From an early age I was made aware of the need of salvation. My father had been an active member of the Communist Party and was saved when thirty years of age. My mother had been brought up in the gospel missions around the Glasgow area and after their marriage they moved near to the village of Bridge of Weir, to work at Quarrier's Homes, a village home for orphans and other needy children.
The church which they attended often had gospel preachers present and there were impressions made on my young mind that I was a sinner and needed the Saviour. When I was eight years of age I felt the conviction of sin, and can recall clearly one Wednesday evening praying for salvation and writing into the fly leaf of a Bible: 'Lord, I want to be saved'. That night I was saved. This Bible was missing for years and it was a great delight to uncover it a few years ago when cleaning out an attic. There the words were, written in a young faltering hand, but bringing back clearly the night when salvation came into my life.
When I reached my early teens I applied for membership of the "church" and attended the courses which had to be completed before membership was granted. I then took an active part, particularly among the young people, and eventually became the leader of the youth work. All gospel preachers were welcome, male and female, and I encouraged as many as possible to come and hear the gospel.
At this time one of my friends enquired if I had ever considered baptism. I answered that I considered myself to be baptised as my birth certificate bore an impressive stamp which gave the date of my baptism as being when I was six weeks old. The question, however, prompted my interest and I turned to the word of God to see if my friend was correct in what he was telling me about baptism. I fought what I read for some months, but eventually had to confess that I was not baptised, and that I should be as soon as possible. Where, however, should I be baptised? I started to look and was surprised that others in the church did not have sympathy with what I was doing. At last I came upon believers in the town of Paisley who did baptise. They were in a large gospel mission and I was baptised there in the autumn of 1959.
This whole incident had unsettled me in the place which I attended. I already had serious disagreements with others over the question of whether the scriptures were literally true, or were simply allegories and fables. The minister, who was a saved man, left in 1959, before I was baptised, and was replaced by one who showed little evidence of possessing eternal life. Shortly after his coming he asked me to apply to the local church football league to have the youth fellowship enrolled. I refused to do this, telling him that I did not think this a fit thing for believers to do. One week later he told me that he had completed the application papers himself and that the first football game was to be played some two weeks hence. After much discussion he persuaded me to go along. .1 was not part of the team, but I walked round the pitch, listened to the language of the players, who professed to be believers, and decided there that I could no longer remain associated with this "church".
I then set off to find a suitable spiritual home. I knew nothing of assembly truth or even of the existence of assemblies. I went to the neighbouring village of Kilmalcolm and found a Gospel Hall there with a gospel meeting advertised for the following Lord's Day, so I determined to attend. The young man at the door welcomed me warmly and as the meeting progressed I felt, for the first time, that I had found Christians who really did believe the Bible. I was invited for supper after the meeting, and well remember at the end of the evening asking if they believed that there literally was a place called the Garden of Eden. The answer was 'yes'. I then asked: 'Do you believe there was literally a man called Adam, and that the opening chapters of the Bible are not simply a fable'? The answer was 'yes'. On hearing that, my heart leaped. Here were believers who believed the Bible and I felt at home among them. I promised to return.
This home became open to me, and over the months that followed I learned truth which I had never heard before. How I value those evenings spent in that home. There was not a great deal of this world's goods, but there was a genuine warm love for the Lord and a desire to help a young man who knew so little of the scriptures. I was taught what an assembly was and taken to hear the ministry of the word. This was a whole new world to me and I was amazed and delighted at the wealth of teaching which I was receiving. I learned that the church was not a building, but believers. I learned the place of sisters in the local church. I learned the truth of the breaking of bread, the prayers etc. What a vista opened to my view. Young believer, value the assembly and do not underestimate the wealth of teaching and help which is to be found at the gatherings of the Lord's people. For me it was like coming from a parched wilderness into the land flowing with milk and honey. In late September 1960 I asked to be received into fellowship and broke bread for the first time on the first Lord's Day of October. Many years later I still thank Him for the gracious way in which He led me to the assembly. What would I have missed in life if I had turned my back on it!
The years passed and the Lord gave me a good wife who has always been supportive of the work of the Lord. He also gave us three sons and one daughter and there were years spent bringing them up. As time passed we had an increasing desire to serve the Lord in a full time way, but there was never the sense that it should be now. In December 1989 Robert McPheat was speaking at the commendation meeting for Malcolm Radcliffe and what he had to say spoke loudly to my wife and me. The issues which had been before us were addressed powerfully by Robert and we sensed that the Lord was calling. At that time I was in the computer business and it did not seem likely that I could leave my business readily. We left this with the Lord and in a remarkable way He provided the answer to us in September 1990. The assembly in Bridge of Weir gave their commendation in January 1991 to the full time work of preaching the gospel and ministering the word of God.
Looking back we can say truly 'Ebenezer', hitherto hath the Lord helped us. His is all the glory and we are thankful for His gracious hand with us down through the years.