Rev. Christopher MacRae
Kilmallie Free Church Manse
Phone: 01397 704434
Registered Scottish Charity SC038140
This project is being part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Highland Leader 2007 - 2013 programme
Rev Iain D. Campbell
Plant a church.....
In this age of information technology, church websites are a great way of knowing what is happening where. Denominational websites allow people of all churches and none to get news and reports of activities across the church, and allow visitors to locate churches in different places.
But there is always a serpent in Paradise, and I have observed that the church is not immune from the curse of headline grabbing, of doing things just to broadcast its own achievements. And I also observe that the internet can be an enormous source of discouragement; small churches labour away faithfully with little to broadcast and little to show for their labours. Who wants to read that nothing extraordinary is happening?
That apart, I have been encouraged by one or two headlines on our denomination’s website recently, in connection with church planting, specifically in Stirling and in Govan. The new work in Stirling is breaking new ground in the twenty-first century, as a small group of believers has started holding fortnightly services in the University town.
The work in Govan is revisiting a historic Free Church centre; the old Govan Free Church provided services for a largely Gaelic-speaking Highland diaspora after the second world war, and was a sizeable congregation back in the day. When I was a student in Glasgow in the early 1980s the congregation was all but gone; at least I can say I worshipped there.
And now one of our ministers and his family has relocated to Govan and is trying to re-establish a congregation in the south side of Glasgow; not this time among an immigrant workforce from the north of Scotland, but among the local population.
Some might question the experiment, given all the current crises within the church, not least in terms of vacancy and in terms of finance. We have, after all, a local Presbytery in the Western Isles, a third of which is without settled ministry, and any number of established congregations which require ministers. Why not settle these first?
And the burden of finance is ongoing; for whatever reason, less money is coming from congregations into central funds, and central activities are being curtailed. Embargoes are placed on new appointments and we are operating with our hands tied behind our backs in many ways.
Yet here are two new works that will require prayerful and practical support if they are to succeed. And I hope they will.
If I can look at these ventures in terms of the three cardinal graces, I would have to say that they are, first, a work of faith. It takes faith to move into the secular, politically correct, indifferent landscape of modern Scotland with a message that focusses on the exclusive claims and absolute demands of the carpenter from Nazareth. It would be easier to do nothing, or to shore up existing work and established churches.
Yet the mandate of the New Testament remains the commission of the church: ‘go into all the world and make disciples’. That cannot be ignored. The claims of the gospel are paramount, and non-negotiable. There is no place that is off limits to the church, whatever its size or potential.
So it really is a step of faith to move into areas that have little or no solid, Reformed witness, and provide a means for heralding the doctrines of grace. But it is no blind faith - for Christians, it is faith in the one who says ‘I will build my church’, and who gives every encouragement to us to use every means to that end.
Not that I think any less faith is needed to continue working away in areas where the church has existed for years; but to establish an identity and profile in a new area, while remaining loyal to the truth claims of Jesus Christ, is no small challenge, and requires no small faith.
Church planting is also a work of hope. Hope is one of these great New Testament words that fills you with optimism. Things need not continue as they are, it says: things can actually change for the better, and situations can become better.
The reality is that modern Scotland is in need of the gospel. Our generation is ignorant of the Bible and lost without God. We pay lip service to the Christian faith, but we do not know what it is to which we are paying lip service. Christianity is equated with homophobia at worst, pietistic moralism at best. We have demonised Knox and Calvin, and have little awareness of our Christian heritage.
Nor am I sure any more whether political independence will deliver anything beyond secularism to us; the freedoms promised by the architects of our bold new future are freedoms to practice our religion provided we keep it to ourselves. So what happens when we exercise those liberties by not keeping our faith to ourselves?
Into the political chaos and moral turbulence that is modern Scotland there comes, afresh, the gospel of saving grace. And it is a message of hope. That is why to plant new churches is never a hope-less venture; it is a step of confidence that the gospel will have been heard once again, and can bring the hope of life to our dying and decaying culture.
But supremely, such work is a work of love. It is a work which engages with people for their own sake, because people matter to God. Our great Christian imperative is to love God and our neighbour. Too often we practice the first at the expense of the second.
But when Christians are prepared to move outwith their comfort zones to extend the love of God in Christ to contexts which have not known it, they deserve our prayers and our support. They are the missionaries of today’s culture, and we ought to be their backup.
