My father was totally disabled with rheumatoid arthritis, and was often in great pain which he bore with fortitude. He was a shining example as a Christian and was greatly respected by all.
At the age of sixteen, like the prodigal son, I wanted to get away from the restraints of a Christian home. My only option, as far as I could see, was to join the Army, which my parents reluctantly allowed me do. So on 12th September 1966 I joined the army as a boy soldier at the Junior Tradesmen’s Regiment in Troon, Ayrshire. On my first night there Neil Innes, who was the Scripture Reader at Troon, confronted me and was able to establish that I was running away from a Christian home. His response was to write to my father, who was greatly encouraged and comforted that such an organisation existed to challenge his wayward son. That was my first contact with the Soldiers and Airman’s Scripture Readers Association.
In 1968 I was posted to the Persian Gulf for nine months. During that time there was a spiritual revival on the west coast of Lewis and several of my friends had been affected by it. Many young men and women were converted. A close friend sent me a birthday card whilst I was in the Gulf giving part of his testimony and ending with the words, ‘I know that if you were honest with yourself you would love more than anything in the world that you were saved.’ These words had great effect on me and I knew in my heart that this was the case.
On returning from the Gulf I was given six weeks leave, which I spent in Lewis. Each evening my practice was to drive round the town ‘talent spotting’. One evening towards the end of my leave the friend who had sent me the card stopped me in the street and asked if I could give himself and some friends a lift to a house meeting in the village of Callanish on the west side of the island. I was only too pleased to do so, the destination being only sixteen miles from Stornoway. Five young people piled into my mother’s small Morris Minor. On arrival the lady who owned the house met us and persuaded me to join the others. I was taken aback when I went into the small house – all the rooms were filled, mostly with young people. The meeting went on until past midnight.
The gathering made a great impression upon me. My conscience had been awakened and I no longer felt comfortable in the company of non-Christian friends. Sadly, for the next four months, my reaction was to rebel even more in order to try and drown my awakened conscience. I was under conviction of sin.
During this time my father’s health deteriorated and I was given a week’s compassionate leave. On the Sunday evening, whilst my mother and sister were in church, my father asked me to read to him from the Bible. Little did I realise at the time that he was asking me to read portions of scripture that were more relevant to my situation than his. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, although I was trying hard not to show them.
When I went back to my unit I went on exercise and I took with me my Bible and a book my father had given me to read – it affected me greatly and I started praying earnestly for the first time. During the exercise my father passed away.
On returning to Lewis for the funeral, as is the custom there, worship was held in our home. On the first night the Rev D Gillies, whilst praying, entreated specifically for me and I found myself agreeing with all that he was saying. After worship I went upstairs to my room aware that the Lord had changed my heart. I remember going on my knees and feeling a wonderful peace filling my soul. I recall praying that the Lord would use me for his own glory.
I was not brought up in a Christian home – I was eleven when my mother became a Christian. The change in her life was very evident to me – she was radiant, her face shone, and she was always singing and reading her Bible. So we began to go to church regularly. Prior to this I had gone to Sunday school with an aunt who was a Sunday school teacher but did not go to church very often.
I knew that my mother was going to heaven, but that the rest of our family were not. I began to listen to the sermons in church and I was often afraid that I would go to hell should I die. I used to enjoy listening to Christians who came to our home, but I knew that I was not one of them.
During the summer of 1965 there was a Faith Mission campaign in Stornoway and some of the men would come to our home where they would lead family worship and mention the family by name in prayer. On one occasion I remember one of them praying for me in particular; this had a great effect on me and I began to cry. I cried to the Lord that night and asked him to help me to pray for myself. I was very aware that I was a sinner and that I needed to be saved, but the devil would convince me that I was too young and that I would miss out on all the fun my friends were having. So there was inner conflict because I desperately wanted to be a Christian.
One Saturday night there was a Faith Mission meeting in the YMCA and I went along. At the end of the meeting the speaker said that those who wanted to become Christians should come to the front. I knew I wanted to go but was rooted to the spot and sat there crying. One of the Faith Mission Pilgrims spotted me after most people had left and sat beside me. He read portions of Scripture to me and asked if I wanted to become a Christian. My reply was ‘more than anything in the world’. I was feeling very troubled. The man said that Jesus was willing to save me immediately if I asked him to come into my life. I thought that it could not be that simple. I prayed and asked him to forgive my sins; the peace that flowed into my soul was amazing. I ran home to tell my mother but she didn’t believe me. Yet I didn’t care. I went to bed with my Bible and found great comfort from John 14. In church the next day my heart was full – I wanted to tell everyone about Jesus.
