Northern Ireland is different to the rest of Ireland. It’s under British rule. It has a history of division and conflict. And I’m only here for a few days so it’s hard to have any deep understanding of the real issues underlying the historical conflicts: Left/Right, Protestant/Catholic, North/South, Loyalist/Republican, IRA/British Army etc. What remains is a town replete with murals of every size and color (consult google) with art memorialising the various aspects of the conflict. The remarkable thing is the lack of counter graffiti. It seems that if nothing else, they respect each other’s right to speak.
The accent is broad, unlike the lilting southern Irish accent. I struggle to get my tongue around it but am determined to add it to my list of accessible accents for inclusion in future stories of my travels. Rain is not pronounced with one syllable: rayne, it is a two syllable: ray-in. To be sure, to be sure (you never say that in Belfast..)
I have four events here. On the Friday Hannah Fairchild (now resident in Dublin) is the main speaker at a woman’s event. She invites me to sing, so I lead a couple of worship songs at the start and a couple of my own at the end. There are about 45 in attendance and a lovely anointing where I sense the Holy Spirit minister to many present, as testified by the comments afterwards. On the Saturday I have my own concert at the same venue, with a small turnout, then two services on the Sunday at Castlereagh and Grove Baptist churches, similar in style to the Brethren church in NZ. Lovely people, faithful in the Word, but churches dwindling in numbers, a sign of the difficult times we live in, and you ponder the future. I take heart from Jesus words: I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16.18 Lord, build your church!