Nothing I am doing deserves a headline on our church’s website, but the story of church planting does. And it is a work which could just, under the blessing of God, see a church grow from seed to flower.
First published in the Stornoway Gazette
This one is for Kirsty
Sometimes I work at my laptop standing up, but not today. Having spent three days cycling from the Butt to Barra there is only so much strain my thighs can take. I’m sitting at my desk, and even the thought of standing up is a challenge.
This year’s Macmillan cycle went very well, with a good mix of professions, ages and abilities involved. The ride is the project of the Western Isles Emergency Services, and these were very well represented. But so too were other professions, as well as husbands and wives of emergency personnel, people who had benefitted from the service of the Macmillan Nurses, and those who just wanted to do their bit. My son and I were among the cyclists, and it was not a race.
The weather was beautiful at the start and at the finish. Not from the start TO the finish, please note; AT the start and the finish. Beautiful sunshine and a gentle tailwind got us from the Butt of Lewis to Laxdale Hall, and from Laxdale to Scaladale in Harris, in record time. It would have been perfect were it not for the fact that we had a couple of casualties along the way, who either managed to get back on their bikes or plan to do so soon.
But the first day’s conditions were not to be repeated. We had a gruelling ride through Harris on the second morning; a full cooked breakfast was served just before we had to tackle the Clisham; and the Northton brae just before Leverburgh was a huge psychological obstacle (at least to a middle-aged minister on a bike). However, hills are made to be conquered - and they were.
But the driving rain in North Uist was demoralising; a south-westerly wind meant that we had to work hard to reach Sgoil Lionacleit that afternoon. Our faithful cooks had their own obstacles to overcome - 60 bodies needed feeding, but the food for that evening was discovered still to be in Stornoway. The kindness of strangers saved the evening, however; and we had the most welcome plate of spaghetti bolognese.
The wind was against us on the final leg through South Uist too, but it’s amazing how knowing it was the final day was a huge morale booster. Some of the keener, sleeker, fitter cyclists made it to Eriskay in a couple of hours, but the rest of us, less sleek, marginally less fit, but just as keen, eventually conquered the Eriskay brae and made it for the Barra ferry in time.
And the sun shone again; we arrived at our final island in glorious weather. Not only that, but we were met by some of the fourth year pupils from Castlebay School who accompanied us round the west side of the island until we reached our destination. The exhilaration of completing the project was in everyone’s face and in the atmosphere at the finish. It was a climactic moment.
But it could not have been achieved without the support of hauliers, mechanics, cooks, luggage carriers and others who made it possible for fifty cyclists to make it through the Western Isles with confidence, with encouragement, and with food and drink, and then to make it home by bus on the last day of the trip. It would be impossible to start naming everyone involved, but a huge thank you to you all.
So why did I do it? The statistics on my little computer (which let me down for about 30 miles of the journey) tell me that my maximum speed was 34 mph, and that I burnt almost 7000 calories. Either of these would have been incentive enough to get on my saddle; exercise and weight control are more crucial at my age than I ever appreciated. But these were not my motives.
The camaraderie in the group was unmissable; it’s amazing how small a world becomes when you are thrown together with a group - some you know, others you get to know, and someone is usually connected in some way with someone else you know. The miles seem shorter in a group, and the group dynamic enables you to make it to the end. But that was not my overarching motive either.
Everyone who cycled did so to encourage one of our island’s most important services. The need to support families who have been affected with cancer seems to be growing each week. The journey of individuals who are diagnosed with cancer, and that of their family and friends, is more gruelling and demanding than any cycle. And, as we experienced in our own family some time ago, support for such times is vital and necessary.
So we did the cycle so that the work of Macmillan nurses and the Macmillan support network can continue, because everyone knew someone who has battled with cancer; and for those who are still engaged in that struggle, as well as for those who are no longer with us, the ride was worth every hard pedal.
And the most touching moment for me was when we were crossing the Sound of Barra, taking up all the seats in the small seating area, and I started chatting with a local couple who were heading home. They told me of their own family struggles with cancer, including their eleven-year old granddaughter, Kirsty, who has to have regular treatment for her own illness.
I don’t know Kirsty, but she’s on my prayer list now, as I’m sure others are praying for her too. I thought of her as my son and I cycled into our finishing post at Castlebay, wondering why such a beautiful world is scarred by such an all-consuming and demanding illness. Some questions I cannot answer; to try to answer them would make people’s situation worse, not better. But, under God, we can all do our bit to help. This column is for you, Kirsty, and in my mind at least, this year’s Butt to Barra cycle now has your name on it too.
