An Island Sanctuary

COSLA Migration Team

Anas, aged 17, wrote to us about his life on the Isle of Lewis.

From the time when I have been told I have to travel to Stornoway the first thing that came to my mind was “where is that?” Then they told me it is in Scotland, well, all I know about Scotland is it is a part the UK and it is so cold there. I didn’t even think that Stornoway is on an island in the middle of the Atlantic!

Lots of things started coming to me, bad ideas, how the people will be there, what the houses look like and even how the people look. For me it was an unknown place. I wasn’t worried about the language, I already have some English and it will improve by practising with the people. The most important thing I was thinking about is how people will deal with…

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A letter to the doubting Christian



My friend,

Your heart is heavy, your unanswered prayers still hang in the air.
You try to gather your thoughts, and piece together what is going on.
How can things be like this?

After a sleepless night staring at the stars, you now leave the house, the low morning sunlight hits your face.

You find yourself silently questioning:
Why does He no longer listen?
Has he forgotten about me?
Does he still see me?

First know this, no matter how much it feels like it, you are not alone in this.
Every Christian you know, they also have been through this.
Share with them your situation.
But, there is even greater news, read Psalm 147, even just the first 5 verses.
The stars that you spent last night looking at through tears, the sun that lit-up your downcast face this morning, even the breath with which you cried out in desperation, all of this is maintained, perfectly controlled, and totally known to your sovereign God.

Look at verse 4, your God and Saviour not only made the stars, but he has numbered and named every one.
Stars that we will never see, that we will never even know that exist, He knows and has numbered them.

Just a small glimpse into the total power of our eternal God.
The one who controls the whole universe; every galaxy, star, and atom, is the same God also described in verse 3.
If He has saved you, then He has not forgotten you.
The One who sees all things, He still sees and knows you.
He will not abandon you, He will never forget you. You are His precious child, redeemed by the blood of your Saviour.

You are His for eternity, nothing can seperate you from His all powerful hold.
Keep on praying, keep on reading His word, keep on joining to worship with your brothers and sisters.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up your wounds.

Keep on fighting, keep on the race, keep on serving and worshipping your King.

The God of the universe, of life, of time and reality itself. He is the same God that saved you, whilst you were dead in your sins, a rebel against Him.
The same God that turned your heart from stone to one of flesh, the one who sent His beloved Son to suffer, die, and endure His wrath and punishment on your behalf.

He keeps you, and will keep you, until the calls you home to be with Him for eternity.

This is your Saviour and your God.


“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
— Luke 12 : 4 – 7

Errors of Bethel & Jesus Culture


I am approached often regarding the ministry of Bethel Church in Redding, California (and subsequently, music that outflows through their musicians Jesus Culture). For weeks, I’ve prayed about how best to respond, not desiring to present a statement out of context, gossip, assault the true body of Christ, nor give any further attention to a ministry that is frighteningly far from biblical truth. An opportunity presented itself recently when a friend provided me with a Bethel post “God, Bad, & the Ugly” from Kris Vallotton who is considered, along with Bill Johnson, the chief leader/prophet for Bethel Church in Redding. So, instead of providing thoughts out of context, I will simply provide biblical response to his publicly made statements regarding Bethel’s ministry philosophy.

Author’s Note: After reading over his comments, I did not laugh nor mock, but more than anything shed tears. It appears that Bethel desperately desires to “mainstream” their church but cannot synthesize…

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Uber to the Airport

I’m writing this, coffee in hand, from a dark corner of Glasgow airport. This will be a short one just a few thoughts – mostly because my battery is almost out and the charger is hopefully making it’s way to the correct plane, along with the rest of my luggage…

We have the instruction to be ready in and out of season. Well I’ll be honest, at 6/7am I am the most ‘out of season’ that you’ll find me.
For a wee treat to myself this morning I thought I’d get an Uber, Mohammed picked me up – a pretty cool looking guy in his mid 20’s, he had been up and working a long time before my alarm went off this morning.
We got chatting, covered the usual topics-  however, my answer of “Oh, I’m a student” didn’t satisfy him, he dug a bit deeper, so I explained that I was attempting to study to eventually become a minister.

Learning from previous previous experience, I sat back a bit and awaited the awkward silence, it didn’t come. Mohammed had plenty more questions and by the end of the relatively short journey we had covered large swathes of Christian and Islamic teachings.

So why do you care about my Uber journeys?

It dawned on me that we were able to have much of that conversation because we had both read some of the content on the other side of the fence. He was able to reference Scripture, I could bring to memory some badly mangled passages form the Qur’an.

