The Rector of the Parish of Camus-Juxta-Mourne, Rev Mark Lennox, found himself in a Peruvian jail recently – thankfully as a pastor rather than as a prisoner. It happened while Rev Lennox was leading a group of parishioners from Strabane on a two-week mission trip to the Peruvian capital, Lima.
The Tyrone parish has developed a close relationship with the pastor and congregation of San Pedro Church, in Lima. A group from Strabane were there two years ago to carry out improvement work to the church and this summer’s mission team picked up where their predecessors left off. They painted San Pedro Church inside and out. They visited local schools, families and clergy. And they also distributed knitted clothes and toys, and gifts which had been made or donated by people back home, including football shirts from O’Neill’s.
One school they visited, Holy Trinity, had already benefitted from Strabane Rotary Club’s Christmas Appeal in 2015. As a result of the generosity of people in Strabane and Lurgan Rotary, the school has been able to install a Computer Suite in one of its classrooms.
On one morning, as the Strabane volunteers were painting San Pedro’s, a woman with a small child called by to give them a bag of fruit as a ‘thank you’ for the work they were doing to her Church.
The Tyrone group were joined for a few days on the trip by Bishop Ken Clarke, who is the Mission Director of SAMS UK and Ireland, and his grandson, Mikey.
The team made a couple of visits to a Juvenile Detention Centre where Rev Lennox had a chance to talk to both staff and inmates about Jesus and to present them with the Gospel. The Rector and his mother also acted as godparents to a young Peruvian boy who was baptised during the visit.
The Strabane parishioners are due back home in Ireland early this week.