Northern Ireland MP 2015
May 9-13, 2015
Sorry for the delay in getting out this blog, but it's going out tonight regardless.
We've been on the run since our arrival and I've only seen the team together once...on the 10th. But...most of the team arrived on either May 9 or 10 and were picked up and shuttled off to either the Lakeside Manor, the Blairs, or the Fosters. The team consists of:
Russ and Lindsay Reimer from Manitoba, Canada
Chadd Coop from Kleefeld, Canada
Bernard and Heidi Schellenberg from Manitoba, Canada
Nick and Sara Lusher from Michigan
Randy Strick from San Diego
Will McLaughlin from San Diego
Dan and Kristi Rodriguez from Los Angeles
Pat Stilson from Los Angeles
Dave Kromka from Ventura County
Kjell and Annelie Zingmark from Odeshog, Sweden
Robert Blair, from Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Services, has organized this Mission and is coordinating all the logistics. Lorraine Rankin has volunteered to prepare breakfast for the team each day at Lakeside Manor.
So all met early for devotions Sunday morning at Lakeside Manor. The message was focused on trusting in the Lord and based on Psalms 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Referencing the New Testament, we read from John 14:1-9, 15, 16, and 26-29. It starts off with "Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me." Jesus was trying to help His followers understand just who it is they have been following and to prepare them for His departure from this world. He would leave them to prepare a place for them "in His Father's house", but would not abandon them. He would ask for and the Father would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to abide with them forever. The application of this message was for us to be still and trust in the Lord, relying upon the Holy Spirit to lead and direct our steps.
Following devotions, Robert gave the whole team a briefing of the week to follow. We then split up in two different groups, attending church at Dromore Elim and Orangefield Presbyterian. I believe that Leland was interviewed and Kjell gave a message (but sorry, I don't have the details).
That evening, Pat and I flew to London and were hosted by Simon and Colleen Hewitt in Stowmarket, Suffolk County. We had a slight delay going through security. I forgot about an EMS knife I always carry in my uniform pocket. Not only was this a no-no for flight security reasons, but this particular knife is illegal in the U.K. because it has a locking blade, and is over 3" long. This alerted security personnel to confiscate my boarding pass and then notify the police. We got a talking to (although they were very nice) and I lost my knife. As we were walking away I thought, "This encounter would have never happened had I remembered to properly stow away my knife", so figuring the Lord may have had a hand in this, both of the nice officers received an FFC gospel tract, with a brief word about Providence.
Simon had arranged for a few meetings with personnel from Suffolk County Fire Service. Our first meeting was at their training center, located on a Wattisham Army base. We were able to meet with the head of their training department (equivalent to a battalion chief) and another officer two levels up (probably the equivalent to an assistant chief or bureau commander). They gave us a tour of the facility, which was very impressive. Their department has approximately 200 full-time firefighters and about 400 "retained firefighters" (paid on-call volunteers). Their training facility was immense. It included several live-fire burn containers (some 3-stories tall), an area for auto extrication, train derailment, grain silo rescue, high-angle rescue, classrooms, etc. After the tour, we were able to demonstrate the rescue strap and tell them a little bit about the ministry of FFC. They were very receptive, thanking us for the straps, New Testaments, CDs, and tracts. We also visited the Wattisham Fire Station (crash rescue), watched some Apache helicopters practice for a demonstration, and toured the Wattisham Air-Sea Rescue, a helicopter rescue squad in the Royal Air Force (similar to our Coast Guard). An airman there, Steve, gave us a great tour of his airship explaining everything in such detail. We exchanged some patches, FFC military-themed CDs, and such.
That afternoon, we paid a special visit to Simon and Colleen's neighbor, Angela. She was John's translator on his trip to Moscow. She is also the connection on how John and Jane met Simon and Colleen. We relayed John and Jane's warmest greetings to her and her family.
Our next visit was to Simon's Fire Station. This is a retained station where the crew meets one night per week for training. We watched as they performed their "weekly checks" on their apparatus, testing all their equipment. Their apparatus is a bit smaller, with a smaller pump capacity, less hose, but has much more equipment on board. All the volunteers were thoroughly familiar with their equipment and very professional. We were able to sit in on their classroom training time, demonstrated the rescue strap, and share the gospel with them.
The next day we visited a full-time station that Simon had previously arranged. The meeting started off a bit guarded, but ended on a great note. We gave the strap training, they put it in use on a hoseline and demonstrated some of their other equipment for us. We regrouped in the kitchen where we talked about FFC, shared the gospel, gave away a bunch of FFC ministry items, and traded shirts and hats. It was a good visit. Simon and Colleen treated us to a nice lunch and we spent the rest of the afternoon together before heading back to the airport.