I wan’t to make clear that this advice is not for new or even for younger Christians, the day will come, but not yet.
But if you’ve been on the walk for a while now, I would advise at least having a basic knowledge of the main differing viewpoints you will face as you go out with the Gospel.
It helps when talking to a Muslim or a J.W or a Mormon, that when they talk about Jesus, salvation, redemption, forgiveness etc. that they mean something totally different to you and I.

Study Scripture first, make sure you have a good working grasp of the theology and doctrines, always make sure that you read far more Scripture than you do any other text.

I’l be honest, once I began to look into the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon, my heart broke – its quickly apparent that these are nothing but man-made documents, written  for the benefit of the original authors, and not as the Word of God.

I know some of my dearly beloved family in Christ disagree with this method, but I fully believe that having even a basic working knowledge of the beliefs of those you talk to can enable you to share the Gospel in a more pointed and beneficial way.

[Of course, this is all humanely speaking, as with all out witnessing it is the Spirit that convicts and converts, God deserves all the praise and glory! But He does choose, in His perfect plan, to make use of us weak jars of clay]

If you want to get an insight in to basic JW/ Mormon/ Muslim teaching, Rev. Dr. James White is my go-to guy:


Better a Bible in the post than being post-Bible

Post tenebras lux

The local patriarchy of the Free Church this week played a blinder: they allowed a woman to share a platform with actual men. She was asked for, and allowed to express what can only be described as opinions.

Of course, it was a safe enough move – they probably know that they have brainwashed her so thoroughly that whatever she says is really just furthering their agenda.

But what is their agenda? Well, that depends on who you speak to.

The people of superior intellect, the ones who really know where it’s at, they say it’s about hanging onto power. That’s why these men want Lewis to be a six-day island, why they want folk going to church and reading their Bibles. It’s about maintaining status and holding sway.

My dizzy wee brain has been working on this problem for a while now, but I can’t for the life of…

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A Lewis Boy at the Orchestra: Some thoughts for young Christians


It’s okay to just enjoy the music (for a wee while anyway!)

When I left my wee Island for the big town, I knew I would certainly be in for some new experiences – I was left speechless by the fact there’s more than two supermarkets, my brain near melted at the prospect of a bus that runs every 10 minutes rather than 4/6 hours.
 What I was not prepared for, however, was to find myself in a jam packed concert hall, surrounded by the type of people who use more than one type of fork to eat their meals, out to listen to two hours of orchestral music – it’s just my usual scene.
 At the very kind invite of a beloved friend (who I won’t name to avoid him being associated with such an uncultured commoner) I found myself about to embark on a whole new experience.

 Well, within the first few minutes of “The Chairman Dances” by John Adams.

I was captivated!

The mix of rhythm with percussion and powerful violin paying had me pretty captivated, and it only got better from there on in. 
But for all that I enjoyed it my friend enjoyed it that much more, he is a musician. And a vey talented one at that. Spending years playing brass and the piano.
 In fact, he had previously worked alongside the conductor.
We both enjoyed the music, but on VERY different levels!
I could appreciate the melodies and the talent of the musicians, the obvious passion of the conductor.
He appreciated these things, but he also appreciated: the acoustics of the hall, the placement of our seating for optimal listening enjoyment, the personality of the conductor, the technical difficulty of some of the pieces etc.

Sometimes when I talk to new Christians they are worried that they just don’t have a deep enough grasp with various points of theology, they are concerned that they can’t follow the conversation of older Christians. This can be a pretty real and worrying concern for them.
My advice would be just enjoy the music whilst it is still new to you.
You are hearing the orchestra for the first time, relax, close your eyes, soak it all in.
No, you can’t stay this way forever – you will have to grow soon.

Paul often used the terms milk and meat to describe the maturity of believers, at the beginning you are newly born again, start of with milk – if you start with the harder and deeper things it will be a lot harder to digest it.
“I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.” – 1 Corinthians 3:2

But, just like any child, we cannot keep drinking milk forever – if we do we will never grow properly. Paul offers a warning in Ephesians 5:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. 
You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

In these verses we do see an encouragement from Paul, milk is good and necessary for while but if then you are not attempting to study the Word in a deeper way, if you are not seeking to grow in your love, knowledge, and service towards God then you are not living or serving properly. 

