1. By "outsider's" I mean us, because we are technically not part of the BIN District.
2. By BIND I mean British Isles North District.
3. District Assembly is a time when a group of churches, who are orgainzed into a district, gather together for mutual encouragement, business, accountability, and community worship.
For those who don't know, the Scott's are the LINKS missionary family of the BIND. Every Nazarene missionary is LINKed with a district (or two), and they are, sort of, adopted by them (We have also been LINKed with the South Texas District). As the LINKS missionaries for the BIN district, we were invited to join them in Ireland for their District Assembly this year.
Our journey began here in Croatia with a whirlwind of flights and train rides (an 8 hour layover in London), until we arrived at the church in Belfast. From the moment we walked in the church we were shaking hands and meeting people who had been eagerly awating our arrival. After that evening's service we met our amazing hostess Heather (and later met her wonderful husband Tom), who took us to her home which was about 45 minutes from the church. Poor Jacob was so tired by this time because we had been travelling all day. We made it to their house late that night and were so happy to be there!
We woke up on Saturday and had coffee and talked with our hosts. A little before lunch time, they began preparing a wonderful local meal called an Ulster Fry. It's basically a bunch of yummy meats, some eggs, and some bread, all fried up and served in heaping portions on your plate (I think I'm still full from that meal). After this great meal, we hopped into the car and headed over to Belfast for the missionary service where we happened to be the keynote speakers. We sang some wonderful songs, and had the pleasure of hearing from Ana Marija Tomic, a Croatian woman who was saved years ago and is now involved in ministry in Scotland. She shared her testimony and a bit about Croatia. Then we had the chance to share about our call to international mission work, how God brought us to Croatia and how God is moving in Croatia.
Anyways, after the mission service we got to have dinner with my brother-in-law's parents, Geoff and Jane Austin. They got to share more with us how God is moving in their church community in Scotland in which such wonderful things are happening there. After dinner we attended an awesome evening service. Jacob was a trooper and stayed up for it, but by then he and Betsy had gotten pretty sick.
We woke on Sunday, and the two sickies and I went to a small church in Desertmartin (a small town outside of Belfast), where we had been invited to preach. This little church wrapped their arms around us and welcomed us as their own. What an honor it was to speak at their church. We were welcomed by a wonderful family in the church to have lunch with them after the service. They live on a small farm in the country, and they sure know how to feed their guests! After we ate, Jacob was getting restless so he and I walked outside and looked at the newborn lambs running around, we ran in the green fields, and picked daffodils for all the ladies in the house. By the time we got back, half of the church had come over to share in the desserts and conversation. Fortunately for Jacob and I, we had picked enough flowers to accommodate all of the new guests. That evening Betsy and Jacob stayed back at our host's house to rest, while I was able to attend the evening service in Belfast.
Monday came and Betsy decided to rest on the final day with Jacob because it was another long day, going from 7:30 until 10:00 p.m. Monday was the big meeting day with lots of voting and presentations. I was not sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by how encouraging it was to hear each church on the district present a brief report on how that community is doing. There was an overwhelming optimism, as well as a universal desire to reach and empower young people. We heard so many testimonies of churches re-envisioning how churches present the gospel. It was very inspiring. I was also able to be present for an ordination service, as well as the voting in of a new District Superintendent. It's great to see God moving, and the torch of ministry being passed on to new and energentic leaders.
After that long day we made it back to our host's home and got to sleep right away due to an early flight out the next day. So Tuesday was another long day of travel while trying to process how amazing our weekend had been. We are so blessed to have been invited and welcomed by this wonderful district, and been able to be a part of this great event. It was an honor to be loved by the British Isles North District. We were also so encouraged by their sense of community, their support for each other, and by how God is moving there. We were blessed to be able to share how God is moving in Croatia as well. Partnership is awesome!
Sorry so long. But it was awesome.