Isle of Lewis Songs of Praise


Isle of Lewis

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Today, Songs Of Praise visits the Isle of Lewis,

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off the west coast of Scotland.

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I'm aboard a local trawler on its way into Stornoway harbour,

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and I'm glad it's a relatively calm day today - believe me, it is! -

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because this is an island that can get

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battered by Atlantic storms in winter.

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It's also quite a private island

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with a traditionally deep attachment to its churches.

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Today, it finds itself under a rather unlikely spotlight, though,

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because of its links with probably the most powerful man in the world.

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'It was from here that a young woman emigrated to America, and on Friday

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'her son, Donald Trump, will become the President of the United States.

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'We'll be following in Mary Ann Macleod's footsteps,

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'finding out more about the faith that underpinned her life,

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'and tracing her family roots.'

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And she was baptised here, and her name is in that book!

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You were very excited when you discovered this, weren't you?

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-Mary Ann.

-There she is.

-Daughter of Malcolm Macleod and Mary Smith.

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'And we'll reveal how Donald Trump's early life in New York was

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'influenced by a charismatic church minister who wrote

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'a book that sold millions.'

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We'll also be hearing about a tragedy that overwhelmed the

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Isle of Lewis, when more than 200 men returning from the

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First World War drowned within just feet of the shore.

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I would say it probably ripped the heart out of the island.

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Just look at this - sky, sea, wind, the joy of Lewis.

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With that in mind, let's have our first hymn.

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It's by the American composer Dan Schutte.

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'Lewis is the largest island in the Outer Hebrides, and it was

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'here over a century ago

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'that a young woman, Mary Ann Macleod, grew up.

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'She was to become the mother of a future American president.

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'Donald Trump's relatives were crofters working

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'a small amount of land to survive, but often this wasn't enough.

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'I'm here at Stornoway harbour to meet the Reverend James Maciver,

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'to find out how they made ends meet.'

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Life would have been very hard.

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Crofts on the island generally tend to be quite small,

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portions of land maybe four or five acres, something like that,

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so it really would be impossible to make

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a living out of that entirely on its own,

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so many people combined crofting and fishing.

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It would have meant danger

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but also difficulty, hard work, uncertainty with weather and so on.

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So it would have been a very difficult lifestyle, really,

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for her family and many others.

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When Mary Ann was just two,

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the First World War broke out and had a dramatic effect on the island.

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Proportionally, more men from the island actually served in the war,

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per head of population, than any other district in the whole country,

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which meant that the losses, obviously, proportionally,

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were also greater, which of course explains, to some extent at least,

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why some people chose to leave and to emigrate.

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Mary Ann was just 17 when she decided to start a new life.

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She left her home and her parents behind and she sailed to America.

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GAELIC CHORAL SINGING

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But Mary Ann, whose first language was Gaelic, would never forget

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the island or the Presbyterian faith that she grew up with.

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The church was built in 1909,

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three years before Mary Ann was born, so she would have been

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in this main sanctuary here as part of the Gaelic congregation.

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And she was baptised here, and her name is in that book!

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You were very excited when you discovered this, weren't you?

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We have the United Free Church Of Scotland Baptismal Register,

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-and in 1913, you can see the entry there for Mary Ann.

-There she is.

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Daughter of Malcolm Macleod and Mary Smith of Tong.

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Mary Ann was youngest of ten,

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-and we have another seven siblings here...

-Goodness!

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-..all baptised together on the same day...

-On the same day!

-..in 1903.

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-Any Donalds in there?

-Yes, there's Donald.

-Oh, yes, so there is.

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'She would go on to name one of her own children Donald.'

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But her passion for her roots went much further.

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Mary Ann kept returning here year on year when she was Mary Ann Trump,

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and she used to sit with her family in the front pew upstairs.

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We'd be talking about the '60s, '70s, '80s.

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We're proud of her, as a congregation.

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Islander Christine MacCuish remembers the overseas visitor.

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From the organ, I could see this very striking figure -

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tall, beautifully turned out. Her hair was just immaculate.

