Service projects make an impact

By July 16, 2008

Ireland
(MNN) — A program called Serve the City (STC) is reaching the lost in Dublin, Ireland
by living out the Gospel through practical service and social justice. 

A 23-year-old Irishman named Lorcan visited the home of his
mentally ill mother and was surprised to find several people clearing trash out
of the rooms and getting ready to paint. He wanted to know more about their motivation, so he now meets regularly
with Greater Europe Mission missionaries and wants to help with future service
projects. 

STC partners with local authorities, corporation leaders,
and churches to mobilize believers and non-believers to serve the
community. Including nonbelievers
expands the scope of the outreach even further. 

"[Nonbelievers] rub shoulders with Christians," said
GEM missionary Brandon Wellcome, "and this can spark discussions. That's a
key part of this ministry."

It began in 2006, when an Irishman named Alan heard about an
STC organization in Dublin
and wanted to show Christ's love in a hands-on way. He and his wife partner with Brandon &
Kristy Wellcome to run STC. 

"We talk about improving the quality of life for
people–" said Wellcome. "not only for those we serve but for those
who are serving. That's a Kingdom principle – putting your hands to serve your
neighbor."

This summer STC will partner with Urban Soul, a four-day
event involving 350 people and a special speaker. 

"Planning for Urban Soul has given us a lot of exposure
and connections with other people in the city," Wellcome said. "We're
looking forward to seeing what might happen after the event."

About 10 percent of Ireland's 4 million people are
immigrants, and 6 percent live in poverty. 
Only 1.6 percent of the population is evangelical — the smallest
percentage in the English-speaking world. Church attendance in non-Catholic denominations declined from 10 percent to 3.4 percent during the 20th
century. 

Half of the population is under 28 years old. Although the younger generation generally
turns away from the institutional church, it is seeking spiritual meaning, and
the evangelical church has grown more in the past 10 to 20 years than it has in
the past 130 years. 

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