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Tributes paid to Christian outreach worker killed in car crash

by Ruth Sax
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Mourners at a Christian outreach worker's funeral heard moving tributes to her and her colleague after they were killed in a car crash in County Cavan on Friday.

Friends said Joan McAlister and her co-worker Ian Kennedy died as they lived, spreading the gospel message.

At the service of thanksgiving for her life at Thomas Street Methodist Church in Portadown on Wednesday a number of friends came forward to speak about Ms McAlister and her work with the Irish Evangelistic Band - which aims to spread the gospel message in the Republic of Ireland.

According to local news outlet LurganMail, mourners were told how McAlister fearlessly reached out to the travelling community in the south, often at great personal risk. She brought them the Christian message and helped them with their practical needs. 

Passing on condolences on behalf of the "entire IEB family" to the families of both victims, one speaker said: "Joan joined IEB in a full time capacity some 19 years ago, since then Joan dedicated herself to the Lord's service.
"She had the vision of motivating and leading outreach teams in the areas where the Gospel was less well known, if at all," he said. 

He went on to add: "Where these opportunities were limited because of time and resources Joan pressed forward with overseeing every house in Ireland received gospel literature.

"Joan was thorough in everything she did... everything had to be well done.

"She was compassionate, ask the travelling community, that she so regularly visited, often at considerable risk to herself. Not only did she visit but she brought gifts of toys and clothing.

"Joan was prayerful, in everything that she did, she sought to glorify the Lord."

Family members described Ms McAlister, a former teacher at Hardy Memorial Primary School in Portadown, as "a wonderful lady of strong Christian faith who was always willing to help".

Her family said: "She brought the Gospel to the people of Ireland."

Ms McAlister was the passenger in a car that collided with another vehicle in County Cavan on Friday evening. The male driver - Ian Kennedy from the Strabane area - was also killed.

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