In August we shall be taking a new step of faith, in the appointment of Douglas Humphris to a pastoral and outreach role among young adults and students, especially international students.
Douglas is very much part of us and the way he has occasionally introduced new songs, and led the opening few minutes of worship, has been just right. We have also seen God blessing the leadership of the International Student café, which he shares with Aileen Strachan.
The prospect of Douglas working among us in this way has gradually unfolded during the past year and we are persuaded that God’s hand is on the appointment.
‘Young people’ includes the children of some of us. Also we have so many folk from overseas in Kelvinhaugh Street, mostly younger people of student age, and the hope of developing contact with these people, of extending our welcome to them and of sharing the Gospel with them has been much on the mind of the Kirk Session for some time.
George Chalmers’s statistical work on the population of our parish has brought to light just how many people of this age we have close to Sandyford and what a tiny proportion have a church connection. You who are about this age likewise have contact with many more, at work and through your leisure activities.
What will Douglas be doing? Young adult and student pastoral care; international student welcome, sharing the Gospel with them and perhaps English practice classes so as to be of service to them; a share in aspects of Sunday worship such as he has already been doing on occasion; helping us build stronger links with our missionary members and special partners; perhaps helping run one of the ‘alternate Wednesday evening’ series of studies; prayer; and his own personal development.
Friends International want to join with us in this work in a partnership by which they and we each pay half of the salary.
This is therefore a half step of faith! But it was encouraged when we were recently sent, out of the blue, £1,000 for international student welcome. It seemed to seal the vision.
We have not forgotten that we still owe £215,000 on our building and that many members and friends are giving to that project, in addition to their normal giving, in a sacrificial way. So it is no-one’s duty to play a part in contributing to our share of employing Douglas’s. But some might want to, because it is indeed an act of faith to call him to work among us. And all of us will want to support him by our interest and by our prayers for his walk and work. George Chalmers is applying to such funds as might support this work.
You have probably heard of the marker at the foot of one of the Swiss Alps honouring a man who fell to his death while attempting the climb. The marker gives his name and then this brief epitaph: “He died climbing.”
I am aware that the life of Sandyford has felt a bit like that in recent years; but of course, so it should. Every congregation worth its salt goes on trying better to commend the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.
May this appointment be part of our attempt to be a people who for Jesus' sake go on striving for excellence in the work of growing up to maturity, growing together in community, growing out in service and growing more in numbers.
C Peter WhiteView All Letters