Arrival

Arrival2Upon first arriving in Scotland, our group immediately faced difficulties in the form of detainment. While the border police officers were sorting things out with Beth and Pastor Quigley, the four of us were handed sheets of paper informing us that we were being detained for such and such a reason according to articles of a law that I was not familiar with.  It was very easy for me to imagine the worst: what if I got sent home? what if I had to figure out on the spot how to get back home? what if I had to go back to Geneva and register for classes? would I ever get to participate in the Semester in Scotland program?

But then, I stopped.  I had to practice trust and faith. Trust that Beth and Pastor Quigley knew the law well enough to explain to the officers that it was legal for us to be there and study.  Trust that even if I had to be sent home, I would be able to navigate airports and get home safely.  Most importantly, I had to trust that God would work “for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28 NIV).  So I silently prayed for protection and provision, and quieted my anxieties.

Thankfully everything was worked out and after 45 minutes we were allowed to pick up our bags and exit the airport. (Editor’s note – the situation to which Bethany refers to here arose because the particular immigration officer who detained the girls was unfamiliar with Geneva College and their Semester in Scotland programme and how that fit into the laws governing short term students.  When it was pointed out to them the category that the programme fell under in UK immigration law, they readily admitted that everything was in good order, and the girls were immediately allowed in with assurances that this situation would not arise again.)  

We girls were exhausted after being awake so long and could hardly wait to eat and sleep. Unfortunately for us we had arrived in the morning, so we had all day to wait for our long rest. We pulled through and settled in our flats.

This past weekend has been a whirlwind of getting various things we need to be prepared for the rest of our time in Airdrie.  We needed groceries, toiletries, train passes, and various other things that would make our stay in Scotland more comfortable (and practical).  But one thing that I truly missed was the comfort of family and friends back home.  There have been various times in my life where I have felt isolated, and in each of those times God has granted me grace in the form of prayer and His people.  Sunday was definitely a time of grace that God gave me to feel refreshed.  I was reminded that my heavenly Father is easily accessible in prayer and meditation upon His Word.  Not only that, but God’s people wherever they may be found are truly a blessing.  God’s people in Airdrie are proof of that, and I have made several acquaintances that have encouraged me.

This time in Scotland is going to be difficult for me because of my love for home and the people that are there.  But God is good, and He has already allowed me to see the ways in which I can be at home wherever His people are gathered in His name.  For my true citizenship is in heaven, and I can always experience a sense of “home” with God’s people here on earth no matter where I am placed.

Bethany Cerbus

Meet Juliana Miller

JulianaI live in Beaver, Pennsylvania which is near Pittsburgh. I spent most of my life in Quebec, Canada since my Dad was a pastor there for 13 years or so. We moved back to the States two years ago. I am going into my senior year at Geneva and am studying biology. I am not sure what I want to do after I am done at Geneva, but I am thinking about doing nursing. I attend College Hill RP church and have been helping out with Sunday school there with the 3-4 year olds and other activities including Vacation Bible School, and childcare during events. I love to babysit since I love young children and babies. I am really looking forward to coming to Scotland!

Meet Castine Allmond

castineI am currently a member at the Elkins Park RP church in Pennsylvania under pastor John Edgar.  I grew up only 10 minutes from there in a town called Glenside.  While out at college I attend the Eastvale church, where Micah Ramsey is the pastor.  Starting this fall, this year will be my junior year with the major of Missions aviation, with a business minor.  I’m very excited to be continuing my education in Scotland, and I’m praying God will use this experience for His glory in my life.

Meet Bethany Cerbus

BethanyI am originally from central Indiana where my home congregation is Southside RPC in Indianapolis.  I am currently a junior English Literature major at Geneva, where I attend the Tusca Area RP church.  After college I hope to continue my studies and obtain my Master’s degree so that I might be a professor or pursue being an editor.  Scotland is such a wonderful opportunity for me to study more in-depth about God’s kingdom as well as getting to experience the places where all of my favorite literature takes place!

Autumn Semester Fast Approaching

There are four students coming on the Semester in Scotland programme this autumn: Bethany Cerbus, Juliana Miller, Castine Allmond, and Jessica McCarrier.  The girls arrive the 27th August to begin their studies on the 31st August.  The semester runs until the 11th December.

