Rev. Christopher & Anna Macrae
God's call from Stornoway to Uist to the
Free Church Ministry
One Friday we found ourselves discussing a move to Uist with our friends who advised us to hold off but deep down we knew the process had already begun.
That following Sunday found us both excited at the news of a police vacancy in Benbecula. That same evening on his way to speak at a fellowship in Back a verse spoke to Kiki “Knock and the door shall be opened”.
On Monday Kiki put in his application for transfer.
Monday evening brought another knock to our door. Rev Iain Macaskill was on our step. Inside a long discussion followed about our thoughts of our Christian witness, our role in the church etc. Before Iain left we had worship and he read from Haggai Chapter 1.
“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains a ruin? ……..Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much but harvested little…… You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it…. They came and began work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God ……..”
This reading summed up our situation. We were putting our energies into earning wages to pay a mortgage and loan for our house, leaving us constantly with empty pockets. We had heard of the growing ministry in Uist, of the derelict church building in Lochboisdale. We then knew for sure God’s plan for our future lay in Uist.
In the following weeks there were many incidents and passages of Scripture that stood out as tokens to remind us that this was God’s plan and His timings were perfect. One really important verse was from Jeremiah 29 v 11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future”. This verse has become really special.
The following couple of months were a time of mixed emotions and frustrations not least with the length of time Kiki’s transfer was taking. At the beginning of December 1999 we had our first visit to our police house in Baile Na Cille – it was a bleak winters day in many ways!
Eventually we were given a transfer date and Kiki began work in Benbecula on the 17th of January 2000. The following weekend saw the split in the church. It seemed that we now knew why the transfer took so long - God’s timing was so accurate.
Two weeks later Anna and the children left Stornoway for Uist - she was seven months pregnant, leaving what was a happy home, a job and lots of special friends behind – needless to say, goodbyes were difficult.
The next three months were “fine” for Anna while Kiki loved every moment – getting to know the congregation, the beaches and his workmates.
Alistair Stoddart (one of Kiki’s colleagues) and his wife Margot were earnestly seeking and had lots of questions about the Christian faith. What a joy it was when they gave their lives to the Lord in April. Not long after this Robbie Macdonald from Lochmaddy began asking similar questions and a short time later he too committed his life to Christ.
By now Kiki was preaching when he could and Anna was constantly hearing hints that Kiki should become a minister, go to the Free Church College etc. That was building up a sense of resentment within Anna that subsequently had to be dealt with. Whilst she was aware that God had a plan for us, that would probably mean a change of career she could not reconcile herself with it being in the Free Church – especially at that time. However, God started a work in her heart. After returning from Stornoway with a beautiful baby girl, springtime approaching, new friendships etc her heart began to soften and Uist wasn’t so bad after all!!
In May we received a written offer for our house in Stornoway, we were delighted. Now we could start looking for a house to buy in Uist. Two days later the offer fell through! What did God mean by this? Buying a house in Uist was not in the plan.
The following months were fantastic. Culla Bay beach became a special place, as the weather was great. The children had made new friends. Anna was offered a part time job that she could do from home. The church was buzzing with excellent preaching, people were coming to know Jesus personally and the fellowship was unique. We had grown to love this Oasis. God was working in people’s lives and our lives as he prepared us for the next step.
As the winter approached we were both aware of God giving direction – He wanted Kiki to apply to the Free Church College. And who was totally behind him – yes his wife!! In November the congregation held it’s first communion with Rev Kenny Macdonald as visiting preacher – that weekend Kiki was accepted by the session to progress with the application and guess what – we sold our house in Stornoway!! Precise timing again. What a weekend that was as we witnessed 14 new professions of faith and two dear friends being converted. What a wonderful Saviour we have.
Since then we’ve had some stressful times with Kiki working, preaching and studying for his higher English. “Silver Darlings”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Trio” have become familiar to many friends. However we survived and the day he sat the higher exam there was a phone call from Iain Macaskill. A couple in Edinburgh had been in touch wondering if we were interested in renting their house while they went to the Bahamas for a few years. We were amazed. God’s timing precise again.
Saturday 26th May 01 we visited Murdo, Pamela and Ella Murchison at their home in Corrennie Gardens, Edinburgh. Their warmth and love was amazing and their house was quite nice too! This was way “beyond what we could have ever have asked or imagined”! We left the house, drove away, found a place to park and prayed in fear, adoration and almost unbelief at God’s provision.
In June we celebrated communion with Rev Duncan Macleod as visiting preacher and we witnessed another four new professions of faith and a weekend of wonderful fellowship. It climaxed with a thanksgiving prayer meeting on Monday night. Seventeen people together in Iain and Ann’s house – fourteen people prayed and nobody wanted it to finish. It was truly a taste of heaven and the power of God’s Spirit was such that we had seldom experienced before. Praise God.
We are now in Edinburgh but look forward to many more “Oasis” experiences in South Uist and Benbecula in the future. We will continue to think of you all with much love and thankfulness for your encouragement.
Like Paul we in sincerity can say “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from this first day until now….”
What began being described as being a bleak winter has become for us like a beautiful summers morning. God sent us to Uist to experience love and fellowship that we will never forget.
Christopher (Kiki), Anna and Family