We left Malawi when I was five years old, under difficult circumstances and landed on the doorstep of my British grandparents with only the clothes on our backs. Raised in a small rural mining village in Lanarkshire, we were the first black kids that many of the villagers had ever met. It was certainly a culture shock for both parties. I am the eldest of three brothers; my mum was a Scottish missionary and dad was a Malawian church minister. Despite my parents’ split, we were blessed to be raised in a Christian home as we were taught to fear God and we saw God provide for us through Christian people, generosity of strangers and provision of a home from the Government. God is good, all the time; and all the time, God is good! That is true but sadly at the age of ten, my dad died, and I started to doubt that truth. Between the ages of five to ten, I thought our family would one day be reconciled; this dream died the day my dad did, leading to a rebellious period of my life where I rejected God and pursued the ways of the world.
Thankfully, the turning point came when I was fifteen years told. I was introduced to the story of Nicky Cruz; a former gangster who became a Christian evangelist. I discovered that I was putting my hopes, dreams, and identity in the wrong things. Soon after, I attended a David Wilkerson rally in Perth where I professed faith in the Lord Jesus. I became a member of Kirkmuirhill Parish Church in 2005.
During my university years, I did seek to live as a disciple of Jesus. However, there were also times I struggled being the only Christian among my peers. God in his mercy gave me Christian friends in a local church house group, this group played an essential part in my Christian formation. Following university, I had a serious bout of depression. I sought help in a Christian recovery programme called Celebrate Recovery. It was during this programme I came to terms with some unresolved issues such as forgiving my late father and the importance of progressive sanctification – and the disciplines of mortification and vivification in the Christian life. Indeed, one major breakthrough in my walk with the Lord was learning that repentance is a not a one-off act but a daily habit.
After coming through my depression, I had a deep sense of a call from God. Psalm 51: 12-15 was heavily impressed upon my heart. However, part of me was unsure whether I should act on it. I put it off and felt the need to grow as a young Christian and gain more life experience. This life experience came in the form of God providing me an opportunity to go back to Malawi for two months, where I was reunited with family. Shortly after my return to Scotland, the Lord provided me with my first graduate job as a Building Surveyor in Glasgow.
In 2017, I married Jillian Davidson. She is the godliest person I know and one of the most passionate disciples of Jesus Christ. Her love and enthusiasm for the Lord are infectious and together we seek to spur one another on to serve the Lord. In 2019, we were delighted to welcome baby Naomi into our family. During the Covid lockdown period, with a fifteen-month-old and a baby on the way, I began my Minister in Training programme at Edinburgh Theological Seminary/Hope Church, Coatbridge. Israel James came along in February 2021 and has kept us on our toes ever since. We are looking forward to discovering what the Lord has in store for us as we seek to serve Him as the Longwe family.
By Neil Longwe