The Laois Bible Church has its origins in June 1999, with Pastor Mike Tardive finishing up his time as the church planter of the New Life Baptist Church in Clondalkin, Dublin. Mike had been praying for direction as to where God would have him go next in Ireland. He was now turning over the church he had planted in Dublin to a young man from Tallaght who he had helped mentor, and who was working as his assistant. After speaking to a few people around the country, and studying where the various fellowships were located, he began to see glaring holes in the Midlands of Ireland. As he inquired of others, and spoke to a couple of missionaries working there, he was convinced that God was indeed leading him and his family to begin again in this spiritually barren area. The possible places to start were narrowed down to Mullingar, Longford or Portlaoise. After much survey and prayer, the Lord very definitely places Portlaoise on the heart of Mike and his wife Cathy.
During this time, God was leading and providing for Cathy’s sister Connie and her husband Mark Mandarano to come and help the Tardives start this pioneer work. The Tardives had to return for a furlough for a year in America. So the Mandaranos came first in April of 2000. While the Tardives followed suit in June of 2000. In those summer months, the Tardives and Mandaranos found their homes to live in and then began the early stages of finding a place to meet, and developing a plan to reach the County of Laois.
In the providence of God, Mark Mandarano in his early days in Portlaoise made the acquaintance of a very kind Prison officer who upon hearing of what Mark was coming for, offered him to rent the local Prison Officers Club for a nominal fee.
Mike had the idea of beginning with the method he had used in his two previous church plants (one in America) of what he called “The Dragnet Approach.” He would put out a public announcement of what he was intending to do throughout the locale with as many reached initially as possible, in order to see who God had already been working in and calling. He would also begin blanketing the area with gospel literature, The fact that God was the author of salvation and that He probably already working and that there may me some of His sheep present in the area looking to be fed His word, were the convictions that drove this method, So, he put out a newspaper ad in the local paper, announcing the first service of a new church teaching the Bible alone. The first church service of the Laois Bible Church would be scheduled for September 3, 2000. Much prayer was put out by the 2 couples and their children. None knew if anyone would actually come to this first service or not. But a pulpit and chairs were put out, and the two eldest Tardive children, Kelly 12, and Gabe 11, would play the tin whistles they had just learned to play for the hymns that would be sung. To everyone’s surprise but the Lord’s, 13 people would show up that first Sunday heralding special things to come in the planting of this church! The first hymn sung was “To God Be the Glory” and the first sermon preached by Mike was a sermon on the Glory of God. It was the hope of the missionaries and their families from the beginning, that God and God alone would be glorified through the life of this new church.