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So you managed to get a good look,

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even though you were playing the organ.

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I did. And Mrs Trump was conversing freely with the congregation

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in her native tongue, Gaelic.

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-Ah, she was talking Gaelic?

-Yes, she was.

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She obviously never forgot her first language.

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What values do you think she might have taken with her?

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Mary Ann's upbringing wouldn't have been easy.

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She would have developed a resilience that's characteristic

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of the Hebridean, and I think she'd have taken that with her to America.

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# Deep peace of the running wave to you

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# Deep peace of the flowing air to you

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# Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

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# Deep peace of the shining stars to you

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# Deep peace of the gentle night to you

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# Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

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# Deep peace of Christ

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# Of Christ

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# The light of the world to you

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# Deep peace of Christ to you. #

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The seas around Lewis can be treacherous.

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Donald Trump's own great-grandfather was drowned in a fishing accident.

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And shortly, we'll hear about the worst maritime disaster to

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strike the island.

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But first, a hymn written in 1860 by William Whiting, who felt his life

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had been spared when his ship was almost claimed during violent seas.

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Earlier, we learned how badly Lewis was hit by the First World War,

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but the biggest single loss of life

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would actually come after the conflict had ended.

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The sinking of the Iolaire on New Year's Day 1919 remains

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Britain's worst peacetime disaster at sea since the Titanic.

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Those who died were in touching distance of home.

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The men were returning to Lewis after four years away fighting

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in World War I, and what made it even more awful was that some

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of their families were waiting

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right here on the harbour pier for their men to return,

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unaware of the disaster that was unfolding less than a mile away.

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Earlier, the Iolaire had set sail from the Scottish mainland.

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The men on board had survived the horrors of war and were eager

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to be reunited with their loved ones.

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But as the ship entered Stornoway Bay, disaster struck.

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Local author John MacLeod has written an account of the tragedy.

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This is where the Iolaire disaster happened,

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where the vessel ran aground.

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She came round the corner of the bay late at night, pitch-black,

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far too close to the shore, and with inexperienced officers

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in charge who had never sailed her at night.

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The ship struck a notorious reef, the Beasts of Holm,

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which lie below this marker.

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Suddenly, with a tremendous bang, she keeled over to the side.

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Dozens of youths aboard on the open decks were washed away,

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left fighting for their lives in the sea,

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soaked to the skin, chilled, terrified.

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Most who tried to make it ashore were immediately lost,

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but one man held his nerve.

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John Finlay MacLeod plunged into the ferocious waters with a line,

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and used the momentum of the waves to reach dry land.

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There's only one chance. Just keep afloat.

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And watch out for the waves.

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And don't take the first one...

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..or the second. But watch the third one.

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It's always the highest.

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Once ashore, John and others brought dozens to safety.

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But the remorseless sea would claim 205 lives, with only 80 survivors.

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Anne Macaulay's great-grandfather was one of those who drowned.

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She remembers how deeply her grandmother Mairi was affected.

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My granny was ten when her father died.

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She was the only one of the five children in her family who

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properly knew what it was like to have their father at home,

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and therefore she was the one who most keenly felt his loss.

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There were so many losses.

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I would say it probably ripped the heart out of the island.

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People just closed the door on it,

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because I think talking about it would have just been too painful.

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The Church was very strong in the island, and I would say that

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the faith of the people up here at that time is what got them through.

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# God on high

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# Hear my prayer

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# In my need

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# You have always been there

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# He is young

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# He's afraid

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# Let him rest

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# Heaven blessed

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# Bring him home

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# Bring him home

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# Bring him home

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# He's like the son I might have known

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# If God had granted me a son

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# The summers die

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# One by one

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# How soon they fly

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# On and on

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# And I am old

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# And will be gone

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# Let him live

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# Bring him home

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# Bring him home

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# Bring him home. #

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Between the two World Wars, the Isle of Lewis saw hundreds of

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islanders move away to build new lives.

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In our next story,

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we hear about people who've left their homes to come to the UK.

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Three years ago, St Mark's Church in Stoke got a new vicar,

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the Reverend Sally Smith.

