Encouraging the Church on the Isle of Lewis

This was my very first visit to The Isle of Lewis for Solas. Although we have criss-crossed Scotland speaking in big cities like Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee, as well smaller towns like Galashiels, Blairgowrie and Maddiston, we hadn’t ever been to the Western Isles! So it was lovely to receive an invitation from Back Free Church on the Isle of Lewis. Colin McLeod, the pastor there is an amazing chap, who worked for many years as a military chaplain before taking on the pastorate of a congregation, first in Edinburgh and then in Lewis.

I did a flying visit, and they packed a lot into the short time I was on the island. The first thing was a media interview. The community radio station there interviewed me about faith and contemporary life for two hours! They asked about why we had come to island as well as my story and Christian testimony – all kinds of things. One of the great things about that was that the community radio station has a surprisingly large listenership across the community there, so it was a wonderful opportunity.

Then I led a Confident Christianity evening at Back Free Church and probably almost a hundred people came along. It was an interesting audience too, because there was a cohort of older Christians there who had always lived in a very, very Christian subculture on the island. Some of them told me they are struggling with the way in which culture is changing and trying to understand it. But there were also lots of younger people there, in their twenties and thirties who have understood that the world is changing fast and many of their questions were very perspective. Several NHS staff asked questions about their witness for Christ in the workplace.

Happily we have been invited back to build on the work that was begun that day! Steve Osmond and I will be going there again to lead a Confident Christianity in another church in Stornoway, as well as some evangelism with that church. So it was a great opportunity for me to meet the churches on Lewis, equip some believers and encourage them in sharing their faith, and make some new connections for Solas as well.

I think the key message I had for them was not to be afraid of the changing world around us, but to look for ways I which the gospel engages the evolving nature of the questions that people are asking, We are not called shake our heads in despair at the world, but to positively look for ways to share the gospel with people in it!