H2O stands for "Hope to Offer". The vision and purpose for Northern Ireland are based on the bible verse Jeremiah 29:11, which is to offer peace and hope to people. H2O is also the chemical name of water, John Mclean, the Divisional (Regional) Youth Officer for ALOVE Ireland explained, "When we initiated the project, we held a team prayer day, at which we had numerous images from scripture that related to water; washing, cleansing, revitalising, refreshing and so on. This gave us the idea for H20."
In Lisburn, Northern Ireland, where the established Salvation Army crops/church has a history of 125 years, the H2O project has been running for six months. Even though the community in Lisburn looks fine outwardly, what the people need most is hope. The H2O project is something that seeks to offer hope and a future through the love and power of Jesus Christ and modelling authentic community.
The key of the H2O project at this early stage is to build a community for the future, according to John Mclean. The programme mainly consists of a youth drop-in centre, a children’s club along and some detached work.
"Our hope is that the spiritual temperature of the local community will rise and that we will see the community change in its understanding of who they are. Our prayer is that by being real, people will feel valued," Mclean shared.
ALOVE Northern Ireland is committed to provide programmes that can engage the youth into all areas: worship, mission, discipleship and social action, Mclean emphasised. H2O is being challenged to focus on what the "emerging church" looks like and to build an authentic community which helps living out the essence of ALOVE.
Northern Ireland, which has long been ridden by the conflicts and violence between the Catholic and Protestant community, now enters a new turning point after the cease-fire statement was released by the extremist group Irish Republican Army (IRA).
In Ireland, 4.2 million among the 5.6 million population are Catholics. A report released by the Evangelical Alliance Ireland (EAI) recently showed that increasing numbers of Irish people are converting to evangelical Christianity. The evangelical movement in Ireland has been seen as a promising ministry to revive the churches.