Ben Curlee says it may sound a little strange but conversing with people in Ireland reminds him a little bit of east Alabama.
“There are a lot of cultural and worldview differences, but at the end of the day the Catholic and high Protestant influence in Ireland gives the people there a passing familiarity with the gospel,” said Curlee, pastor of Lineville Baptist Church in Carey Baptist Association. “They may belong to a church and go for weddings and funerals. Talking with them sounds a lot like talking to a buddy just down the road who might be a member of so-and-so Baptist church but doesn’t have a real understanding of the gospel.”
Making this connection has impacted Curlee and his church deeply. Lineville Baptist has a growing partnership with two Alabama natives serving in Ireland as International Mission Board missionaries and has sent three missions teams since September 2018.
It becomes real
“Our church has come alive with the understanding of lostness in Europe,” Curlee said. “For those who have been it has changed the way they see missions.”
When you spend time with missionaries, go to their grocery store, meet the friends they’re trying to reach and visit the coffee shop where they are working to engage people it becomes real, he said.
“We have names, faces and a relationship with folks who partner with us and directly benefit from our Lottie Moon emphasis,” Curlee said. “Our church is passionate and loves the work we accomplish together through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, but this gives us a personal touch we’ve never had before.”
It’s also been a reminder of what’s important and how God uses the faithfulness of believers to push the gospel into the darkness, he said. “This partnership is a powerful tool that the Lord is using to stir our hearts and wake us up.” (Grace Thornton)