Our dear friends David and Nina Rice live in Ashford, County Wicklow and we have had the pleasure of knowing them for over twenty five years. Whenever we visit them and other friends we are deeply touched and encouraged at how Jesus is honoured in simple ways with no fanfare! We hope you are encouraged as you read their responses to our questions.
1. Tell us a little about your experience of Church life in Ireland and how this unfolds locally.
We are very blessed to have shared living fellowship with a sizeable group of believers for many years, in some cases since the early 70’s. During that time the Lord has taken us from being a group focused on doing ‘house church’ correctly through a process of laying down all the structures and official leadership roles to live as we now do, enjoying a relational lifestyle where the Lord and His working in and through each life is a priority. It is easiest described as just like a family.
Day to day folks share life together. That takes many forms:- meals are shared; one on one conversations that share life and support; day to day tasks are shared; advice is requested and received; as the Lord leads each one seeks to be available to share, to pray, to care, to support. None of this is orchestrated except by the Holy Spirit and most of it quite private. On occasions the Lord calls a larger group to gather to wait on Him or to pray for a specific reason.
2. You have recently been to Kenya on a visit. Can you share with us a little of your time with the folk there?
We have appreciated David’s sharing about their time in Kenya and will post this separately next time.
3. What do you see as the main ingredients to experiencing Church life with His family?
In a family everyone is very clear who is a brother or sister. They all come from the same parenthood. It is not a group you can join like a club, you must be born into it. As we all respond to Father’s love and caring correction and direction we feel secure in our relationships with His children. Just like in any family everyone knows who is good at some task or not so good at others so we come to recognize the God-given gifts He has put among us and the areas of weakness where encouragement or support is required to make it through. The fact that one has a strength does not make them more or less a sibling than the weakest. Relationships are strong because of Him.
As we live like this we develop a secure, positive and loving attitude to all of the Lord’s family, even those we do not know well. We recognize the kinship in Him. We recognize less and less the man-made boundaries that separate and we develop inclusive hearts to all of His children.
The first and most important thing is knowing His wonderful love deep in our hearts. This enables us to be secure in the face of misunderstanding or criticism. It enables us to let our guard down so that we do not mind what others see in us; be it our weaknesses or failings. When we walk humbly like this it is natural to enjoy His fellowship and be open to enjoy Him in others and to appreciate the freshness of Jesus in them. We develop a confidence in Him and not in our own abilities.
Like any love relationship growing together takes time and devotion. When we are born again into His family the first thing we feel is His love but it takes time and experience of His dealing with us to become confident in that love. As trust and confidence grows He makes us free from the desire to hide that is a consequence of the shame our sin and sense of failure bring. Healthy church life in His family can make that process so much easier.
The other thing that comes to mind is the truth that Jesus said He would build His Church. Only He knows how to accomplish this though it is wonderful that we may be fully
involved and committed to that process as we walk humbly in harmony with Him. I believe He desires to share His delight in His Bride with us as grow up in Him. Lord grant it that your children may come to walk in harmony with you until ‘your will is truly done on Earth as it is in Heaven’. Amen.