Daily Schedule
Mornings
– 9.15 am – worship
– assigned reading
Afternoons
– seminars led by Teachers
Wednesday Afternoons
– cultural trips

Teachers
Rev. Andrew Quigley will teach –  Life and Work of Paul & Church Ministry
Dr. Tim Donachie will teach – Humanities in England and Scotland
Rev. Kenneth Stewart will teach – Systematic Theology
Mr. Stephen McCollum will teach – Evangelism
Mr. Jimmy Fisher will teach –  Scottish Christian History: 1st and 2nd Scottish Reformations
Miss Beth Bogue will teach – Women’s Ministry to Women

You can read more about the programme here: http://www.geneva.edu/semester-in-scotland/

Final Reflections

DSCF1894The plane had been above the dense clouds for an hour, but as we began our descent, patches of green broke through the thick gray.  I sat perfectly still.  The rough turbulence, like the rest of the world around me, was barely a reality – more like a dream.  My mind struggled to grasp the fact that my eyes were now roaming over the land of Knox.  For years, I had dreamt of this kingdom – had scaled Highland giants, had run through lowland moors, had gazed upon martyr graves, but only in my imagination.  Here, now, on that plane, reality broke through.

Some may find it strange that some American kid would be so infatuated with a foreign country.  Especially to the degree that I was.  The explanation, however, is simple.  Here, the world saw a special work of God, in the lives of His peculiar people, a work that no other land had the privilege to know.  That’s what drew me here.  The history was blended so seamlessly with the cause of Christ that I could not but love to gaze upon the monuments erected to the same.  But now that the semester has drawn to a close, I think that I can add more to this reason for my love for this place.

The semester itself, with its curriculum, structure, and facilitators was an unexpected, but nonetheless, good, surprise.  The format of each class is built upon the old British system, which is done by reading the course material and then corporately discussing the same topic under the prevue of an educated instructor.  This allows for the student to engage in each class as the theoretical and the practical are discussed in tandem.  How then shall we live is something that can be discussed with freedom, that, in another class structure, would likely be inhibited.  But that’s not all.  Each class day has a built in time block for worship, and then Bible reading.  On top of one’s normal Bible reading plan, this allows for one to intentionally dig deeper into Scripture.

The semester is also closely connected to the congregation.  The student is given the opportunity to get to know the Bride of Christ in a deeper way than what I could have imagined.  This is a peculiar element to the program that only this semester abroad provides.  You may have exotic countries, exotic cultures, and harrowing adventures, but none that I know of allows the student to so closely interact with those for whom the Lord of Glory suffered and died to redeem unto Himself.

The benefits of this program can be easily inferred based upon what is described above, but allow me to elaborate further.  The teachers of each class are especially concerned with the personal growth of each student.  Under the guidance of Jimmy Fisher, one is brought to consider the history and the piety of the reformation in Scotland.  Under Stephen McCollum the student receives experiential theology with force.  And under Rev. Quigley, one is brought to consider the Christian ministry by one who has labored in those fields for decades and who loves the congregation – which love is as easily discernable as physical features of the classroom.  In the congregation, friends exist in plenty.  And not the transient, shallow kind, but friends that are seriously concerned with Christ, and thus, with living the life of obedience, and encouraging others in the same.  I’ve made friends here that I could not have ever expected/hoped to make.

The takeaway lies in the edification that flows from all of those benefits.  I walked the Highlands, ran across the lowlands,  and repaired martyr graves, but the lasting benefit has been what this program has done, by the grace of God, toward my sanctification.

Joseph Dunlap

Hey Scotland, I’ll be back!

Jason and JasonAs I sit in our flat reflecting on all the memories that I’ve made during this semester, I realize that there is no part of me that wants to write this blog post. There is no part of me that is ready to step into Glasgow Airport on May 11th.  I know that when I step on the airplane, I’ll be leaving part of my heart in Scotland.

I’m not sure how to begin this blog post, so I think I’ll start by thanking everyone that has made this experience possible and everyone in Scotland that has made this experience the most memorable and enjoyable experience that I’ve ever had in my life.  There are so many people back home, at Geneva College, and here in Scotland that deserve many thanks.

To my family and friends: Thanks y’all.  Thank you for helping my raise the money to afford to come to Scotland.  Mum and Dad, thank you for all your support during this semester.  Thank you Nick for supporting me when I was feeling a little homesick.  I also owe many thanks to the Dunlap and Tubbs family, I can’t thank y’all enough for all the support and prayers, and I’ll always consider y’all to be my second family.  Thank you to all my friends back home in Pittsburgh and at Geneva College for supporting me and praying for me while I’ve been in Scotland.

