The Drimoleague Methodist Church in Ireland is a relatively small building with stone walls that are two feet thick. The sanctuary is about the size of my timber frame barn/office, maybe 24 by 36 feet?
“It was built in 1865 as a result of the Revival of 1859,” the locals told me.
“The Revival of 1859?!” I asked. And then I started hearing the stories of this amazing move of God.
The Revival started in Northern Ireland and spread over the whole country. A group of people got saved here in Drimoleague and began meeting west of town at the farm of my host’s relatives, the Kingstons. After several years of meeting there, The Drimoleague Methodist Church was built.
Pastor Greg came to Drimoleague from the town of Coleraine, in the north of Ireland. He said the revival crowds in Coleraine were so big in 1859 that the only building big enough to hold their meetings was the brand new, just finished, Town Hall Building.
After meeting there for several years, these “revival people” built their own new church building. Almost a century later, the people of Coleraine made a startling discovery in the Town Hall records: Because of the excitement of the Revival, the ‘new’ town hall had never had a Grand Opening! So, in 1959, the town of Coleraine had a Grand Opening Celebration for its brand new, hundred year old Town Hall!
The most amazing story I heard is what happened at The Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast. This is where the Titanic would be built. Many of the rough, crude shipyard workers had conversion experiences and to clear their consciences, began to return tools that they had stolen over the years. The stolen tools began to pile up. So many tools came back that Harland & Wolff had to build a new warehouse to store them all! Our hosts in Donegal said that warehouse is still standing! (Think of how our economy would be affected if we would just be honest!)
There were (are) many more revival stories. Several of the churches where I sang were built during this exciting time in Irish history. The Coolkelure Anglican Church was built by the owner of the large estate whose life was transformed by Christ during this revival, so he built this beautiful church so his workers would not have to walk the 4 miles to Dunmanaway every Sunday.
I had 14 concerts in ten days on the “Emerald Island.” I performed in some amazing classic churches. I met some wonderful people. I was close to the ancestrial land of my great-grand mother (County Waterford). I was able to see some changed lives.
But as I sit back and reflect on my trip, the thing I think about most are the 158 year-old revival stories, and I am encouraged that God can break into any culture with His Spirit and change lives, change communities, change cultures–so much so that churches must be built to house the worshippers and warehouses need to built to hold the stolen goods returned by repentant sinners! Do it here, Lord!
Thank you for praying for Common Grounds Ministries and for my trip to Ireland. Pray for revival! It can happen!
AN IRISH PRAYER:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
The rains fall soft upon fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.