(Elder, Knock Free Church, Isle of Lewis)
My name is Calum Macdonald, I am 49 years old. I was born and raised in the village of Knock, in the Point District of the Isle of Lewis, Scotland.
My parents were not Christians yet we were brought up well. Living on the Isle of Lewis we knew there was something real about the Christian religion even although we hardly if ever attended church. I was baptized in and our family belonged to the Free Church of Scotland in village of Garrabost.
I remember when we were young children we used to stand at the roadside in our village as the people went back and forth to the Knock Meeting House (the local village church) hoping to get sweets from them (which we quite often did!). Even in these days I knew that those people going to the Meeting House had something REAL.
I remember at Communion Seasons (special meetings held twice a year to celebrate the Lord’s Supper) on a Sunday night we used to be amazed at the amount of cars that lined our village road.
I remember when we did go to church on the odd occasion the services then were held in the Gaelic language which we found very difficult to understand.
I attended Knock Primary School followed by Bayble Junior Secondary and finally the Nicolson Institute. I left school at 16 in 1977.
Like most teenagers I wanted to act like a grown up as soon as I possibly could. I also started working, which provided money for alcohol. I would get drunk and feel good for a while but then it was all over so quickly and all I was left with was a hangover and regrets about how I had behaved. I continued in this vein for the next 7 years.
Things changed in February 1984. I remember staying at home one weekend instead of going into the Town of Stornoway to drink. I went to my bed late and that night I had a dream that was to change my life forever. I dreamt that I was being overcome by the wrath of God. I had this really horrible lost feeling. I tried to run away from this and the more I ran the nearer this wrath came until I was overcome, that is when I woke up petrified. I managed to get back to sleep and woke about 10am with the dream still fresh in my mind.
I told my older sister Annette about this and she said that this was the Lord speaking to me. Annette had been a Christian for a few years. I started going to church in Stornoway Free Church on Sunday evenings and I really enjoyed the preaching of the late Rev. Murdo Alec Macleod. I remember one Sunday night going for a walk about a mile from my home and without me knowing Annette passed me in a car going to church in Stornoway. I was thinking about where my life was heading and as she passed in the car a verse of scripture spoke to her, it was John 10 Verse 16 - Christ's words "other sheep I have which are not of this fold them also I must bring".
My thinking had changed concerning the things of eternity and God. Between February 1984 and September 1984 I was trying to shake this conviction off. I would go out one weekend and stay in the next but I could not break away from the old life. I believe that the Lord can speak through someone else in our experience and this was part of the jigsaw. Concerning conviction of sin, Robert Murray McCheyne the famous Scottish preacher put it like this, "my grief and burden long hath been, because I could not cease from sin, the more I strove against it's power I sinned and stumbled but the more", and he went on to say, "till late I heard the Saviour say, "COME HITHER SOUL I AM THE WAY".
I went to town on a Saturday night hoping for a good time but I discovered like previous times since the dream that my peace with the world had been broken. I ended up in a really bad way through drink. I had never been so drunk in my life until that night. Looking back I think it was the devil having a final fling as he knew he was losing me. Next day I was full of remorse. I went to work in the Harris Tweed mill on Monday really confused. I was at a crossroads and I felt that I had a decision to make. I knew that going to the prayer meeting on Wednesday would be the right thing to do. I asked Annette what I should do but she left the decision with me. I thought that if I let this opportunity go that I may never get another chance. The Lord says in Genesis "my spirit shall not always strive with man".
It was in September 1984 that I finally decided to go to a prayer meeting. Nothing special happened to me at the meeting yet I knew that I had taken a step in the right direction. I continued attending church on Sundays and the midweek prayer meetings and was really enjoying the gospel yet I had not found Salvation as far as I was aware. I was in this condition for about 4 months.
I finished work one Friday at midday and was feeling totally lost and under conviction of sin, I felt so helpless and was at the end of my tether. I went into the house and all I could say was “Lord help me". I found a Bible verse that had been cut out of a newspaper and left on the unit in the living room. I picked it up and when I read it I felt a great burden lift from me and I had peace and was a totally different person from seconds before. This was the peace of God through Jesus Christ. The verse I read can be found in the book of Psalms. Psalm 9 Verse 12 "He forgetteth not the cry of the humble". This was the most blessed moment of my life.
Having come home from the Prayer Meeting the
following Saturday the clutch on my car broke. My initial thought was how would
I manage to get to church the next day? I spoke to my neighbour and he said he
offered to give me a lift to his own church in the village of Garrabost. It
happened to be a Gaelic service and I did not understand much of service however
the closing Psalm was Psalm 9 Verses 10-12. This was the Lord confirming His
Word to me and that is how I became a Christian. I fully believed that God had
heard my cry and I believed that Jesus had died for me.