Every Tribe, Every Tongue
Serving in Dublin, Ireland, Holly Dobson ministers to children by getting involved in their lives and investing in them through National Bible Study Club correspondence courses.
She credits faithful Sunday school teachers with helping her grow in the Lord — and talks about what motivated her to leave her job and country to serve Him wherever He called her to.
Give us your testimony and tell us about your family.
My parents taught us about God and the gospel. By God’s grace, even as a child, I was able to understand that Christ died for my sins and I needed to trust Him personally to be saved and go to heaven.
As I grew, I learned that a relationship with Jesus was much more than being saved from hell in the afterlife. It was a relationship for this life too.
God brought some special mentors into my life, when I was younger, to challenge me in my walk and witness for Christ. Investing in the lives of children and teaching them about Christ is so valuable — it can shape and impact their future.
How did those mentors challenge you to walk with the Lord?
What I remember most about my youth leaders is that they spent time with us, and were willing to listen to our struggles. Even as a teen, they took a real interest in the things I was interested in. They spent time studying the Bible with us and encouraged us to share the gospel with our friends.
My Sunday School teacher would often quote Ephesians 4:29 to us when anyone in the class would say something that was discouraging to others or inappropriate in some other way. To this day, that Scripture is ingrained in me.
For those of us who deal with children, how can we practically invest in their lives?
Time and prayer are the best ways to invest in the life of children. My Sunday School teachers faithfully taught us the Word of God each week. I’m sure they thought we weren’t listening on some days, but we were watching their faithfulness. The regular teaching of God’s Word did get in.
Get involved in the lives of children you know; God will use you. Spend a week as a camp counsellor if you can, for example. I fondly remember my camp counsellors to this day. God used those summer weeks to grow my faith and teach me how to develop godly disciplines.
You might only be in a child’s life for a short period but pray for them, find ways to spend time with them, get to know them, and let them get to know you. As you do that, conversations will naturally come up where you can share your relationship with God with them.
Where are you serving? How did the Lord call you to this specific mission field?
Currently, I am serving the Lord in Dublin, Ireland. The Lord started directing my heart towards Ireland through a missionary letter that was read at my church. The letter caused me to consider the possibility of leaving my job and country to serve the Lord wherever He would call me to. I felt that God had given me a life to live for Him and I desired to give my time back to Him.
It was about a four-year process from my initial thoughts about missions to settling in a new country. Through prayer, reading God’s Word and various circumstances, God brought me to work alongside a group of Christians in Ireland.
I sometimes wonder why me and why here. My only answer is that I told God I was available to Him and He took me and placed me here.
Tell us about the people you minister to.
There are several ministries that I am involved with. The National Bible Study Club is a Bible correspondence course for children. The children receive a Bible study lesson in the mail each month, which they work on at home and then send back to us. We grade it and send them a new lesson. It is always encouraging to get a note from one of the children telling us how much they are learning and growing in their walk with Jesus.
Scripture Text Posters is a ministry that uses public advertising space to display the Word of God. Part of my involvement is to design some of the posters that are displayed on the trains and buses. All of the posters have an offer for a free New Testament and Bible study course. When people see the poster and text us for the free offer, we mail the materials to them. If they complete the course and send it back to us, we send them the next Bible study in the series.
Even during these days of Covid, when few people are taking public transportation, we have still received many requests! Any of our poster contacts who sign up for our email list receive a monthly email with a Scripture devotional thought and offers for free gospel literature.
Until recently, due to Covid, children’s clubs and camps were also opportunities for me to share the gospel with children and teens. I miss these ministries, but trust the Lord is still working in the hearts of the children and that, in His timing, we will be able to reconvene in person.
What is an example of a challenging situation you recently faced? What did the Lord teach you from the experience?
The National Bible Study Club has been trying to put our children’s Bible study lessons online. This has been a very big challenge, as we don’t have anyone on our team who has experience in this area or the technical knowledge that is needed. We have explored many different ideas and tried to find others who could help us. Often, it felt like we were taking one step forward in the process and then three steps back.
But the Lord has brought several people and training opportunities across our path and we are close to seeing the development of the online lessons completed. The situation has taught me that the Lord works His plans out in His time. Our job is to trust Him and be available to His leading.
How can we be available to His leading as we go through struggles in our personal life or ministry?
God doesn’t work on our schedule, but He is always working to build His kingdom and bring to completion the work He started in us. Sometimes, that work means learning to wait or going through struggles that He will use to grow our faith. Remembering God’s goodness and reading His Word regularly will help us know His character and trust in His sovereignty in all things.
What are some personal spiritual challenges you face?
It’s easy for me to look at others and compare myself to them. This results in discouragement, jealousy, anxiety, and distraction from what God has called me to. God has been teaching me two things.
First, from Colossians 2:10: I know that, in Christ, I am made complete. When I focus on who I am in Christ, I focus on Him and not myself or others around me. It frees me to follow Christ and know that He will provide all that I need. He is the one who works through me so there is nothing to compare.
Secondly, Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God hasn’t called me to do the things that others are doing. He has called me to do the works He has prepared for me to do.
As I focus on who Christ is and what He has done for me, my love for Him grows and He gives me the grace and strength to walk in the good works He has for me to do ― all for the glory of His name.
For those of us distracted by similar struggles, what practical things can we do to refocus on the Lord?
Scripture memorisation has been such a help to me in this area. As I work at memorising, I find that it starts to shape my prayers. As I begin to pray Scripture, the verses seem to have a real and powerful effect: the living Word of God changing me.
One of the verses that have helped me the most is Ephesians 4:23: “…and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds”. It is God’s Spirit that changes us, not our efforts. Invite Him to work in your life daily as well as in the moment of struggle.
How can we pray for you?
Pray that I would grow in my trust and love for Christ. Pray also that God would direct our team to those who are willing to study His Word and that He would use His Word in their hearts to bring about salvation.
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