Monday, 27 January 2014

Mez McConnell and Marsala

It was a real joy to be present at Smithton Free Church last Thursday to hear Mez McConnell's testimony after enjoying a delicious chicken Marsala. Mez is the pastor of Neddrie Community Church in Edinburgh but he is not your run of the mill pastor. For starters Mez was in and out of children's homes growing up and that was during the good periods. The worst of times were during the times his dad showed up he was unsure if he would be fed, clothed or general taken care off. He felt very much alone in the world. Mez became an angry young man, hanging out with druggies and smoking at a very early age. He came to believe that the world had done nothing for him and so he decided he would take whatever he could. This led to a vicious cycle of drugs and stealing including breaking into homes. He watched friends die from drugs, a friend of his was killed by Mez's ex girlfriend, this was a young man in trouble. A Young man that didn't care that he was in trouble, a man who felt the world owed him a living, heartbroken and betrayed by those who should have taken care of him he took his due from others. Mez's life of crime caught up with him and he was eventually jailed, he had come into contact with Christian's prior to this and found that he had a name and address of one of them. He eventually wrote to them and he came in to see him. Mez was ready for the obligatory Jesus talk but it didn't come instead they asked him how he was doing. He had spoken to him of Jesus before but his asking him about himself and how he was doing as well as the gift of tobacco and stereo showed they cared. This got Mez thinking about Jesus, he went to the library and took a book about Jesus  written by a man in jail, but it had stories of Angel's showing up in pinstriped suits and so Mez binned it and any thought of Jesus. Or so he thought but he couldn't get Jesus out of his mind. Once he had served his two prison sentences he supplied them with the address of a Christian and went to stay. He found the whole Christian thing weird, and this is where we need to watch out. We use a whole load of language that are completely nonsense, like "speak to your heart" even the word testimony is lost on those outside. If Christian's were weird,  church was weirder with stand up sit down, read this, listen to this and everyone suited and booted. In spite of Mez's reaction to these things he was secretly reading the Bible and Matthew Henry's commentary. It was the book of Romans that finally got him, you see the message of Romans told him that he was a sinner and he was under the wrath of God. Do-gooders had previously claimed that you would be a descent chap if it wasn't for your background. However Paul in Romans laid it out. You have sinned against God and you deserve His wrath. This thought eventually led to Mez repenting and becoming a believer. The old life stuck a little but God was at work. Mez eventually went to Bible college and then worked with street children in Brazil. Now Mez is working as a pastor in a church in Edinburgh, he is not a run of a mill pastor and the church he pastors is not a run of the mill church. You see Mez is working in  a Scheme where, drugs, alcohol and crime are high and employment is low. He is reaching the most hopeless of people as one who was once without hope. You can read his story in his autobiography. Is there anybody there? Published by Christian Focus.