Ireland Inspires

Spring Break was pretty incredible! A group of students and Staff spent a week interacting with Irish college students and exploring Ireland. Here are some student’s thoughts and insights from their time abroad!

"The first couple of days of sharing was pretty rough for me. I've had conversations where students were not receptive of God's grace because they thought they had to be good and follow the rules in order to get into Heaven. It was also hard to share the Gospel with them because most of the students I talked to thought they already knew it since they grew up Catholic. But even though I have those days where sharing my faith is really tough and it seems like people are not interested in hearing about Jesus, God has been reminding me that I can't change the hearts of people--only He can do that. I can also find confidence knowing that no matter how good or how bad conversations may end up being, I've planted seeds, and all I can do is trust God with the growth.” - Kim

The highlight of my trip was receiving a "second appointment" with four students (Gavin, Yazmeen, Mairead, and Aisling) of Dublin City University. My friend from Berkeley Cru, Emily, and I began engaging with this talkative bunch at their campus cafeteria. They were inquisitive about our lives in California and we shared with them why we are so passionate about God. At the end of the conversation, they invited us to join them for dinner at their place. Of the entire team, Emily and I were the only ones to receive a "second appointment" so we had to accept the invitation! To be honest, I was expecting pizza in a tiny university dorm. Instead, we were welcomed into a spacious university apartment. To my surprise, the table was fully set. They served us three courses: homemade vegetable soup, Guinness beef stew, and raspberry cheesecake. Ireland is known to be "the Land of a Thousand Welcomes". I witnessed that firsthand. I said grace before mealtime and we exchanged laughs for almost 3 hours. One of the Irish students, Mairead, played traditional Irish music on her fiddle. Of the four Irish students, Aisling told Emily and me, "make sure to connect me with your Christian community [Agape]".

Even if Emily and I were only able to bring a few students to seek faithful growth, our contributions therein have the potential to create a ripple effect. This spring break mission trip helped me define how I look at the world and my own spiritual journey with a newfound perspective. I saw some of the most beautiful sights, learned about a country I previously knew nothing about, participated in bible studies that affirmed my passion, and met amazing people who I could talk about those passions with. I ate Irish stew several times and lots of grass-fed beef. I was at times nervous to approach people, but most of the time, I was exhilarated. I witnessed amazing views like the Cliffs of Moher and the vibrant nightlife of Irish pubs. I felt like I was living through history. I am so thankful for this experience because it has been admittedly life-changing.” - Jenica

“It was wonderful! I loved being there. I was surprised at how easy it was to actually have conversations with complete strangers about God and spiritual things. It’s amazing how willing the students were to talk about deep things and their beliefs. It motivated me to have more of those conversations here at Cal. One conversation in particular was with a freshmen guy named Tom. Tom wasn't interested in God or religion, but as we talked with him and shared the gospel and told him about Jesus coming to have a personal relationship with him, Tom said I have never heard that before. People here need to hear the gospel; to hear religion isn’t about just being a good person and it’s not just about following rules. It’s about a personal relationship with Jesus that is life giving.” -Madison

During this trip, the Lord really gave me a heart for the lost. Growing up in the church gave me many opportunities to go on mission trips and do service work, but my time in Ireland was one of the first times in which I interacted with people who knew a lot about Jesus, but did not have any personal relationship with Him. Through interacting with Irish students on campuses across Dublin and Galway, I quickly learned that Jesus as these students understood him was not the Jesus that I know. Their Jesus struck fear and guilt into their hearts, His love and mercy contingent on their good deeds, whereas mine called me to Himself in loving kindness and beckoned me to a personal and real relationship with Him. As Americans, I think it is easy to call ourselves "Christians" and gloss over the crux of Christianity - we miss the Gospel entirely when we miss the opportunity for a deep and personal relationship with Christ. And so, the Lord has been working on my heart in this way - softening my heart and allowing me to feel the weight of the tragedy that is the multitude of people who believe in this fragmented version of Jesus.” -Shelby