To the people at Geneva college: Thank you to everyone that works at the Crossroads Office for making programs like this possible for the students at Geneva College.  Thank you to my adviser, Dr. Byron Curtis, for helping me schedule my classes for the fall semester even though it was difficult due to me being in Scotland.  Thank you to everyone who either prayed for me or helped me sort things out.

The Airdrie Reformed Presbyterian Church is the most amazing congregation that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of even though it was only for a few months.  Thank you for the all love that y’all have shown Joey and I during our time here.  Thank you Andrew for being a loving man of God, preaching the Gospel weekly, and for allowing us to sit in the seminary classes.  Thank you Beth for all the hours of work that you do to make this program possible, and thank you for taking us on road trips.  Thank you to Jimmy and Helen for taking out to visit places around Scotland every Wednesday and for taking us on our Reformation Tour.  Thank you to everyone in the congregation that has shown us love and hospitality.  Thank you to everyone that fed us on the Lord’s Day after the morning service.  Thank you Andrew, Stephen, and Jimmy for teaching our classes.  Thank you anyone that I have not listed.

Studying in Scotland has been the most enjoyable and challenging experience that I’ve ever had, but I’m so thankful that the Lord blessed me with the opportunity to come here to study.  Before I came here in January, I’ll admit that I was absolutely terrified.  I was afraid about being in a foreign country, and I was terrified that I wouldn’t fit in here.  After my first worship service here in Scotland, I realized that all my fears were just silly fears.  The people of the congregation are some of the most loving people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  I wish that I would have had more time here in Scotland to get to know everyone in the congregation better.  There are no words that I could use to properly describe the amount of appreciation that I have for the Airdrie congregation.  I’ve had my own theological beliefs challenged, and I’m extremely thankful for that.  Being able to interact with the children of the congregation and teach them Bible lessons has been one of the most enjoyable parts of this entire semester.

Before I talk about everything that I’ve learned while in Scotland, I’d like to thank Andrew again.  Thank you Andrew for making me work through questions on my own when I didn’t know the answer or when I was confused.  Scotland has been the biggest learning experience of my life both in the classroom and outside of the classroom.  One of my favorite things about the Semester in Scotland program is the way that the classes are designed.  In my opinion, reading and then discussing is the best way to learn.  I think it’s much better to read and discuss instead of studying to memorize information for an exam.  My favorite classes during this semester were the class about Paul and our Systematic Theology class.  I learned so much valuable information from those two classes.  I don’t want to go back to regular college classes next year!!  Can I just stay here and study here?

There are so many things about this semester that will stick with me.  The beauty of the Scottish wilderness and mountains will always stick with me.  If you want to really appreciate the beauty of God’s creation then you should buy a plane ticket to Scotland and visit Glencoe and the Isle of Skye.  One of my favorite things about Scotland is the food.  Everything tastes better here, and everyone needs haggis and Irn Bru in their life.  The friendliness of the people in Scotland will also always stick with me.  It’s a wonderful experience to be stopped on the street or in a store because of your American accent, and then have that person ask you how you’re enjoying Scotland or ask what your favorite part of Scotland has been.

The memories that I’ve made here are memories that I will never forget.  Thank you Airdrie Reformed Presbyterian Church, and thank you Scotland for giving me the best adventure of my life so far and for all the wonderful memories.  I’ll be back some day to visit y’all and to eat haggis and drink some Irn Bru.

I love y’all so much.  Thank you.

Jason Buchholz

Learning Outside the Classroom

JimmyWell we’re almost at the end of another Semester in Scotland term, and as I look back on the last few months I can’t believe the amount we have managed to cram in.

We covered the history in the classroom before hitting the road and walking in the footsteps of the Covenanters and Reformers we had read about.  We’ve stood where they stood, tramped the same hills and moors they did, and found their graves and monuments (even cleaning and painting them).  It was really a great time of learning and growing.

When you add all that to our Wednesday afternoon cultural outings which have included castles, museums, battlefields, the Highlands, and much, much more, we really have covered a lot this semester.

But more importantly the greatest thing I’ve enjoyed is watching these two young men grow, not only in their knowledge of the Reformation and Covenanters and how God worked in Scotland in the past, but in their knowledge of God Himself.

From the many hours we have spent together in the classroom and travelling around Scotland and the conversations that we’ve had, it is clear the Lord has been working on both their hearts.

