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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary

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I don’t believe it!

Friday 5th August 2016

Victor Meldrew, a character in the iconic TV series, “One Foot in the Grave,” was on to something when he intoned, “I don’t believe it.” Neither can I believe it. Believe what? That it’s almost 40 years since I first darkened the door of 1st Law Boys’ Brigade Company.

A wee church hall in a small Lanarkshire village was my first proper experience of the BB. I was a teenager, and had been invited by a school friend to help lead the younger boys. Since I was planning to train as a teacher in High School, it seemed like a good thing for my CV. However, I didn’t figure on the BB Captain insisting that I attend church. Since this was a Christian organisation, I had to toe the line. Now, my personal experience of church was not too positive before then, leaving Sunday school at the age of only 8 years, due to disruptive behaviour on my part. And so, I chose (what seemed to me at the time) the lesser of two evils and went along to Youth Fellowship. At least there were girls present – talent – wooohooo, win-win! Little did I know that one of those young women (also a BB officer) would help me towards personal faith in Jesus Christ. And, it turned out this was the best decision (other than marrying that same young lady) I ever made. Becoming a Christ-follower got me on the right road in life’s journey, gave me purpose, and, ultimately, a sense of clear calling to full-time Christian service.

As a parish minister, it has also been a thrill for me to serve as Chaplain to the 10th Coatbridge and 2nd/4th Motherwell Companies. I know the real difference that can be made in young lives through the range of activities, fun and fellowship the BB offers. I have witnessed the transformation that can take place in boys and young men through the diligent (and often unseen, but crucial) work of dedicated leaders. I am certain that Sir William Alexander Smith would be very proud of what has become of the organisation he started in Glasgow 133 years ago. But, we need to keep going, persevering with this great work. While many Brigade nights still include some of the traditional elements associated with BB. (and I hope they always will), other parts of the programme are unrecognisable, even in comparison with a decade ago. Wisely, we are always striving to find new ways of engaging effectively with each generation of young people. Events like the “Our Community” campaign are a credit to the BB Companies who get involved in helping others.

So, let me encourage you – keep going. You never know – the next new recruit you welcome into the Anchor, Junior or Company Section, might just have their life turned around, as I did. Together, we can make a lasting difference for good as we serve the LORD through The Boys’ Brigade.

Derek Hughes
Chaplain BB in Scotland

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