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Liz Macleod

My name is Liz Macleod.  I am married to Doonie and have three boys, Craig, Stuart and Brian.  I work as a Play Group Leader in  Stornoway on the Island of Lewis. 

I publicly confessed my faith in Christ in February 1996 at the same time as my husband Doonie.  The Lord was striving with both of us, but in different ways, and by His grace brought us both to a saving knowledge of Him together.  This is my testimony as I told it at a Youth Fellowship Meeting which was held in the village of Bragar on the West Side of the Island.  It is in question and answer form.

When were you aware of the existence of God?

I think from a very early age.  My parents were not Christians at that time, however we were brought up to go to church and Sunday School.  My grandparents stayed across the road and they were both Christians.  My grandfather was the church officer in the Free Church in Stornoway, and I remember he used to say grace before and after meals.  I also remember being in their house and having worship - when it came to the prayer we all had to kneel down in front of our chair.

I also remember us watching television on  Sunday afternoons. Often my granny would pay us an unexpected visit and my dad would jump up quickly to switch off the television when he would see her coming!

I can say I knew what was right from wrong from an early age and I was aware that God did exist.

Who were major influences in your life as a teenager from a Christian perspective?

Our family moved from Stornoway to Aberdeen when I was just over 8 years old.  We went to church and Sunday school in Aberdeen.  I remember quite clearly my Sunday school days and I think that is important.  You might be wondering just now, what is the point of memorising verses etc.? Looking back, I am often amazed when I am able to see what an influence my upbringing had. I remember many of the Psalms I had learned in Sunday school and my catechisms. I also remember writing an essay on Ruth. A couple of weeks ago our minister preached a sermon on Ruth and I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that I could still remember a verse that I had learned as I was writing that essay.  It was when Naomi was telling her two daughters-in-law to go back to their own people, but Ruth clung to her and said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after you, for whither thou goest I will go, whither thou lodgest I will lodge, thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.”

My mum was converted under the preaching of the late Rev. Prof. J. Douglas Macmillan. She sometimes took us along with her to the Prayer Meeting; afterwards we would enjoy an ice cream at a local café. My dad became interested in the gospel, although he wasn’t converted until many years later.  We became friendly with one man in particular in the congregation, Ron Masson. At this time there were many students in the congregation (some from Stornoway) and they used to gather in houses on a Sunday night after church. I really enjoyed this time. It was like being a part of one big happy family. They would come into the kitchen and help mum make a pile of sandwiches.  Then we would have worship and lots of singing - quite often they brought their guitars. It was a wonderful time and it had a big influence on me - in fact so much so that I remember one time one of them asking me if I was a Christian. I said ‘yes!’  I knew as soon as I said it, that I was not!  I think I just longed to be one. Our neighbours were Roman Catholics and one day they told us they turned down the television one Sunday so they could listen to the singing!

We moved back to Stornoway when I was 15 and I remember attending the Bayhead Youth Group which was held in the Retirement Centre and was lead by Ralph Briggs and Ruairidh Martin.  I also went to some Faith Mission meetings.  These were the main influences as a teenager.

How old were you when you became a Christian?

I was 36 years old and I am now 43.

You had a tragedy in your family with the loss of your brother. Were you angry with God?

Yes! I lost my brother nearly 8 years ago.  Some of you who are present knew him quite well.  John became very ill.  We did not realize the seriousness of it at first, however it became quite apparent when we were told he needed a heart transplant!  I prayed for him every night and yes, I have to admit I was angry with God. He had let him die!  I did come to see that this same God was a loving God this encouraged me when I saw the strength that my parents received at that time, though their grief was immense. The Lord gives help in time of need and He will not burden us with more than we are able to bear. We must remember that our lives are all mapped out by God.  God knows the time of our birth and the time of our death, and it is good that we do not know these things. We would not be able to cope!  This is why there is such an urgency for the gospel.  We do not know the appointed time of our death, but we must all make sure that are ready when that time comes. We can only do that by asking the Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts. We need not have to wait for anything dramatic to happen!  Jesus wants us to ask, and He will freely give.

When did you decide to give your life over to Christ?

It was on the 21st June 1995.  I remember that date because it was our 16th wedding anniversary!

The Lord had spoken to me clearly in October 1993 at the death of our close friend Ron in Aberdeen.  I travelled to Aberdeen with my parents and younger brother for the funeral. I was really upset and crying throughout.  Others about me seemed to be fine. They knew Ron had gone to a better place.  I clearly remember the minister saying “we don’t know the purpose for Ron’s death” and at that moment I felt the Lord was saying  “this is for you, Liz”. I could not speak to my family being so upset.  When I came home I told Doonie - he knew there was something working in my life.  I received the tape of the funeral service and listened to it again. I just knew I wanted the Lord in my life.  Doonie urged me to go to the Prayer Meeting, but I just would not take that step! 

I returned to my old ways and tried to put what was happening in my life behind me. 11 months later my brother died!  I was distraught and afraid.  You hear of these things happening to other people. Now it was us that had to face it! It occurred to me that I had turned God away after Ron’s death and now here was another death!  This time though it was my own brother! I remember asking myself,  “how many more people have to die before I commit my life to the Lord?”  Again I felt drawn.  Once again I was afraid to make that commitment and I tried to push my feelings aside.

About the same time the Lord had been working in Doonie’s life.  He was having difficulty coping on his own and felt he needed the Lord in his life.  One morning in particular he was quite upset going to work. He told me that, ‘he needed the Lord in his life and that he had to do something.’  I sympathized with him, and at the same time I was saying, ‘He’ll get over it, he will be alright – it will pass!’  That day however was different! Doonie’s words played on my mind continually. They would not go away! The Lord was surely speaking to me.  I was ironing in the kitchen - and crying - then I would run upstairs to pray!  I prayed that the Lord would come into my heart and life and that He would forgive me for all the wrong I had done and I pleaded with Him to help me. Then I would come back downstairs and continue my ironing!  My mind could not find any peace!

I was expecting my mum to telephone me, as this was our anniversary.  I thought about going to the Prayer Meeting and went upstairs again to ask for strength.  Sure enough my mum phoned and asked if we were going anywhere and would we need a babysitter?  My heart was pounding as I said ‘yes!’ ‘We are going to the Prayer Meeting!’  She was absolutely delighted! She did not say too much, as she knew I was very emotional.  I felt a huge burden lift from me there and then!

How has your life changed? Are there now more restrictions on you as to what you can do?

My life has changed for the better.  I am far more content. I have a peace that comes from knowing God.  I am thankful to the Lord for the way He brought both Doonie and I together into His fold.  Although I had a lot of friends before, I now have a wider circle of friends, who I know are truly caring people, and the love between God’s people is very real.  I also know that God is in control of my life. He is never more that a prayer away!

Are there more restrictions?  No! There is a freedom in Christ. He frees us from the bondage of sin and this world.  My desires changed!  I used to live for sport, particularly netball.  I still play it from time to time, however it is not now a priority.  God comes first!  I would much rather attend a meeting in the church than play netball.  I also used to watch Television often, especially Soaps. Meals times would revolve around my favourite Soaps.  I no longer have this desire.  The Lord has taken the desire away.

Is your marriage different now since you became a Christian?

Doonie and I were married quite young. I was going out with him at 15, engaged at 18 and married at 20.  We have 3 boys.  I know for a fact that our marriage bond has been strengthened since we both became Christians. There is such a sense of security in knowing the Lord as our Saviour. No matter what life brings, He is always there, with us.  The Bible says, ‘cast your burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain you.’  It also says ‘He will never leave you nor forsake you.’ It is comforting to know and believe these precious promises.  We now have more love towards each another and to our boys. We have to thank the Lord for all that He has given us.  We have more unity being of the same mind in Christ.  I believe our boys have respect for our faith and we both pray that they would come to know the Lord, while they are young. We pray the same for you also. 

Doonie and I now love serving the Lord together. We enjoy our work with the young in ‘Campaigners.’  We discuss sermons together, talk of the Lord and pray together.  We would never have done this before. We never really discussed church or becoming Christians although we always attended church.  There are times when we find it so amazing to be attending the Prayer Meeting on a Wednesday night with the Lord’s people.

Do you think it is easy  today to be a Christian in your teens?

There are far more opportunities now for young people to gather together at youth fellowships, youth groups, church activities, camps, open air meetings etc. Only one other in my class went to church when I was in school in Aberdeen!  There are plenty of opportunities to hear the word of God and many willing leaders who freely give up their time and energy to help bring young people to the Lord.  Always remember that people are praying for you constantly and you do not have to wait until you are older or a better person. The Lord wants you just as you are. Ask Him into your heart now. Do not leave it as long as I did.  His Spirit will not strive with you forever! The day I was saved, was I believe, my final opportunity. God had been calling me many times over the years and if I had refused Him that day that He may no longer have continued to strive with me. What a thought!!