TPCC’s golf missions trip to Ireland was an abrupt reminder of what a secular place Europe, and more specifically Ireland, really is. Not only is less than 1% of the population professing believers, but add the battles of the Protestants vs. the Catholics while throwing in the hundreds of children abused by Catholic Priests (estimated one in every 4 children in and through the Catholic church’s and schools according to a missionary in Ireland whose lived there for 30 years) and you have one large, confused, decadent, and rebellious people group (toward the church in general). No wonder we were told that our focus was not first to share the gospel, but to first build relationships, with the people we would be serving. As doors opened during the week, the Holy Spirit gave us opportunities to share about our Christian faith.
TPCC’s missions trip to Ireland was a working relationship between 4 organizations: TPCC, Sports Quest International Sports Ministry (based out of Indianapolis but who works primarily in Europe), Dromoland 5 Start Golf Academy, and Shannon Christian Church. TPCC played and fulfilled a unique role between these other 3 institutions.
We were asked to help facilitate a golf camp with 76 participants from 6-16 years old. We quickly learned that despite Sports Quest laying a great foundation over the last few years for sports ministry in this community, the golf club had been burned by overly aggressive Christians sharing the gospel in the past, scaring some people away from the camp and almost causing the club to discontinue the camp. Despite that, we were warmly greeted by the Head Golf Pro, who was nothing but loving and generous since the first day we arrived. We also quickly learned that sports was one of the few, and most effective ways to reach people with the gospel, and to shape culture, because of how heavily integrated sports is in their culture. With the trust from the head pro, and the opportunity through sports via the 8 golfers that we took with us to serve, God accomplished many awesome things through us:
1. 76 kids were loved on and received personal interaction and lessons from our golf team (Markus El, Paul Kobylarz, Drew and Lauren Schaeffer, Chris Patel, and two girls via Sports Quest).
2. Through the sport of golf, we developed very strong and close ties with the Golf Leadership at Dromoland.
3. Although we did not have the opportunity to share the Gospel to the whole group as an audience, we did have one on one opportunities to minster to them through the questions they asked and initiated, and through the relationships that were built. This was Evangelism 101 (basic relational evangelism) at it’s fullest. Without saying more, one key leader’s life has changed as a result of our time together. I believe this will strongly influence future opportunities to minister to the kids and leaders in a much greater capacity in the future.
4. We were told this was the best camp, and the most effective group in teaching, and building relationships they every had!
5. We have been invited back next year, and there have been discussions as to how we can build on this camp for next year.
6. We have discussed the possibilities of bringing some of the leaders to Indy in order to partner with us for next year’s golf camp with TPCC and Golf Club of Indiana
7. We helped strengthen relationships with another sports club in town, Shannon’s Hurling Team (their national sport). I even had an opportunity to share my life’s faith story with their leader, and we have developed a great friendship.
8. Many kids from my group (the 6-10 year olds…see pic…) clinged to us (myself and the two instructors that I worked with, Lauren Schaeffer and Elle (from Sports Quest) all week, introduced us to their parents and became pen pals:)
9. We helped strengthen the relationship between Elton Good, and the local church he leads, with Dromoland Golf Club and Hurling Club.
10. Life long friendships were created, which will open additional doors to share the gospel.
11. All of our participants grew in their faith, saw the need for missions in one of the most secular parts of the world, and was used by God to build bridges between heaven and Ireland.
All in all, this trip was a great success. Please keep all the kids and the leaders of Dromoland Golf and Shannon Hurling in your prayers. Please also pray for the follow up left to do by Elton and his local church. If I may lift up Elton, he has a tremendous heart for the sports community in Shannon, and has very few resources to accomplish this task. Please pray that God would draw the appropriate resources to him, his wife, and their child to be, as they work full time on no current income at this time. They They are committed and gifted nationals with what seems to be the whole secular Irish world against them.