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What is it like to be an Evangelical Christian in Ireland?

Is it different from any other faith? We found out.

Image: Bible via Shutterstock

IF THE TERM Evangelical Christian evokes images of the American south, you might be surprised to find that there are people practising the faith across Ireland.

Across Ireland, there are numerous churches and congregations. Many of those who practice are ex-Catholics, though many immigrants make up a number of key positions in the church.

The Religion

In terms of faith, Evangelical Christians beliefs are divorced from Catholicism in one key way.

They believe that God’s grace is bestowed upon all who believe in the word of Jesus. They believe that works beyond that – charity or societal works – are an off shoot of that grace, not demanded by it.

As Ludie Creech of Operation Mobilisation puts it: “The works are the fruit of God’s grace, not the root of it.

“This whole idea of Evangenical Christians is a bit shaky ice because peopel have different definitions.

“We believe that people are saved through Grace, Faith and Jesus Christ alone. God has been good enough to grant us salvation if we repent and believe.

“Jesus said that he is the way, the truth and he extends that invitation to everyone who repents and accepts his teachings.

“Most other religions believe that you have to work for that, but we believe that we are saved and do works to show the gratitude.”

In Ireland

Ludie himself came to Ireland in 2008, leaving Atlanta, Georgia and a job in landscaping. He and his family are based in Roscommon and work to spread the word of their religion.

How did he end up in Ireland?

“It’s a long answer. I became a Christian in 2002 and really began to study the bible and learned what it means to be a follower of Christ. I started to have this compulsion that the word of the Lord needed to be spread.

“It’s a bit of a long answer, but God opened up a door to allow us spread the word.”

Evangelical Christians are inter-denominational Christian grouping. Roughly 1.5% of Irish people are members of the faith. That makes Ireland the lowest percentage of Evangelical Christians in the English-speaking world.

But it is important to note that it is a loose definition. The services are markedly different to Catholic masses.

“We don’t call it Mass. We call it a worship service. There is prayer, singing of songs and preaching God’s word.

“In most, if not all churches, there is breaking of bread, but we see these as symbolism.”

The Misconceptions

Many Irish people will know Evangelical Christians are known for their enthusiasm, music and fervour. But is that all helpful?

“That enthusiasm manifests itself in certain ways. Some of that isn’t helpful, some of the things you see don’t help.

“We believe that the Bible is the final authority and that does give us great hope and great joy.”

Irish people have a varying array of reactions when Ludie tells them of his faith.

“There’s a wide spectrum of reactions. Some people are influenced by misconceptions like Christian TV and some of the zany things we see.

“The past few years there’s been a lot of questions about organised religion, so it’s a good conversation starter.

“We’re not out to get people to follow one denomination. We are out to spread the word of the Lord and of Jesus’ on the cross.”

For more on Operation Mobilisation, click here or email info.ie@om.org.

This is the fourth in a series on minority religions in Ireland. If you are a member of a minority faith and would like to tell your story, email paulhosford@thejournal.ie

Read: What is it like to be a Muslim in Ireland?

Read: What is it like to be a Mormon in Ireland?

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