“Do you know in this country that there are 1 in 5 of our children who grow up without a father? That’s the statistic.” At this year’s Big Celebration at Lendrick Muir Alan McWilliam, minister of Whiteinch Church of Scotland challenged us to consider our responsibility to reach out to “the least, the last and the lost” of society. Speaking from Deuteronomy 10 Alan reminded us of God’s special concern for those on the edge of society and our responsibility to them. During the day we heard exciting stories of how children and young people who have grown up in disadvantaged situations have been part of programmes where they got the chance to experience something of God’s unconditional love.

Graeme Richards from Circle Scotland talked about the three-way partnership between Scripture Union Scotland, Circle Scotland and Prison Fellowship that has enabled almost 100 children affected by imprisonment to get away on an SU Holiday over the last three years:

“In a lot of cases, these children have been brought up surrounded by criminality, drugs and alcohol abuse, so for these children to go away and ‘be normal’ is absolutely fantastic. They’re not stigmatised, they’re not going into their school classrooms and people know that mum or dad is in prison, they’re going away as normal people. They’re jumping on the bus with their cases as excited as everybody else.”

Mandy, who grew up in the east end of Glasgow, spoke of how she became a Christian through the youth worker at her local church and was invited along to SU weekends and holidays. Mandy is now taking a key role in leading an SU Group at Smithycroft Secondary school.

“When I started working with the girls, I saw a lot of myself in them. You could see how decisions they were making, paths they were taking, were just heading for disaster. I could see what was going to happen before it even happened with them. Whereas now, they’re like a changed group of girls. They’re asking questions, and their attitude to God has changed completely. At the start they were like me – they just went to camp because it was camp; whereas now they’re talking about being leaders themselves and being Christians.”

Read more stories from the day in the Winter @SU magazine. Not subscribed to it yet? Sign up by emailing us your details and whether you’d like it electronically or in the post.