(The Butt to Barra cycle took place from 27-30 June 2013. First published in Stornoway Gazette).
Another look at a mere Christian
A recent long haul international flight enabled me to do something I rarely manage to do - to read an entire book from cover to cover in a single sitting. Given that the book was about one of my favourite writers by one of my favourite writers, it has quickly become one of my favourite biographies - Alister McGrath’s new life of C.S. Lewis.
C.S. Lewis died two months after I was born, which makes this year highly significant for both of us. But the Irishman who became an Oxford don had a huge impact on my life, as on countless other young people, with his Narnia novels, then with his science fiction novels, and finally with his writings on Christian apologetics.
Part of my thrill, indeed, of reading McGrath’s biography is the inclusion of some of Pauline Baynes’ images of the land where it was always winter and never Christmas; they took me back to my first edition copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and became my definitive pictures then of what Narnia looked like.
I am grateful to McGrath for his painstaking research; he has taught me things I did not know, like Lewis’s sources for the names Narnia and Aslan. But he also made me close the book at one point and just think (which I consider to be the mark of any great writing), as he discussed the difference between ‘imaginary’ and ‘imaginative’.
His point is an important one. ‘Narnia,’ he writes, ‘is an imaginative, not an imaginary world’. What is ‘imaginary’ has been imagined falsely, and has no bearing on reality. It is an invention, a delusion. It has no counterpart in our experience of reality, and gives us no ability to see it or to interpret it.
What is ‘imaginative’ on the other hand, says McGrath, ‘is something produced by the human mind as it tries to respond to something greater than itself, struggling to find images adequate to the reality’. I have been waiting all my life for that key to explain the impact of Narnia on my thinking as a child: out of Lewis’s fertile imagination came a story which fuelled my own imagination in a way that enabled me to explain my own understanding of God’s world.
Suddenly, somewhere over the Sahara, I realised that the best kind of words are the words that unlock the power of thought and bring us back to what is real and lasting. The biography made me want to go back and read the Narnia books all over again.
McGrath’s work explores some interesting aspects of Lewis’s relationships with others - with Mrs Moore, the mother of one of his colleagues, whose attachment to Lewis was much more than platonic; with Joy Davidman, whom he married late in life, and with J.R.R. Tolkein.
Given the recent popularity of the Lord of the Rings films, as well as the recent appearance of the Hobbit, this is a fascinating study. Tolkein, like many writers, had his dark and unproductive moments; had it not been for Lewis encouraging his writing and his study, Tolkein’s fertile imagination may never have produced the writings that it did. Yet a growing estrangement developed between the two academics; and Tolkein probably never knew that Lewis nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961.
I also paused to reflect on McGrath’s statement early in the biography that ‘Lewis is a failed poet who found greatness in other forms of writing’. The first significant works from his pen were war poems which were of mixed quality and failed to secure him the position of a man of letters to which he aspired.
Yet the poet in him evidences itself not least in his imaginative prose, if (as Lewis argued against other poets) the poet ‘is not someone who is to be looked at, but someone who is to be looked through’. That is surely all that Lewis wished: to be a means for the better understanding of the world and man’s place in it. Perhaps failed poets could make the best preachers too.
This is not a review, just a response to a great book. McGrath is one of the most articulate and thought-provoking theologians in Britain today, and his biography of C.S. Lewis is a masterpiece. Highly original, eminently readable and most enjoyable, this is an illuminating study of one of the great writers of our past.
And that, perhaps, is the problem with Lewis. As McGrath points out, the Narnia novels need to be read with an understanding of the cultural mores of post-war Britain, and his theological position never did sit easily within British evangelicalism or American fundamentalism. McGrath even highlights the fact that Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in the year of Lewis’s death, pronounced him ‘unsound’ on a number of doctrinal issues.
C.S. Lewis, like all of us, must answer at a higher court than that of the prophets of British evangelicalism, however; and it is difficult to be sure what his doctrinal position on some matters were. But then again, theology was not his calling: literature was. And when he became a Christian and was, in his own words, ‘surprised by joy’, the most reluctant convert in England dedicated his considerable talents to the rational defence of the faith.
