Chris and Larena Johnston — Missionaries to Ireland Oct. 2021
Massive Support and Encouragement
Greetings loved ones! We’re settled back in Galway,
after a whirlwind of a training season for our family. Honestly, it’s
so nice to have the stability. We have been taking some time to get
our house back in order, meeting with pastors, and celebrating
Liam’s first birthday!
This past week Liam turned 1 year old! I can’t believe
it. He’s already been walking around the house, dancing, and
kicking a soccer ball. He’s so amazing. We thank God for our two
wonderful kids. It’s hard to believe there was a time when we were
struggling to start our family, dealing with loss after loss,
wondering what the future would look like. I’m reminded of the
time Larena randomly met an amazing couple from Texas who
gave us a random prophesy and encouragement: despite our
struggles, God was going to give us children. Now look at us!
Now, we begin to take steps towards another promise
God gave us. We have begun meeting with national leaders and
local pastors, sharing our vision of the city center church plant.
Before leaving Dublin, Pastor Jamie had challenged us. He said
it was great that we have mentors in the States who we go to for
support and to bounce ideas off of, but we were lacking mentors
who are on the ground in Ireland. So, as a part of our meeting with
national leaders, we’ve asked a few of them to be a part of our Irish
mentors. All of them enthusiastically said yes!
One of our meetings was with Pastor Sean Mullarkey,
lead pastor of St. Mark’s Church and the head of Christian
Churches Ireland. He was so encouraging. We were so blessed
that he took the time to meet with us despite his busy schedule,
and even more blessed by the life giving words he spoke over us.
He gave us some advice for starting a church from the ground up.
He assured us that not only does he have our back, but CCI has our
back as well. Also, he really spoke to our identity, reminding us
that we are genuine, pastoral, and that we have what it takes to
establish this church. He liked that we know “who we are and who
we’re not.” One piece of advice he gave that really resonated with
me was to not over promise. Basically what that means is, don’t
compare to other big churches and then set expectations too high.
It’s easy to compare, and we’re certainly driven by a vision of the
future church that God has put on our hearts. We want to see an
enormous impact on the community. We want to see lives changed
and hearts committed to the Lord. But, all of it takes careful
obedience to God’s will, as well as baby steps. If we get too far
ahead of ourselves, we run the risk of falling flat or having the
burden of disappointment. So, our constant prayer is for God to
not just lead us towards the vision He’s given us, but also to help
us see each next step, stay humble, and go at the pace that’s
necessary for Galway.
Another national leader we met with and we asked to
become a mentor was Pastor Brian Somerville, second in
command and head of the CCI academic program. I worked
closely with Brian a few years back when I was in the program,
and developed the remote learning hubs that tripled enrolment and
made it available across Ireland. Brian was completely behind us.
His words echo in our hearts, “Galway deserves a life giving
church.” He suggested becoming a part of the CCI church plant
networking, and gave us great encouragement and advice.
We feel it’s a very important step to connect with local
pastors in Galway, so we reached out to pastors in the local town
of Athenry. Pastor Sean O’Mahony and his wife Julia were a great
blessing to us. They have started two churches, one just south of
Dublin, and the other in Athenry (25min from Galway City). They
were delighted to hear that there’d be another church coming to
Galway. It was great getting advice from someone who has not
only planted churches before, but has planted in the West. I was
always convinced that the West is a hard place in general to do
ministry, but Pastor Sean reassured me. He said it’s easy to reach
people in Galway. Every week, Pastor Sean is out there
intentionally sharing the gospel and praying with people on the
streets and in businesses. His stories were very encouraging!
Mark O’Mahony is Sean’s son. He recently took over
the leadership of the church, and is also excited for us coming to
Galway City. Mark and his wife Regan are actually close friends
and live up the road from us. Not only were they very encouraging
as well, but they also invited us to attend their church until we get
up and started. Their 3 boys are friends with Anora and Liam.
It’s great to have all of this support, both on the national level as
well as locally. We thank God for the community and friendship
we have with the O’Mahonys as well. This helps us not feel
We are constantly reminded we’re not alone by you as
well. You are an amazing support to us. We love your letters and
emails, your kind words on social media, and your prayers. We
value you more than you know! I could never fully explain how
it feels to be a missionary in a foreign country, learning as we go.
I could never fully express the heartbreak, knowing our family is
so far away and haven’t even been able to see Liam in person yet.
But all of your support and connections help bridge the gap and
lighten that load. Thank you! Love, The Johnston’s
Pray for this season of getting our house in order and resting after a very busy year!
Please pray for the people we are meeting with, that the Holy Spirit will guide and direct the meetings.
Please continue to pray for the space in town Galway that God has in store for us to use as our base.
Please pray for the 41 people that we are praying for and seeking out to be a part of this next season. We cannot wait to see what God has in store! The Best is yet to come!
If you would like to team up & contribute to this important mission, please make checks out to: Hope Ireland missions, 229 W. Exchange St., Crete, IL 60417. Please put Chris and Larena Johnston on the memo line.
For Online Giving: Simple go to www.hopeirelandmissions.com and click on “Partner.”