In some ways our entire trip led up to these last few days. The students have prepared their stories of how Christ has transformed and rescued them; they’ve learned Scotland’s rich history of faith and its current low spiritual point through tours and speakers; and they’ve visited churches and youth groups whose members have expressed how very alone they sometimes feel.
Yesterday and today, our students were able to do their small part to step into that need. Yesterday morning we visited Deans Community High School here in Scotland. Rob Bell is the chaplain at Deans and meets with students each week. Both the administration and students know and respect him. Because they do, we are welcome to do assemblies and school visits there. In assembly we showed the video of our school (prepared by TJ Tyrrell) and then Grace and Jacklyn explained their cardboard testimonies. On one side of the cardboard testimony is a statement expressing a deep need, hurt, or struggle; on the other side is how Christ met that need and transformed the student in the process. After Grace and
Jacklyn explained and showed theirs, the other students then shared theirs silently. Here are a few:
“Before Christ, there was no meaning to my life/With Christ I have a purpose.”
“I used to think God would only love me if I was perfect/Now I know God loves me even with my imperfections.”
“I used to HATE how I looked/Now I know I am made beautifully in God’s image.”
“I felt worthless/Now I know God values me and made me for a purpose.”
“I used all my talents to make others notice and love me/When I use my talents for God, I feel His love.”
“I was controlled by fear/now I am made bold through Christ’s freedom”
“I used to feel unlovable/now I feel consumed by Christ’s love.”
The vulnerability of the students was bold
and beautiful, and the students at Deans responded. We left the school following the assembly yesterday, but today we
spent the entire day there. We did assembly for a different group of Deans students and then paired our students up with Deans students and sent them off to classes. They talked
about cultural differences and personal likes/dislikes but many of the Deans students also asked about our students’ belief in Christ. Some even went with their partners to Religious Education classes, where the teachers opened up the floor for the students to discuss
different aspects of the Christian faith. Dave and I were in Religious Education classes all day; in three of them the teacher invited us to the front of the class and allowed us to field questions from the students. Nearly every single question led to us sharing some aspect of the Gospel. They asked about our favorite parables, how we know the Bible is true; why the God of the Old Testament seems different from the God of the New Testament; how science and religion deal with origins; Scripture’s views on abortion, etc. In one of the classes, our students Abby and Jacklyn joined us and answered quite a few of the questions,
and in the final class, our students answered all the questions, and Dave and I just listened.
By the end of the day, our students were exhausted. Most were really encouraged, though a few felt that their conversations with their new friends hadn’t gone as deeply as they’d hoped they would. But that gave Dave and I the opportunity to remind them of God’s timing and the Holy Spirit’s ability to use even the things we consider very, very small.
We had our host family dinner tonight at Rob and Louise’s church, eating the traditional Scottish meal of haggis, neeps, and tatties (turnips and potatoes) and celebrating a Burns supper a bit early (it’s celebrated on January 25th) with a bagpiper and a recitation of Burns’ poem “To a Haggis.” We are very, very thankful for these families who have welcomed completely unknown teens into their homes and cared so well for them.
I need to backtrack to yesterday. Following assembly at Deans, we headed up with Billy the bus driver to Saint Andrews. We enjoyed a fairly sunny day (the first since we’ve arrived) in this small town with its legendary golf course, beautiful university (where Prince William and Kate both attended and met), lovely cathedral and castle ruins (our kids acted like they were on a playground!); and quaint streets (lots of bookshops!). On the way back to Livingston we got Anstruther’s famous fish and chips (so very good, but I almost couldn’t believe I was putting that much grease in my stomach!) and then enjoyed a game and snack night back at Rob and Louise’s house (they are incredibly hospitable).
Please pray for tomorrow. In the morning we will hold our last assembly at Deans (for yet another group of students), and because many of the Deans kids met our students yesterday, the cardboard testimonies have the potential to be even more powerful and impacting. Please pray that the seeds sown—some of them unknown—will take root.