Saturday, June 01, 2013

Norn Iron

The conference attendees in front of Stormont in Belfast
I just spent 5 days at a Faith in Conflict Conference in what is otherwise known as Northern Ireland... The conference was held in Rostrevor, which is a village on the border with Ireland, and so the view from my window was actually the Republic of Ireland across the loch. It is a beautiful place, and the people at the YWAM base are great, so besides the great content of the conference, I also had a wonderful time in the surroundings as well.
The conference was about reconciliation and people from all over the world, including Palestine and Nigeria, where conflict has been around faith, attended. Four of us from Central Europe (pictured below in front of Stormont) attended and it was a great time for us as we examined what it means to have faith in areas of conflict.
We spent one day going into Belfast together and it really was a special day of meeting different people who are working at reconciliation in Northern Ireland...

Jonny Clark, YWAM Ireland leader, was our awesome tour guide: He grew up in Belfast, and also led a YWAM work there for a while, so he was a perfect guide...
We started off in Clonard Monastery with a talk by Steve Stockman, a Presbyterian Minister, and Father Martin from the Catholic church, about their relationship and what they have been doing to build bridges between the two communities. 
The fun thing is, I met Steve in South Africa in 2000 when he brought a team from Northern Ireland to build a house with Habitat for Humanity, and I hosted him and the team for that... he was a bit shocked when I got off the bus which was really fun! Great to see him again!
Besides hearing great stuff from lots of good people, we also got to see some of the areas that are well known for being part of the troubles, the Falls road and the Shankhill Road...

Catholic mural on the Falls road:
 Protestant mural near the Shankill Road:
 A "peace wall" in west Belfast...
It wasn't all conference, conference, conference... I did get to experience a little taste of Ireland. And you can't go to Ireland without going to the pub: And we even got to experience traditional Irish music in a little corner pub in Rostrevor:
My new friend, Belinda (who is from Australia, but of Irish descent) took us down and showed us how she plays along on her bodhrán:
This is my third trip to Norn Iron, and I have a feeling it won't be my last... Every time I go back I feel like my time there isn't finished yet. I felt this trip was particularly significant and am so glad that I went to this conference!

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