After the Single-Minded conference wrapped up, we said our goodbyes and take a ride with some new friends to the Stansted airport. Sunday night we hopped on a plane bound north to Glasgow, Scotland.
The story goes on, but I would be remiss to mention that on Monday morning I apparently hit ‘snooze’ on my phone 17 times. A normally-would-be-sleeping-in 7:00 AM alarm turned into a 10 AM wakeup. Apparently the jet lag was finally being overcome! We were spent quite well from the conference, which was a pure joy. And the second leg of our journey had begun. In Glasgow we are visiting two missionary families, friends we know from the States, and who serve alongside one another albeit in two uniquely different church contexts in neighboring cities.
The ever-joyful Brian Luse picked us up at the Glasgow airport and drove us to join the end of the Sunday evening service at RE:HOPE Next Generation Bible Church in west Glasgow (Partick neighborhood). There we joined in the worship gathering until greeted with a hug by our gracious hosts, Scott and Monica Burns. We met “Scottica” when they were two single seminary students back in Portland at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. As God crossed our paths, our hearts were knit, and we knew that any trip to the UK must involve a glimpse of life and ministry of both faith-inspiring families.
The Burns minister in Glasgow, the great city near where Scott grew up, and I mention their site above because all who support them will be joining in with a true movement of God, a revival being sparked in the “knifing capital of the world.” (We felt quite safe here by the way.) We walked around this truly amazing city discovering its centuries of heritage — as a history enthusiast I was enthralled at every street corner — a godly heritage that is now being rediscovered by a faithful and small though actively growing group of believers in Christ. Founded by a monk fifteen centuries ago, the city’s motto reveals God’s call on this people: “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of Thy Word and the praising of Thy Name.” (In recent years the motto appears in shorthand as “Let Glasgow flourish.”)
After our late wake-up, we had a mere five or six hours remaining with Scott and Monica, and we made the most of it. Their hospitality was tremendous (memory foam on the bed; felt just like home!), their openness encouraging, and their story-sharing inspiring. God is true and faithful in their shared life, and Christ is real in their zeal. Wow. Saints like these shall be studied and celebrated. Their true servants, as no task is beneath them, as well as any challenge beyond them. What I would call faith and courage, faithfulness and perseverance, they would simply call “following Jesus and doing His will.” Their days are marked by His presence, and their home a center of renewal and hospitality.
I should mention that before sleeping in we did walk the grounds of the University of Glasgow on Sunday night, seeing Scott’s old stomping grounds. The anecdotes and facts were heard from our local guide were priceless. On Monday we talked through life on a trip into the heart of the city after a delicious breakfast (thanks Monica!). The ScotRail took us to the centre where we walked up the hill to the Glasgow Cathedral, first built in 1136. The host husband-wife guide team embodied such enthusiasm we could not help but stay and hear their stories about the place, touring the fourth cathedral on that site (reconstructed in 1197 with some renovations since). Every square inch of that place was intentional built by tradesmen and craftsmen, and embodies the history of life with God in that place, and the challenges and triumphs of the Scots. There’s a wall in the lower level noting the various bishops and archbishops over the years, under Catholic and Protestant Episcopalian (Church of England) and Presbyterian (Church of Scotland) leadership. The cathedral was occupied as a centre of worship among the three groups throughout Medieval times, the late middle ages, through the Reformation and the years since (overlapping when the state sovereign put a new group in authority). There we also learned about what we originally came to hear: some more about the founding father St. Mungo (Monk Kentigern). It seems to me that at least one church planting roots into the city is seeking to capture the vision and values of Mungo, seeking God’s call on the city of Glasgow, in this generation. Many thanks to the Burns’ for sharing their lives with us, and for the little things, like letting us utilize their digital camera to capture memories of the day.
I write this from the Luse home in Renfrew, Renfrewshire, and in the next day or so will seek to draft up a recap of our visit with their awesome family as well. Over the course of a few days we have experience such grace here; from High Leigh Abbey with UK singles seeking Christ, with Matt and Diana Kottman (our hosts for the front and back ends of our trip), to seeing Scott and Monica Burns, and now Brian and Shauna Luse and family, the richness of relationships and joy on this trip has been like a cup of cold water welcomed from a far land.
(Didn’t hit snooze once this morning, and it’s time to say happy anniversary to my bride. Plus the day has begun and the Luse kids are playing wooden trains in the hallway. Feels like a glimpse of home.)