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THE CONTENTS OF MY HEAD AND HEART
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I typed up the previous day and then on my iPad did a wee bit of number trailing for Newry.
I put Newry Baptist church in my phone, Newry’s council offices, the number of the oldest Protestant church in Ireland called St Patricks. It’s interesting that my old Roman Catholic conformation name was ‘Patrick.’ It brought back memories that my Scots Dad was a little upset that I hadn’t chosen ‘Andrew.’ I was too young to know any better and neither of my parents were allowed in the Roman Catholic Church. They were both previously married and divorced. In those days, they were not welcome. In the islands of my birth, catholic or protestant, the underlying patriotism to the countries of our families was incredibly strong and very tribal. My dad certainly disliked the English (understatement) and it all spewed out over the television each time Scotland played England….and lost. What Bannockburn, Culloden and the Black watch had to do with soccer I never understood. Times have changed and I am glad of it.
I had to go into Belfast until lunch time for a prayer meeting and a couple of interviews which I wanted to get before leaving. I tell you, it was a privilege to join ‘Crown Jesus Ministries’ and ‘Scripture Union’ as they simply met together to pray for the schools work they were involved in. They had a joint project called ‘Shine’ and their interns, gap year students and young men with them for work experience, all joined in the prayer meeting. It was great! During which God had put it on my heart to make contact with the Mayor of Newry. I slipped out of the meeting, for a wee while, found the number and called his PA. “Oh” she said “My mother’s maiden name was ‘Farrell’” Of course it was! My grandparents are Irish. I told her that “we were probably related.” She laughed. But I wondered if we were. The PA was going to see what she could do and then get back to me. The Mayor was very busy today. In my experience, Mayors were busy every day.
I did my final interviews in Belfast, then left for Newry. It was near 12:00am and about an hour or so’s drive and I was hungry. I had completely forgotten that UCB Ireland was going to call me for an interview, and so it wasn’t too long before I had to pull over the side of the road to take the call and give the interview. I think UCB have only recently established themselves in broadcasting over here, so it was a real privilege to part of these new endeavours. It was way past lunch time and Maccy D’s was calling.
I stopped off somewhere on the A1 not too far out of Belfast and was served by and English woman and a Chinese guy with a broad, I mean thick Belfast accent. It was hilarious. I mean this very Asian looking guy with a very thick Belfast accent. Skin colours and facial features may change in a locality as may the sky line and the smells from cooking pots, but accents never seem to change. In the end a place is defined by its language and especially the sound of its spoken language, its nuances and manners of communication. A person’s place of nurture, is better judged by our ears and not by our eyes. Language you see, is so very important.En route the Mayors PA calls me and ‘Mr’ Mayor will be pleased to meet with me at 3:30pm. Great! Now I know he is a man, I must found out who he is! It’s always good to call someone by name.
There is a large Police station on the road going in to Newry and a portion seems to hang over the road. Did it take my picture as I went in?
Straight ways I see the sign for the ‘Baptist Centre’ and immediately pull over and call the number I had gleaned that morning. Pastor Phillip will be pleased to meet with me in twenty minutes time. This gives me some time to take a quick spin around town and find some numbers for a Bed & Breakfast. I downloaded the ‘Trip Advisor’ on my iPad and wanted to see who it recommended. I couldn’t ‘Adam & Eve’ it when I realised I was parked outside its top Bed and Breakfast hit. I made arrangements to stay there that night. Sorted.
Pastor Phillip met me and took me for coffee up the road and we talked about Newry and Ireland and church planting. I was surprised to find out that there was a growing international community in Ireland. My recent Maccy D’s lunch should have made it evident mind you. I liked Phillip, he seems to have been it, seen and done it when it comes to church planting, he seemed committed, steadfast, steady, sure and loving. He seemed to know what he was doing. I thought that I would go to his church if I lived in Newry. He showed me around the churches lovely facilities and emphasized the word facility and centre. “The people are the church. This is just where we meet.” We all know that. We all say that. I sensed these folks had embraced it and lived it. Phillip was another Pastor, another Christian who embraced and loved his city. This is important, for who and what you love, you value and take care of, you take pride in.
