Reflecting on Reflecting Hope in Scotland

Reflecting on Reflecting Hope in Scotland

CrieffJames Botha

Hallelu-hallelu-jah Praise ye the Lord

Chances are that when you read the name of this song, a melody automatically enters your mind. This song would at least be familiar to some of us who have been around in the eighties and nineties. When this song echoes in your mind, what memories does it wake up? Perhaps more important is that we sing this song to celebrate what the Lord has done. This song started the afternoon meeting as almost fifty came together to celebrate three weeks of efforts to reach folks in Aberdeen, Shetland, and Inverness.

As part of the Reflecting Hope endeavour undertaken in the British Isles during May 2023, a small group of pastors took to the roads on bicycles in search of people with whom they could share the gospel in person. Dr Anthony Kent, Associate Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference, led this initiative.

Planning for this project started in 2022, and many meetings took place to cover all the aspects of the project. On occasions such as these, you realise how essential software enables meetings worldwide to take place.

Many avenues had to be taken to bring the project's focus to two big items and eventually one main item. The two items are riding a bike and holding public meetings where the gospel is shared. But these public meetings will only happen with the hard work leading up to it.

The Islands of Shetland have not been actively engaged with by the church to anyone's recollection. This means that the meeting in Lerwick on Sabbath, 20 May, would have been the first-ever church service meeting held by Seventh-day Adventists on that island. This meeting was the second of two meetings the group had planned and happened after only a week of being present on the island. 

During this week, the team cycled most of the roads of the main three islands, exchanging conversations with people they met, and after three weeks in three different places, Aberdeen, Shetland and Inverness, the list grew to sixty-eight people.

But what is inspirational is what the process involved. The team had breakfast together every morning, followed by a short devotion taken by a different person each day. The cyclists would then prepare their bicycles, and the van had to be ready. The cyclists then started their daily route, and a car and the van would follow some distance behind the bicycles to provide extra leaflets and books, as well as food and nourishment, as it became needed in the windy and cold days of the Shetland Islands.

The team would gather around the table in the kitchen, where a warm plate of food awaited, and conversations about the day’s activities would be had before everyone would go and rest.

The Shetland Reflecting Hope project in Scotland could not have taken place, had it not been for the initiative of the General Conference working with Adventist World Radio and other entities at that level. In the Trans European Division, the work of Anthony WagonerSmith and his team was complemented by the work at the Union Level of Cathy Boldeau and Christian Salcianu, who worked long hours to get websites up and running and who made miracles happen by designing and printing leaflets and book inserts in record time. Hellevi Walker also proved invaluable in the Scottish Mission Office and worked hard to ensure support remained in place for most of the focus areas during the project.

We thank the pastoral team in Scotland for their generosity of time and physical efforts. It must be pointed out that retiree Dr Paul Tompkins also made himself available for the duration and that his presence in the group helped put that atmosphere of fun in place.

Plans are already being discussed for another such visit to Shetland in the future and for follow-up work to be done shortly.