News

Burdened for Belfast

by Valley Forge Christian College | May 24, 2012
On a typical night in Belfast, Northern Ireland, drug addicts and tipsy teens are being handed hot dogs and hot chocolate in a local park. A young missionary and his “Nightwatch” team mingle among the groups, handing out food and the Gospel message.

On a typical night in Belfast, Northern Ireland, drug addicts and tipsy teens are being handed hot dogs and hot chocolate in a local park. A young missionary and his “Nightwatch” team mingle among the groups, handing out food and the Gospel message. Some of these young people are hearing about Jesus for the very first time, all because a brave and compassionate couple answered the call to a city in desperate need of true peace.

Burdened for BelfastEleven years ago, in 2001, Troy and Noelle (Polyniak) ’04 Rhodes went to Belfast, Northern Ireland with VFCC on a missions trip. They fell in love with the country and later, with each other, but didn’t feel the release to go as full-time missionaries right away. While serving as youth pastors in New Jersey after graduation, they took two teams of students on missions trips to Northern Ireland. “Every time, our hearts would ache,” Noelle said. “We had a burden for Belfast.”

In 2010, they knew it was time to move overseas. Troy and Noelle now work with the youth of ROCKCommunity Church, an Assemblies of God Ireland church in the Shankill area of Belfast.

The teens in that nation are trying to cope with the after-effects of the Protestant/Catholic conflict known as “The Troubles.” Despite the contention, hatred, and the alarmingly high suicide and pregnancy rate, the Rhodes’ heart is “that this generation of teenagers will be so aware of God’s love for them that they would rise above the past and prejudices of their nation to seek out the One whose love brings peace and purpose.”

Troy serves as the youth pastor at the church and the director of all high school outreach programs of G.O. Kidz, including in-school and after-school classes and clubs. He is the director of Soul Purpose, a college student internship program that helps with G.O. Kidz, and leads Nightwatch, the Friday night outreach to the park.

Noelle works alongside Troy, caring for the girls in the youth group and helping him to teach the Alpha Course in the high schools. She mentors the female interns, directs the Glee Club, speaks at women’s ministry gatherings, and keeps track of their two adventurous children – Silas (5) and Olive (3).

As they continue to minister, Troy has several goals for the ministry in Belfast: a building for a youth center, expanding Nightwatch, and to build the internship program.

To learn more about the Rhodes family in Belfast, visit their website.