What kind of legacy?

What an incredible man and what an incredible legacy. The internet has been flooded with glowing tributes following the death of Billy Graham yesterday. The black and white images of a man with a distinctive hairline and a smart suit brought back memories of my childhood, where Billy Graham was something of an icon.

 

Billy_Graham_My parents both discovered a life-changing Christian faith in their twenties. They both attended a church youth group and my father made his commitment at a big rally in Kent, along the lines of a Billy Graham gathering, but on a smaller scale. A British evangelist and author, called Roy Hession, gave an alter call and my father responded. Meanwhile, my mother decided to follow Jesus Christ after reading that famous booklet ‘Journey into Life’, handed to her by a Christian friend. Thank God for that. They went on to have five children and brought us up in a loving Christian home. Billy Graham and his sermons stood in stark contrast to the popular culture of the 60s and 70s. Our home reflected similar values, yet as a child I sometimes struggled with this.

Growing up I had the sense that our family was different… even a bit odd. We dressed up and went to church on Sundays, while other friends were out in the park. We were often told we couldn’t do things or shouldn’t because “we’re Christians”. Instead of going to ‘Brownies’ I went to Scripture Union Bible classes in a nearby village – they were actually lots of fun, but I thought at the time I was missing out and there was no uniform! Early in the mornings we’d find my mum and dad praying together in the room beside the kitchen before dad went to work. I’d hover or tiptoe through, making sure I heard my name being mentioned, along with my brothers and sisters. They prayed for each of us by name every day. What a legacy they left. They weren’t perfect, but they certainly created a solid Christian foundation for us all to build on, if we chose to.

I know I didn’t appreciate what they gave me at the time. I fought against it and rebelled in countless ways and yet somehow I couldn’t shake it off.

It was quite a few years later, when I shared my story of faith with its ups and downs that I realised how privileged I was to have parents who taught me to read the Bible and pray and set me on a Christian path. I grew up knowing the God of the Bible as a friend and a personal saviour. This was their greatest gift to me.

I wonder what legacy we will leave for our children and others? It probably won’t be like Billy Graham’s, but I hope we have given our children a Christian foundation to build on, wherever that path leads.

Today I’m feeling thankful for my parents, who went ahead of Billy Graham to that heavenly address, and who shone for Christ just as brightly in the Reay household.

mum & dad

Mum and Dad on honeymoon

 

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True stories

If someone asked you to tell a story, what would it be? Would it be a well-known fairy tale, a mystery or perhaps a thriller? It might be a heart-breaking tragedy or a love story with a happy ending… but would you choose something that really happened or would you make it up?

Once-Upon-a-Time

As a child I loved stories. I read them and I wrote them, so it was no surprise I ended up as a journalist. That has involved listening to other people’s stories and re-telling them in an interesting way, or sometimes piecing together a story from lots of different viewpoints and sources. I can’t forget some of the best newspaper stories I’ve written including the sad ones like the toddler twins with a rare and incurable disease who died holding hands or the funny ones like the vicar on a run with his dog being tossed into the river by an overprotective cow.

Stories captivate us. We want to find out what happened next or understand why something has happened. We get drawn in by the characters and if it’s a good book they become important to us and we think about them even when we’re not reading the story.

stack-of-books-vintage-books-book-books

I’m in the process of making up a story… writing fiction. The trouble is the characters aren’t behaving quite as they should and there’s a problem in the plot. Hopefully, I’ll get it sorted soon. But as I pour over my plans and struggle with sentences and speech marks, I’m realising the best stories are playing out all around me.

Working for Scripture Union International over the past year I’ve heard many moving and inspiring stories from around the world. These are true stories of how lives have been transformed through an encounter with God. One was about a 14-year-old girl who fled from the fighting in South Sudan into Uganda. She lost her parents, saw terrible violence and just escaped with her life. On the road into Uganda, she was helped by a woman from her village who agreed to adopt her as part of her own family. They moved into one of the huge displacement camps in Northern Uganda. But because of the girl’s terrible experiences and the way she had to work so hard to look after the woman’s younger children, walking miles to fetch water, she became bitter and angry. She blamed the woman for her hardship and all that had gone wrong in her life. She decided to take her revenge. She made plans to poison the woman or one of her children. Before she could put her plan into action she wandered into a meeting in the camp being run by Scripture Union (SU) volunteers. They were talking about forgiveness and about God’s love and they sang songs too. As she listened something amazing happened to this young girl. She realised what she’d been planning was wrong and she began to cry. She didn’t go ahead with her deadly plans. Instead she asked for forgiveness and her life was transformed as she began to see her situation in a new light.

It’s so good to know that God’s ‘Big Story’ is also ours and there really is a happy ending!

You can listen to more stories from SU Uganda and other parts of the world here.

A taste of travel

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Are you a traveller at heart? Do your feet itch to take off on adventures? Do you follow the path of planes as they disappear into the blue, wishing you were flying off somewhere? Sometimes that’s me.. Almost two weeks … Continue reading