Skip to main content

Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament [Draft]

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Programme for Government 2023-24, Programme for Government 2023-24, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, NHS Borders Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Alasdair Bennett, who is the chief executive of Bethany Christian Trust.

Alasdair Bennett (Bethany Christian Trust)

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for the invitation to address you as you begin this new term.

At the national prayer breakfast in June, I joined MSPs from across political parties. Together, we prayed for our nation.

In 1983, in Leith in Edinburgh, prayer was the catalyst that launched Bethany Christian Trust. For 40 years, our staff and volunteers have sought to love, serve and value people on the margins, labouring together with many partners in our vision of ending homelessness. We welcome the Scottish Parliament’s commitment to addressing homelessness, which is a major social issue requiring a holistic approach.

Through more than 30 services across Scotland, Bethany works to prevent homelessness, intervene in crisis and support people in their own homes. Through Christ’s love in action, we have seen countless lives and circumstances changed, yet our work is far from over.

What makes change possible? There was a young man called Scott, who also grew up near Leith. He was struggling. He fell into a bad rut and lost his way. He left the family home and ended up making some big mistakes and damaging his mind through a cocktail of substance abuse. He had no money, no work and no motivation. By the age of 19, a deep depression had taken hold of him and vice-like paranoia gripped his mind.

Scott needed change. There was someone praying for him: his mother. She prayed fervently, nightly, month after month, eventually exclaiming, “Lord, I surrender what happens to him, as long as he’s Yours.” God answered.

That young man found forgiveness, healing and hope. His life was turned around, his heart was lifted and his mind was healed. Why? Because one woman believed in the good news of Jesus Christ to change lives, and she surrendered to God in prayer.

My middle name is Scott, and that young man was me, just over 30 years ago. Change is possible.

What about a nation? Can a nation be changed? Jesus Christ taught that change is not only possible but necessary, declaring, “The kingdom of God has come near. Turn around and believe the good news!”

We all have a part to play in transforming society through our prayers, attitudes and actions. What could it mean for us today, if we collectively heed Jesus’s invitation to turn around, trust in his unconditional love and surrender to God in prayer? Truly, it could transform the nation.