppose the impending reality of more than likely starting trinity in September, and knowing that this was more than likely going to be a defining year stirred something inside of me. Something that me made say I want to do something different this year, I just don’t want to work. Not that there is anything wrong with working, I love where I Have worked past and present and the people I have worked with, But I wanted to do something different that was outside of my comfort zone.
If you had known me as a child, when I could barely go away for a BB weekend without missing home, or even if you had known me when I started Studying at Queens and tried to live away from home, you would know that it’s a hard thing for me to do. I love home, it’s where the heart is after all, with that I often found that when my heart was not in something I never really sought to enjoy it, that’s why when I was away in 2009 ( Senegal ) and 2011 ( Guinea-Bissau ) I was never really homesick, Because I loved it. Mission is something I am passionate about, not just worldwide but in every sense. Mission exists in my opinion primary because the church has failed at what it was called live out the gospel in a way that draws people to the Cross and Repentance of Sin so that they can become Citizens of the kingdom of God. Mission is where my heart is and so when I decided that I wanted to do something different Mission was where my mind wandered to.
So with a few conditions I had set myself I started to look online, I knew my timescale was to go for longer than a few weeks, I knew If I could choose it would be somewhere in Africa. I looked in all the normal places you would online, and nothing ever stood out for me, nothing ever jumped out, either the dates didn’t suit, or it was to somewhere I did not really want to go. But I kept looking and I keep checking and a few times I had crossed over a team to Tanzania with Tearfund and their partner charity ‘Go Mad’, The date suited perfectly I would be away for more than a few months but still back for the summer, but in all honesty pride was holding me back. One of my Best friends had been there the year before, and simply in my Mind that was his trip, I didn’t want to repeat it for people to say that I was following. But God is his graciousness and sense of humour has a funny way of working.
With Speaking to Indy ( My Best Friend ) and just looking over and over again at the trip on the website, I was praying about it and seeking God and asking him to confirm if this was what he wanted me to do, gradually I felt more comfortable about it. I am not one for reading into the wee things, the things where people sometimes try to see that God is directing them to do something. But I had asked God to confirm it and he did;
God Or Chance ?
One Winters morning, I had been busy with work and had taken a break to look over something, I had went online again and found myself on the Tearfund Website looking at this team, thinking that I need to do this. Then my phone went and annoying it was an english number ( I am from NI ) I wasn’t going to answer it, but I tend to find those sort of calls amusing. So I answered and after a few seconds of silence ‘Hello Is that Andrew Irwin ?’, I confirmed then he went on ‘Hello Andrew its Kit from Tearfund here, How are you ? are you free to talk ?’ The truth was I wasn’t free to talk, I had told him that I was in work and to call me back around after 1. The striking thing to me was that I had been sitting on the tearfund website looking at a tearfund team and Somehow by ‘coincident’ or God Someone from tearfund had phoned me. I had not prompted it, they didn’t know about my interest in going (not that I know off!) but at the same time. The call was about donations and increasing mine and nothing to do with the trip, but I took it as the confirmation that God was saying to go and started the process and he has confirmed it many ways Since.
So for now I am making the most of my time at home, seeing who I can see and figuring out what I meant to bring. But in a few days I am heading over to the far coast of Africa and I can’t wait, Why Go ? because Life is to short not to, and God is too great to ignore !
Thank you for all your prayer and support going up to the event and in the months ahead. It will be very much appreciate, I will try to use this website and our team blog to keep you up to date and I look forward to sharing !
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