Summaries of The Derek Nonhebel Memorial Lectures: August 2015

Dr George Mitchell.

‘Bandages and Bullets: the Helen McKay story, Dunfermline lass’.

Helen started work as a message girl, became a nurse and was part of a team at what became Glasgow Royal infirmary (1902-1906) learning much from notable doctors and other staff such as Lister, MacEwan, MacIntyre and Rebecca Small. She moved to Inverness and joined the Baptist Church, from where she applied for missionary work and went to China, even delaying her marriage voluntarily to Dr Scollay for 5 years.

It was a turlent period in China and hatred of foreigners and Christians was violently expressed. She moved to a hospital in  Xian in northern China, then a very remote location, and established good nursing practice in primitive conditions in the wider area, where she would regularly speak at Christian services. She returned home on furlough, married Dr Scollat and changed her name to Helena. She returned to China with her husband where their son Ewart was born in 1916. They left China for home via Canada where her husband died during the Flu Epidemic.

She eventually reached home and took up nursing in St Andrews. Income was not plentiful for her in the 1920s. By 1940-45, she was working  at the Red Cross Hospital as Matron. Her relatives have since been traced to Australia. Helen stands out as a dedicated Christian who lived her life unselfishly serving her Lord in her witness to Him while establishing good nursing practice in China, a century ago. This was at a time when China was a very distant place. Overcoming many setbacks,  Helen McKay served there as one of the early Baptist missionaries. This was a life lived for God!

Further publications by the author cover many different aspects of life and faith.

Rev Dr Neil Allison.

‘The Fire in the Furnace: Mission during the Great War (1914-1918)’

During WW1 there was amazingly a number of recorded local Revivals among the troops. Men went to war – sometimes ‘even’ sent by their ministers. Groups went off together and fought side by side there. This was an age when travel outside communities was limited for the vast majority. There was considerable knowledge of basic Christian teaching among the soldiers. Men would sing hymns as they marched along. In the absence of a minister, men would often hold prayer meetings themselves. This was frowned upon by some Anglican chaplains who felt there needed to be ‘a robed incumbent present’.

Support for the War was almost a given. The cause was not questioned at the time. Many Baptist, Methodist and Congregational ministers served under the United Board as chaplains or as YMCA workers, one example of this being Oswald Chambers in Egypt. By the start of the war, non- Anglican chaplaincy had been officially recognized for only about two decades yet a good number of soldiers did not worship in the Church of England. Many came from Wales and Scotland or the Empire. Disillusionment with the Great War started in the 1930s and became a constructed myth of the 1960s. Most men came home with their heads held high in spite of the terrible carnage knowing they had been ‘courageous and had overcome’. Many men turned to Christ during the War, greatly influenced by the teaching they had received in Sunday schools. This early teaching bore fruit. However, thousands died in the trenches including many Christian men. Hence the impact of revival was not as great on their return as it might have been.

See the Author’s publications (Neil E Allison) for further information.

Dr Alastair Noble

‘The Re-emergence of Intelligent Design’

Intelligent Design was introduced as a robust alternative view over against the current secular neo-Darwinian thinking which is prevalent among many in the scientific community and in the media. Using ample illustration, quotations were given from a variety of noted scientists drawn from different perspectives. There is a pressure today in our society to see the universe – and try to explain it – in naturalistic terms only. So much so that teaching in our schools has adopted a mindset where the idea of intelligent design can barely be aired in case this may seek to explain the universe in non-naturalistic terms. The speaker drew on his experience as a Chemist and an Adviser in the schools sector. While the majority of the quotations were from what leading scientists and others were saying or had said, the speaker did briefly quote from Romans 1: 20 where Paul had very succinctly summed up the biblical World view.  A number of examples were given of  wonders in our universe, particularly that of the complex helix existing in DNA in the human body.

The point was made, time and again, that there is indeed evidence for intelligent design in our universe, which begs the question as to who is the designer.

See the Author’s  Booklet: ‘An Introduction to Intelligent Design’

Stuart Somerville.

‘Mission to Nepal: No child taken’

The speaker shared from his experience of visiting India and Nepal and how challenged he was to see the results of human trafficking on families in these areas.

Families often gave up their children to those who gave so many false promises of a better future for their sons and daughters even paying those who took them. The children then became trapped in prostitution and work situations losing all sense of identity.

There were heartening reports, however, of God leading aid workers into villages where they found small groups of Christians making a difference whom they were able to support. The speaker encouraged everyone to be a spokesperson against human trafficking.

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