In 2001, I was preparing to lead five groups from the United States to Galway, Ireland on pilgrimages. There was one big problem. Even though I had visited a good bit of Ireland, I’d never been to that part of the country. Through a mutual friend, I learned about Kelly and Susan Curry, a couple who had started a unique outreach in Galway.
A couple of weeks later, Kelly and I met during his layover in Dallas. He was the most passionate yet easy going guy I’d ever met. That sounds contradictory but it is true. He told me about the café he and Susan had founded in Galway to show God’s generous love to whomever might wander through its doors. He peppered the stories he told about the cafe with his unforgettable laugh and an intensity for Christ I had not witnessed in many people.
That summer, as I led those teams in the west of Ireland, I forged a relationship with this little café that was much more than I could ever had anticipated. Hidden behind the walls of this historic building was the unlikely story of an uncommon community. Throughout Ireland, in those days, the enmity between Catholics and Protestants was venomous. Here were Christ followers of every background, bound together in the love of God despite theology, historic hurts, or religious snobbery. An Tobar Nua was a rare place in the world.
Over the years, Susan and Kelly became the kind of friends who give everything of who they were to our teams. Over the years, as the friendship has grown, Kelly and Susan walked with me through some of the most painful moments in my life. Our friendship, over the last twenty years, has developed deep roots and wide branches; the kind of branches that bring protection, relief, and good fruit.
When I was asked by the Curry’s, even years ago, to write the biography for An Toba Nua I jumped at the chance. I had no idea how intense, or long, or joyous, or maddening, or blessed the process would be. Diving into the stories of dozens of people who are a part of the community and seeing a thousand foot view through the last twenty years gives me the unique perspective to see how God works in wondrous ways with the most unexpected people.
An Tobar Nua – The New Well: The Unlikely Story of an Uncommon Community gives you the opportunity to experience that same view. I hope you can get your copy now and read a story that will inspire you to trust God in the adventures He has for you. You might, one day, enjoy a cup of tea in that magical little shop along that quaint canal in Galway and see the miracle for yourself.