Opening our doors

​Every fortnight people from a farming background in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
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​One thing I most enjoy is coming home, putting the key in my door and then closing and locking it behind me, knowing this is our home and our space - no one else’s!

Growing up on a farm in a very different time, our farmhouse door was rarely locked, sometimes not even at night time.

There was a constant expectation of finding the door unlocked and someone there to welcome neighbours, wider family and indeed other folk, be that the meal man, cattle dealer, or occasional preacher from church.

That expectation has gone, for as we know there is often no-one home in the farmhouse nowadays.

It’s just the way it is - like every other type of home, and there’s no shame to it.

Farm life can become like home life too, often we have closed, or locked doors, and necessarily so.

But the danger is that the whole world of farming becomes more removed from the experience of the majority of people.

That’s why it is great to have had an event like the Balmoral Show. It showcases the whole big world of farming in all its many types and provides an opportunity for ‘the rest of us’ to be up close and personal with farmers, their animals and the machines farming uses today.

And after all the Covid restrictions of the last few years, which made open doors impossible, I was delighted to see that Open Farm Weekend is on again next month, from 16 th to 18th June.

Twenty working farms - in all sectors - from all over Northern Ireland are opening their doors, and expect up to 20,000 visitors.

Opening our doors is a good way to show the real world of where our food comes from.

For details see

There are deeper lessons from a life with open doors.

As human beings, we would often rather like to keep the door locked.

If we have problems, especially with our health, either physical, or mental, keeping that to ourselves is never a good idea.

We need to open up to someone who can help, or just listen, no matter how much that goes against our grain naturally.

However, nowhere is this more important than opening up spiritually. We can go our whole lives shutting God out, not wanting to hear what He wants to say, or allow Him into our lives. I’ve done it too!

In Acts 16, we read about a woman who came to a gathering of people at Philippi, in north-eastern Greece, where the Apostle Paul came to speak.

Her name was Lydia, a wealthy businesswoman.

She listened to Paul speak about Jesus and His offer of forgiveness and eternal life. We know this as Luke writes, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14). She was the first Christian convert

in Europe.

There is a lovely picture of Jesus given in Revelation 3:20 where he proclaims, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…”

Yet it is a painful scene too. Jesus locked outside a barred door – yet Jesus still knocks. Have you ever opened the door of your life to Him? His promise is clear: “I will come in” if we do just that - ‘open the door’.

Ian was brought up on a dairy farm near Limavady. He was a minister in Ballyroney and Drumlee congregations in south Down, and latterly Moneydig Presbyterian in County Londonderry.

Due to a serious cancer diagnosis, Ian has had to retire from active ministry and now provides counselling and support to others with cancer.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at [email protected] or call him on 07938 488 372.