Luis Palau mission to the Highlands?
Scroll down to message thread at foot of this article for the most recent update.
At the Keswick Convention of 2006, Rev. Grant Bell (Culbokie) had a conversation with Luis Palau - the international evangelist from Argentina - concerning the prospect of the Luis Palua Association (LPA) running a mission in the Scottish Highlands. And Tommie Mackay (Inverness YMCA) had a similar conversation with Luis.
This developed into informal discussions over the period since with representatives of the LPA.
At a quite separate and unrelated event, on Monday 17 September 2007, a group of about 60 church leaders - mainly from the Grampian and Highlands areas - gathered in Aberdeen to hear Luis Palau and others speak at the Aberdeen venue of a three-city tour by the evangelist and some of his team. The tour was organised by theheraldstrust and aimed at bringing encouragement to leaders in Scotland. And it was great to hear of what God is doing - especially in China.
Over lunch, various conversations took place, and the opportunity was taken to have an informal meeting after the main event. This smaller meeting was attended by the Highland contingent of those gathered for the day, and was addressed by Pastor Randy Birtis of the LPA. (Luis had wanted to speak himself to those gathered, but he was caught up in a book-signing in the main hall.) The grouping involved leaders from a wide spectrum of denominations; and from different parts of the Highlands. Also at the meeting was Luis's son Andrew Palau.
Some of the Highland leaders who met with Randy Birtis (centre) of the Luis Palau Association
Pastor Birtis, referring to the earlier discussions involving Grant, outlined the possibility of the LPA leading a mission to the Highlands which - if it was to go ahead - would probably be in 2009. He spoke in the context of what had been said earlier regarding the changed nature of outreach events now being run by the LPA. These events have moved away from the "people sitting in seats" format to a much more dynamic and inter-active style - involving those present in a more carnival/festival-type event at which, as part of it all, the Gospel would be preached.
A recording of this meeting was made and it is available by <clicking here>.
If a mission were to go ahead, the format would likely involve a main event in Inverness, but with satellite events to cover and include the other population centres throughout the Highland area.
While the general consensus in Aberdeen was very positive regarding the prospect, it was and is emphasised that things are all at a very early stage, and the views and involvement of the whole church across the Highlands is sought and encouraged right from the outset and before any further moves are made; and of course the costs would be substantial.
Before the meeting broke up (most of those present had distances to travel) a date was set for the first exploratory meeting. This is due to be in Tain on Monday 1 October (details at foot of page). (The location was chosen as typical of one of the geographical areas of interest; and the venues of any future meetings will probably be chosen to reflect the whole Highland area.)
The Christians Together web site will aim to be of as much help to the process as possible; and anyone in the area who would like to be kept informed of developments are invited to send in their details so that an e-mailing list can be built up.
You are also warmly invited to register with this site (if you are not already) so that you can gain access to the whole of the site.
Comments are welcomed at all stages so that a sense of the Spirit's leading can be gained. And the "Add your Comment " button below is available.
Luis Palau led a mission in 1979 which was held in Lairg. Although the initial plans were to hold the main meeting indoors, the organisers felt led to "change plans" and move to an outdoor setting in order to accommodate the numbers. This was a bold move as the Spring weather in the Highlands is unpredictable to say the least.
In the event - and this has been confirmed by met. office records - it rained all around Lairg on that day (30 May), but over the meeting place it was dry. Angela Sutherland who was involved with that mission recalls that it was only as the last pieces of equipment were being packed away into car boots than the first spots of rain fell.
Greer Johnston and Samuel McKibben were two church leaders in the Highlands who were much involved in that outreach; and both Samuel and Greer were at the above meeting in Aberdeen.