‘Are you wise?’ I hear you ask, ‘letting Ali Moley guest on your blog!?’ Well, he’s an elder now, so he’s basically able to requisition space here whenever he likes . . . However, I am more than happy to share this piece of writing with you, and will be interested to hear people’s reactions to ‘Nowheresville’, by Alasdair ‘Ali Moley’ Macleod.
But did you know that there has been, to a greater or lesser extent, a revival – a Christian spiritual awakeningleading to an enlivening of the Lord’s people and the saving of many unbelievers – somewhere in the Isle of Lewis every 20 to 30 years for the last 200 years?
Why should this be the case?
Why should it be that at least 10 – 20% of our island population still attend church regularly on a Sunday when only around 7% of the Scottish population as a whole attend regularly?
Why should it be that only 18% of people in the Western Isles identify as having no religion when the average for the rest of Scotland is 30–45%?
I know that the number of Christians in Lewis has sadly, significantly declined over the last 50 years like the rest of Scotland, but why is there still such a marked difference in the numbers of Christians and strength of influence of Christianity in the Island compared to the rest of our country?
Are we special? Is our island special?
One Christian from the Central Belt previously exclaimed to me that he was amazed at how many Ministers he knew who had come from such a small place as Lewis, which currently has a population of 18,500 souls.
For example, in the District of Back where I grew up, I can think of three serving ministers and two retired ministers who also grew up there. Extraordinarily, there are another three serving ministers from other parts of the island, who were in my year in school.
Why have so many ministers in Scotland (and missionaries sent to other parts of the world), come from such a small place?
Are we actually the last stronghold of the gospel as has previously been claimed? Are Hebrideans a particularly holy or prayerful people? Are we doing something right?
Some Christians take pride in our islands Christian culture, history and traditions as if we are something special, as if we are ‘getting it right’ when so many other Christians in Scotland are ‘getting it wrong.’
May God have mercy on us if the abundant blessings He has granted to our island lead us to take pride in ourselves rather than give praise to Him.
Scripture clearly teaches us that these revival blessings have taken place in our island solely because of God’s Grace and Mercy to us and not because of our own merit.
But the question still stands – why should God choose to bless our island in this way rather than other areas in Scotland that are, in Christian terms, currently barren and dark?
Have you ever heard of Tomasz Shafernaker?
In 2017 he was voted the UK’s favourite weatherman.
Amongst his many on air gaffes, which have made him so popular with UK viewers, is one particularly relevant to Leodhasachs everywhere – in 2007 Tomascz amusingly described the Western Isles as ‘Noweheresville’ during BBC weather reports and later had to apologise to livid Hebrideans who had been watching.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I really love the Island of Lewis and the people in it and am very thankful to live here in our still rich Christian community and culture.
But did Tomasz actually say more than he realised withhis tongue in cheek comment?
The island of Lewis, to most ordinary people in the UK,is ‘nowheresville.’
The Isle of Lewis, to most people in the world, is ‘nowheresville’.
A slice of humble pie, anyone?
But wait…….maybe……just maybe, the fact that we are ‘nowheresville’ in so many people’s eyes, is why God has blessed us so abundantly.
As 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 says –
“27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
Has God blessed our insignificant little island in order to shame the ‘strong’, more populated, more ‘significant’ areas of our rebellious nation?
Has God blessed our little island, seen by so many as being full of foolish little, backward Christian islanders, in order to shame the haughty, ‘wise in their own eyes’, spiritually rebellious, men and women from the rest of Scotland?
In bringing so many revivals to our poor little island, and in sending so many ministers and missionaries, the fruit of these revivals, from Lewis to the rest of Scotland and the world, who can boast? Certainly not us Leodhasachs. It is God alone who receives, and deserves, all the glory!
As 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 goes on to say –
“30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Next time we think about or discuss our blessedChristian community and culture here on the Island of Lewis then let us ‘boast in the Lord’ and give thanks for what He has done here, for His name’s sake and Glory.
And if……if by God’s grace we, His people, humble ourselves and pray……..God may, by His Grace and in His mercy, bring another revival to ‘nowheresville’……..the fruits of which may spread too, humble and transform for good, all the ‘somewheresvilles’ of our foolish, rebellious, little nation.