William became an Irish Mission Worker in April 1986 and was seconded to Londonderry City Mission for three years. He moved to Ballylinan, just outside Athy in County Kildare in 1989 and continues to live and work there. His main sphere of outreach has been in the town of Athy but William has also worked in Naas and Carlow.
At present the outreach involves weekly children’s meetings in Athy and Carlow. William runs a Christianity Explored course in Athy Presbyterian Church which will be followed by a mission and Bible study group. He also works with young adults and carries out visitation and at Christmas time William distributes a Gospel Calendar to homes in Athy. On Tuesday mornings, weather permitting, he hosts a bookstall in the open air market in the town and he meets for prayer with a few local believers on Thursday mornings. In July William organises Holiday Bible Clubs providing outreach to teens and adults involving teams from America and Northern Ireland.
Athy and Carlow Presbyterian Churches
I began working with the Irish Mission April 1986, which means this is my 30th anniversary with the Irish Mission. I spent three years in Londonderry with the Londonderry City Mission and then moved to Ballylinan in County Laois where I have lived ever since with my wife, Sandra until she died in 2009. Sandra was my partner in mission. I have spent most of my time working in Athy and Carlow, but have also worked in Naas.
When I moved to this part of Ireland, Carlow Presbyterian Church had a service once a month on a Sunday afternoon with about six people attending. It was nearly closed in 1993, but it was decided to renovate the building and Rev. Stephen Johnston was installed as minister. I organised the renovation of the building and when it reopened in 1994 people from Kilkenny and Athy came to support the Sunday afternoon services. The Irish Mission also placed Philip Kelso in Carlow. As the number attending on a Sunday afternoon grew, the service moved to a Sunday morning and some people from Athy continued to attend and became members of Carlow church. It has been a blessing to see the Lord transforming the Carlow Church which now has 50 to 70 attending on a Sunday morning with a good number of children in the Sunday school and a midweek meeting, a prayer meeting, and a children’s meeting in a local community hall. The congregation are hoping to build a church hall. Rev. Stephen Rea is the present minister, who also looks after Athy. There have also been changes in Naas, but not so dramatic. It is now a single charge with Rev. Mark Proctor as minister. I am no longer working in Naas.
Athy Presbyterian Church is where I worship on Sunday morning and is linked with Carlow with Rev. Stephen Rea as minister. Despite a strong missional outreach in the town of Athy the numbers attending on a Sunday morning have slowly declined over the years. There have been missions held in the church and in the local community along with evangelistic fellowship meetings and praise evenings, as well as Christianity Explained and Christianity Explored courses. There is an ongoing weekly children’s meeting and youth club held in the Youth Centre, and a Christian book stall in the local market on Tuesday’s. Each summer there is a special summer outreach to children, teenagers and adults in July. There have been a lot of invitations and homes visited over the years. I have led this outreach with the help of local Christians and people from the church have been involved in providing accommodation, music, food, etc. and have attended many of these outreach events. We have also had a lot of support from other congregations and individuals within the Presbyterian Church and other denominations. A team from America has been coming over to help in the summer for the past 12 years.
What is happening at present?
Just recently a number of new people from the town have attended the Athy Church. Pray that they will continue to come and get involved in the work of the church. I am involved in running the children’s meetings in Athy and Carlow and the youth club in Athy. Leading up to Easter, the video ‘Second Chance’ was shown in Athy Youth Centre and there are more special one off ‘Praise Evenings’ being organised. The outreach through the bookstall is ongoing as is the one to one Bible study on a Sunday night. Once again plans are in place for a summer outreach in Carlow and Athy , as well as ongoing visitation in Athy. Sometimes when you are involved in weekly missional outreach you feel there that there is not much progress being made, but it is often only when you look back you see that God is at work, working out His purposes.
Thanks to all who have supported and prayed for this mission work and I encourage you to continue to do so, and as Paul said in Ephesians 6:19 “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel”.
To download a printable PDF of William's reports visit the Mission Reports listing at the top.