My name is Marie Macleod and I live on the Island of Lewis, I am 21 and recently qualified as a Nurse. I might as well start at the beginning; I was born and brought up in a Manse as my Dad is a Minister (Rev Kenneth I. Macleod) and I still live with my parents. I was born in Stornoway in 1990 and moved to Muir Of Ord in 1991. We lived there for 8 and a half years and then came back to Stornoway in 1999.
From a very young age I believed that there was a God and I loved hearing Bible stories. I never doubted that the Bible was not the truth. Growing up in a Manse I was always surrounded by Christians and my upbringing had a big influence on me. In 1999 I heard that my Dad had a call from the congregation in Stornoway to be their assistant Minister. I was hoping that he would not go because I loved Muir of Ord but he accepted the call and off we went. Although I was upset at the thought of leaving my home and friends, even at a young age I had an understanding that it was God that wanted us to go. It took a wee while for me to settle into a new place but its amazing when I look back and can see how God has everything planned out and that I am still in Stornoway after not wanting to come in the first place!
When we came to Stornoway I joined a few groups that were Christian related: Sunday School, Psalmody Class, Campaigners, Scripture Union and I enjoyed them all. When I was younger I remember watching the video that was made for the Free Church Camps and from the first time I ever saw it I was desperate to go to camp! When I was in Primary 6 I remember receiving the camps form and I was so excited! I chose which camp I was going to and sent away my form as quick as I could! So that summer I went to Port of Menteeth girls camp, it was great fun and I would recommend camps to anyone. At that camp a leader gave a talk about Judgment, telling us to imagine a large screen playing your life story and everyone could see everything good and bad you had ever done. This scared me and I felt convicted of my sin. I remember when I came home from camp I was going to bed at night terrified that I was going to die in my sleep and go to a lost eternity, I would be praying every night for God to save me.
After that camp and at the end of the summer holidays I went into Primary 7. Then our August Communions came around and I could not get enough of going out to church, being around Godís people in fellowships. One night I went to a fellowship and they were talking about what Christ suffered on the cross and that is where I seemed to really take in what exactly Christ had gone through for His people.
When the October holidays came around I went down to my Grannyís - who lived on the beautiful Island of Scalpay - as we often did in the holidays. While I was there I went for a walk with my cousin one night and we were talking about what we wanted to do when we were older. Then for some reason I said to her that I really wanted to become a Christian and she said she already was a Christian, we spent a good while talking about being a Christian and then I felt this amazing sense of peace and I just knew that I was saved. I cannot give an exact time or date that I was saved, it was a very gradual process but that was the night I got my assurance.
It did not take me that long before I told people that I was a Christian, I told my Mum that very night. When the February communions came about I did not think too much about making a public profession of faith, probably because I was so young and had never seen anyone as young as 11 going to the Lordís Table. However on the Sunday morning when I was sitting upstairs in the church and all of Godís people sitting together in communion all I could think is I want to be there, my place is there!
After the summer holidays of that year I started in the Secondary School and not long after then came the August communions and I mentioned to my Dad about making a public profession of faith and he told me that there was no harm in waiting 6 months until the February ones, so I did. Again on the Sunday morning I had that same feeling as I had felt 6 months previously. Along with a couple of Christian girls who were my age, we decided one night at youth fellowship that we were all going to go forward together. When I mentioned this to my Dad he said it was probably best to wait another 6 months and to start going to the Prayer Meeting, I had not been before as I went to a Christian youth group on a Wednesday night so I stopped going to that and started going to the Prayer Meeting instead.
When the February communions in 2003 came around and up until the Saturday morning service I had thought in my head that I was going to go forward in August. Then one of the girls went forward that morning. It did not have an effect on me because I had already felt that there was a battle going on within me and that carried on the whole day. I then went to speak to my Dad again and told him how I was feeling and he just said to me, you do what you feel God is telling you to do. I went to the Prayer Meeting that night undecided about what I was going to do but as soon as the Prayer Meeting finished I knew I was going. So that night I went before the Kirk Session and professed that Jesus Christ was my Savior and I felt that amazing peace that I had felt the night I had my assurance of faith. I have since asked my Dad why he had told me to wait and he said ĎI just wanted to be sure that you were going because God told you to go and not because I or other people influenced you toí.
So this is me now about 10 years on from when I became a Christian and a number of things have happened since then. I am now at the point in my life where I need to make decisions. I am now finished my Nursing training and have recently gained a yearís part time contract. I do not know what God has planned for my future but it is important for me to follow Godís plan for my life whatever that is. I need to be patient and wait on the Lord. He will guide me in the right direction if I trust and follow Him. Life has had its ups and downs but the most important thing is that God has me in the palm of His hand through it all.
I have gone through some difficult and challenging experiences and I have had some amazing experiences and received some great blessings. As I said earlier it is amazing when you look back on life and you can see what God was trying to do although you did not understand why He was taking you down that path. I am involved in three youth groups in the Church including a group Primary 6-Secondary 1, another group Secondary 2- Secondary 6 and a girls group Secondary 3- Secondary 6. I have also helped at a few Church youth camps.
I would greatly encourage people to get involved in things that happen within the Church even if itís in prayer. I myself have received so much blessing from being involved in these things. I am not saying that the Christian life is the easiest life but it is definitely the best one. You have a God who loved you enough to send His only Son into the world to die on a cross so that you can have an everlasting life. Even though we sometimes loosen the grip from God, He will never let us go. No sin is too big for God to forgive if you ask Him.