Cody Hardin said most Irish Christians think that the average American church consists of at least 1,000 people.
Hardin said his summer mission trip to Ireland was an eye-opener on so many levels.
“Although I love sharing my faith, I have always found it a daunting and often scary task,” Hardin said. “Doing this a lot in such a short amount of time has helped me grow in confidence in the ‘One Who draws all men unto Himself’ (John 5:21 and 6:37).”
Hardin, along with a team of seven, left The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky on July 9 for a week-long mission trip to Ireland. They worked in conjunction with the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Hardin said they had several objectives for the week.
He said the first objective was to develop a class for college age students on Christian Apologetics (which comes from the Greek work ἀπολογία found in 1 Peter 3:15; pronounced apología). Hardin said each member of the team attempted to answer various questions that skeptics of the Christian faith may raise using Andreas Kostenburger’s book, Truth Matters. These questions include:
- What about the apparent contradictions found in the Bible?
- If God is good and all-powerful, then why does he allow suffering in the world?
- Can we trust that the message of the Bible is the same as it was when it was written (conspiracy theories such as the Di Vinci Code, etc.)?
Secondly, after the morning classes, the team did a lot of door-to-door evangelism in the afternoon. Hardin said they planned a song service for the community and one of the team members spoke about “Strategies on How to Stay Christian in College” to a group of 50 or so high-school students. They also planned another outreach event, for the purpose of sharing their faith: a cookout held at a local park.
“We had many wonderful conversations with passersby,” Hardin said. “Personally, I was blessed to speak to a Muslim couple about the Good News for about 30 minutes or so as I have recently been able to understand Islam from a Christian perspective more and more.”
Hardin said he has been studying Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi and visit http://jenkins.sbts.edu/ to learn how to befriend and witness to a Muslim.
The week concluded with an opportunity to sight-see on Saturday and preach in four local Irish churches on Sunday.
The team worked with the cooperation of four local Baptist churches. Hardin said a large church in Ireland may run about 100 people, but this is very rare. Southern Ireland is almost entirely Roman Catholic or secular, much like the USA.
“One thing that is interesting about the Irish is a subtle defeatist attitude in the culture,” Hardin said. “There is an inexpiable sadness in almost everyone that you meet. There is an incredible shortage of jobs in Southern Ireland. The Gospel brings genuine hope in the midst of this sadness like nothing else.”
Hardin is the son of Kent and Lesa Hardin of Eupora. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University and he is working toward a master’s of divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky.
Rev. Travis Gray, pastor at First Baptist Church of Eupora where Hardin has been a member for many years, said it has been a joy to watch him grow into the young man he is today.
“He has never wavered in his walk with the Lord, and continues to grow on a daily basis,” Gray said. “I believe that God has some great things in store for Cody’s future. His faithfulness is always an encouragement to others.”
For more information about the work of The Bevin Center, go to http://missions.sbts.edu/.
See this story in the November 16, 2016 edition of The Webster Progress Times at http://websterprogresstimes.com/2016/11/22/local-student-takes-mission-trip-to-ireland/
See a portion of this story in the October 20, 2016 edition of the FBC Eupora newsletter at br-newsletter-10-20-16