McGrath may be correct to say that the works of Tolkein have overshadowed those of Lewis, and that the cultural tides which washed him to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s have, half a century later, washed him out to sea again. But there is no doubting his place in the literary landscape of Great Britain; and, for some of us at least, there is no chance that the ranges of Middle-earth could ever eclipse the landmarks of Narnia.
Some aspects of Lewis’ work may be dated, but his life story is as poignant as it is thrilling. Now I just need another long book to get me home.
Published Stornoway Gazette
What's in a name?
There is an amusing story about the late Clement Graham, who was Principal of the Free Church College while I was a student, and was Clerk of the Free Church General Assembly for many years. On one occasion someone wished to present a motion to the Assembly of which Principal Graham did not wholeheartedly approve.
Or perhaps it was the manner of its presentation that roused his ire. When he was asked whether the motion was competent, his alleged reply was, ‘There is nothing in Standing Orders to prevent a man making a fool of himself!’.
Well, this year’s General Assembly has come and gone, and I don’t think too many of us who spoke made fools of ourselves. Indeed, given the difficulties and the constraints under which we are currently labouring, I think many of our decisions were sensible and forward thinking, not least in terms of the future of the Free Church College.
Every ministerial member of the Assembly, I think, has come through our College at some level or another. Some of us owe the foundations of all our theological thinking to the training we received there, and our studentship at the College bound us to a heritage of Scottish theological reflection which was - and in my view still is - second to none.
This year we appointed a new Principal in the person of our Stornoway minister, Rev Iver Martin. To appoint a Principal who is still also a minister is not unprecedented in our history, but is certainly a new departure over recent years. Four years ago, as Chair of our College Board, I argued that such an appointment was necessary in order to span a growing gulf between Church and College, and am glad that it has finally happened.
For some, however, the move to re-naming the College to Edinburgh Theological Seminary in principle is the most objectionable departure from our cherished tradition. Personally, I would have preferred to retain the word ‘College’, and voted to do so, but did not prevail. Such are the happenstances of Assembly discussions; at the end of the day we accept the findings and move on.
A generation of us will continue to speak of the ‘College’ through use and wont, and I guess there is no reason why the new name cannot, in official documentation, incorporate the old. But I have better things to worry about than an institution’s change of name.
For one thing, the institution at which we train our ministers and others will continue to build on the Scottish theological tradition it has always represented. The authority of Scripture, the uniqueness of Christ, the covenant theology of our heritage are not secured by a name but by a confessional commitment.
And neither does a new name reflect any embarrassment with the denomination under whose auspices and by whose authority it is run. Quite the opposite: it shows that the Free Church is keen to extend its influence wider than its own constituency. While remaining a Church College, our training school will all the more integrate into a wider evangelical world, and bring into it the very best of our Scottish tradition. The Church still owns the College, both in terms of physical location and in terms of theological ethos, and is well-placed in Scotland’s capital city to raise the profile of theological study and of ministerial training.
Ultimately, therefore, the nomenclature says nothing new: the College owned by the Free Church is a Seminary of theology in Edinburgh. Either name would adequately express what the institution is; but there is a deeper issue still: that of pride and how to deal with it.
Institutional pride, like any other form of pride, can be a subtly dangerous thing. An inflated view of our own importance can be disguised as an appreciation of our heritage. An uncritical maintenance of our own traditions can be regarded as a healthy maintenance of our principles.
Yet tradition and principle are two very different things. The former ought to be the vehicle for the other: our living continuity with the past ought to be the means by which the best principles and ethos of the past can be applied to the present.
But it can turn into something very sinister very quickly - the idea that as long as the tradition is maintained, so too is the principle. The General Assembly last week recognised that principles are to be maintained within traditions which themselves can change, and often must, if the principles are to be applied and taught to a new generation.
I’m getting into that stage of life now where even I talk about the way things used to be. But I don’t want to drift into old age as a cynical critic of every change; I hope God will give me the wisdom to recognise that even if the next generation does not do things the way I used to do them, we are still continuing the foundational principles of scriptural truth and teaching across the generations.
So I have every confidence in the new arrangements for delivering our theological training, and in the new Principal of the Free Church College. I am sure his large congregation in Stornoway will recognise the vital role they are playing in the wider theological and evangelical world as they support him in his new and wider ministry.
So it was, I think, a realistic yet forward-looking Assembly, which spoke of church planting, mission support, ecumenical relations and other issues which must occupy every Church of Christ everywhere.