I had to rush to get to the Mayor’s office by 3:30am. The Postcode I was given and put into my Sat Nav took me right out of the way and Navigating Nerys one way system took me right up the hill overlooking the city. After a few phone calls I arrived just on time.
Now, I have been in a rush for 31 days and I ran out of clean clothes a wee while ago. I need to find a washing machine and dryer. So, when I got the Civic Centre, I grabbed what I could. If the fashion police caught me, I would have been arrested on the spot. Certainly Bridget would not have let me out the house.
I asked the receptionist who the Mayor was. “Councillor Casey”. Got it. And how does he like to be addressed? “Just Mayor”. Got it.
Councillor Casey came down the stairs to greet me smartly dressed and wearing his chain of office. The local press were there for photographs and let’s just say, I made Mr Mayor look good! I really have to get my clothes sorted out.
I was welcomed in Newry with open arms, and shown into the Mayors Parlour for hot drinks and cake. I reckon I have put on 5lbs since I arrived in Ireland.
I have now interviewed maybe six mayors in total. They ALL love their city and ALL work exceptionally hard. I have to say though, that this has been my favourite interview so far. It wasn’t just the openness, the up-front honesty and integrity that struck me, but Mayor Casey seemed to be an older man, wiser and limping. You know, you can trust a man who limps. It was my privilage to personally invite a representative of the City of Newry which Mayor Casey so ably represented to the National day of Prayer in Wembley next September 29th 2012 and with that, I felt very comfortable asking if I might pray for the Mayor and his city, the request of which he graciously allowed. What a privilege. You know folks, the more I touch democracy the more I like it. Who knows, the next time round I may even vote! All these Mayors are inspiring me to engage that much more.
I think Mayor Casey gave me one OF THE BEST interviews I have had and one of the best welcomes as well. I hope you enjoy it as well.
I left Mr Mayor around 4:30pm having been truly blessed. Yes I said that.
The rain was such a thin drizzle, that it seemed Newry was now in cloud and it was getting dark. Again, I got stuck in the heavy traffic of the one way system and by the time I managed to find a place in the City Centre to pull over and make some calls, the day had slipped away. There was no more time to do what I had intended to do in terms of contacts and so I decided that I would find St Patricks and do an impromptu video recording in the last of the days light. Do you know how many churches seemed to be called St Patricks in this area! The first one I arrived at was 15 minutes away in the wrong direction, but it did take me down the edge of the sea and the mountains of Morne and even in the grey twilight and the rolling mist it looked stunning. I would love to see this place in the sunshine.
St Patricks was locked, however the gates to the church yard were open and so I slipped in to record my we thoughts on Obadiah. I hope you are blessed.
I went back to the Bed and Breakfast and worked on line whilst the interview was live. Around 8:00pm it kicked me off and neither my laptop not my iPad got on again for the remainder of my stay. Bummer!
I needed food and I had already consumed the three biscuits that came with the tea and coffee making facilities. I put my hat on and big coat, and strolled into town to find a cheap Chinese carry out. £5.65 for Chilli beef and fried rice. Not bad. Whilst I was waiting for the order I commented about the weather to an older man also waiting for an order. He asked if I was Australian. It was the hat.
Standing waiting for our food, I told Pat that he had a beautiful city and asked what I was doing. I explained and he immediately mentioned the troubles and how it had been a ‘nightmare’ to be in the city and how pleased he was that it was now over, then he switches straight way to tell me how many children and grandchildren he has. Another blessed man, save that, “we lost a boy called Peter, aged just five he was, to a brain tumour.” Peter had been taken to Lourdes, had been prayed for, wept over, but God had took him. This was over twenty years ago, but looking at Pat’s eyes, it may well have been yesterday. Death, disease, disaster. Depression discouragement and despondency. Hunger, hurt and hopelessness. We have more than enough enemies to fight without fighting each other. Maybe we should ask ourselves what we are willing to live for rather than just die for?
The T.V. in my room tells me that in Uganda, 900 children have recently been murdered by witch doctors in child sacrifice, having been decapitated and castrated, hands and feet chopped off, some even buried alive so the already rich might get richer still.#
When darkness has its way, death and dismemberment always come to the fore.
The sacrificial death of the Son of God, brings enough life for all, for everyone. It has made humanity rich. When all we dabblers in death see this, hopefully we can gain the courage to finally choose life.
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