After attending the European Bible Institute we returned to do a practical time with CEF in East Belfast before going to Cork. Some prayed that we would be redirected from going south! An ‘evangelical’ church leader in Cork wrote to tell us that all of the children there were being catered for! Nevertheless, we arrived in Cork in February 1969. Winifred McNabb and Mabel Dobbin/Rowan had moved to Dublin a few months earlier.
Our first Good News Club ® was in our home after visiting every home in the area. The children who came were very interested, but none were allowed to return! Protestant churches were not interested in children outside their denomination. John did a lot of personal work walking the streets and parks.
We then thought of trying a caravan ministry and were offered an old caravan from Northern Ireland. We drove up to the border to collect it. We were unaware of the difference between metric and imperial ball hitch measurements until about a mile along the road the caravan passed us, crashed and was wrecked! Later we fitted out another old caravan as our Good News Caravan – to the horror and disbelief of many! Regular visits with the caravan into dozens of housing areas in Cork became our main ministry for almost 40 years. One mother who was thrilled with the interest her children were showing in the Bible offered the use of her home. We had a Good News Club there, until her priest ordered her to have it stopped, or else her husband, a photographer, would have no more business through the church. She said they were being treated like lepers in the church! Yet she was happy for the caravan to return into the neighbourhood!
John has been retired for 10 years but still does a lot of tract work on the streets – 1820,000 a year. He meets many people who recognise him from the caravan. A girl from a large family wrote, “I want to tell you how grateful I am that you both answered the call to bring the Gospel to me and my family and to plant precious seeds in those days (in spite of the stone throwing etc.)…including myself, six of us have given our lives to the Lord.” Other direct ministries included: open-air Good News Clubs and Good News camps in the summer, Good News Call (telephone ministry), Good News Compage (internet ministry) and tract ministry.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2019 National Newsletter.