Appleby Horse Fair 2019 Report - Northern Ireland Team

Post date: Jun 29, 2019 10:27:23 PM

On Wednesday the 5th of June the team began to assemble at our home on the Seven Mile Straight in County Antrim. The mini bus arrived from Ballinasloe in the Irish Republic and several other vehicles arrived, Kathy had come from Greystones outside Dublin. Joe came from East Belfast and lan from Co.Tyrone. It was wonderful to see the team gather with a sense of eager anticipation. We got everyone bedded down for a short night before the early morning departure on the Stena line ferry to Cairnryan. The crossing was smooth and pleasant and it was good to meet with some people on board who we had witnessed to at the Horse Fair in Ballinasloe last October.

The weather was perfect for the drive to APPLEBY and soon we were looking at the beautiful scenery of the Eden Valley. The little town was already crowded with visitors and Travellers by the time we arrived, but we managed to wriggle through the crowds to reach our parking place at The Wild Rose Caravan Park. Once we had allocated everybody to their caravan spaces it was off up the Hill to see who was around. It was great to meet Billy again at the gate and to see how busy the hill was already, “We opened up last night to clear the roads,” Billy said. as we greeted one another.

After a good night's rest we had breakfast together, a little time of prayer and then off again. We dropped off Pat and Mandy to help at the Cumbria Gospel Outreach stand in the town and took the rest up the hill and turned them loose Armed with lots of tracts, CD's and DVD's to distribute among the living wagons. Some went to the market field and some to the flashing lane while others moved around the living wagons. People received us warmly and with pleasant words. Many said how they were glad to see us again at the fair to serve the Lord. It was good to meet many Gypsy believers and we tried to encourage them. The team members all had on their polo shirts with the logo “Jesus Loves YOU” and one man said, “You lot are like mosquitoes, you are everywhere I turn, I can't escape you.” That was great to hear, it meant the profile was being raised among the crowds. Some of our team were there for the first time and it was all a revelation to them. Youngest team member was Matthew, who was just seven years old; he had come with his mother and father. Boris is from Germany and Katerina is from Macedonia. The three of them were an asset to the team and young Matthew's enthusiasm was a spur to us all. Saturday was a wet day and this curtailed us somewhat but still many opportunities to witness were to be found. In the evening it cleared up and we returned to the town to visit the revellers. Several of the team stood in the main street singing and playing music while we distributed literature to all who would receive it. In the yard of the King's Head pub I met a young man who was well under the influence of alcohol, he told me that his father was an evangelist and he had professed faith but had backslidden badly. Please do pray for M to return to the Lord.

Sunday morning was fine and we had our morning meeting on the hill in the open air. Brother Joe Mitchell preached and I shared a bit as well before we had a breaking of bread service. There was a time of prayer and many were the requests that were called out. After the service I had a long talk with a reporter from Radio Cumbria who had listened to the entire service and recorded much of it.

A highlight of the fair was the visit of Ramon, a 95 year old French Gypsy who survived the Holocaust. We were amazed at his energy and vigour as he addressed the people assembled. Later on Billy asked for us to deliver him back to where he was staying. 14 different taxi companies had been approached BUT all refused to come to take Gypsies. What prejudice still exists. How glad I was to take Ramon and his friends back and to tell them that there is someone who really wants to take Gypsies and every other sinner who comes to Him. There is no prejudice with JESUS. All are welcome at His cross.

We had a great evening at Kirkby Stephen again with the friends at The Gospel Hall and it was thrilling to see the hall packed to capacity. The ladies gave us a great supper afterwards too. T and G asked for prayerful remembrance after the service.

All too soon it was back on the road towards home but as usual we stopped here and there to share the Gospel with all we met. Castle Douglas was visited again and there I met P, all the way from Cavan in Ireland.

I said to Billy Welch, “Well Billy, maybe this will be my last time to organise a group like this as I am getting too old.” His reply was interesting, “We have got so used to you coming, the Appleby Fair will not be the same without you, people look for the blue polo shirts and Jesus Loves YOU logo, and somehow it blesses them just to know you are there.

SO......I hope to return again if the Lord tarries and spares me.

Ronnie McCracken MBE