At this time of year many people look back on the year that has gone by, they begin to think about the goals they have for the year ahead, and make plans for places they’d like to visit and things they’d like to achieve. As you young people begin to make plans for the year ahead, why not give some thought to spending a Semester living and learning with the RP Church in Scotland? Noah and Lydia Bailey (Cambridge RPC) did exactly that during their college years and it had a huge impact on them! Read more about their experience below:
Our Semester in Scotland profoundly moulded our lives and ministry. We regularly discover and discuss the myriad of connections our present experiences have with our four months beyond the pond. In small and unexpected ways, we see that season still shaping our decisions.
The practice of walking to stores and depending on public transit in and around Airdrie made the shift to urban life in Cambridge, MA comfortable. Tea and biscuits remain a daily routine! But, the big and intended changes, woven into the vision and habits of the program, stand out best.
When in Airdrie, we were in someone’s home each week. We also popped in for movie night, game night, and, of course, METS. Stories of legendary meals still circulate our conversations (Ian teaching John how to pour cream in cake!) and inspire our cooking. Such unstinting hospitality lives on in how we run our home. The door is open and the table is set.
When in Airdrie, the Word of God was always open. Andrew taught us from Nehemiah each morning. He preached powerfully and faithfully from Genesis 1 and Romans 1. I do not try to preach like Andrew, but I remain inspired by the intensity of his delivery, his fidelity to the text, and his unswerving desire to reach the heart. I hope these three can be found in my preaching too. Reading through Ezekiel with our MET inspired us to cultivate the same quiet, Bible centered midweek time. Ian’s teaching through Luke in the Kids’ Club persuaded us to better hone our skills in communicating to little ones. The Word was ever-present in Airdrie.
When in Airdrie, the prayers of the saints stunned us. We still get emotional when remembering our first Lord’s Day morning, sitting in a circle and hearing complete strangers beg God for blessings on us and others. We have begun pre-worship prayer meetings in every church we have been a part of and anticipate doing the same in the one we just joined. Prayer is God’s people reaching for God’s power and we experienced that in Airdrie.
When in Airdrie, the Psalms were sung with understanding and fervency. Michael LeFebvre shared rich insights into Psalm 119. Andrew introduced each Psalm with a sentence or two about its value to the singer (a practice I have shamelessly copied every Lord’s Day of my ministry). Ian sang with a smiling face, a speedy tempo, and an open mouth. After evening worship, the Psalm practices made us marvel at the saints’ commitment. We learned to love Psalm singing cheerfully and seriously.
When in Airdrie, the Covenanters lived on in their proper place. They were not worshipped and they were not forgotten. Seen as the sinful people they were, we nevertheless saw their courageous commitment to God’s glory and His Church’s purity. Andrew’s words still ring in me and in my words, “It’s not about how they died, but how they lived. They lived for Christ and so, when the time came, they were ready to die for Christ.” Profound and poignant.
When in Airdrie, the reality of the Global Church came into view. Like too many Americans, we went to Scotland unbelievably ignorant of Jesus’ work around the world. That autumn we learned to stay aware of the bigger world and the church’s labors all over. We prayed and now still pray for a church that reaches far beyond America’s borders. The privileges and responsibilities of a worldwide fellowship of saints first came to our attention there.
The imprint of our Semester in Scotland remains on us personally. Again, there are little things like Covenanter portraits and artwork all over our house. Then, there are big things like naming our sons Michael Renwick, Andrew Knox, and Allen Argyll. Our Semester in Scotland is even found in the story of our marriage. I got down on one knee and presented a diamond to Lydia and she said yes – Airdrie, Scotland. The impact of our Semester in Scotland is hard to state succinctly. It is too big and too powerful, too alive and too emotional. Indeed, we are still discovering and discussing Airdrie’s impact on us.
Noah and Lydia Bailey, Cambridge RPC