Gospel Literature Ireland (GLI) is a recently established trust whose objectives as outlined in the Trust Deed, are ‘the advancement and promotion of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of the Bible’, to be achieved ‘through the distribution of free literature … in public places within Ireland’. This article by Andrew Shanks outlines the background to the establishment of GLI and current plans for gospel witness.
For many years, several believers, from assemblies across Ireland, visited the annual National Ploughing Championships in various sites across Ireland to hand out gospel literature ‘on foot’. We had been praying that the Lord would open a door for us to take our GoodNews4U exhibition unit to the Championships in order to distribute Bible-based gospel material, but for several years the door remained closed. The Championships were first held in 1931 and have grown to be the largest trade exhibition in Ireland. For three days each September, the Championships occupy 700 acres of land, comprise 1,100 Trade Exhibition stands, and attract over 180,000 visitors. People travel from all over Ireland to attend the Championships. As well as agricultural exhibitors, other attractions include a food fair, craft village, motor show, stands relating to education and lifestyle, and many varieties of entertainment and special events.
In 2012 our application was finally accepted, giving us complete freedom to display Scripture texts from our trailer and tent, and to offer gospel material. We faced many logistical difficulties as our application was accepted only a short time before the Championships began. However, the Lord intervened and allowed us to purchase and prepare several items, including cotton shopping bags printed with John 3 v. 16 and pre-filled with gospel items, pens and pencils with a Bible verse printed on them, leaflets, books, CDs, fridge magnets, and various items for children.
That year the event was held in Co. Wexford in the south-east corner of Ireland. Thirty-four helpers joined us to share in this gospel work, and we were pleased that, despite very wet weather, we were able to interact with so many visitors. Around 18,500 people accepted one of the shopping bags, and we held many conversations with people who stopped to chat. Children were keen to get something for free, and we took this opportunity to chat to parents and provide literature.
In 2013 the Lord continued to open doors for us and we obtained permission to take the GoodNews4U trailer back to the Ploughing Championships, this time held in Ratheniskea, Co. Laois. This location was more central with three nearby motorways providing better access, and as a consequence numbers attending the event increased to 220,000, the largest ever! This time we pre-filled the cotton shopping bags with a pen displaying Romans 6 v. 23, a printed gospel leaflet with tear-off response card, and an invitation for Postal Bible School (Ireland). Around 19,500 of these bags were taken by members of the public, as well as many other items, and we have since had several written requests for Bibles and other items we had offered on the response card.
In both these visits to the Ploughing Championships, we met many who were really searching for the truth, living empty lives and looking for hope. It was a privilege to be able to give Bibles to a number of folk; one very religious lady took fifteen Bibles back to County Cork for her friends who had been meeting to study the word whilst all sharing one Bible. Many teenagers visiting the show engaged in serious conversations about God and took CDs and other items.
During our preparations for the 2013 Championships we were increasingly challenged by the massive organisational operation required to plan for this event. We believed that if the Lord was going to continue to provide us with such opportunities, it was our responsibility to be faithful stewards of all He provides. We therefore prayerfully considered formally involving some others in the logistical side of this work. As a result, Gospel Literature Ireland was established. There are currently five Trustees – myself and four other brethren from across Ireland – and we are currently applying to have a stand at the 2014 Championships, which are being held in the same location as 2013. We have ordered a larger supply of shopping bags and hope, God willing, to distribute up to 30,000 this year. We are also looking for other items for use at the Championships. Please join us in prayer for wisdom in the choices made, so that they will be suitable and effective for reaching lost souls with the gospel.
Please pray with us, as we prepare for this outreach, that we may have opportunities to share the gospel with many people from across the island of Ireland. We are aware of other large shows and exhibitions in Ireland, and are praying for guidance as to whether we should expand into some of those. For now, however, our focus is on what the Lord has been pleased to do for us up until now at the Ploughing Championships, and we trust He will do the same or even more than we expect this year, God willing.
If you would like further information please contact: Gospel Literature Ireland, Hawthorn Drive, Newcastle West, Co Limerick, Ireland. E-mail: [email protected].