If we don’t study the ‘tougher’ things about Scripture then how do we defend our hope and our faith when these things are questioned.
One of the biggest issues among young Christians is a real lack of depth in their understanding of the Bible. The more we love our Lord the more we should want to know Him – and how do we do that?
We read and study and engage in the very words He has given us!

If you are new to the Orchestra just enjoy the music, enjoy the experience, but if you have heard a few concerts now it’s time to start learning and appreciating the deeper beauty and wonder of the precious music of salvation.

Edinburgh Theological Seminary – What Really Goes on Inside?


Walk past the imposing Scott Monument, along the side of the National Gallery, then up the several stone flights of the Playfair steps – you are met with a building that is viewed by many as some sort of a mysterious (and ever-so-slightly sacred) place. Where young men go in, and out come ministers, suited and booted – ready to go.
Edinburgh Theological Seminary, no doubt, is imposing – it just seems to grow greyly out of the ground.

So what is this mysterious place really like?

I’ll happily admit the first time I walked up to this door I little real idea what I was going to face – possibly a line of men in dark suits, staring unblinkingly as they assess my theological weak points? Or maybe even a 50 page questionnaire as to my defence on infant baptism?

What I actually found as I walked in was a room full of smiling faces, a mix of current students welcoming us and new students just as nervous as myself.

The @freechurchscot offices have been located in the heart of #edinburgh since the 1850's. The building also houses the Edinburgh Theological Seminary, a bookshop and cafe which is open to the public . Built in 1727 by James Brownhill, he named it 'James Court' after himself . On 15th August 1857, the western half of the building was gutted by fire and almost a hundred people were made homeless. There was no loss of life, and it is recorded that there were many heroic acts of rescue . In early 1858, a prominent Free Churchman, Mr John Maitland, realising the importance of the site, bought the building and decided to rebuild the western portion. It was ready for occupation in 1862 . #fcos #themoundedinburgh #ets #bookshop #offices #denomination #instafollow #followme #follow

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In no particular order, here’s what I’ve seen in my first few weeks of ETS, bearing in mind that it’s still very much early days:

One thing you immediately realise is that the college is made up of a diverse group of students (and indeed lecturers). There are several nations, colours, languages and cultures to be found in the building.
When you look to the history of the Free Church, you will quickly see that diversity (as long as it has no impact on the message or spread of the  Gospel) is accepted and in some cases promoted. This diversity has allowed the college to help train and send out different people back to their own nations – ready to share a solid and firm biblical faith.
This diversity can be seen wonderfully in the fact that in my small class there are at least 2 guys planning (Gw.) to become Reformed Baptist ministers.
We have our differences, but the reality is – time is short, Scotland grows ever darker, and we need to work together for the Gospel.
That’s not to say there’s not a good amount of banter between us. I’d show you the group chats – but perhaps it’s safer not to…

Banter & Fellowship
That brings me on the next point, and I say this with utmost respect – there is fun in the college *cue collective gasp & hushed whispers*.
It’s true, I have not yet seen a day where there has not been some a joke shared or comment made that has not resulted in one of the lectures breaking into, at least, a smile.  In the dining room (more on that later) at break and lunch there is often plenty of banter and laughter. This is not the result of a laid-back attitude to the work or even to the massive reality of our calling, instead this flows from the fact that we are all family together. Just as we work together, and wrestle with all the many difficulties, we also join together to have a laugh – almost always at our own expense. We grow together.


Prayer & Worship
Every class is bookended in prayer, all that is taught – all that we attempt to learn and put into practice, has been wrapped in prayer. It’s a simple thing, but it is also a wonderful thing. It brings to mind that we are not training to be dry academics, we are training to work for the glory of God and to be useful servants in his service. The class prayers also help to ease the pressure and stress of the work. In a class where you’re tackling ‘Masculine, 3rd declension, Greek Nouns’ you are really thankful for the reminder that we are to work hard, but to ultimately place our worries onto our Saviour.
We sing a few verses together from a Psalm after our morning break, and then after lunch we gather together for a time of student-led worship. Again, just cementing the fact that we are here to serve the God that saved us, all glory must ultimately go to Him.

Nothing else quite soothes the mind like butter melting on a warm scone (or bacon roll on Fridays). Our 10.50 scone & coffee break along with sharing lunch together after classes offers even more time to fellowship and to get to know each other as fellow servants.


 The work is hard, it’s rigorous, it covers ground at a seemingly breakneck pace. But not one day has passed without the reminder that we are all one family, both lecturers and students, we are all there to seek to do the will of God. Seeking to serve him, seeking to see Him glorified in all that is done.