But for me, the magic moment was when the Lord High Commissioner referred to me by the title reserved for Moderators of the Church of Scotland: the Right Reverend Iain Campbell. I smiled. But of course he should: am I ever the wrong Reverend? Well, sometimes. And sometimes Standing Orders allow me to make a fool of myself too.
Published in Stornoway Gazette 30 May 2013
I decided to include a photograph of Alistair at his desk in Dumisani, just to show that he is (literally) entombed by books in his little corner of South Africa. Even the photo does not to justice to the fact that he and his books are vying for space, but, as always, he was happy to oblige.
This morning Dumisani hosted a small ministers' fraternal which meets regularly around different churches in the district. I spoke on Preaching through Exodus, and very much enjoyed both the fellowship and the coffee and cake afterwards.
After a short break I was on duty for four hours of lectures and preaching, beginning with a College devotional on Luke 24, and then three talks on Preaching Christ from the Old Testament.
It was a heavy schedule, but one which I enjoyed being involved in. The level of interest and support from other churches was also very encouraging.
uMfundisi is the Xhosa for 'teacher' and is regularly used for a minister - so that was very much my role today.
I now look forward to the journey home, and reversing the role, so that I shall speak to others about my time here.
Perhaps I shall have time to blog about impressions and conclusions at some other time, but for now I hope these short blogs have given some sense of the wonder of the place that is South Africa, and some idea of the role our church has to play in this part of the world.
More than that, I hope it will sharpen out view of mission; for, as the sign on the exit gate of Bethany Emmanuel church says, 'You are now entering the mission field. Are you prepared with the Gospel?'
Indeed. May we all be missionaries, wherever we are.
And other animals
Alistair Wilson kindly drove us to Mpongo Game Reserve today, where we had a good morning scouting for African animals. The zebra were breathtaking, as were the giraffe, rhino and buck deer which we saw roaming freely in their natural environment.
The hungry hippo by the coffee shop was ready to entertain us and to appear for a loaf of bread. What some animals will not do for attention!
What a wonderful panorama of nature there is all around us here - creation resplendent in its native beauty. And what marvellous lessons it has to teach us. I took a photo of warthogs grazing - moving forward all the time on their knees. Guess that's the way Christians should graze too.
But I've also been doing a little reading on the politics of South Africa, and the remarkable and tragic violence of the apartheid regime. Isn't it amazing how, out of all of animate creation, man should have so found a propensity for violence, disorder and social chaos?
The move towards democracy has been one of the great social changes in the South Africa of my generation. How we ought to pray that the young people growing up in today's South Africa will be shaped by higher ideals than in the past, and that the churches will serve them well.
I look forward to a day of ministry in Dumisani tomorrow.
With the Mamas on Mothers Day
Yesterday morning Anne and I attended the graduation and awards ceremony of Dumisani Bible Institute. It was held in Bethany Emmanuel Baptist Church, and started at 10am, except that the congregation kept arriving during the course of the service - standard practice I'm told! By the time we finished the place was quite full!
There were thirteen students receiving awards, though not all were able to be present for the ceremony. Many of these had been studying for their degree part-time over several years. Their dedication was admirable, and the ceremony marked a remarkable achievement.
It was an honour to be associated with the Dumisani staff for the occasion, and I spoke from 2 Corinthians 4 on the work of the ministry, and on the three dimensions of the gospel: what God has done for us, what he does in us, and what he does for us. The evening offered a bit of relaxation, which we appreciated as we prepared for the Sunday services.
This morning I preached at one of the congregations of the Free Church of Southern Africa, with with our own denomination at home has had a long association. This FCSA is in King William's Town, and is known as Club View. The building is fairly new, and is often used for large convention meetings.
It was a real joy to meet first with the Kirk Session, and then to preach to the congregation. The singing was uplifting, and the warmth of the people was such an encouragement. They had provided snacks for us after the service, as a special treat. It was a real joy to speak to them as they spoke of their affection for some of the missionaries who had served in South Africa.
I look forward to preaching this evening in Bethel Emmanuel Baptist Church, where we had the graduation yesterday.
In the FCSA congregation the women sit apart from the men, and Anne enjoyed being looked after by the ladies. With it being Mothering Sunday back home, I think she was missing the family a bit; but in God's Providence she was singing Psalm 23 with the Mamas of Club View. How better to spend Mothers' Day than to join with people we had never met, in a place we had never seen, and to sing of a common faith in the goodness and mercy of God that follow all of his people all their days?
