On Pennies, Paupers – and the Pope’s Recent Visit to Glasgow

I had occasion to travel over to Glasgow in Scotland recently, to visit my daughter who will be spending a year in that city. When I discovered that my visit there was to coincide with that of the Pope’s, I immediately thought of a certain tract that I have in my possession… “This is my Story – a Personal Testimony by converted priest Henry Gregory Adams,” has been printed in tract form and used extensively in Ireland but now I felt led to bring a quantity to Scotland. This tract is taken from one of the shorter testimonies in a book of ex-priests testimonies: “Far from Rome, Near to God – the testimony of 50 converted Catholic priests.”

I feel that the change in my original plan, which would have meant flying over the previous week, was no accident, because a week later I found myself on a plane where my fellow passengers included some young nuns. The young man who sat nearest to me during the flight refused a tract and then my attention was drawn to the young nuns and somehow, one in particular. She smiled and thanked me for the tract as I made my way down the aisle to disembark at Prestwick Airport. I pray with all my heart that somehow the message of salvation would dawn on the souls of these young women.

My witness for the Lord, for the couple of days that I stayed in Glasgow was to continue in this manner. I didn’t somehow feel led to stand on the street giving out tracts, as the quantity that I had was limited anyway, but wherever possible I gave them to those I came in contact with. The airline pilot, the taxi driver, the owner of the B&B where I stayed, shopkeepers and many people on the street who kindly gave me directions all accepted one. I even left one in a Roman Catholic Church.

One incident stands out from all the rest, concerning my tract distribution. It was my last morning, bright and breezy with a warm sun glinting on some fallen leaves and I was dragging my case around to my daughter’s accommodation to spend the last day with her, when a young woman came out of a side road and smilingly said “hello, isn’t that a lovely morning?” I had been praying just then that the Lord would show me who to give that last morning’s tracts to and I felt that this young woman should get one. However, she walked briskly on, overtaking me and I felt that I really could not shout after her. “Lord,” I prayed as I vainly tried to walk faster, “please help me to reach her.” Then something unexpected happened. I saw her hesitate and stare down at the footpath, after which she bent down to pick something up. Waiting for me, she turned to me with it in her hand and cheerfully said: “Here take this. It’ll bring me good luck, if you do.” She held a copper coin out to me, a two pence piece, not worth much these days – although most people appreciate every penny in a recession! “Thank you,” I said, “but you keep it. After all it was you who found it.”

“Oh no,” she said, “if you don’t take it, I won’t have good luck.” Not wanting to make an issue of the ‘good luck’ theory, I saw my opportunity, accepted the coin and said: “Will you then, take this from me?” I held out the tract and she happily accepted it. After thanking me, she resumed her fast walk in the morning sunshine. The Lord had answered my little prayer in an instant in this city where there is often hostility towards the gospel!

The previous evening I had been thoughtful after watching a televised account of the Pope’s visit to Glasgow. I remembered words referring to Jesus that had very recently been part of my daily reading: “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords;” (1Tim. 6v15) In the Bible the term “Holy Father” (John 17v11) is only used to address Almighty God. All men (including every Pope who ever lived) “have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3v23) Why then, do men revere an unregenerate man like themselves? He is a man who has been elected by other men to the position known to men as ‘pontiff,’ but like all men he needs to come the humble way, by admitting his need of a Saviour.

What would happen if the Pope discovered that he was in error? Somehow I sincerely believe that he would be in a very dangerous position. Yes, his life would definitely be in danger but… “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Matt. 16v26) On my first day in Glasgow, my daughter and I had visited a museum which displayed some artist’s impressions of the paupers of the time. Many well-known characters in Victorian Glasgow relied heavily on the mercy and generosity of passers-by, who would take pity on the fact that they were blind or crippled and so had to beg for a living. ‘It would be better to be a pauper upon this earth and know the Saviour,’ I thought, ‘than the most acclaimed person in the world who has never found the truth of salvation.’ All the applause; all the worldwide fame, riches or accolade of a lifetime can never make up for the eternal loss of my soul – or yours.

Praise God for the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ – the ultimate and final sacrifice for the ransom of all the souls of mankind. How, then, “shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Heb. 2v3) and “what shall a man give in exchange for his soul…?” (Matt. 16v26)

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