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Prayer caravan used by missionaries burnt to ground

By Laura Abernethy

Published 24/02/2016

Robert Little at the caravan
Robert Little at the caravan
A prayer sign is all that remains after the fire
Robert’s son Joshua beside the charred remains

A caravan used by missionaries for prayer meetings has been destroyed in an arson attack.

The and all that survived was a sign with a piece of scripture written on it.

Evangelists Robert Little and Ronnie Killops had been using the caravan for the past few months for small prayer meetings during a mission along the border between Fermanagh and Monaghan.

They had been in Dernawilt, Co Fermanagh before Christmas, but had moved to Newtownbutler, just a few miles away, in recent months.

They had left the caravan and a portable mission hall at Dernawilt near the border until they needed it for their next mission.

On Sunday afternoon, police told them that the caravan had been set alight in the early hours.

All that remained was the sign, which read: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Mr Little said: "The caravan has been completely destroyed and it's amazing that this piece of scripture survived. It had been leaning up against the caravan, but miraculously it survived.

"The verse is significant, as that gift of God is on offer to all but especially to the people who did this. It says that they can turn their back on sin and still have that gift of salvation."

The group said they had had a very positive response in Dernawilt during their mission there before Christmas and they are now struggling to understand why they were targeted.

Mr Little added: "We were very annoyed and hurt that this had happened. The nature of the Faith Mission is that we reach into quite rural areas. We want to reach both sections of the community and we're interdenominational. We want to share the Gospel with everyone.

"We had a wonderful reception in that area and people took our literature and listened to us on their doorsteps, so we were very shocked to discover that the caravan had been attacked."

Police are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire, but have not yet established a motive.

Mr Little said: "We don't want to point the finger at anyone. It could have just been some youths on their way home from a night out. It's impossible to know if we were targeted because of our work."

Luckily, no one was harmed in the attack and there was only a small amount of damage to their portable hall.

"We're just so glad that they didn't burn the mission hall itself. It's a wooden construction. The heat of the caravan blistered the front of the mission hall, but it didn't ignite it.

"In days gone by, the caravan had been used by Faith Mission workers to sleep in, so we were thankful that there were no injuries or loss of life," Mr Little said.

Despite the incident, the group will carry on their work in the area and they said they have been very encouraged by the support they have received, including from First Minister Arlene Foster.

"It only makes us more determined to carry on our work", Mr Little said. "We have been inundated with messages of support from as far east as Ukraine and as far west as Canada. I also had a very encouraging message from our First Minister, Arlene Foster. It was very kind of her. We've also had offers of donations to buy another caravan and it just makes us more determined to carry on."

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