Thomas Guthrie was known as “Scotland’s Preacher.” He was born in 1803 and by the age of twelve was already studying at the University of Edinburgh. He loved mostly the physical sciences, and he graduated from the university as a mere sixteen-year-old. Most who knew the intelligent and somewhat precocious boy assumed he would study for a law degree, or would enter politics. Such would not be the case for Thomas, however, because he was raised by godly parents who shared with him their faith, and it took hold. He continued his studies in theology, and at the age of 27 took a small pastorate in a community made up largely of farmers and weavers. He immediately took upon himself meeting every family in the parish and forming small “cottage prayer meetings,” a Sunday school program to teach both adults and children, and a library for his parishioners so that they could “learn the great truths of God.”
Members of the parish grew in their faith and soon joined him in outreach to the surrounding communities. Ministries were established to care for the poor (there were no government services to the genuinely poor in those days in Scotland), and a program known as the “Ragged School” was developed to reach out to the juvenile delinquents in and around Edinburg’s slums. Many of these children and youth had simply been “dropped off” by drunken parents (alcoholism was a rampant plague in Scotland in the early 19th century) and left to fend for themselves in the streets. These youth found safe shelter, food, and Christ-centered teaching in the home built for them by the church.
Guthrie is not well known today, not in Scotland, and certainly not in the United States. Yet his ministry, and ultimately the ministry of the churches he led, made a significant impact on the surrounding communities for the better part of fifty years. Guthrie married a godly woman who bore him a son who was precious to them both. Sadly, his wife died young, and in 1873, Guthrie himself grew frail. One morning, while lying with his head in his son’s lap, he looked up and said, “I am as helpless now in your arms as you were in mine when you were a baby.” With that, he passed from this life into eternity with Christ. His funeral procession attracted a crowd of 30,000, and in that crowd were 230 young boys and girls from the original “Ragged School” who had come to know Christ and were involved in ministries in and around Edinburgh.
On December 28 of last year, I wrote a Jym Shorts article inviting you to pray with me in 2018, both for our own growth in Christ and for LifePoint’s influence in our community. Now, for the second time, I would like to include some suggested prayer points. I have been praying these almost daily since January 1, and will continue to do so throughout the year. Will you consider joining me if you have not done so thus far, or continuing to pray in this manner throughout the year if you have? These are only suggestions, feel free to amend them as you like.
- That the Lord will bring people under the influence of the church’s ministry who need to hear the gospel (Acts 18:9-10).
- That we will teach and preach “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). That we will not fear for our reputation nor our advantage in the community, but that we will proclaim “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).
- That we will be a unified body of believers. That gossip and slander will be rejected by those who hear it, and that we will love and offer grace to one another in truly biblical proportions (John 13:34-35).
- That we will be a sending church, with a heart for gospel missions that is unquenchable (Matt. 28:19-20).
- That we will love and care for our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:39).
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God (Phil. 1:9-11).
Grace and peace,