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Apr 11

Hope Ireland Missions, with Chris & Larena Johnston – Missionaries to Galway, Ireland

Greetings loved ones!

March has come and gone in a flash, but has been jam packed with many exciting things. Early in the month we took a small group to a young adults conference in Dublin. It was a two day event, packed with amazing worship, teachings, and workshops. The guest speakers they brought in from the US and UK were phenomenal, and our group went away inspired and encouraged. I got a lot from the leadership workshop I went to, where I learned the fact that God has already given me everything I need (in terms of manpower) for the season I’m in. Too often I stress about not having the help I need to match the big vision God’s given me. However, I’m learning to grow in my leadership by having a peace in the baby steps and seasons that will eventually lead to seeing the bigger vision come to fruition.

During the lunch break on the last day of the conference, many of us joined up with the march for life rally, in support of defending the 8th amendment from repeal. The 8th amendment in the Irish constitution protects unborn life and recognizes them as human beings. There is a referendum coming up, where the Irish will be voting whether or not to keep protecting unborn human life, or to allow abortion on demand to come into the country.

There has been a significant amount of money come in from a US based organization, and much media propaganda, all in the effort to create confusion and push an agenda. The rally saw 100,000 people stretched over a mile in the streets of Dublin. It was exciting to see so many from Galway come out to it.

We had a couple of great men visit us from Living Hope Church this past month. Christian and Larry joined us just after the ”great blizzard of 2018” hit, and spent a couple days with us. Larry helped us fine tune our sound system, correcting issues that had been troubling us, and he joined the worship team on the stage for the Sunday service. Christian came with a powerful word on Sunday morning, preaching a message that not only encouraged our congregation, but really challenged them as well. Afterwards, several people went up for prayer.

In Torch, we followed up on our previous talk about sex and relationships by breaking into small groups and discussing many of the questions the youth have regarding the topic. With the guys, we talked about what it meant to be men of honor and integrity. We also listed and discussed the qualities that are desirable in a future wife. It was a great exercise.

We had another “Salt” young adults service on the first Tuesday of the month, and I taught about financial responsibility and stewardship. This is a topic that is often avoided in churches in the West of Ireland (and Galway in particular), due to past hurts from someone who took advantage of people. We know firsthand, however, that everything we own is from God and that when we submit our own will to Him in regards to our finances, He never lets us down.

Our testimony is actually an inspiring one. We love sharing with others how our steps of faith early on led to bigger leaps of faith. At a time when we could barely afford to pay our mortgage and bills, we began with tithing – giving 10% of what we took home from our jobs – to the church. Instead of leaving it to the bottom of the priority list, it got bumped up to the top.

Then, we took another step. We started tithing what we made BEFORE taxes were taken out. This is when we started to see some real breakthrough. Job opportunities came up. We were able to open a consulting business that helped us pay off our debt.

My favorite part of our story is how we took another step and started to tithe 10%, not of what we were making at the time, but of what we wanted to make. What was truly amazing was that each year when we filed our taxes, we could compare our income to our donations, and we could see a definite pattern of God’s blessing in response to our faith.

It was exciting for us to witness God’s faithfulness, and it was also a testimony to the one doing our taxes! Praise God! The following Sunday, there was a guest speaker who also preached on financial responsibility, and really focused on the core of the matter: a heart fully submitted to God.

We love living and cultivating the joy of generosity in our church. It really breaks down strongholds. We also love sharing the testimonies of how God has used all of our amazing partners in this ministry. There’s the story of the person waking up in the middle of the night to write a random check for the EXACT amount we had a need for and hadn’t told a single person.

Then there’s the story of the divine encounter who not only became one of our financial partners, but they even had a word from the Lord that spoke hope to the struggle we were having with failed pregnancies. There’s numerous stories of so many who feel God put us on their hearts, and it is direct answers to prayers! Whether it’s our friends and family, people we worked alongside, or even folks who visit Ireland… God has moved in amazing ways. We are so thankful for each and every one of you, your commitments, and your prayers.

God is using your faithfulness to impact Galway! We know God has connected us to team up together to impact this nation for Jesus– and for that, we are so thankful!

Much love, Chris (Larena & Anora)

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