And I pray as they prepare to go back home and move on to the next stage in their lives, wherever and whatever that may be, that they will go back with memories of Scotland that will be with them for the rest of their lives.  And just as the Covenanters and the Reformers did, that they too will learn to put their faith in the Lord and to trust Him to guide them wherever He will have them go.

Jimmy Fisher

Airds Moss

The gray skies cast a charcoal hue over the landscape, whilst a crisp breeze flowed without restraint over the fields, carrying with it a light mist.  Quietness whispered solemnity.  History had been made on this ground.  Bloody history.   The lonely, half-naked monument, erected in memory to that event stood before us.  Neglect was written all over its face.  Its paint was nearly gone, its rock chipped, and moss was growing freely over its face.  And so we set to work.  Paintbrushes in hand, we mounted the centuries-old structure and sought to re-erect the memory of the blood shedding that occurred on this ground.

335 years before, on this spot, the landscape was not very different from what it now appears, but that was all that was the same.  Here, horses had prodded lightly across the open field.  A band of sixty men – men of resolve, righteousness, and devotion – inched their way across the moss.  Muskets, swords, and Bibles were their instruments of war, and their cause was none other than the cause of Christ.  Heaven and its dealings with Scotland rode upon each of their shoulders.  It is no surprise that each footfall carried the weight of eternity behind it.  They were a remnant, a people left physically tattered and rent, but strong in the King that was the rightful heir of all things, the true King of kings.  In the midst of this band was a minister, deposed from any ordinary charge due to his loyalty to the Christ whom he loved above life, and for that love, was hunted and desired to be killed by multitudes.  Cameron was accompanied by his brother, Michael, and was under the military care of a like-minded commander, David Hackston, with sixty other Covenanters.  Richard Cameron, the minister, had left the farm in the west of the moss with the clear knowledge that this last ride would be his final on this side of glory – thus, he and his men were trotting into the threshold of eternity.  As they crested the small hill, on a road a few hundred yards before them, red-cladded dragoons came into view.  The commander, experienced and resolved to die if dying be required, ordered the footmen with them to form a line and meet the enemy first, giving time for the horsemen to form themselves into a stronger defensive position with their anointed minister protected in the center.  Before the battle commenced, however, Reverend Cameron lifted his hands toward heaven and thrice besought the throne of Grace to “spare the green and take the ripe.”  The footmen were quickly caught and overrun by the superior numbers that rode into them, leaving the horsemen open to the savage attack of the fast approaching soldiers without aid.  Cameron, turning to his brother, said, “Michael, come, let us fight it out to the last!  For this is the day that I have longed for, and the death that I have prayed for, to die fighting against our Lord’s enemies; and this is the day that we will get the crown.”  To the rest, ready to fall under the fire and swords of the horde, he cried, “Be encouraged all of you, to fight it out valiantly; for all of you that shall fall this day, I see Heaven’s gates cast wide open to receive them.”  At last the battle enveloped the horsemen and the Rev. Cameron was killed almost immediately, with his brother shortly thereafter.

All of that played in my mind, and whilst upon the monument, I could see the moss in all of its vast flatness, and at my feet, the grave of those fallen that day – Reverend Cameron and his brother interred together.  This battle, had it been won, and had the Covenanters returned Scotland to its past glorious state of Reformation, the nation, Britain, and the West would be a very different place.  It would be a place where men feared God.  A place where men would be forced to recognize Christ as the true King of Kings, and thus, apply His laws as the laws of the land.  Thus, the import of this battle transcends history.  It touches both sides of the Atlantic, indeed, it reckons with the whole world, and so, this battle was, for all intents and purposes, a battle for the soul of the west.  And it was lost.

The five of us chipped away old paint to reapply a new coat.  Moss was stripped away.  Scripture was read.  At last, the monument could be clearly seen shining brightly over the moss, as it should, for the spiritual consequences of what occurred here are worthy of remembering.  The neglect of this monument speaks volumes of the greater problem of rebellion that pervades our present society.  Oh that Zion would repent in dust and ashes!  Oh that this world would beseech Heaven for turning upon such a gracious and holy testimony!
Lo! here of faithful witnesses a cloud,
For Christ their King resisting unto blood,
Lo! here upon their Pisgah top they stand,
Just on the confines of Emmanuel’s Land:
Leaving the ungrateful world, longing to be
possessed of blessed immortality.

Joseph Dunlap

Clean up of monument

Clean up of monument

Before and After

Airds Moss

Airds Moss

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