Merkinch Word on the Week 11th February 2023.
What has a down-town district in a remote town in the Scottish Highlands got to do with ‘Word on the Week’? How could such a place ever be newsworthy?
Merkinch was usually referred to as ‘The Ferry’. The place where the car ferry left Inverness and travelled across the Beauly Firth to North Kessock on the Black Isle.
It was a deprived area in my time there and deteriorated further when the bridge was built spanning the Firth and rendering the ferry redundant. There were no churches in the area so we prayed and started an outreach from the Baptist Church in the town.
We hired accommodation in the local school and distributed leaflets in the area welcoming young people to a weekly event in the school. In the 1970ies there were far less restrictions surrounding the hire of the schoolroom. The continuing occupation depended on the room being left tidy and the good will of the Janitor!
The highlight of each meeting was the ‘Witness Box’. This was a popular form of evangelism in its day. A local Christian would be invited into the Witness Box and cross-examined, usually by me, to see if he really was a Christian! The young people, who would have had some Gospel teaching, would be invited to add their questions.
The person being examined then told the story of how he became a Christian from the time he first placed his faith in Jesus (Acts 26 verses 12 to 29). An understanding of being saved by God’s grace and not by our efforts would become plain (Ephesians 2 verses 8 and 9).
The questions were answered, sometimes involving the witness in a thorough grilling, and a verdict was taken by a show of hands. I remember marvelling that never once did they find the witness’s testimony lacking!
What brought all this to recall was my turning on ‘YouTube’ on Tuesday evening and being amazed to read the ‘Notice’ of a new Church in Merkinch! Fifty years in the making! I wonder how many from the original meetings were there to recount their experiences? All praise to God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3 verse 5 to 9).