The importance of family

Rev Kenny Hanna

7.5.2022 | Mission in Ireland, Farming & Rural Life

As the Balmoral Show starts this Wednesday, PCI’s Rural Chaplain, Rev Kenny Hanna, looks forward to a show for all the family. In this blog, he talks about the show and a rather unusual adoption that took place recently, when a lamb that wasn’t doing so well was adopted by a friend’s sheepdog. While this ‘adoption’ was only temporary, Kenny also writes of how God Himself is willing to adopt us into His family.

Balmoral Show is a real family day out. There is something for everyone; attractions for all ages and tastes from machinery and livestock, to delicious local produce and cuddly toys. Gregg Johnston sent me the heart-warming photograph used in today’s column and shared the story behind it.

I would like to thank Gregg for allowing me to bring it to a wider audience. I posted the original story on my Facebook page and it received such a positive response that I felt it would be helpful to share it with Farming Life readers. 

A lamb in a wheelbarrow

This little lamb wasn’t thriving on its mother. So Gregg removed it from the ewe and gave it a temporary warm bed, deep amongst the straw in this wheelbarrow. And, in a most surprising turn of events, his sheepdog Bess decided to snuggle up beside the needy little lamb. Bess adopted the lamb as her ‘pup’, so it became part of her doggy ‘family’.

What a marvellous story! But what is even more incredible is that God Himself is willing to adopt you and me into His family. If, by God’s enabling, we will turn from trusting in ourselves and trust instead in Jesus, then Jesus will open the door for us into God’s family. Jesus can do that, for He died to forgive our self-centred self-reliance, our sin, which separates us from God, and welcome us ‘home’.

I hope you enjoy a day out with your family at Balmoral Show this incoming week. Or, simply bask in the everyday blessing of having a family who care for you. Perhaps, on the contrary, you feel isolated and alone, having no close family to care for you. Whatever your ‘family’ circumstances and status, the good news of Jesus is that He came to bring His followers into God’s family – whoever we may be.

Someone who experienced the deep, security-giving joy this brings was the Apostle Paul, who wrote, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

An adoption forever

And that’s not the end of the story! Let’s go back to Bess for a moment. Bess adopted the little lamb temporarily, as it would go back to its mum again. However, when God brings us into His family, through trusting in Jesus – it is forever: “your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Our status, of belonging to God’s family, is ongoing and permanent. And, the verse hints that Jesus’ followers already enjoy a taste of heaven in our daily lives.

This is who you are, if you belong to Jesus. Whether you are surrounded by loved ones, or feel very much alone. You are a permanent member of God’s family, safe and secure forever. You already enjoy a hint of heaven’s life while on earth.

And this is who you can be, if you will ask Jesus to bring you into God’s family. So why not ask Jesus today? You won’t need to ask Him twice. For Jesus Himself makes us this wonderful, welcoming promise, “‘whoever comes to me I will never cast out’” (John 6:37).

If you plan to attend Balmoral Show this year, you will be made very welcome on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s stand: EK 145, in the Eikon Exhibition Centre. We would love to see you!

Rev Kenny Hanna is the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s first Rural Chaplain. Growing up on the family farm in the Kingdom of Mourne, he began serving in parish ministry in 2001 in Glenwherry. Prior to his appointment as Rural Chaplain, he was minister of Second Dromara Presbyterian Church for 10 years. He continues to farm part-time.

His blog appeared in today’s Farming Life, a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News for the Countryside’, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life.

You can look at other blogs in this series here. If you would like to talk to Kenny about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Kenny at or call him on 07938 488 372.

Photo: Bess and the lamb by Gregg Johnston.

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