After meeting our partners for prayer and planning this afternoon, I decided to let Juli drive while I pushed Ashlyn home in her stroller. We stopped by a playground for a few minutes before popping into a shop on our walk from Baldoyle through Bayside, Kilbarrack, and then onto Raheny. Rather than take the main road through Kilbarrack, I decided to stroll through the neighborhood streets near the gym where I coach a girls under 11 basketball team just in case any of the kids or their families were out and about. After crossing the long and winding footbridge over the Kilbarrack Dart station I spotted a guy I've ran into time and time again.
I walked up and gave him a customary Dublin greeting, "What's the story?"
"I'm going to a friend's funeral. I'm just after waiting here for some mates."
"I'm sorry to hear that, was your friend young?", I replied.
"He was 30. He was shot by some gangsters just up the road. He had killed a lot of people himself. One of those revenge things."
"So your friend was involved in criminal activities?", I asked. "Drugs?"
"So how's your battle going? Are you still staying off the drugs?", I asked him.
Although I cannot remember this man's name, I had met him while watching a soccer match in the Raheny Inn about a year ago. He had told me that he was trying to kick a heroin addiction and was only using cocaine and methadone at the time. Baby steps. I let him know about our church work in north Dublin and he was impressed that we had come over to do "charity", as he called it. For the past several months I've chatted very briefly with him as his team comes in to play indoor soccer after we finish our under 11 basketball practice.
"It's going pretty well." he replied, "I play soccer over at the gym every week, but it's pretty hard because everybody's mixed up with drugs around here. So, is your wife Irish? Why are you over here again?"
"No, my wife's American. We're here working with a church, remember. We meet in homes to study the Bible, to pray, and to encourage each other to love our neighbors and love God."
"Oh yeah, right. Hey, there's my mates. I'll catch you later."
"Hey, take care, we'll talk again."
With that Ashlyn and I crossed the road and walked past the church were the funeral was being held. A lot of people had gathered to pay their respects and I couldn't help but notice a significant Garda (police) presence. When I got home I opened up my Evening Herald and on the fourth page was a follow up article regarding the man who had been killed. You can read the original article here. http://www.herald.ie/news/the-panda-shot-dead-in-gun-battle-2878621.html
Why does a 30 year old man get gunned down in the prime of his life? Why would he have ordered the killing of many other people prior to his own death? Money, power, drugs. Why is drug trafficking so lucrative? Why is there such a demand for illegal substances that do nothing but ruin lives? People are searching for meaning, maybe even transcendence. People are hurting and they're looking for someway to fill the void that only God can fill.
I look forward to running into "your man" (as the Irish would say) sometime soon. I hope to take our conversation further. I long to have the opportunity to share with him the hope that can only be found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ my Lord. - Shay