“The Word of the Lord grew and multiplied”

A brief summary of the happenings at Moira Baptist Church 2001 – 2007

When Pastor McFarland presented his paper to the historical society in September 2001, he had no idea what Providence held for him and the church. He had been preaching through the book of Acts under the title, “A church without walls” and many testified then and since then that God spoke to the church more powerfully than ever before.

In his last sermon, two days before Christmas 2001, David preached on Acts 12 about “the church under attack”. He began, “How good God has been to us. In two weeks we celebrate 15 years as a church here; we are approaching 100 in membership and I believe making a growing impact in our community. We have declared ourselves to be a “Church with a heart”, and many, many people have declared that we are. We are aiming to be a church without walls and the concept has clearly gripped you and we are seeing evidence of a church beginning to reach out. Things are going well but Satan does not like it. As soon as things look good, we can be sure he will throw everything at us.”

He was unaware then of the impending catastrophic heart failure that would be diagnosed the following weekend and later he would learn that he required a heart transplant. (Ed. In the providence of God David never received a transplant. )

The providences of God are sometimes very strange. The Church and the Pastor were to face many uncertain days, but always we were given grace to see that God was in control and that His way is perfect.

In almost his last words, the Pastor said, “Look at v24. “…the Word of the Lord grew and multiplied.” We are part of a host that has marched through this world for 20 centuries and is still marching. Satan has rained the fires of hell against the church and it has come through without the smell of fire upon it, for nothing can stop the church of Christ. Understand the power of God. There is no greater power in this universe. Christ is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The devil will always be defeated in the end. We will always be victorious, whether we live or die. But this kind does not come forth except through prayer and fasting.”

Under the faithful ministry and leadership of the Elders, the preaching of those who each week brought God’s Word and the prayerfulness of the church, the Word grew and multiplied. What could easily have been a very difficult period for the church, became a time of both consolidation and growth, numerically and spiritually.

It gradually became clear that the Pastor would not return to health quickly and would be unable to fulfil his Pastoral ministry in Moira. At the end of April 2003, his eight-year ministry formally concluded. David and Joanna continue to be a part of Moira Baptist where they still enjoy the love, support and practical care of a church with a heart and where they still do what they can to serve the Lord.

We were blessed through a number of men, with years of Pastoral experience, moving to Moira and joining the church. They provide much helpful, consecutive ministry and their fellowship and advice is greatly appreciated.

A growing church required additional deacons; the eldership was increased to four and many members took on extra responsibilities. Attendances increased, making it imperative that the balcony was completed, so giving us almost 100 extra seats in the building. A vision for outreach grew, with quite a number of members getting involved in reaching out with the Gospel at home and abroad. One particular ministry that impacts our village is Megalife Ministries, where Wilson Archer and his team are being salt and light late at nights on the streets of Moira. Simon Mawhinney entered Belfast Bible College and Mark Steele completed his training at the Irish Baptist College. Mark was commissioned to the ministry in April 2005. He and Heather and family have spent almost two years in England and we are delighted to know the Lord is leading them home to ministry in Sion Mills in 2007.

For years our accommodation for children and young people had been “bursting at the seams.” Sunday School, Bible Class, Youth clubs, Youth fellowship, Crèche, Children’s church and Parent and Toddler group all desperately needed more space and resources. In 2006 we added a wonderful suite of additional accommodation, marvellously equipped with the technology and resources useful for a growing church. The Car park was extended and resurfaced. What a far cry from the days of a leaking portable building and a draughty caravan in a windswept field! God’s provision has been good.

Membership has increased, despite a number of members moving away from the district and at the end of 2006, 121 members are now on the roll. There is a growing commitment to prayer with meetings well attended and home study groups, with people hungry to know more of God, have grown in number and enthusiasm. More members than ever before are involved in all aspects of ministry. Souls have been saved and added to the church. Some of those born since the formation of the church are today saved and active in the Lord’s work here. After years of sowing the seed of the Word, we wait patiently for God to bring in His harvest.

Throughout the years since 2003, the burden of the Elders has been to seek God’s face for a Pastor to come to Moira. Our Elders are to be commended for their godly devotion to this task in addition to all the extra responsibilities that a pastoral vacancy has brought upon them. The Church has faithfully supported and encouraged them, as they wait with patience and expectancy for the Lord’s direction to the man of His choosing.

Twenty years may seem such a short time to celebrate, and yet for us it is a marvellous landmark to the glory of God and a wonderful encouragement to spend our lives for His glory in our community. May God keep us faithful and true.

Let us give glory to God alone; “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honour come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!” 1 Chron. 29:11-13