20 September 2017

Grace & Truth

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

Callum Webster has been writing our Grace and Truth articles since the first issue of Rejoice Always. Here Callum tells us a little about himself personally and also about the work of the Christian Institute.

Tell us about your background & how you became a Christian?

I was brought-up on the east coast of Scotland, near to Dundee. My Dad worked as a civil engineering technician but is now retired. Mum was a special needs teacher, although she stayed at home while my brother and I were children. After school I went on to Dundee University and studied history and politics.

Growing up in a home with Christian parents was a privilege. My parents would read the Bible and pray each day as a family. My brother and I were taken to church and Sunday School. I cannot put a day and hour on it, but over a period as a young child, I was brought to realise that I had sinned and broken God’s laws. Sin must be punished because of the justice and holiness of God. The Bible also presents to us the Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate, who endured the punishment for sin. In time I came to trust in Christ as Saviour and Lord. As we read in John 4:10 “herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

How did you come to be living in Northern Ireland?

During my student years I got to know people from Northern Ireland who were also studying at Dundee University. Many of them were Christians and I enjoyed their fellowship. I came for a week’s holiday and was left with a very positive impression of Northern Ireland and particularly the Christian community. On finishing my studies I moved to Belfast to work in the IT Department at Harland & Wolff. After two years I changed jobs to work in politics as a policy researcher, and following that spent two years with an agency involved in environmental regeneration projects. Outside of work I was the warden of a church-run student hostel in Belfast. I attend the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

When did you first become involved with the Christian Institute?

The Lord Jesus Christ calls His people to be “salt and light” in society (Matthew 5:13-16). Believers are to represent the interests of His Kingdom in a world that is dark and decaying. My parents had taken this call seriously – Dad served for some years as a city councillor in Dundee and Mum was a member of a school board. As a student I could see the growing influence of aggressive atheism upon society in Scotland and the consequences of this worldview. Persuaded of the need for a Christian response on public policy issues I became interested in the Christian Institute’s work during my days as a student, and in the summer of 2005 took up the post of Northern Ireland Officer.

What is the Christian Institute?

The Christian Institute is a Christian charity, founded in 1991. It exists to present the truths of the Bible on current moral issues within our society. Issues such as abortion, euthanasia, marriage and the family, drugs, alcohol-licensing, gambling, and many other challenges facing believers in wider society. The Institute works to equip Christians to be salt and light, to bring godly influence to those current matters of social concern.

The Institute conducts research; it produces briefings and publications to inform churches and individual believers of key issues. It provides a news service on its website – reporting news items from across the British Isles on matters of interest to Christians. The Institute presents a Christian perspective to the media, it represents concerns to those in decision-making positions. It also holds theological lectures and conducts talks and presentations in churches.

Tell us about the people that the Christian Institute works with.

Today in western society we are living in a collapsing culture. There is a growing opposition to Christian thinking and sometimes even to individual believers themselves. Given this background the Institute has becomeinvolved in defending Christian people who are being unlawfully harassed and discriminated against because of their faith.

At present the Christian Institute is working on a number of legal cases. These include Christian B&B owners in Cornwall who are being sued by two men in a civil partnership over their policy of restricting double beds to married couples. We have been supporting a Christian café owner who was visited by police and told that he was in breach of public order laws for displaying Bible verses in his coffeehouse. We recently defended a town council which was taken to court by atheists for opening its meetings in prayer.

If you, or a Christian you know, is in difficulty because of their Christian stand then please contact the Institute. We may be able to help. To keep up to date with the Institute’s work, visit our website www.christian.org.uk. You can join our mailing list and sign-up to receive our weekly Friday news e-mail at www.christian.org.uk/contact-us/.

The Christian Institute also does presentations in churches providing biblical teaching on key issues and updates on our legal cases. If you would like the Institute to speak at a meeting in your church, please contact us on 028 9094 1667 or e-mail info@christian.org.uk. We cannot guarantee to accept every invitation, but each one will be carefully considered.

By Callum WEBSTER