Northern Ireland is known for many things. It is a beautiful country with stunning scenery, awe-inspiring mountains and historical castles. Giant’s Causeway is an example of that stunning beauty! It is a country rich in culture and steeped in faith. It also has a fractured history, and is known for the Troubles (a political religious conflict) that lasted for around 30 years ending in the Good Friday Agreement with the sharing of power to restore governance to the country.

But there is something that never ceases to amaze me every time I visit, (despite this being my third trip) and that is its breath-taking murals! These artistic expressions; illustrating and documenting the countries rich and powerful history, but also signalling hope and expectation for change. 

I was in town to hear about the progress of the work of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland in collaboration with other mission organisations and churches, and to learn more about how God is orchestrating His intercultural kingdom through Intercultural Ministries Ireland. Seeing these beautiful murals seemed symbolic. A depiction of God’s beauty lining the streets of this country, with a message of hope and expectancy. It felt powerful.

Intercultural Ministries Ireland is creating opportunities for a reimagining and reconstructing of the intercultural church in Ireland. It started around three years ago with the pioneering work of Nathaniel Jennings and others, who are intentionally creating spaces for Northern Irish Christians and all the different Majority World people (Asians, Africans and Latin Americans) that God have sent to Northern Ireland to gather for fellowship and mission.

Untitled design 5
Photo by Rev Israel Olofinjana

We can see God’s heart for intercultural church in the Bible and it is something we must model here on earth too. The prophet Isaiah helped the people of Judah (South) rethink their future hope in God after the division of the kingdom into North and South. He declared a prophetic imagery rooted in a messianic kingdom. This messianic kingdom having a messiah endowed with the Spirit of God will usher in a peaceful kingdom depicted with peaceful relationships, the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid” (Isaiah 11:6).

Intercultural Ministries Ireland is helping people see beyond the current dichotomies through peaceful relationships, sharing of power and bravery. Through powerful collaborations it is bringing together Christians from Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland and challenging other churches in Northern Ireland to rise up and develop inclusive ecclesiologies that welcome the stranger. 

New Mural of the Spirit

So how is God practically constructing a new mural in Northern Ireland? Firstly, we must understand that God is a creator and an artist. The implication is that we are His handiwork and art material that He sometimes uses to weave a beautiful prophetic depiction and symbol. If each mural tells a story of a troubled past, is it possible that through the emerging intercultural conversations in Northern Ireland God is commissioning a new mural of the Spirit that gives a prophetic imagery of His intercultural kingdom? 

Such an art work is currently being constructed through God sending migrant missionaries who are seeking to work together with Northern Irish Christians and not in isolation building their own kingdom. The mural is being created with God bringing together Northern Irish Christians and Christians from Republic of Ireland. The mural is being fashioned by God connecting Irish Celtic Christianity with global voices and voices from the Majority World. The mural is being drawn by God bringing together some Catholics and Protestants, working class and middle class together. This new mural is seeking to tell a different story of Northern Ireland. It is seeking to tell a story of what God is doing in Northern Ireland through the emerging intercultural conversation of which Intercultural Ministries Ireland is a catalyst. This journey requires relationships, bravery and sharing of power. Such a positive imagery could begin to challenge and reconfigure society.