A life well lived: a race well run
Just before Christmas 2014 David Masson, completed his earthly course and was ushered into the nearer presence of the Lord.
A righteous man who walked with God
(cf Gen 6:9)
We chatted together as David Masson drove me to my home that mid-December day. We were due to spend some time with our respective families over the holiday season, and the last thing I said to him before closing the car door was: “See you in 2015”: I should have added: “God willing”.
David Masson: 23/04/2043 - 22/12/2014
In the event neither of us had any inkling that – in God’s eternal will and purposes – David would not be with us ‘in the body’ as we entered this New Year. In his Homecall, just before midnight on the Monday of Christmas week I lost, albeit for this life only, a dear Christian brother and fellow elder in the Lord.
Having been in fellowship and worship earlier that day, the occasion of our afternoon meeting was – as an unfamiliar Sunday experience for both of us – for the purpose of attending a public cinema showing of a film entitled 'Open Bethlehem'. It was a screening with the producer present. She was an Arab native of Jesus’ birthplace. Although the trailer gave little detail on film's content, the context was David's and my shared belief that the Lord has His end-time purposes for the Jewish people and the land of Israel. (In the event, the production was highly political and anti-Israel.)
I tell the story because it illustrates a large part of what David was, and what David held to be true. He was a world-watching Bible-believer and, like the apostle Peter at Pentecost, alert to the extent to which we are seeing biblical prophecy being outworked before our eyes. David and his dear wife Elspeth were the first representatives in Scotland for the organisation Christian Friends of Israel, but his interests extended into many other areas of Christian life.
In the early 1990s David travelled to Uganda as part of a team from the church which he then attended and was assigned to work with John Michael Mugerwa, the pastor of Saint’s Gate Church in Katwe – a slum township on the outskirts of Kampala. He formed a lasting relationship with John and together, in 1994, they formed the Andrew Discipleship School. to teach the pastors in Kampala and throughout Uganda. Eventually, with the advent of the internet, his teaching and articles were placed online.
They are still there as an ongoing resource.
David returned returned many times, addressing huge gatherings of God’s people both in Katwe and in associated rural churches. Over the years he watched, prayed and supported – rejoicing as the ministry grew.
at Victoria Falls with Godfrey, a Bible School student
Associated with the church in Katwe is the Destiny Orphanage which is now home to over 1500 children; Christian and Muslim, many of whom are AIDS orphans. An on-site primary school provides a high standard of education for children from the local community as well as children from the orphanage.
In 1997 donations collected at the funeral of a close friend enabled the James Mackay Clinic to be established. Situated close to the orphanage it is staffed by two qualified nurses and serves the local community. The facility works to combat ignorance and disease while providing maternity services and dealing with minor accidents and medical ailments. (Very sadly John Michael Mugerwa was killed in a car accident in 2011, shortly before he and David were due to visit Israel together.)
Prior to his work in Africa, David was active on his home soil also. When the family had left Fort William in 1983, he had taken time out from his work as a solicitor and to spend a year at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow. When he returned to home life in Crieff with his wife and their two sons, Clive and Peter, he embarked on a one-man personal outreach to hundreds of homes in the town – an initiative which lasted around three years.
In 1999, feeling the call to spend some time abroad in the Lord’s service, David began to put out feelers. A door opened unexpectedly when he was put in touch with a small missionary society in the Midlands and learned that they were looking for a Bible Teacher and a School Teacher for Esiama, a large village in Western Ghana with a small but established Bible College and Mission School attached to The Pentecostal Church. David and Elspeth were to take up the challenge.
However, with their hearts in the the Highlands, David and Elspeth left Crieff in July 2000 and moved to a small house on the outskirts of Inverness. They left for Ghana in October of that year. After an extraordinary and fruitful eight months, the couple left Esiama at the end of the academic year in June 2001 and returned to settle in their new home..
My wife and I met David and Elspeth soon after they returned from Ghana when David took over the role of Highlands and Islands representative for the Christian organisation CARE for Scotland. As soon as they had settled in Inverness, the couple established a ‘Christian Friends of Israel’ prayer meeting which still meets monthly in their home.
During 2012/3, David was involved in the national Scotland for Marriage initiative to maintain the traditional view of marriage. He visited churches and individuals in the area as an encouragement to engage in the campaign.
Caring for others
In 2013 David became a formative member of the Kildean Trust along with Mrs. Joyce Dean and some other believers. The aim of the Trust was, and is, to assist newly-released prisoners to rehabilitate themselves in the context of a Christian ethos.
Outreaching and teaching in the community
As recently as last Autumn, and in the same manner as years earlier in Crieff, he undertook some ‘door to door’ outreach work in the Black Isle to speak about the Lord he loved.
In the last two years of his life David served as one of the ‘teaching elders’ amongst a group of Christians meeting in the Black Isle. The group benefitted much from the material that David had developed for the churches in Uganda. Along with others from the fellowship, David and Elspeth enjoyed a Christmas meal just two weeks before Christmas.
The finishing line
The following week, having just spent some time with a prayer partner, David fell suddenly and seriously ill with a stroke. He went peacefully to be with the Lord five days later.
The loss that his family feel was shared by the hundreds who attended a service in Inverness ‘To give glory to God in Celebration of the Life of David Masson’ on Tuesday 6 January 2015. They gathered in respect.
The service was conducted in sensitive but powerful fashion by Graham Mair, an itinerant preacher and evangelist from whom David and Elspeth had long-since purchased their weekly supply of fish. Three Christian friends of David spoke and shared readings from the Bible which they had each chosen to reflect their views on David’s life and their fellowship with him. It was an immense privilege to have been one of the three.
Those present heard the Word of God preached to the glory of God. That had been David’s stated wish.
David, a devoted family man is survived by Elspeth, their two sons Clive and Peter and three grandchildren.
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Footnote: In 2011 David was asked to give an interview for Aberdeen-based Northsound Radio. As part of the Stained Glass Radio programme, he spoke about his calling to and work in Africa.
He also spoke about his beliefs concerning God's end-time purposes for the Jewish people and the land of Israel.