After a nights rest at the Blairs, we rose early the next morning for devotions at Lakeside Manor. Pat read from Luke 15 and talked about the Parable of the Lost Son. He talked about how this story reminded him of a time when he used to take kids from Azusa Pacific University to Mexico for short-term mission trips. A pastor there would always teach on this parable. Pat said how he sometimes relates to the elder brother, and can sometimes be critical of others, but mentioned that the underlining message of this parable is the Lord’s extravagant love towards us.
We then split up again, some went to their watch ride-alongs (others were still out on their watches), and a few of us went to Robert’s station to conduct some training on the High-Lift Jack. This was led by Dave Kromka and was in preparation for the FFC-Northern Ireland trip to Uganda this Fall. While they finished this training, Pat and I went with Robert to headquarters. We met up with Paddy Quinn and paid a visit to the Assistant Chief (friend and FFC member), and then had audience with the Fire Chief. He has been very supportive of this FFC outreach and we had good conversation and Pat closed with prayer.
Then, I went off with Paddy to his station for a quick visit. I am now bunked down at his house and will be doing my ride-along here in Omagh tomorrow.
New friendships were made and old ones renewed during Northern Ireland MP 2015. One team member said, "Most important were the closer relationships made with Jesus."Pat Stilson and Dan Rodriguez were blessed to visit Simon Hewitt in Suffolk, England as part as MP 15. Suffolk Aerial Angela Nowak pictured with her husband, Stephen and their boys, introduced their next door neighbors, Simon and Colleen Hewitt to the ministry of Firefighters For Christ.Robert Blair, NI FFC's fearless leader, always has time to joke around with his fellow firefighters.Prayer is the backbone of FFC's ministry.USA firefighters, Leland David (Bakersfield, CA), Will McLaughlin (San Diego, CA) and Dave Kromka (Ventura County) enjoyed their time on the beautiful Emerald Isle.Phillip Scott's son attended FFC's NI breakfast with his dad.Dan Rodriguez gave the breakfast message on Mission Possible Saturday's morning gathering of forty people. He shared his conversion experience as well as a message from 1 Thessalonians 4, emphasizing the soon return of Jesus Christ. Lt to rt: Nick and Sara Lusher from Michigan, Heidi Schallenberg from Manitoba, Chadd Coop from Kleefeld, Canada, and Bernard Schallenberg from Manitoba were delighted to have the company of Phil Osborne and Brian Moore from Northern Ireland.Kjell and Annelie Zingmark from Odeshog, Sweden, are always great team members because of their love for the Lord.<>1 - 13
The firefighters working different shifts at different times had some great one-on-one encounters with the station members and went on some interesting calls. There were a few fires that guys responded to; mostly rubbish, auto, and attempted arson fires on vacant/abandoned buildings. Apparently, the hoodlum kids who started the fires were still on scene, defiantly resisting authority. Russ Reimer was told that this sometimes occurs as a means of drawing the firefighters toward them, where more of their buddies are waiting around the corner. Dave Kromka got to "ship a standpipe" (otherwise known as: laying a line, koppla upp brandposten, taking a hydrant, laying in, catching the hydrant, etc.) at the fire he responded on.
I had a really good time on this trip. For me, is wasn't about the ride-alongs, but about the time spent with the Hewitts and Quinns. I got to know them at a deeper level and how to pray for them more specifically. Also had some good one-on-one time with one guy on my watch, and was able to speak to a few different crews at different stations. It was really nice to see some new faces on this team - also some younger guys - and again, the women had some real quality time together. Lorraine really stepped up to the plate and took the lead with the ladies. After preparing breakfast each morning for the whole team, she led morning devotions with the women - and this experience was a real first for a few of the ladies. She then took them on daily field trips. I obviously saw none of this, but Kristi is filling me in now. Much thanks is due to Lorraine!
Of course Robert did a tremendous job. He had so many schedules to manage with our guys assigned to different stations and different watches. The different watches meant that the entire team was never able to get together (except the first and last day) and he and a couple other drivers were constantly on the road picking up and dropping off. But in talking with the guys riding out, they all had a great time and experienced some real God appointed opportunities. Some were asked serious questions about faith, which led to personal testimonies and sharing the gospel, others were there to encourage other believers in their faith. As with other trips, there was ministry taking place toward others, and those that went were also ministered to. On Saturday, while out shopping, Bernard was approached by a couple YWAMers on their own mission trip. He is full-time with Winnipeg and fire chief of a large county volunteer department...and basically too busy with fire stuff. In short-order conversation the YWAMers ended up praying for him and addressing some issues that apparently God had been convicting him of. The other new guys (younger guys) had other great things/stories to tell as we wrapped things up. I think there are a few new couples now looking forward to going to Hume. As always, God put together the perfect team for this mission.