Education, Education, Education
Today began with coffee at Dumisani, where Anne and I had the opportunity to meet the staff at their morning break. The school is closed on a Friday, so it becomes a day for administration and other duties. We saw the new computers for which the WFM have been raising money, and which will be of great benefit for the students.
Most of the morning was then spent at Teleios School, based at Emmanuel Bethany Baptist Church, and of which Jenny Wilson is Principal. What a great privilege it was to get a taste of the great work being done at the school.
When we arrived the children were enjoying making use of a cold water slide; I was very tempted to use it myself since the temperature has remained very high. The children enjoyed having their photographs taken as much as using the slide, and it was no problem to get them to pose for their Scottish audience!
Of course, taking a teacher to a school is like taking a minister to a theological institute, so Anne enjoyed meeting the staff and pupils, and getting involved in the lessons!
It was also very moving to be asked to speak at the school's end of week Assembly; the children were very enthusiastic singers! It was also very moving to have 'The Lord's my Shepherd (I will trust)' as the closing song; just a week ago Anne finished her week at her school singing the same song, so she found it very emotional to hear it sung now in a South African school!
So the morning was about the education of theological students, and the education of children and young people. The rest of the day was about our own continuing education as we toured some of the villages and settlements around KWT and were able to enjoy a meal with the Wilsons in the evening.
We are always learning, aren't we? And travel is certainly a unique medium of education.
Culture of Contrasts
The jet lag caught up with us a little bit this morning, so we rested for a good few hours before doing anything else. The temperature was a little cooler than yesterday, but still in the 20+º area.
The afternoon was a tour of King William's Town and surrounding areas, courtesy of Jenny Wilson; in spite of a full day at work she made time to act as tour guide, for which we were very grateful.
KWT itself is a bustling town, 'rich in ornate Victorian architecture' as one of the guide books puts it. Some of the church buildings are very impressive - the Presbyterian and Anglican buildings strikingly so. Its colonial houses and streets have a striking beauty, and some of the mansions in part of the town betray wealth and prestige.
But a stone's throw from the town - or at least a short drive - shows a different landscape of Xhosa settlements in villages of tiny two-roomed houses and evident poverty. The links the Wilsons have made here enabled us to visit the family of one of their friends, who kindly allowed us into their home. How easily we grumble at the least thing; how thankful we should be for all that God has given us.
And how thankful we should be as a church that our missionary families are doing far more than we expect of them, and becoming involved with people across a wide spectrum of social inequalities and of personal needs. They ought to command our deepest respect and our constant prayers.
King William's Town is also the birthplace of Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid activist of the 1970s, whose grave we also visited. Biko is regarded now as one of the great heroes of modern South Africa. How fortunate many of us are that we were spared involvement in such bitter and bloody controversies. It was certainly a day of learning, which was completed with a delightful meal at the home of Deon and Shelley Lombard, Vice-Principal and administrator of Dumisani respectively; and with whom the Whytocks are staying during their time at the Institute currently. Developing friendships in the cause of the gospel is a major part of a unique visit like this, and we look forward to the next few days.
Meeting the Dumisani community
Since Dumisani Theological Institute is our primary reason for visiting South Africa, it was good to share a meal with most of the faculty this evening, in the home of the Principal, Alistair Wilson, where we are staying.
We enjoyed food and fellowship with Deon and Shelley Lombard, Wayne and Megan Gretz, and Jack and Nancy Whytock from Prince Edward Island, who are helping at DTI for the next three months.
Already we have been amazed at the diversity of this rich culture - the diversity of cultures and languages, of landscapes and of views, of people and communities. English speakers, Afrikaans speakers and Xhosa speakers living together and working together, and, in this case, in the cause of Christ and his gospel.
Earlier we visited DTI itself, and saw buildings which had been familiar to us from Mission Board reports in church magazines as well as from reports of visiting missionaries. For me there is a rich Scottish legacy and heritage represented in the work of the Institute, but more and more I realise that this is only one strand of the background to the work going on to train pastors in the Institute today.
Others laboured, and still others enter into these labours, and the work goes on. None of us, and none of our traditions, has a monopoly on the Lord's work, but it is a joy to be in it together.
Hopefully I'll get to post some more photographs tomorrow, but meantime the combination of the South African heat, the early flight times and the supper around our fellowship table is making me drowsy and fit only to sleep.