DERVOCK PRESBYTERIAN & REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN OUTREACH WEEK (Dervock P & R Forum)
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
When brothers dwell in unity!
So says the psalmist as he bursts out with praise in Psalm 133:1. The words came to mind several times during the Dervock P & R forum outreach week held in the village in March. Believers from the Dervock Presbyterian and Dervock Reformed Presbyterian churches spent the week praying, witnessing, chatting and worshipping together, not only to build ourselves up spiritually, but also to encourage men and women in our community to come and find out more about who we are and what we believe.
On Monday 14th March, we met for prayer together, seeking to commit the week of special meetings into the Lord’s hands. It was humbling to hear believer after believer praying for God the Spirit to work in our neighbourhood, burdening men and women with a need to hear the gospel. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but only God can bring growth, and so the week began in the right way – with earnest pleas for God to be at work through our witness.
On Tuesday, Rev. Scott Moore spoke at our first meeting in Dervock Community Centre. It being the week of St. Patrick’s Day, we tried to answer questions about words that have perhaps lost their meaning in our Northern Irish culture, beginning with the word “saint”. Rev. Moore dispelled the myth that a saint is some kind of “super Christian” explaining that the word refers to the holiness of all believers. A saint is not a perfect person, but rather a person saved from their sins by the grace of God, who now thinks, speaks and acts differently, in a way increasingly resembling the Lord Jesus.
On Thursday (St, Patrick’s Day), we considered the question, “What is a Protestant?” Protestants in Northern Ireland are often known better by what they are against rather than what they are for – a few famous and infamous politicians come to mind! – but to be a truly Christian Protestant is to passionately believe in the authority of God’s Word. In Mark 7, we see the Lord Jesus “protesting” when human traditions are occupying a higher position in religion and society than the Scriptures. Culture and tradition are not necessarily wicked, but they should not dictate how we live or what we believe. Both the church and wider society are better off when God’s Word is placed in the position it deserves to be in.
In our last meeting on Friday, Rev. Moore led us in considering “What is the Church?” We began by considering how much our congregations have in common as Bible-centred, Presbyterian, confessional, evangelical churches. We then considered the church as both a family and a bride, two descriptions that we see over and over again in Scripture. Though we love our church buildings, our buildings are not our churches: the church is the assembled people of God, living, loving, worshipping and witnessing together.
On the Lord’s Day 20th March, Dervock Presbyterian and Dervock Reformed Presbyterian churches worshiped together in “Carncullagh”, the Presbyterian meetinghouse. Rev. Moore led the service and then invited me to preach God’s Word. We considered Psalm 126 and the importance of looking to the past and to the future with joyful expectation that God will bring a harvest. The Psalm depicts a faithful sower of seed, sometimes sowing in tears on barren soil, but nonetheless praying in expectation for a bountiful harvest.
This should be the approach of all of us as we continue witnessing for God in the barren fields of a culture stubbornly resisting the gospel. Sadly, we didn’t see many men and women from our village join us in the community centre; but nonetheless, together, in Carncullagh and in Carnaff, we strive to be faithful, sowing the seed in tears if need be.
Speaking for myself and for our congregation, I know we found our P & R forum week to be tremendous encouragement. Several members from each church have known each other for many years, but nonetheless, to work together and pray together for the Kingdom to come in our community was a great blessing. Though two congregations, we were reminded that we are part of that one Church, the Bride of Christ, seeking to be faithful to him until we see his return.
We look forward to working together frequently in future, and we continue to pray for God to bring in a harvest of souls in the Dervock area where we live and serve together.
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Rev. Philip Dunwoody