Mission Team: Monday and Tuesday

Our last news update covered the RP Mission Team's arrival and first full day in Stranraer. Here's what they got up to on Monday and Tuesday.

Each week-day started off with the team spending time doing personal devotions, followed by team worship. With the Mission services starting on Wednesday evening, Monday was a full day of distributing invites to homes in Stranraer.

In between distribution, the team did their daily book study in the afternoon as they worked through Don Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines. In the evening they had dinner at Stranraer Tandoori to support a charity evening.

Distribution continued in the morning and early afternoon, and then the team put on a games afternoon for the young people of the congregation.


In the evening one of the congregation treated the team and a couple of others to a Chinese meal at Hong Kong City (just along from the church), after which we went back to Stephen and Carla's and enjoyed spending some more time together.


Encouraging first full day with Mission Team

This year's RP Mission Team arrived on Saturday evening. Their first task they was unpacking the new tables and chairs and setting up for the church lunch the following day.


After the Sunday morning service, the congregation and the mission team enjoyed the first ever church lunch in our refurbished church hall.

In the evening we held a Thanksgiving Service to commemorate the completion of the work to the hall, when were were joined by members of Stranraer Baptist Church, as well as other family and friends.

It was great to see the hall filled to capacity, and afterwards we enjoyed some refreshments and a chance to chat with each other.

On Monday and Tuesday the team will be spending most of their time distributing leaflets ahead of our special services on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings.


Week of activities planned as RP Mission Team comes to Stranraer

On Saturday, the RP Mission team will be arriving in Stranraer. All 8 team members are from the United States, with Joey (team leader), Monica and Matthew having been here last year.

We have a varied week planned for them including leaflet distribution, practical work to Stair Park (home of Stranraer FC where Stephen serves as chaplain), nursing home visits, helping out at the Cafe N-Spire recovery cafe and a tour of local Covenanter sites.

After morning worship on Sunday we will have a chance to get to know the team as we have lunch together after church, and the team members share a little about themselves.

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On Sunday evening the team will join us for a thanksgiving service as we mark the completion of the work being done to refurbish our hall. We'll be joined by Stranraer Baptist Church who have cancelled their evening service so they can be part of it, and we've also invited the other local churches.

The leaflets the team will be giving out will be to advertise a series of three special services on Wednesday 14 - Friday 16 June on the theme 'Your Life Has a Purpose'.

If you're in Stranraer or the surrounding area, it would be great to have you come and be part of what's happening - you would be most welcome.

Fake News (Newspaper article)

This week, Facebook launched a UK newspaper campaign to help people spot false news stories in the run-up to the general election. Last month, Google added a 'fact check' feature to search results. It is all part of an effort to clamp down on the spread of 'fake news', a problem which has snowballed with the rise of social media.

Yet while we are quick to jump on others who are less than completely truthful, we are often less stringent with ourselves. An advert has appeared in this very paper beginning 'We all bend the truth now and then' - and none of us could argue against that statement.

Some will respond 'so what? Everybody exaggerates a story or tells a little white lie occasionally. As long as it doesn't hurt anybody, it's not a big deal'. But perhaps the following illustration will help show why our failure to always tell the truth should worry us more than it does.

In the Harry Potter books, those who are evil are associated with snakes. Evil characters can speak parseltongue - the language of snakes. And so when Harry's friends find out that he can speak it too, they begin to worry - because to speak the language of snakes is to speak the language of the enemy.

The Bible tells us that we too have an enemy. And to lie, twist the truth, tell half-truths, exaggerate or gossip is to speak his language. Jesus said of Satan 'When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies'. In contrast, God is the 'God of truth'. The reason there is suffering and death in the world is because men and women listened to the lies of Satan rather than the truth of God.

There are only two sides - and how you use your tongue (or pen or keyboard) will show which one you are on. The frightening truth is that by nature we are all on the devil's side. No-one has to teach us to lie or shift the blame - the language of the serpent is our mother tongue.

The Bible makes it clear that liars, promise-breakers and gossips won't get into Heaven. But Jesus came into a world of lies and said: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life'.

Published in Stranraer & Wigtownshire Free Press, 11th May 2017

Stranraer FC: Chaplaincy update

At 17 days old, Willow made it in time for Stranraer's last home game of the season!

At 17 days old, Willow made it in time for Stranraer's last home game of the season!

It's been a varied few days on the Stranraer FC chaplaincy front. Saturday saw the team defeat East Fife 2-1 to finish 7th in the league - a very respectable finish given that they had been bottom of the table at Christmas. A few hours after the game, it was time for the annual awards dinner. As chaplain, I am asked to say grace before the meal each year. The dinner is a great opportunity to chat to the players, committee and others involved with the club.

Then yesterday I went to Paisley for a Regional Training Day on the subject of sudden bereavement. It was a hard-hitting day, led by Sports Chaplaincy UK CEO Warren Evans, focusing on supporting those who lose children, but also touching on other sudden bereavements such as suicide.

Meeting up with other chaplains is always a blessing

Meeting up with other chaplains is always a blessing

After having lunch together, we heard an update on the growth, needs and opportunities of chaplaincy in the UK, and were also able to hear a bit about how our fellow chaplains have been getting on.

The BBC featured a timely interview with Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd yesterday as part of Mental Health Awareness Week where he spoke about his brother's suicide last year. PFA Scotland figures show that nearly two thirds of footballers in Scotland have experienced mental health problems or know a team-mate who has. As last week's news about Everton's Aaron Lennon highlights, someone can seem to have it all from the outside but still be in pain inside. Training days like this aim to leave chaplains better equipped to support anyone involved in a football club who is going through a tough time.

Stephen Steele, club chaplain to Stranraer FC