Advent is an ideal time to remember why we have the Faith we do, writes Tony Foy
Did you ever think that we would get to the stage that Ireland needs missionaries? We all celebrate Christmas but somehow, recently, we have forgotten why.
I am the Director of a Catholic mission of young people from Ireland and around the world working to reach the young people of Ireland. NET (National Evangelisation Teams) is also in America, Canada, Australia, Uganda and Scotland. It started almost 40 years ago and has trained and supported thousands of young missionaries who are on fire for their faith.
The story of how I came to be leading this mission in Ireland is very personal. It started when Sheena, my wife, met a young lady who happened to be NET Ireland’s first permanent staff member. Sheila felt a call from God to come to Ireland from her job with NET Canada, to open the mission office here.
She was going home for Christmas and was not coming back. My wife told Sheila that we had a big house, and not to let accommodation affect her decision to come back after Christmas. She could stay with us for a couple of weeks until she got herself sorted out.
Five years later Sheila was still living with us! It was a privilege having this holy young woman live with our family. We learned not to shout and scream as a family because Sheila might hear us! We have seven children – so you can imagine how positive it was.
Sheila brought us into contact with the mission of NET and with the missionaries who often stayed in our home. The impact of having young faith-filled people, who were also great fun, was profound on our family. Sheena and I did the best we could to bring our children up in the Faith, but without the positive peer pressure of having NET missionaries around, the job would have been much more difficult, or even impossible.
Our older three (now adult children) have been or are missionaries with NET internationally.
I was invited on to the Board of NET Ireland in 2007, and in January 2012 went full time, leaving our still successful family business to my very understanding parents. At the time NET did not have the funds to pay a living salary but Sheena and I felt the Lord would bless us if we were prepared to step out in faith and follow Him. Seven years on, we have never regretted that decision.
So why are we writing a series of articles on the Christmas message? Partly because we feel, as a mission, very connected to the vulnerability of Jesus when He came to us as a baby with the ultimate view of our salvation. This Advent series has the view of letting folks know about why young people want to tell their peers about Him.
We want to also encourage you, if you are hanging on to your faith as best you can and you are wondering why, when your whole family has abandoned it. Please stay close to Jesus. He is real, and He loves you. Your faith in Him will be rewarded and He will care for your loved ones.
The Good News is that Jesus is alive and he is raising up a new generation of young people who are on fire for him.
They aren’t content with half measures and want to go all out! They know that what the culture offers them is a slow dying to goodness, truth and beauty. They want more and when they hear about Jesus and what he has for them, they are inspired and many want to follow him.
If you want to know more about NET, check out our website on www.netministries.ie
Tony Foy is Executive Director of NET Ministries Ireland.