It isn’t a surprise to anyone that I’ve been longing to get back to Scotland since the day I left in 2010! Ministry opportunities invited us ever deeper south, but I’ve always had a strong pull to Scotland. Even at bible college, when all the mission agencies would come in to entice you of to some far distant land, all I wanted to do was work for the gospel in Scotland! However, travels to different places have been a valuable learning experience!
I wanted to take the opportunity to share the testimony of these last 9 months or so as God has stepped in with a jolt to catch my attention. I made the journey to visit the Isle of Arran last year as a result of a vision that came to me in prayer which featured Arran like none I’ve ever had.
The vision was like this: from the beach at Irvine, my home town, I was carried over stormy seas and placed in the bay at Sannox, in the north east of the island. Before me were the small, homely cottages, and the path leading from the beach up towards Glen Sannox that I was to take. I passed some oaks, and headed towards the foot of a mountain and rested on a rock.
Asking the Lord about this, he said, ‘I am carrying you beyond the storm. You will embody warm hospitality for those journeying on. You will be a deeply-rooted oaky guide, accompanying people through the Glen to ascend the hill of my presence. You are Sannox.’
In obedience to this, I formally applied to add Sannox to my middle names, along with McDowall, my grandmother’s maiden name, who is an Arran native…born just a few miles south of Sannox in the village of Lamlash. I understood this vision to be God using familiar places and ideas to just refocus me for the next season. I fully believed, and still believe, that this vision can serve me as a picture for ministry regardless of where I am.
However, several weeks after this, I shared this experience with a group on an online retreat. The leader of the retreat, amazed, said I should speak to him about Sannox, after which he introduced me to Sannox Christian Centre – a Celtic retreat/prayer centre – right in the heart of the hamlet at Sannox at the foot of the hill. So, I decided I should head up, check it out, and spend some time in prayer there to hear what God was saying.
I made my pilgrimage and, arriving on the Island and driving up to Sannox, I stopped at the beach in my vision, ascended Glen Sannox, passed the oaks, up the path and sat on the rock, amazed that this landscape that I’d never walked in was as in my vision. I know the island well, but I had never been up Glen Sannox before!! There, I worshipped and prayed for the blessing of salvation for Ayrshire, Scotland, and the nations. I turned back down the hill when, suddenly, the wind fell and there was a silence. The Lord said ‘you are my son, and with you I am well pleased.’ I thanked God and headed down to the centre for evening prayer – the scripture reading chosen was Jesus on the mount of transfiguration: ‘This is my son, and with him I am well pleased.’
I then took up my room in ‘Dundarroch’, the centres accommodation, which means ‘hill of the oaks.’ On leaving, I signed my name Andrew Sannox McDowall Clark in the visitors book and offered a blessing. Translated, my name means ‘clerical man, son of a dark stranger in the sandy bay’. Seems apt!
Conversations with others means all of this has gone from what I assumed was a vision to cheer and encourage, to a strong possibility of living and serving the Lord on the Isle of Arran, the home of my ancestors for many generations. There are a few live conversations going on just now, heading towards something reasonably concrete!
Do you know what? Even if circumstances and practicalities should prevent us living and working there, the voice and movement of God in these last 10 months is all the encouragement I need to know that the Lord has me in his heart and in his hand. I’ve come home to myself, regardless of my geography. Having said that, we are trusting him in the conversations we are having and praying ‘your Kingdom come, your will be done.’
So, in the words of Dougie McLean ‘Caledonia is calling and I’m going home!’
Moving to Arran will involve a significant degree of pioneering and, by nature of mission in reasonably far flung island communities, I may need to raise some of the finance I need to be able to live and minister there. I am exploring a few different possibilities, ranging from some work I can do to support my ministry, to being a ministry recipient via Stewardship, and a few other entrepreneurial ideas which will add up to what we will need as a family. Leaving the details to God at the moment until we know a little more. I look forward to sharing in more detail exactly what I’ll be up to when the conversations are sufficiently finalised.
So, there you have it recorded – it has been an exciting journey and I’m looking forward to seeing what God will do. From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.