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CHRISTIAN VIEWPOINT: Work reflects conviction that God cares for us

By John Dempster

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Rev Jeremy Ross delivering shoeboxes in Ukraine in December.
Rev Jeremy Ross delivering shoeboxes in Ukraine in December.

The theme of the event held in Inverness – attended by 300 people – to mark the retirement of Blythswood Care’s chief executive James Campbell after 25 years in post was: The faithfulness of God.

His successor is the Rev Jeremy Ross whose father Jackie founded what became Blythswood Care 58 years ago.

We’re perhaps familiar with Blythswood’s Charity Shops and annual ‘Shoebox’ appeals, but those of us at the event learned of the full extent of Blythswood’s activities.

The Highland-based charity works with local partners in eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, and here in Scotland (think food banks in Highland and south-east Edinburgh) to provide emergency aid, support community projects and share the Christian good news.

We heard from many voices at the event, which was essentially a God-focused service of thanksgiving. People shared their experiences of working with James, with Blythswood, and especially with the God whom, in the midst of challenge, crises and desperate need they had found to be utterly faithful and dependable.

Someone said that James Campbell sees people as if looking through the very eyes of Jesus. It’s a challenge to us all to see one another the Jesus way: with compassion; with a desire to help and bless and get alongside; with unwavering, self-giving love; with anger at the things which limit, and restrict and hold back.

James Campbell and Rev Jeremy Ross.
James Campbell and Rev Jeremy Ross.

Rev Jeremy Ross is committed to ensuring that ‘compassion remains within the organisation’. There’s a danger that charities, movements, churches even, founded in a spirit of passionate longing to do good lose their initial, love-prompted dynamic and become simply self-perpetuating institutions. Compassion is so precious – in organisations, and in our own lives.

There was mention of Blythswood Care’s strapline – ‘Christian care for body and soul’. Blythswood’s approach is holistic, seeking not simply to alleviate people’s material and educational needs but also to enrich them spiritually. Their work reflects the Christian conviction that God cares for us, body, mind and soul, and that Jesus Christ meets our deepest needs.

There’s no question of Blythswood making aid conditional on people believing. It’s simply that aid is a tangible expression of divine love which in effect invites them to ‘Come and meet someone who loves you more than you will ever know’.

And finally, I loved the Bible verse another speaker quoted about people with the wisdom to understand the times, and to know what has to be done.

We live in turbulent days, but Christians believe God is the source of wisdom to both discern what is happening, and understand how to respond.

And that response will certainly involve seeing through the eyes of Jesus, opening our hearts to compassion, seeing one another holistically, all the while remembering that God is faithful.

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