On the 21st January 2017 my husband Neal died. This was a huge shock to all those that knew and loved him especially as he was a relatively young man of 48. The shock was particularly felt by those in the Urban Saints/Crusaders family.
Neal had attended Knock as a teenager and it was during this time that he came to faith. After five years away in England he returned to Belfast to start work. A chance meeting with Peter Fleming led to Neal returning to Knock Crusaders as a leader. It was there that he met and ultimately formed strong friendships with people like Graham Jewhurst, Colin Jewhurst, Chris Blair, Stevie Blair and Johnny Young. They would all tell you that Neal had a profound influence on them as they matured in their faith.
Then came a pivotal time. Two new main leaders were appointed to oversee Cranfield Camp. Graham and Johnny were only 22 at the time and after much prayer and discussion, Neal and I felt called to be support leaders at the camp. So with that our service to Cranfield was born. We would arrive with our tent and two children and get involved in what turned out to be one of the best weeks of each year. Neal had a real passion for this work because he felt that having a whole week with young people could be massive for them. Being able to share the gospel and live out our faith in front of the campers is so important. It is also true to say that living out our faith was also beneficial for the leaders as well.
Neal and I served in this capacity until 2014. It was then that we felt it was time to stop as our own children were getting involved in leadership roles. We did continue to help with set-up and take-down. Neal loved this time because he was involved in a practical way. The sight of him in a rugby shirt, shorts, walking shoes and Tilley hat is one that few people will forget.
After Neal’s sudden death Urban Saints Ireland wanted to acknowledge the contribution that Neal had made and the legacy that he left behind. This is where the idea of the Neal Killen Memorial Fund came about. The aim is to have a bursary fund that directly benefits young people in the following ways:
To allow a young person to attend a camp/houseparty/group weekend who ordinarily couldn’t because of the financial costs
To allow a camp/houseparty/group weekend to develop in terms of capital expenditure e.g. Cranfield Camp needing new cookers to allow campers and leaders to be fed!
I am deeply humbled and touched by this. It is such a blessing to us as a family that we can continue to see the work that Neal cared so deeply about prosper. We would covet your prayerful support for this fund and the benefit it will be to young people. If you feel you could give financially that would also be deeply appreciated, to find out more about how you can give please click here.