I wanted to go to the Free Church prayer meeting on the following Thursday but my mother made some excuse, and the same happened with regard to the meeting on Saturday night. This continued, so I went to the Church of Scotland prayer meeting on Wednesday nights until my mother relented.
School was difficult as there were no other Christians then – both teachers and pupils made fun of me. On reflection I thank the Lord for these early years because I had to depend fully on him. Yet by the end of that year, and in the following years, there were a number of Christians in the school. I had great fellowship with them and made many friendships which have lasted throughout my life.
As a very shy eighteen year old I left Stornoway to start nursing in Glasgow. I found this move difficult until I made friends in a congregation and also in a very strong Nurses Christian Fellowship. As I look back over my life I thank the Lord for how he has kept and blessed me. I have often let him down but he has remained faithful. His love to me is wonderful.
David and Sheana Livingstone
We are David and Sheana Livingstone; we have three children (Ruth, Michael and Ross) and four grandchildren. Our time at Greyfriars includes not only many milestones in our own personal journeys with God, but also the progression of Greyfriars through two buildings and seven ministers.
We started attending Greyfriars when we were married 36 years ago, when the late Rev Donald MacDonald was the minister. The church was then in Inverness town centre. We were regular attendees, although neither of us were Christians. Sheana was brought up in Alness and attended Rosskeen Free Church where her father was an elder. I went as a young boy to the Episcopalian Church, although I never attended regularly, and for many years before Sheana and I met, lived my life without God.
Sheana was converted shortly after our second child was born, under Mr MacDonald’s preaching. I was converted some fifteen years later under the preaching of Rev Duncan Macleod (now minister of Perth Free Church).
In recent years, with God’s help and guidance, we became more active in helping in the Church outreach activities. The Mothers and Toddlers, and also the Young Mothers Group which meets on Saturday mornings, keeps Sheana and the other helpers very busy. I enjoy spending time with the children at one of the three weekly Children’s Clubs held on Friday nights. We also look forward to our time as leaders of the Holiday Club for a week during the Summer Holidays.
Through all these years, Greyfriars has been our spiritual home, and we have many great friends here. It has been wonderful to see God working in our congregation; in the provision of facilities in our new building that have made so much possible, in the providing of ministers to meet our needs at just the right times, and in the giving of strength to each of us to do whatever He wills to expand His kingdom and encourage His people. We are indeed thankful.
Andrew and Donna MacRaild
We are the MacRaild family. I’m Andrew. I am a joiner, working for my father here in Inverness. I was baptised and brought up in Greyfriars and have been profoundly affected by the love and prayers of my parents and the church family. Although I resisted God’s call through much of my teenage years he eventually brought me to my senses after a brief period away from Inverness; on my return I came to know the Lord through the preaching of Rev John Ross.
From that moment I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good and in his kind providence my wife-to-be, Donna, came to Inverness (she is from Lewis) to begin work at Raigmore hospital as a dietician at the same time as my conversion! Feeling the warm welcome and family atmosphere, Donna settled into the life of the church and greatly appreciated the love and support she received while adapting to life in Inverness. Our relationship blossomed and we married in 2007.She has been a rock in my life and my family’s, and I believe a blessing for the church.
We thoroughly enjoy meeting together for worship at Greyfriars and have found a lot of satisfaction in our involvement with youth work, where the church is able to reach out to many children from the surrounding community with the gospel. We pray that God will bless this work.
Recently we have benefited from the crèche and Kidz & Co, through the birth of Calum John last June (a lovely blessing but very challenging!), and it is a great opportunity to meet other mums from the area, drink tea and blether!
I was appointed as a deacon three years ago and I hope that the Lord will use my gifts and abilities for the good of the church and his cause in Greyfriars. It’s strengthening and encouraging to see the unity there is among office bearers and the church as a whole and we hope as a family that there will be a continued vision and commitment to seeing the gospel flourish here. We are thankful for the ministry of Malcolm and know he will lead us forward in the right direction.