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Submitted by Rev Hector Morrison on 23rd June 2016

BB Badge“I see the BB as my ‘ministry’”. Is that your story? Could it be? These words provide the title for the cover feature article in this month’s edition of Life & Work - the main article in the edition that caught my attention, not least because I am one of the ‘many ministers’ spoken of towards the end of the article who ‘actually came to faith through the BB.’

’The article focuses on Bill Stevenson, Director of the Boys’ Brigade in Scotland, and also currently acting Brigade Secretary for the UK. Bill, who has been ‘involved with the BB for as long as [he] can remember,’ is normally based at Carronvale House near Falkirk, the BB headquarters for Scotland and their ‘national training centre since after the Second World War.

I have only been in Carronvale House for two week-long periods in my life – away back in 1973 and 1974 while on an officers’ training course. Though the layout of the building is now only a blurred memory for me, the House itself will always remain as a very significant place in my life for it was there, back in 1973, that I had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and came to living faith in Jesus while standing in a queue for morning coffee and eavesdropping into a conversation that a Christian lad from Northern Ireland was having with the lad behind him. As that piece of personal evangelism was happening, the Spirit of the Lord took these words of testimony and directed them into my ‘heart’ and mind and used them to bring me to a spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ in which my mind was opened up to the reality that Jesus was indeed alive, that he was Lord and that he was claiming Lordship of my life at that very moment. I didn’t get my coffee that morning, but what I did get instead was my first drink of the living water of the Spirit of Christ, as I left the queue, went to my room and, weeping, prayed for forgiveness and for Jesus Christ to come into my life as Saviour and Lord.

Until that moment the BB was but one of a number of influences in the Christian education I received alongside family members, Sunday School, Bible Class, SU in school, and most significantly in the months leading up to my conversion, an inter-denominational Youth Fellowship that had recently begun in Stornoway. But a couple of earlier BB-related memories still stand out for me too. One was when I was asked to read the scripture lesson at the annual BB service in Stornoway, the first time I ever took an active part in leading worship in church; the other, also before I came to personal faith in Christ, is of my sitting in church trying to take notes of a series of sermons from my local minister, to fulfil the requirements of one of the BB badges.

I got involved with the Boys Brigade, I think, from about the age of 8, attending first of all what was then the ‘Life Boys,’ before going on to the Company Section and working my way to the Queen’s Badge and into Leadership. I have many very positive and happy memories of numerous BB activities, including gymnastic displays at the local tattoo, participation in a very successful under-14 football team, maze drill and amateur drama at our annual display evenings, a 24 hour table tennis fund-raising marathon, and wonderful annual camps most often with the Inverness Battalion – and all crowned by my personal encounter with Christ at Carronvale House.

After that, for some years while in university in Glasgow, I helped out with a small company in the Woodlands area, but sadly had to curtail these activities once I felt called to the ministry, was accepted as a Church of Scotland candidate and had to spend time weekly with church placements alongside studies.

So, it was really encouraging to learn from Bill that still today 5% of boys in Scotland are members of the BB (with the figure in some areas being 30-40%), and that there are more companies (430) than there are secondary schools in Scotland. This presents the church with a real opportunity of influencing a significant number of boys and young men for good with Christian truth and values, and providing them with clear Christian role models. But, as with many other organisations, as Bill indicates, ‘the hardest job’ that is facing the BB in the immediate future is that of ‘recruiting leaders.’ With the good news that recently the BB have ‘started working more closely with the Mission and Discipleship Council of the Church of Scotland’ might this not be an opportune time for us to really encourage Christian men and women in all our congregations to give of their time on a regular basis to sow into the future for the children - girls included nowadays - and young people of our communities. Could the BB be your ‘ministry’, as it is for Bill and others throughout our country?