Why would a group of 20-somethings from Texas, Virginia and South Dakota take time off their jobs and spend part of their summer in Stranraer? That’s a question that some of our summer visitors from the States have been asked.
In merely practical terms, the answer is quite simple. They’ve come to serve the church and the community. Since they arrived on Saturday, they’ve been giving out leaflets advertising special meetings we’re holding this week, spent some time with residents in retirement housing, carried out some practical work at Stair Park and helped some of our church members in practical ways.
But why would they chose to do those things? They’re not getting paid – in fact, they had to pay their own way here. The real answer is that each of their lives has been transformed by Jesus Christ – and they want to see the lives of people in this community changed as well.
Their vision is broader than simply helping a particular ‘brand’ of church. Only one of them is from a Reformed Presbyterian Church back home, yet they’ve come to serve a small congregation in a denomination most of them hadn’t heard of before – because they recognise that we’re all part of something bigger. The things we have in common as Bible-believing Christians are far more significant than the issues on which we differ.
It’s easy to be cynical about naïve Americans – but some of them have been through experiences I wouldn’t wish on anyone. They’ve experienced more of the hardships of life than their sunny dispositions might suggest.
Above all they’re here because they believe that everyone needs Jesus: bad people, good people and religious people. And in fact, those are the titles of the three meetings that we’ve been holding from Tuesday through Thursday this week.
Come along and you can meet them and hear their stories yourself. But their great desire is that long after they’re back home and forgotten, the one story that our town will remember is that of the Son of God. Our American friends may have come from somewhere more glamorous to Stranraer, but he came from Heaven to earth. He lived a life of perfect obedience to God and then went to the cross to face God’s wrath for our disobedience.
We may hear a lot on the news about our visitors’ President – but they’re far more eager to talk about their King.
Published in the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, 14th April 2018.