30 years ago, when I started as ‘meenister’ at Fullarton, I didn’t imagine me still here today! I thought 25 years max’, not wanting to outstay my welcome. Yet, God had other plans and yesterday, one day after my ordination anniversary, I’d another of those dream days when I pinch myself to persuade me that it’s all really happening. We waded into wild, windy waters to baptise and bless another 8 followers of Jesus!
Three things especially thrill me about my job: 1. Seeing people come to faith in Christ; 2. Growing them up in The Faith to follow Jesus day by day; & 3. The Dream Team God gave me from the start, and remarkably continues to replenish.
Let me tell you about the 5 who formally joined the Fullarton Family yesterday: Until recently Nick & Tabby were militant atheists, thoroughly resistant to the existence of God. But, independent of each other, they both started following a sneaking suspicion that there may be something in this Christian malarkey. Scared to admit their ‘secret seeking’ to each other, it eventually spilled out. So, they plucked up the courage, along with their 3 young kids, to check out a local church. The minister there openly admitted that they didn’t have any work with young children and recommended Fullarton. Having viewed our website they rocked up for the 10.30 service one Sunday, 7 months ago.
Fortunately, a ‘regular’ noticed them in the car park and, recognising ‘rabbits caught in headlights’, scooped them up, introduced them to crèche & light factory leaders and seated them in the sanctuary beside someone who would look after them. Nick and Tabby still had a long list of potential ‘reasons to leave’ (e.g. homophobic comments, antagonism towards refugees, intolerance of their lively kids, etc). Mercifully ‘sharp exit’ strategy was not required and they’ve attended ever since, their kids giving them a hard time when they miss services. New found friends have helped them get into the Bible and explore faith. They still have many questions and doubts, but they’ve crossed the border into God’s Kingdom, found new significance and peace in Christ, and yesterday celebrated their new life in Christ in a ‘baltic’ sea.
Along with them, Mhairi (who, with the help of ‘Christians Against Poverty’ advice & support, will celebrate being ‘debt free’ in November, is so grateful for her new life in Christ), Josh (a teenager, unashamed of his faith in Christ), and William (a faithful ConneXions’ volunteer, boundless in enthusiasm for his new faith and friendships) emerged from the murky waters, where sea meets Irvine’s rivers, chittering, buzzing and gleaming with the joy and love of Christ!
I know this is unusual for today and that, elsewhere, there are more dedicated servants of God than me, who are not experiencing such revival and renewal. Indeed, it breaks my heart in tearful prayers for our town, shire and land. I pay tribute to the dream team of which I’m only a small, slightly significant part. There is no more awesome team than The Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whom we live, move and have our being & purpose; my soul partner and (unpaid) associate minister Dorothy; our respective parents and families with their prayerful and financial backing; so many faithful Fullarton folk, past & present (employees & volunteers); Presbytery, The Church of Scotland and wider Church; and the Fullarton / Irvine Community of which we’re proud to be a part (Yesterday we also welcomed and awarded members of the ‘Irvine Clean Up Crew’ with an ‘Excellent Service in The Community Award’).