GO Team

What do handshakes, relationships, breakfast cereal, home ownership, and bars of soap have in common? Not much on the face of it, yet these are among the many things that are supposedly being ruined by millennials. 

In case you've heard the term, but aren't quite sure what it means, millennial is the term commonly used to describe the current generation of young people, ranging in age from their teens to their mid twenties. This is the generation which has grown up with smartphones, Netflix, and social media; they have also become a convenient scapegoat for many of society's ills.

While every generation has its faults, the criticism of today's youth can be particularly excessive. Many of those who make sweeping generalisations fail to recognise that there are many young people who, far from being self-absorbed, are eager to make a positive difference to the world in which they live.

A case in point: The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland organises a series of GO Teams each year, with mainly young people taking part. It was our privilege, along with our sister church in Letterkenny, to welcome a team of young people to work with us from 20th - 26th August. 

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These young people could have spent their week doing something else; instead they chose to spend it serving Jesus Christ and helping to spread his message in Donegal. At times this meant leaving their comfort zones far behind, but they persevered because of the delight they take in seeing people hear the good news.

The week's activities were varied. The team joined us in St Eunan's Nursing Home to sing psalms for one of our members who lives there and the other residents. It was great to get chatting with some of those who live there.

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The team also helped us to hold a Holiday Bible Club and Community BBQ in Lower Mount Marian. It was exciting to see so many children brave the poor weather, and even more exciting to hear members of the team explaining the meaning of Jesus' parables to these children.

The team members took to the roads in the afternoons, stopping at houses in the outlying Milford area in order to invite residents to our church services. We greatly appreciate the help they gave us all week.

The thing is, these young people who were working with us this summer don't fit into the cliché about their age group. Yes, they all have smartphones, yes they use Instagram and take selfies; but rather than frittering away their summer, they chose to do something worthwhile.

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What could prompt a group like this to step out of their comfort zones, come to Milford, and speak to the people who live here about Jesus Christ? It can't be explained by anything but a love for him, an excitement at the salvation he has given them, and a thankfulness for all the blessings he showers upon his people. We pray as a church that many of those who live in our town will come to experience this for themselves.

Girls' Adventure Camp 2017

Our morning service on 30th July had a different feel as we welcomed Girls' Adventure Camp to our church for worship and for lunch afterwards. The Reformed Presbyterian Church organises 5 camps each summer and these are great opportunities for young people to learn more about Jesus Christ while doing fun activities and making lots of new friends.

Girls' Adventure Camp is for girls aged between 13 and 15 and was based in Strabane this year. They were studying the book of Ruth in their talks and they had 38 campers. 

 The officers and cooks who were serving God at Girls' Adventure Camp 2017

The officers and cooks who were serving God at Girls' Adventure Camp 2017

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and they have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
— Jeremiah 2:13

In our service we considered this vivid picture which God gave through the prophet Jeremiah. It may have been written thousands of years ago, but it is no less relevant today. We all face pressures to base our happiness and hope on things which will ultimately leave us disappointed, and teenagers can feel this pressure particularly keenly.

God makes it clear in his word that the things that so many people think will make them happy are like broken cisterns - everything we work towards can just disappear and leave us feeling let down. These things are so different from God himself, who is like a refreshing spring: providing joy in himself that will never fade and never leave us disappointed.

After the service we enjoyed a beautiful lunch along with the leaders, cooks, and campers who were visiting with us. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to provide this! The campers rounded off their day in Donegal with a walk on Rathmullan beach.

 Some of the many desserts on offer

Some of the many desserts on offer

 Thankfully it stayed dry for the walk at Rathmullan

Thankfully it stayed dry for the walk at Rathmullan

What our children have been learning

A few weeks ago in our series on the psalms we looked at what a truly blessed person looks like.

His delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
— Psalm 1:2-3

Before our service yesterday morning, some of the youngest members of our congregation showed how they have been following the call of Psalm 1 and meditating on God's law. In Sunday School this year, they have been considering the lessons God gives us in his word, as well as learning questions and answers from the Child's Catechism (which summarises some of the key truths of Scripture) and memorising the 23rd Psalm.

Before the service began, Jonny, one of our pastors, met with the girls during their Sunday School class to see how they have been progressing with their study of God's word. It was a delight to see how diligent they and their parents have been in memorising these precious truths. They were able to answer 15 questions from their catechism as well as singing the entire 23rd Psalm - all without making any mistakes!

 The psalm which our Sunday School has been learning.

The psalm which our Sunday School has been learning.

After the Children's Address, the congregation sang this wonderful psalm and the children sang loudly, without the need for psalm books of course! Each one received a book from the church to show how thrilled we are that they are delighting in and meditating on the law of the LORD.

 Some of the girls from our Sunday School with their books.

Some of the girls from our Sunday School with their books.