Part 5: These Boys

This is Part 5 in a series of update posts!  If you haven’t read the previous ones, please click through the links below and do so before you read this one.  Things will definitely make more sense that way!

Part 1: Happy Tuesday!

Part 2: Wednesday

Part 3: A New House

Part 4: Shawn


In the last part of this update, I mentioned a neighborhood boy named Shawn – once an enemy, now (through “the incident”) a friend.  Here’s the second part of that story:

A week or so ago, in the midst of our church moving into a new building and the Lord providing a place for our own sudden move, I was driving into town with the boys.  They’d spent a couple hours playing outside with Shawn and had even brought him inside to hang out for a bit.  Now in the car, Silas says from the backseat, “Mom, I’m really happy!”

“Okay, why’s that?”

“Because Ethan and I just prayed with Shawn to ask God in his heart!”

“What?!”  I almost stopped the car.

“Yeah, we were talking to him about God, and he kind of figured out that he’s not actually a Christian, even though he’s a Catholic.”

“How did he figure that out?”

“Well, we asked him if he thought he was going to Heaven, and he said he thought so, since he hasn’t done anything really bad, like murdering someone.  We said that that wasn’t really how it worked, that you couldn’t get into Heaven by just not doing something terrible.  You had to ask God into your heart.”

I was honestly blown away listening to him!  The boys have been in services with alter calls before, and they’ve both prayed the prayer of salvation themselves, but we’ve never trained them specifically for evangelism.

“We asked him if he wanted us to pray with him to do that.  He said ‘Yes’ so we prayed, and he repeated the prayer after us.  When it was finished, I asked him if he meant it, and he said ‘Yes!’  I told him if he meant it, that God did come into his heart and he could go to Heaven!”

I kept glancing up at them both in the rear view mirror.  “I’m so happy Mom, and I think Shawn is happier too!”  Their faces really were happy; they’d been praying so much for their friend.

I told them how proud I was of them, and that even if that was the only reason God had moved us to Cobh, it was okay that we were leaving now, because God accomplished what He wanted to do.  We said a prayer for Shawn and threw a little party in the car as we finished making our way into the city.  What a gift, for God to let us see this little harvest in our neighborhood after such a hard year with these kids.  And Shawn – we are praying and trusting that the Lord will continue the work He has started!  Praise God!


Part 4: Shawn

This is Part 4 in a series of update posts!  If you haven’t caught the previous ones, you still can!  Click through the links below and read them before this one.  They aren’t super long, and things will make more sense, I promise!

Part 1: Happy Tuesday

Part 2: Wednesday

Part 3: A New House


I mentioned before that the few friendships the boys have in the neighborhood have been hard fought. You don’t really know what challenges you’ll have when you move to the mission field (or anywhere really).  Leaving Colorado, pastors and other missionaries kind of gave us some ideas, but every situation, every country is different.

One thing I don’t think we anticipated, was how difficult it would for the boys to make friends here.  They’re both well spoken, enjoy doing normal, active things, and usually make friends pretty easily.  When we moved to Cobh, one of the things that seemed so awesome about this neighborhood, was how many kids, specifically boys, live here.  No joke – between our street and the two neighboring ones, there are probably close to 20 boys, all around Silas and Ethan’s age!  We thought about how great it would be for them – instant friends!

But from Day 1, it seemed like a struggle.  Kids excluding them because they aren’t Irish, LOTS of bad language (really normal for Ireland actually, and quite shocking out of even the littlest kids’ and oldest granny’s mouths), physical aggression, and a big lack of parental monitoring from most.  Now a lot of this is normal “kids will be kids” behavior (though still sin), and our homeschooled kids struggled partially because of their lack of exposure, but even the moms and people from church here (two of which are public school teachers) have said this is worst than normal.  I think it’s been harder too, because Silas and Ethan left friends behind and, before we arrived, consoled each other with thoughts of making new friends when we arrived.

