Seemingly small things

By Richard Lister at Coaching to Thrive

Do you remember your first days at work? For Rev Mark, appointed ten years ago to pastor in one of the most deprived areas of Belfast, it was an unforgettable shock. The night after his appointment, his parish experienced the worst sectarian rioting Northern Ireland had suffered in years.  ‘Bullets, blast and nail bombs, petrol bombs and bricks and bottles rained down as tensions between the communities exploded’ (The Times). As Rev John says, with wry understatement, ‘God has a habit of calling you out of your comfort zone’. 

Over the last ten years, his church and wider community organisations have tackled the problems in the area in a range of ways. They’ve set up and run foodbanks, cross-community film clubs, drama classes and football games and prayer meetings with up to 800 people. Rev John has been quietly and faithfully serving and building relationships. 

He has also met the nearby Catholic Priest for a coffee every week in a local café. This seemingly small thing has proved to be deeply symbolic.  The situation is now much calmer.  He says ‘as we speak, in my church hall deep in loyalist territory, there are 15 Catholic people rehearsing a play.  There’s no way that could have happened before’. They’d have been barred entry or beaten up.

Small things matter. Building relationships across divides are important.

This week, what you could do, however small, to overcome divisions and make a lasting difference in your community?


  1. There is a profound, subtle difference between the spirituality of Christianity, and the organized religion of Christianity. My Big Brother Jesus is my higher power, and my inner coach. The more I allow Him, through me, to relate to myself and others, to see through His Eyes and respond through His Nature, the more healthy power I experience. Knowing who is actually driving my emotional bus in the present allows me to feel grateful humility rather than arrogance.

    It’s great to find fellow travelers that share Him at their core.

  2. Our identity is indeed rooted in Him with the prayer that we will increasingly transformed into the likeness of His character and living out His purposes, with the encouragement of fellow Christians.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: