I was born in 1956 and grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. My parents were from the north west of Scotland and had come to Glasgow for work as so many highlanders have done.
Aside from school a major influence in childhood was church to which my parents took my younger sister Sheila and I regularly. As a child I did not think too much about what being a Christian meant for me. However in my teens I attended church youth camps. It was there and through the lives of others I came to see that Jesus was God’s gift to mankind, that I needed a Saviour and that He actually loved me personally. I tentatively sought to follow Him and though my faith has often faltered He still carries me. I have been assured countless times of His love through the ups and downs of life. I do not have answers to the ‘whys’ of life and in fact have more questions as I get older. However I have found Jesus faithful and trustworthy and as in any relationship that’s what is really important day after day.
In 1973 I went to the University of Glasgow for 4 years and graduated in aeronautical engineering. During that time I also learned to fly with the Royal Air Force as a special reservist for 2 years with the University Air Squadron. Initial training in ancient Chipmunks and then first solo in a Scottish Aviation Bulldog T Mk 1 in the summer of 1974. My career goal as a pilot seemed to be taking shape nicely. It was exciting and the romantic in me loved getting on my little Honda 50 motorbike to Glasgow airport, changing into flying gear, taking off and doing aerobatics over Loch Lomond. You can read some blogs I have written of my flying training experiences here.
Whilst at university I was also involved with the Christian Union. Through this I got to hear about the needs of the world and instead of pursuing a career in aviation after graduating I joined Operation Mobilisation (OM), a worldwide International Christian organisation, in 1977. This was ironic as instead of life with aircraft I ended up living on the organisation’s ship MV Logos, the world’s first floating bookship. 144 crew from about 25 nations on a small 2,300 ton, 83m length ship meant it was no cruise. All of us including even the captain were unpaid volunteers.
Roles and responsibilities were varied and included ‘able-bodied’ seaman, programme manager, dept. head and ‘line up’ man. This latter job involved ‘leap frogging’ ahead of the ship for 6-12 weeks preparing for ship visits to future countries and ports, often staying with families and local people. The ship itself was unique as far as vessels were concerned as typically we would spend much time in port (2 or more weeks) with many thousands of local people visiting the one-of-a-kind onboard book exhibition and conferences. She would then typically sail for 2 or 3 days to next port. This pattern, along with associated travels, was an adventure which took me to over 60 countries by time I was 30. All on a shoestring budget!
I first met Elisabeth in a training conference in Leuven, Belgium in 1977 after which she joined the Logos at the same time as me in Marseille, France. It was love at first sight. However it was to be a year before we got to know one another, at sea between Singapore and East Malaysia. The organisation rules were young people should serve for a year before developing any relationship. We subsequently broke up when she left the ship and went to work in India. Met up again in 1983 in what was then Western Germany. I proposed in Sweden, got engaged on top of Ben Lomond in Scotland and married 1984 in her home village in Ganghester, Sweden. Thus began a wonderful partnership where she is very much the wiser and steadier.
1984 we lived for a year in Manchester, UK organising God’s World Congress – a 4 day UK wide event for 1,000. Then in 1985 rejoined MV Logos for 2 more years in the Caribbean, Central and North America. I have written a number of blogs about my life with the MV Logos and you can read them here.
1987 we left the ship and till 1990 represented Operation Mobilisation (OM) in Scotland. It was a shock re-engaging with my home culture as I thought everything was the same as when I left in 1977! We then spent 2 years in Sweden where I worked in a warehouse, learning Swedish and getting to know Elisabeth’s family better. It was also refreshing to have work that was more physical than mental.
1992 we had itchy feet again responding to a request to go to Nagano, Japan for 2 years to help set up OM’s work there. In order to cover costs this also included teaching English to varied groups of Japanese – from 3 year olds to company executives. It was an intense cultural and learning experience to which we look back on fondly.
Late 1994 we sensed it was time to live a more settled life and came back to Glasgow where I worked with Prison Fellowship Scotland (executive director) till 2000 – quite a cultural shift from Japan to a world of helping Scottish prisoners, ex-offenders and their families. At this time we also joined West Glasgow New Church who have been a great encouragement and support to us ever since.
After several months unemployment in 2000 I became the development/ project manager on a challenging 7 year journey. A journey which started with a vision and little resources to become Scotland’s first Emmaus community providing a home, work and community for 25 homeless people. During this period I also studied 3 years part-time at Strathclyde University getting a Masters in Business Administration.
In 2007 I got involved for about 15 months in a community development charity project. Then in 2009 I started working as the community development manager for our church (West Glasgow New Church) where I spent almost 10 years. In 2019 I felt it right to finish that role.
Since then I am slowly adjusting to a different time of life.