Missions: Ireland

 

NOTE: The following are

reflections on Sally's

mission trips to Ireland in

2004, 2005, and 2008.

       

         

                         A visitor drinks in the lush flora of The Emerald Isle

I love Ireland. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The air is actually soft and the scenery breathtaking. The people are kind and hospitable. I will always be grateful to Rodney and Katherine Stafford for inviting me to come and share our songs and stories in Dublin and County Wicklow in 2004. Also for Donna Taggart who welcomed me up to Northern Ireland.

 

        

                        A lovely beach in Ireland drew Sally to its sandy shores

 

It has been my honor and privilege to minister both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I was especially blessed to be allowed to share during one of the anniversary celebrations for Israel that took place at Stormont, the Parliament buildings for Northern Ireland. But there is no question what touched me the most deeply on each occasion I visited the Emerald Isle was my time in Belfast, walking the Shankill.

On the Shankill Road, which runs through Central Belfast and is predominantly Protestant, there are murals painted on sides of buildings that record the feelings about the ongoing conflict between Protestant and Catholic. Grave wrongs have been done on both sides. Innocent lives have been taken, and the Shankill has been a place of much violence as recently as 2010.

        

          

                               A mural on the Peace Wall on The Shankill

 

And while there is an uneasy truce on either side of the "Peace Wall" which divides the two communities there are still many Catholics and Protestants who feed their children and their children's children a portion of their anger and hate so graphically illustrated on the walls of some of their cities and towns.

          

 

          

                                          Another Peace Wall mural

 

Strolling past little shops of chocolates, fruits, gifts and the like, I saw people filtering in and out, some of their faces so worn by time and emotion. It seemed as if they were hollowed out by the life they have known. I remember taking the train back to Dublin after my first visit to The Shankill. The pain in the pictures and faces of people I met along the way that day drew tears.

I returned to Ireland in 2005 and 2008. During my 2008 tour I was invited to minister at a garden party. It was at a beautiful, rambling kind of house with wood, stained glass and lots of yard. I did a concert in the garden area.

 

    

                                      Sally's first-ever garden party concert

 

About 40-50 people came and we had a very sweet time in the Lord. Many people were genuinely touched. Afterward, Donna announced I would be willing to pray for people. The concert finished around 4 PM, and we didn't stop praying for people until almost 9:30 that night.

Many people were touched and met by the Lord as we prayed. Among some of the people who asked for prayer there was a woman going through intense turmoil in her life, losing her marriage, her house, the love of her kids, and feeling utterly abandoned. Another woman, who was ridiculed most of her life about her face and body, said she felt very alone and struggled with shame. These were all believers. One man who just shined with the light of Jesus was an ex-IRA member. It was a real blessing to meet him and pray for all those who waited to receive ministry.

Perhaps I am naive but I believe there needs to be a washing of the land and people—a cleansing from all the brothers, sons, husbands, wives and children whose blood was spilled in a people's lust for their idea of justice. I do not have faith that any of us who are mortal know what perfect justice really is.

             

                            

                       A painful reminder of the blood shed on the streets of Ireland

 

In order for that to happen people need to surrender their desire for vengeance—blood for blood—and accept as payment in full the blood of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus. Only in Him and His sacrifice on the cross do mercy and justice embrace—and are satisfied.

       

               

 

Then, and only then, will the glory of the people far surpass the beauty of the island. And true peace will reign in Catholic and Protestant alike.

                                                    

                                                       —Sally Klein O'Connor