Christian Life 

Search for Alison MacDonald on iPlayer

Alison MacDonaldAlison MacDonald is the daughter, one of the four children, of (Rev.) Kenny MacDonald and his wife Reta. She went missing 28 years ago whilst backpacking with a friend in Kashmir in 1981. A (sub-titled) Gaelic TV programme covering the family's story is now available on-line.

Since she went missing, Alison's parents have never given up hope since then of finding her - and remain convinced that she is still alive. At the time of her disappearance Kenny, then studying to be a minister at the Free Church College in Edinburgh, immediately went to Kashmir to look for his daughter. Yet despite mounting the biggest search ever seen in the area — together with a massive publicity campaign back home — no trace of Alison was ever found. However the search has continued over the years with a total of 17 visits to Kashmir.

Kenny and Reta MacDonaldThe documentary which was screened on  BBC Alba tells why Kenny and Reta remain dedicated to the search for their daughter, and explained why they believe that Alison may have been kidnapped. In 2007, a tape recording of Syed Salahuddin - a prominent Kashmiri rebel leader - came to light, and appeared to feature him speaking English with a Scottish accent, prompting suggestions that he may have been taught by Alison. In response Interpol asked Indian authorities to re-open inquiries after the wanted Islamic terrorist appeared to be speaking in a Scottish dialect and phrases in a broadcast to his followers.

Rosskeen Church
Rosskeen Free ChurchAfter entering the ministry, Kenny settled in Easter Ross as minister at Rosskeen Free Church between Alness and Invergordon. Over the years the MacDonalds have strived in continuing efforts to track down those who met Alison in Kashmir, and in meeting people who claimed they could find her for a reward.

Kenny is now 74 years old and retired from pastoral ministry, but even suffering from multiple sclerosis and with much failing eyesight the search goes on - even being prepared to return to Kashmir if new clues or fresh information were to emerge. A man of deep Christian conviction he has said:

"I can't imagine life without faith - it would just be impossible. "There is a power which exists that is higher than ourselves, and though we don't understand everything, we must take good things out of everything. God enables us to do everything we should do. "Everything that happens is His will."

"Sgeul Athair: A Father's Story" has been described as "the account of a family's deep faith, determination and courage in the face of overwhelming odds." It's a highly poignant account of how one family, with the support of many praying people but supremely wit the help of God, have responded to such a trauma in their lives. It's very moving and humbling to watch.

The programme which was broadcast on Monday 19 January "tells the story of a family that has never given up hope". It contains both Gaelic (with subtitles) and English language, and can be viewed on the BBC iPlayer.

BBC Alba is available on Sky channel 168 and on Freesat channel 10.

Christians Together, 22/01/2009

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