Barnabus was an apostle who was alongside Paul in the Book of Acts. His name, being particularly important in those times was from the Aramaic meaning “the son of the prophet” but Paul also linked prophecy to encouragement, and so Barnabus was traditionally known as “the encourager”. For this reason Barnabus has been a favourite name and inspiration for a long time.
I have also, in contrast, seen over recent months that news (specifically in Christian circles) tends to focus on those who can be seen as wrong/not good enough/etc. Although there is sometimes a need for loving criticism in order to improve each other and rub of sharp edges, if this is not done lovingly it can simply leave us with a higher sense of distrust in humanity and in some case a self-righteous arrogance.
Therefore, inspired by Barnabus, I hope to give a different spin on things, showing my readers those people and groups who really give a good impression and in my experience have gone above and beyond for the love of people and God. I would highly recommend these people to you and I hope you find them inspiring as I do myself.
Dundee Women (& Men)
I have been researching Dundee’s history and modern-day services for teen mothers over the past few months. I am still going through the process but have met some amazing people and learnt a lot over my time here. Women particularly have had a high standing in Dundee’s history being seen again and again as an astounding anomaly. The Women’s Lib Movement did not change things in Dundee as far as you might think, instead it simply continued the actions that had been there for so long already – union movements, wages, esteemed placement on boards, councils, and in the home. This is a history Dundee should be proud of and the women I’ve met have only emphasised that there is still that history continuing. The St Andrews Family Support Project does amazing work led by Kath Miller and a host of others. The Alternatives Crisis Pregnancy centre was more caring, understanding, and dedicated to helping young mums-to-be than I ever expected them to be. Then there are the women and men (yippee!) at the Working Together course I attended who work in all manner of social services ranging from nursing to mental health to family support. The more people I speak to the more I feel relieved and elated to know these people are working to make Dundee a better, safer and more supportive community. I know I will be leaving Dundee with some great hands on the wheel and hopefully I can continue to encourage them in the future.
Otherwise known as jesterpilgrim, he has been leading worship in the Kingdom Vineyard St Andrews as long as I have been there, working harder than most people I’ve ever known, whilst also composing and producing music, being involved with 101 student productions (most recently a beautiful production of The World Over), supporting many friends of mine and generally being an amazing person. Jesse has been through hard times with his lovely wife Marie, but no matter what his faith and love of people has stayed true. My favourite recollection of Jesse was when performing an original Christmas carol, and it took my breath away. Jesse needs and deserves as much encouragement as is possible and I am so proud to say that he has recently applied and been accepted to join the University of St Andrews as a mature student (not too mature though!). The glee in his eyes convinced me that he will be keener and more enthusiastic than any new fresher to walk the library aisles.
Rev Robert & Hazel Pickles
These two people have not been in my life for long, but I hope they will not leave it for many, many years to come. They have become in my heart close family and the wisest people I know thus far. When I first met Robert he was leading a church in Milnathort and teaching those who were interested bits of Theology and Church history. I went for just one morning and was enthralled; I still have my notes filed neatly for referring back to. His mind took in a vast quantity of information and would be able to subtly help or correct your thoughts on a matter without ever sounding arrogant or patronising. Hazel charmed me from the moment I stepped into their new home in Birmingham. With a warm embrace she made me feel so welcome I was not sure I ever wanted to leave. She is the kind of person you can tell was brought up to listen and care for people, and that’s exactly what she does. She speaks quietly and that only makes you want to come closer to hear every word. What is so amazingly inspiring is their trust and faith in God as they live off His provision whilst setting up New College, encouraging others to learn, to gain spiritual development and for little or no profit. They supported my new husband and I throughout our relationship and married us in September. They continue to be amazing influences on my life and people I long to keep close, so as I grow I may grow more like them, and in so doing, more Christ-like.
Pete Grieg and the 24/7 Prayer Network
The first time I heard of Pete Grieg it was due to The Vision Poem which was circulated and hit me like a ton of bricks. It spoke of so much truth, asked for so much discipline, passion and faith, and came from a human, sitting praying one night seeking God. This as well as much prayer inspired a group of friends including myself to start praying; first for 12 hours straight on shifts, then 2 days, then we gradually moved to Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews spending a few days, a week, then finally almost a month praying continuously with a larger and larger groups of people. It changed us as people, as Christians, and God answered many prayers. The churches became closer through inter-denominational prayer and it was great to talk to so many people about what and why we were keeping a prayer room. This was just one situation, one place; Pete Grieg and the 24/7 Prayer team has joined and supported thousands of groups worldwide to cry out to God, support each other in prayer, and come together under one name. Pete Grieg’s book Red Moon Rising also had me in tears from the descriptions of his human existence as a Christian, sharing his heartaches as well as his joys as the story of 24/7 prayer unravelled. I would recommend this amazing honest book to anyone and love to see the impact prayer is still having in the lives of those who were changed through its influence.
The first time I heard of Gillian was when she was raising money for a trip to India to help an orphanage with “Joy to the World” which she set up whilst still a student in St Andrews. She had such love for these people and with endless energy threw herself into as much as she could. This included setting up Tea People which also raises funds for projects in need learning about business as she went. In the meantime her faith and artistic ability continued to blossom and she became one of my favourite photographers EVER! (She also designs clothing, sews, paints, illustrates, writes, etc, etc, etc.) She is warm and up for anything so was the only choice for my wedding when it came. Even my Dad who is often suspicious of photographers (once being one himself), adored for her style and hard-working calm and has not stopped singing her praises. Her work is constantly used for the good of others, whether it be charity, friends, children and her love flows from every image. Gillian Gamble is a great inspiration to anyone hoping to achieve great things, she herself being great. I am also thrilled to hear that there is soon to be a little Gamblet(te) – can you imagine what they will do in this world!
For now that will be all. However, in thinking about this I have come up with more and more people who inspire me, so there may well be a sequel. I hope you have inspiration in your life; my idea is you should think about telling those people. A little encouragement could go a long way!