Over the last fourteen months, there have been lots of tears and talks about sin and God’s heart for the sinner, how He has loved us and calls us to the same love.

One particularly difficult situation was a boy named Shawn.  He’s big, like Silas’ age and nearly twice his size.  He comes from a broken home (which is less common here as divorce was only recently legalized and still invokes that kind of “shocker” reaction) and shuffles back and forth between parents weekly.  He’s known among the neighborhood kids as a liar and a bully.

We asked Silas at some point, maybe a few months after we moved here, how things were going with the kids outside.

“Most of it’s okay right now,” he said, “except for Shawn.  When he doesn’t get his way, he just hurts everyone.”  We didn’t realize that it had turned into an actual fearful situation for Silas until he was sharing more details while we were hanging out with another family from church.  The other dad offered to show him some self-defense moves.  Outside they went, both dads and our two boys.  They came inside half an hour later trying to find all my pressure points!  But Silas seemed encouraged.

A few weeks later, I asked Silas how things were going with Shawn.

“Oh, he doesn’t bother anymore, not since the incident.”

I tried to hide my sudden concern.  “What incident?”

“Oh,” he said, as if he was sure he’d already mentioned it. “One day Shawn was mad at me.”  I pictured the large boy pinning Silas to the ground.  “He charged at me!”

“Mhmm…then what happened?”  I was still trying not to seem worried.

“Well, Mr. Alex (self-defense dad) said it would be good to make it funny, so I evaded his attack by moving out of his way, which made him fall.  Then I sat on him!”

I actually laughed out loud when he said it!

“All the other boys were there, and they all started laughing!  And then Shawn started laughing too, and I knew it was okay.  Yeah, he hasn’t messed with me since.”

I was so proud, and thankful that “the incident” hadn’t ended another way!  Shawn did seem different afterwards.  And Branden and I made an effort to be intentional with him (and the other neighborhood boys) when there was opportunity.  We’d take him along when walking into town, offer him something to drink anytime he was playing with the boys, and pray lots for him and his family.

One of the days we walked into town, Shawn came along for ice cream.  On the way back, he and Silas were walking together, and Silas called out to me, “Mom, Shawn says he thinks he’s a Christian!”  I knew they’d been talking to the neighborhood kids about Jesus and Christianity.  Talking about Christ is honestly taboo here, at least among adults.  Many people think Christianity is some kind of extreme cult.  It’s actually illegal for an adult to talk to kids in a public setting about Christ, or to invite them to church.  But kids…praise God…such laws do not apply!

“What does being a Christian mean?” I asked Shawn.

“It means you believe in Jesus and you live a good life,” he answered.  The boys chatted the rest of the way home.  Later, Silas and Ethan began praying about giving Shawn a Bible.  They’d asked him if he had one.  He didn’t, and wasn’t sure his mom would let him keep one.  Prayers for this young, one time enemy, now friend, began going up on a regular basis.

Boys On Mission – May 2017

Boys On Mission – May 2017

Hey Friends!  This is me, Ethan, doing a Boys On Mission episode from Ireland!  The place that we’re showing you this time are the cliffs in a town called Ballycotton.  Watch the video below!

Ballycotton is one of my favorite places here in Ireland.  I like climbing the cliffs when we go there.  Below is a picture of us going down the stairs to the cliffs.  It has really rusty poles and is really steep, but I still like to go there!

When we go there and the tide is out, we like to climb on the rocks and cliffs.  There are also tide pools in lots of places in the rocks.  I found a baby crab in one of them!  There is also shrimp living in them!

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This is a picture of my Dad.  He likes climbing too.  He’s on one of the rocks almost in the ocean!

The tide started to rise when we were there.  This is a picture of my mom’s feet standing at the edge of one of the cliffs.  I really like the color of the water there.  It looks like aqua blue or green and it’s also clear.


Bye Everyone!  This was fun writing you guys a message for Boys On Mission!  Thank you for listening to me and watching the video!

  • The cliff climber, Ethan