CA in Ballina
Ballina is a small town on the west coast of Ireland, with a population of just over 10,000. It is the largest town in County Mayo and the vast majority of people there live in rural areas and have agricultural ties with the land. The Ballina Centre of Mission opened in 2016 in partnership with Ballina Churches Together and the Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry. The aim of the Centre of Mission, led by Marian Edwards, is to build bridges within the local community and to meet the spiritual and practical needs of people of all ages, seeking to support people through prolonged difficulty or immediate need.
👋Meet Marian Edwards
“I have always believed in God, but it wasn’t until I was 22 and started to read the Bible that I really got to know Him. Throughout my life, there has been suffering, but I have always leaned hard on God. I have seen his hand in my life on many occasions, even with how I came to know Church Army, to me it was miraculous. It was a chance meeting with a lady who had come to the town to give a talk about CA. I couldn’t believe there was an organisation willing to take me, train me and equip me to share the love of Jesus and enable me to achieve a qualification from Durham University. This sort of thing just didn’t happen to people on the west coast of Ireland, and I was 50! I jumped at the chance, and I knew it was divine providence. I knew God was calling me into Church Army, I had no idea what it would lead to, but I knew it was my calling.
I’m now an Evangelist at the Ballina Centre of Mission. I meet people where they are in their struggles, grief and turmoil, and I show them the love of God through support, both practically and pastorally. I walk through the town and encounter people that way; it’s a great way to make connections and to follow the example Jesus set by walking through towns and meeting with people. My work is very much relationship and friendship based, and a big part of that is being present and visible in the community.
I work with people who may need help with the costs of fuel or food bank referrals, especially with costs spiralling at the moment. There is also a lot of need for help with mental health issues and isolation. There is a large traveller community in the area. Some of the female travellers have faced real hardship and emotional trauma, and they need a friend, someone to listen without judgement. A lot of their relationships can be quite insular, and they sometimes face abuse within their communities and can carry a lot of guilt and need someone to talk to.
One of the things we use a lot here is the art of Kintsugi pottery. It’s a Japanese philosophy of repairing broken objects with gold. In the West, we throw everything away, and maybe we throw away these broken people. Kintsugi sees the treasure in jars of clay and treats repair as the history of the object rather than something to disguise. It says that beauty can be found in imperfection. For me, the challenge is figuring out how I can pour gold into these broken vessels.
I want to meet with people in their times of need and let them know the Good News. We need to bring more Good News to the streets and local communities, just like Jesus did. He had encounters with ordinary people, and they were encounters of mercy. People are already carrying burdens of guilt and shame, some are already broken and fragile people, and we need to tell them there is a way to salvation. We need to give them the Good News of Jesus. They need to feel God’s love, mercy and grace.
- Pray for more volunteers for this part of His harvest field.
- Pray for those involved in the work at the Centre of Mission,that they too will become ‘fishers of men’.
- Pray for the Irish Traveller community in Ballina, that they will come to know the grace of God and his Word.
- Pray that the team will be united in purpose and vision to share the Good News of the Kingdom.
- Pray for continuous provision for the Centre of Mission and give thanks for the consistent love and support.