An Unforgettable Trip to Scotland...
...and a surprise visit with the Muggeridges
In August, 1969, Becky was three months old. Experience had taught us that babies are less trouble traveling than older children, so we decided to visit our friends, Ken and Kathy Bender, in Scotland.
We met Ken and Kathy Bender while students at Bob Jones University. Our friendship grew as God began to burden them and us for Europe. After graduation, we headed for Austria and they went to Scotland. Soon after their arrival, it was discovered that Ken had muscular dystrophy, but Ken and Kathy remained faithful to their calling for many years.
We packed our little Renault and drove more than 2,000 kilometers to Eyemouth, Scotland, where the Benders had established a small church.
We also looked forward to visiting our only other friends in England, Len and Sylvia Muggeridge. Len was the son of the late Malcolm Muggeridge, a well-known British foreign correspondent, author and television personality. Len was converted as a youth and much to the chagrin of his famous father, enrolled in London Bible College. After graduation, he became a German teacher in the public school system. In order to keep his German polished, he came to Austria and helped with youth and children's camps. After his marriage to Silvia, both of them came to help.
Shortly before our trip to Scotland, Malcolm Muggeridge startled the British nation with the announcement of his conversion to Christ! He was the keynote speaker at the Edinburgh Festival and gave a clear testimony of his faith, blasting the rampant immorality in Great Britain. We heard the speech on our car radio and were eager to discover what Len would have to say about his father's conversion (Malcolm Muggeridge wrote several books after his conversion, including,
Jesus Rediscovered, Christ and the Media, Something Beautiful for God and his multi-volume autobiography,
Chronicles of Wasted Time).
After crossing the English Channel and arriving in Dover, we realized with dismay, that we had not brought Len and Sylvia's address with us. We couldn't even recall the name of their town, so planned to call missionary colleagues in Austria to get the information
upon our arrival in Scotland. We could still visit them on the return trip.
We had a lovely time with the Benders and rejoiced to see first hand, how God was working in their young church. They showed us around
the area where they lived, viewing the spiritual decay in a region which had once experienced great revival. Large stone churches with ornate stained-glass windows had been converted into truck garages and chicken coops. It was a sad sight to behold, and it encouraged us to pray even more for Scotland.
We also visited the Edinburgh zoo, where we had a memorable experience. A workman was attaching a sign to the bars of the monkey cage which read, "Keep your Distance!" While the worker was thus occupied, a monkey sneaked up and stole his eyeglasses! It quickly climbed to the top of the cage and began taunting the workman! For nearly half an hour, hundreds of exuberant spectators alternately cheered the monkey and then the keeper until the worker finally retrieved his undamaged eyeglasses.
We visited the Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh Castle and watched colorful fishing boats dock in the harbor to auction off their day's catch. We even witnessed a storm on the North Sea, which whipped up gigantic waves like nothing I had ever seen on the Atlantic coast of New Jersey.
The Benders told us that this area had experienced a great revival many years before. For centuries before the revival meetings, fishermen had always lowered their nets on the left side of the ships. After reading John 21, where Jesus told the disciples to lower their nets on the right side, they decided to do the same. Few fishermen darken the door of a church today, but their boats have biblical names and they still lower their nets on the right side!
When Sunday came, we attended the morning worship service in Benders' church. They had not yet begun evening services in Eyemouth, so they took us to a church about twenty miles distant. Ken introduced us to the Pastor, who greeted us from the pulpit.
Following the service, a young man and woman walked up behind us and tapped us on the shoulder; I turned and could scarcely believe my eyes! There stood Len and Sylvia! "What on earth are you doing here?" we exclaimed in unison.
We told them about the purpose of our trip and how we forgot their address. They would not have been home if we had stopped to see them on the trip north or the return trip. Len and Silvia explained that they had seen much of Europe but had never been to Scotland. With no definite plans or reservations, they found someone to care for their children and simply drove until they were tired. They found a bed & breakfast and decided to take an evening
stroll through the town. They saw a lady carrying a Bible and followed her to the church. The big surprise came when the pastor introduced special guests from Austria!
Before we parted company, Len and Silvia insisted that we stay in their apartment on the return trip to save motel costs. They gave us the keys and told us where to find clean bed-sheets! We could give the keys to their neighbor when we left.
Excerpt from the autobiography of Ralph V Harvey, "Chips and Crumbs"
(over 500 page downloadable Word document).
Ralph V Harvey