Our Personal Journey
Dorothy and I met each other back in the early 1970’s while nursing. She was born in Kilkenny in the Republic of Ireland and was training in Dublin and I was born in Belfast and commenced my training there, shortly after the outbreak of civil unrest in 1969.
"The Charismatic Renewal Movement...drew Protestants and Catholics together in what was up to then, an unthinkable way."
Not long before we were married, we both had a radical encounter with Holy Spirit, as the Charismatic Renewal Movement swept right across Ireland. This drew Protestants and Catholics together in what was up to then, an unthinkable way. We where brought up in evangelical Protestant homes within a divided society, Catholic and Protestant – with different schools, language, music, culture – each believing that God had nothing to do with the “other side”. The Renewal Movement changed that for many thousands of us, as we found God pouring out His Spirit on both “sides”!
In the late 1970’s, we sensed that God was asking us to lay our nursing profession pursuits aside, and to join the staff of an international evangelism and discipleship organization, working within the Health Fields of the world – Healthcare Christian Fellowship. We headed up that work for 7 years in Dublin, followed by 5 years in the Netherlands, where Harry was the European Prayer Coordinator. Towards the end of that time we felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to return to Ireland and become part of a residential community called the Christian Renewal Centre, situated close to the border between the ‘north’ and the ‘south’. It began in 1974 under the leadership of the Rev. Cecil and Myrtle Kerr. Dorothy worked alongside other Community Members and short-term helpers to oversee the daily running of the Centre. Harry became the Prayer Coordinator and shortly afterwards joined the leadership team.
With the Kerr’s retiring in 2000, we took over the leadership role, which we remained in until June 2010, when we left to pursue a new leading of God in a ministry to be called – “Dignity Restored.”
A few years into our time at the Centre, I had an encounter with God that was to radically affect my live, even to this day. It all began with a God-given dream - something I had never had before in my life.
I woke up with a very vivid, full color movie picture of a beaver’s dam. To the left of it the ground was dry and barren, with only a few trickles of water filtering through. Along their courses there was vegetation. On the right of the dam a large volume of water was being retained. I could see people on the dam itself, working in an attempt to dismantle it. I had a strong sense that they knew the water needed to be released, so that it could flow across the barren ground. I was equally aware they were, by and large, not being very successful.
I was then taken down under the water, which was being held back by the dam, to its foundations. There I saw a large log lying across the full length of it, with the words “The Ulster Covenant” written on it. I clearly heard a voice speaking to me, “If you want to see this water flow out across the land, then you must remove the log in the foundations of this dam.” The “you” mentioned here had a very personal implication and also a wider corporate dimension to it.
I quote from the Introduction, to what eventually became a book, which catalogued my journey, entitled “Heal Not Lightly.”
“...having had such a vivid image, I was unable to quickly brush it off. In fact, it has kept itself very much to the fore over the last eleven years in a lot of what I have been doing. The journey during these years has been punctuated by a number of “stop-overs” at oases and a series of landmarks or milestones – not unlike the altars and stone pillars the children of Israel erected on their wilderness journey - firm reminders to them of specific meetings and encounters with God. It is these I want to share with you...
The context of that vision is clearly the Ulster Covenant and the Home Rule Bill of 1912, and I now know that the water in that picture is the River of God (mentioned in Ezekiel 47, John 15 and Revelation 22) – the Holy Spirit – and that God longs for the day when the current Church leadership in the Presbyterian, Church of Ireland and Methodist Churches (along with the Congregationalist, Reformed Presbyterian and Baptist Churches, which I found mention of in my research) identify with the wrong actions of their forefathers in putting the Covenant in place, and dismantle it through repentance, thus enabling a mighty torrent of the Holy Spirit to flow…
I am totally convinced that my forefathers’ response to the Home Rule Bill was wrong. It may have been a different time in history, politically and spiritually, but in retrospect I believe that they were wrong. Their actions have had devastating consequences in Ireland and for our generation, since the late 1960’s. Rick Joyner reiterates this in his booklet, “Overcoming the Accuser” … “The church has had a long history of trying to bring the kingdom of God on earth by might and power, without the Spirit. But the Lord stated: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5). Even if we are trying to accomplish the right goal, if it is not done by the Holy Spirit we will end up wounding instead of healing, bringing further division instead of reconciliation.” (Page 58. Para 1)
The plot thickens...
Do you ever feel that God is working out something in the circumstances of your life, way beyond anything you could every image or think, that He is in a sense, “setting you up”?
When I decided to do a web-based study course in 2004, with the International Reconciliation Coalition, based in Ventura, California, I could never have dreamt of its outcome. One of the last questions to be answered before going on a weeks residential in Ventura went something like this – “Is there a people group, outside of your people group and outside of your country, that you need to reach out to in reconciliation?” I initially thought of the Irish Catholic Diaspora in America, which came about because of the 1845 Potato Famine in Ireland. As I started to research my answer I came across a number of issues – Andrew Jackson (the 7th President of the United States), whose family came from Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim; The Trail of Tears and the term Manifest Destiny. To my surprise I started to weep and along with this was a strong sense that it was somehow or other connected to the research I was doing on the Ulster Covenant. My visit to Ventura and subsequent visits to America on a yearly basis since then, were I have met with both White and Native Americans, has confirmed within me that I am being connect into reconciliation work among these two groups. Hence this website and the current research for my second book – “A Destiny Denied – A Dignity Restored.”
It has become increasingly clear to me that aspects of theology which were developed in Scotland in the 17th century by the Covenanters, and then brought to Ireland during the Plantation in the 17th century, to be resurrected by the Presbyterian Church in 1912, were taken by them as the Scotch-Irish to America in the early 18th century. Equally so, the thinking that could enable Cromwell to justify the persecution of Roman Catholics in Ireland was also ‘exported’ to America in the mid-17th century. Both had devastating consequences on the Native American population as they were killed and removed from their lands. This is, I know rather simplistic – there are many other overlapping factors, but this was sufficient to connect me into something that I now clearly know to be on God’s heart for both the Native and White Americans as well as the people of Ireland. The reality is, that all of us have had, to varying degrees, our destinies denied by sin and circumstances. God is in the business of wanting to restore our destinies in Him, as individuals, as the Church and as nations.