Eithne: Ballina

Ballina Centre of Mission, Ballina Churches Together Volunteer

I met Emma for the first time in 2016, shortly after she’d accepted the position of Lead Evangelist (at Ballina Centre of Mission). In 2018 she was joined by Marian (Pioneer Evangelist). They became a very formidable team – Emma gentle, welcoming, and caring; Marian vibrant, passionate, and dynamic. A team that befriended all. They welcomed the marginalised, the lonely, the lost, the hurting, the wounded, and the misfit. They shared a winsome yet clear presentation of the gospel and empathised with the broken and wounded.

I write these lines as one of the many volunteers who worked and walked alongside Emma and Marian, and the many volunteer bus drivers, on a weekly basis. We worked as a unit and enjoyed the fellowship, work, and unity that ensued.

The community bus was a tremendous asset and blessing to Ballina and its environs. It was God’s appointed vehicle of opportunity, a safe haven, an open door to meet and gather and get to know both young and old, in a relaxed, nonthreatening, and friendly environment.

The Cupan tae and sing-alongs were always welcome, and many emerged from the bus both refreshed and invigorated. Although the bus has had its day due to circumstances beyond our control, the work will continue – new ways of operation, more open doors, and methods of outreach.

As a volunteer I have learned and gleaned so much during these five years. I admire Emma and Marian’s commitment and consistency to the weekly ‘Children’s Hour’ in the various estates despite the inclement weather. Reward enough was the joy on the little faces and the happy chant from the approaching children

“Hurry, hurry, the Big Blue Bus IS HERE!” I will never forget the wonderful fellowship, impromptu times of prayer, times of laughter and song, times of excitement and expectation. Times we sought God’s protection and saw answers to our prayers almost immediately. No one could doubt the sense of God’s presence. I could go on and on. The delicious meals prepared by Marian, Robson, and volunteers were enjoyed by all. I could speak of the visitations to the lonely, the sick, and the hurting.

Visits and return visits too numerous to mention; the street ministry, the Blessing Bags, and – one of my favourite activities – The Prayer Walks, especially those by the River Moy. The involvement of Church Army has brought nothing but blessings to the Ballina area.

It is impossible to measure the tremendous work done by both ladies, as led by the Holy Spirit and empowered by Almighty God. Positive relationships have been established, seeds have been sown, and stones of obstruction have been removed. Lives have been touched and changed utterly.

Thank you Emma and Marian for all you have done in our community.

Philippians 1:6 comes to mind; God will continue His work and bring it to completion.

Find out more about Ballina Centre of Mission or read more volunteer stories.