Appleby Horse Fair 2016 - Ronnie McCracken

Post date: Sep 09, 2016 8:0:44 AM

On June 2nd seventeen of us set off from our home at 06:00 am en route for Appleby, we boarded the Stena line ship in Belfast and after a perfect crossing landed at Cairnryan. The weather was outstanding with brilliant sunshine all the way. On arrival at Appleby we went straight to the “Wild Rose” caravan park, which was our base for the next days. This year the caravan park was closed to visitors but the owner was pleased to let us in to stay there again. The park was very quiet indeed unlike earlier years. Once the team had been allocated their sleeping quarters we then set off to organise the Coffee shop in the town and soon had everything cleaned and ready to welcome visitors. Then it was up the hill to see our friend and brother Billy Welsh. What a welcome he gave us once again and assured us that the weather was going to only get better each day. Billy asked me to conduct a morning service in the camp among the Gypsies the following Sunday. Next morning after breakfast we had a time of prayerful intercession before going into Appleby where some of our helpers were detailed off to look after the shop, some went to the street to invite people in for coffee, some went up the hill among the living wagons and others went to help at the Cumbria Gospel Outreach literature stand. It was great to see our team members with their Tee shirts proclaiming “Jesus Loves You”. These are worn for a dual purpose, first and most importantly as a witness but also as a form of protection in case of any trouble. Actually there was a rumour that there was going to be extensive violence this year between rival gangs. Reports said that the bodies of two young people who died from drug abuse had been exhumed by rival factions and decapitated! The police had a very strong presence and in fact took out exclusion orders against some people that not only kept them from the fair but even out of the county. Whatever the truth of these rumours we wanted to be sure that our team members would not be threatened or harmed in any way. The Tee shirts identify them as being with us and we are assured that no one will harm “the holy people”. In the event there was no violence of any kind and all passed off peacefully with everybody in good humour. The rumours did however keep some people away from the fair so numbers were down this year as far as Gypsies were concerned. It was great to meet again with people who have now become friends.

The B.B.C. were doing a documentary for the World service and I spent more than an hour being interviewed. In the providence of God the lady doing the interview turned out to be JEWISH! She was deeply touched and shed tears before the interview was over. In fact she and her husband asked if they could accompany me around the wagons to listen to how I approached the people and record more of what was said. I am not sure of how much of the material they will use BUT the Lord had a purpose in this meeting.

Once again vast amounts of literature were distributed together with CD’s for the non- readers and lots of DVD Bible lessons for children. Our “Talking Key Chain” that had a five-minute Gospel message was also popular with many people.

The days passed very quickly indeed and soon we were back in Kirby Stephen for the closing service at the Gospel Hall. It was a blessed evening, the whole group sang, Peter, from La Hinch in Clare, shared his testimony and I gave a closing message. There were several unsaved present at the service and the Lord was surely working in hearts. After the service the ladies served us a wonderful supper for which all the team were very grateful.

Next morning we bade farewell to Appleby and set off up the road, as usual we stopped in Penrith to distribute tracts in a housing estate and then when we entered Scotland we stopped at Kettleholm to visit every house in the village. At the very first door a lady engaged Tim and I in conversation and after some minutes asked us to pray with her. Please do remember Dorothy in your prayers. This was one of those Divine appointments. Several other people were really spoken to and all took the literature. Then it was into Lockerbie where we visited many homes and in fact almost stayed too long as we had a fast run to make the ferry in the evening! We wanted to not only reach out to the Gypsies but to touch others as well.

One thing is certain and that is, without OUR very faithful supporters we could NOT manage to do such an outreach to the needy and lost so I want to say THANK YOU to you for kindly supporting us in this venture once again by your gifts and prayers. May the dear Lord Jesus bless you in return for your kindness and generosity.

Yours in His glad service,

Ronnie & Pat McCracken