Twelve Grace Bible College students traveled to Dublin, Ireland for the Dublin Experience during January. Over the course of the twelve days, the students ministered in the local community, visited seventeen (17) educational sites, and explored several scenic locations, all while earning class credit. The Dublin Experience was designed by Dr. Scott Shaw and Dr. Mark Carroll to be a unique class that is the “perfect blend of ministry opportunities and educational learning in the context of new cultural experiences.”
Students partnered in ministry with Dublin Christian Mission (DCM). As stated on DCM’s website (dcmlive.ie), the Mission is a non-denominational organization located in the heart of Ireland’s largest city. Their goal is simple: meet the physical and spiritual needs of their community. DCM works in neighborhoods that have a high rate of drug abuse, poverty, broken homes, abuse, teenage pregnancy, and crime. They believe these high-risk communities have incredible potential and it is their hope that through various ministries, they can help others find freedom and healing.
A few of the students shared the following thoughts and memories with us:
Lauren “Ren” Lomasney, Junior:
The Ireland experience is truly the adventure of a lifetime! It offers something for everyone! Seeing the bustling city of Dublin or delighting in an afternoon hike up Bray Head Mountain, there are many sights to enjoy and experience. [DCM] workers and volunteers have unbelievable stories and you can see God working through each one of them! They are so dedicated and compassionate it just made me want to work on my faith and reach out to the people on the streets of Dublin. This trip challenged me spiritually like I have never experienced before and through that God worked in my heart and the hearts of others.
Nat Mercer, sophomore:
The Dublin Experience was the most stretching trip of my Grace career. It was an honor to be Christ’s hands and feet in Ireland and to show true love and kindness to people of different cultures.
Spending time at the Mission washing spuds [potatoes] allowed me to serve the people of Dublin while interacting and forming relationships with the volunteers and staff that serve at DCM year round. Hiking mountains and swimming in seas were probably the most adventurous part of the trip because they pushed me past physical limits and made for a great laugh afterwards!
Hamza Suassuna, sophomore:
Ireland, wow just wow! I praise God for being able to go on this trip. Ireland has always been in my heart. I have been a fan of river dance, Irish traditional music, Irish history, and Irish culture. I felt like I belonged in Ireland even before having the chance of a lifetime to visit. One thing that I took away from our trip is how spiritually dead Ireland is. This is particularly sad, knowing the history of St. Patrick, the missionary who went to Ireland and led many to the Lord. Realizing how spiritually dead it is and seeing churches still standing is evidence that God will always play a role in Ireland. I highly recommend going on the Dublin Experience while going to Grace Bible College. Dr. Shaw and Dr. Carroll were great and shared so much information with us regarding Ireland’s history and culture.
Kimberly Buskirk, sophomore:
I remember stepping out of the airport in Ireland and thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m in a different country right now!” I remember walking around and thinking everything was just absolutely gorgeous. But that perspective changed the further into the trip we went. Slowly I started noticing the graffiti on buildings and the heroin needles on the sidewalks. It was no longer just a beautiful country, but a beautiful country in need of help. So, my favorite part was helping Dublin Christian Mission in the Light House [homeless drop in centre]. We served the homeless community and participated in street ministry. Being able to help, have fellowship, and relate with those who are struggling or homeless in the community was by far the best part of the trip.
Students, faculty, and staff were grateful for the opportunity to experience Dublin’s history and culture, along with the chance to be an encouragement to those at Dublin Christian Mission. As Nat Mercer stated, “[The Dublin Experience] was a perfect combination of academics, tourism and mission. The bond between the Grace students and professors, as well as the people of Dublin, will forever be dear to my heart.”