Northern Ireland is apart of the United Kingdom but that does not mean that they don’t have there own form of governing body. The Norther Ireland Assembly, the legislative body that runs Northern Ireland, meets at the capitol building known as Stormont. This is a beautiful building both on the inside and out. It is 365 feet in length and 6 stories high. Today, we got to take a tour of the building and learn a little bit about its architecture and the workings of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It was a very beneficial experience to see how another government works and gave all of our students great perspective in the world around them.
As many of you know Northern Ireland has a very long history of violence and resistance to British rule dating back hundreds of years ago. The political factions are divided into two main groups: Catholic (those wanting an whole independent Ireland) and Protestant (those wanting to stay under British rule). These divisions are more political than religious although religious names are put to them. Belfast has been a center point of this tension for decades. Throughout the 1960′s and up until the early 2000′s violence and tension dominated the city. The people of Belfast and Northern Ireland now have peace but reminders of this violence still remain. Link Year got to see that firsthand today as we toured the Peace Wall that has been erected in the middle of Belfast dividing Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. The wall is one of those sobering reminders of the violence and tension that plagued the city for so long. Touring the wall I was reminded, that while some of the people of Northern Ireland have sought political freedom, we as Christians serve a God who has given us the ultimate freedom.
In Galatians 5:1 states “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Christ has set us free from sin and given us eternal life. He has come and set us free from the the violence of our sin and has given us new life. He has given us peace. We no longer have to walk in the oppression and slavery of our sin. What an amazing victory we have in our Lord! May we be reminded of that today in our daily lives and may we live as the free men and women that we are!