Breaking Down Decade of Division in Northern Ireland
Pastor Jack McKee is Director of New Life Ministries in Ireland . Jack grew up experiencing the horror of the sectarian violence that wracked Northern Ireland. He served in the military wing of the Ulster Defense Regiment in Northern Ireland for five years during which time a number of his friends were tragically murdered by terrorists and he himself narrowly averted death.
Since 1982, Jack has been ministering into the heart of inner city Belfast. Based in his home community known as “The Shankill, “ his ministry not only impacts lives in his immediate area but reaches across the sectarian divide of Northern Ireland’s conflict, touching both Protestants and Catholics alike. The Shankill Road is 100% Protestant and its immediate neighbor the Falls Road is 100% Catholic. However a concrete wall that stands over 20 feet high in places separates them. Both of these communities have suffered much, often at each other’s hands during 30 years of civil unrest and paramilitary (terrorist) activity.
In 1993 Jack pioneered New Life Fellowship as a direct response to the spiritual needs of young converts. The church continues to grow reaching the unchurched. Today the church is located in a warehouse that straddles the very line of division between the Catholic and Protestant communities. New Life City Church is actively and effectively working on both sides of the dividing wall, uniting people by personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Due to the nature of his ministry Jack has often come under criticism both from the religious community and local paramilitary /terrorist groups who don’t like his verbal and public condemnation of their violent activities. These groups have tried to take Jack’s life on several occasions. His car has been fire bombed, his home attacked and contracts have been issued for his murder. Still, he fights on for the sake of the gospel and his community. Given the seriousness of the threats against him and his family Jack is often asked why he stays in Northern Ireland. His reply: “There is no more exciting place to be, and no safer place to be, than in the center of God’s will.” For Jack, that place is the Shankill Road.
Lifting up the Cross
In the summer of 1971, renowned American evangelist Arthur Blessit began a walk across Europe carrying a large cross and sharing the gospel with everyone he could. As a young boy Jack watched enthralled as Arthur walked through his home town of Belfast.
Forty years later, Jack and Arthur teamed up with city churches to bring the message of the cross once again to the strife torn neighborhoods of Belfast. From the four corners of the city different groups walked the streets of Belfast each carrying a cross and converged to form one massive body. The result was stirring.
Hundreds of believer’s walked the streets and thousands were witnessed to across the city in both Protestant and Catholic communities. One young man who was begging in downtown Belfast prayed to receive Christ after Arthur explained the gospel to him. Another young lady fully committed her life to Christ. The most amazing part was when the crosses came together. on the very street where Jack saw Arthur walk with his cross in 1971. Now, Jack walked alongside him as they both carried a cross. The marchers rejoiced and prayed together. The day concluded with an evening event at New Life City Church with several hundred in attendance and where six more people committed their lives to Christ. By supporting Jack McKee and New Life Ministries in their work you help make such events possible. Its time to re-energize Northern Ireland with the gospel. We invite you to join with us in that effort.
Supporting New Life
New Life Ministries offers a way for believers in the US to make a huge difference in the lives of troubled youth in Belfast. Supporting NLM makes it possible for Jack and his team to bring the truth of God’s love to young people who are targeted by paramilitary organizations to become both drug users and drug runners. Once the young people move into that sphere of influence their lives become a living hell. Funds are needed to help equip the new warehouse with furniture and equipment to run the needed programs. Regular contributions also help buy air time for New Life broadcasts and run training programs for those rescued from a life of drugs, crime and paramilitary activities.