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'It was typical, really, of a church in a post-industrial city.'

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Just a handful in the congregation on a Sunday morning,

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of mainly white people.

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But that soon changed.

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A growing number of asylum seekers were arriving in Stoke, and

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Sally couldn't turn her back on the new influx of people to her area.

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-ALL:

-Hallelujah!

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We opened the door to welcome people into a drop-in,

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where people could come and have a cup of tea, a piece of toast.

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-Are you going now?

-No, I go home.

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Some of those have responded to the kindness that they've

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encountered and they've wanted to learn more about Jesus,

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so they've started to come along and worship with us and become

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part of the life of the church.

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'And so we have regular baptisms now.'

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Receive the sign of his cross.

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And we've done around 60 baptisms this year, and probably 50 of those

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are from a Muslim background.

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-Amen.

-Amen.

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'One of the questions I often get asked is,

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' "Aren't they just doing this to get their papers?" '

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And I, as a follower of Jesus and as a minister, as a priest,

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I have to say, "What would I want for this person in front of me?

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"How would Jesus respond to this person in front of me now?"

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..the riches of his grace.

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Zahir already has a visa to stay in the UK,

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but he still chose to be baptised.

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-TRANSLATION:

-I was really happy. I can't describe my feelings.

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I'm going to change to a new version of me.

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With a growing congregation of asylum seekers,

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Sally saw a new need, and the solution was on her doorstep.

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There was a house across the road from the church, which I bought.

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I had some money in the bank which wasn't earning any interest.

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'We were able to buy that house and do it up with the help of

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'volunteers who come along to the drop-in, who have many, many skills.

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'Now it provides accommodation for people who are completely destitute.

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'I get contacted by churches around the country who've seen

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'things about us in the media and have said, "Exactly the same

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' "thing's happening here in our church,"

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'not just Anglican churches.'

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-Beautiful!

-Nice?

-Nice!

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There is something happening around not only this country but

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around Europe, a spiritual awakening.

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Jalal was a TV engineer in Iran.

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He says that installing systems into people's houses which allowed

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them to tune in to foreign news made him a target for the regime.

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-TRANSLATION:

-Everything has changed in our lives now.

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Our lives are full of joy, hope, love, kindness, peace.

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Life used to be based on fear, but now it's totally changed.

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There's a prophecy in the Book of Isaiah that talks about the

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wealth of the nations coming to us, and about foreigners

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rebuilding our cities and building up our walls that have been

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broken down, and I believe that asylum seekers and refugees

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are the wealth of the nation.

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-# Yes, Lord

-People came to worship him

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# Yes, Lord... #

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'And not everyone will see that.

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'But we need to be able to see through the eyes of the

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'prophet and we need to see the gifts and the skills and the

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'abilities and the treasure that's coming to us, and to welcome them.'

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They've brought new life to my church, and I wouldn't change one

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moment of what's happened over the last couple of years.

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# Our Father, all of heaven roars your name

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# Sing louder, let this place erupt with praise

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-ALL:

-# Can you hear it, the sound of heaven touching earth?

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# The sound of heaven touching earth... #

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Sing together again. Our Father.

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The sound of heaven!

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# The sound of heaven touching earth... #

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Spirit break out.

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# Spirit break out... #

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Let's sing it together. King Jesus!

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Here on the Isle of Lewis, I've been following in the footsteps of

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Mary Ann Macleod, the late mother of president-elect Donald Trump.

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Mary Ann experienced a hard life here,

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and the First World War had devastated the male population

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and the chances of a young woman getting married.

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To make matters worse, Mary Ann was the youngest of ten children

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and only one son could inherit the family croft.

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You can understand why she decided to follow her sisters to

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a new life 3,000 miles away in New York City.

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Mary Ann arrived in 1930, and six years later,

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she married Frederick Trump, with whom she had five children,

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the most famous, Donald.

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As the child of immigrants,

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his mother in particular thought it was important to make sure

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that her children grew up going to church and knowing their

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understanding of their Christian faith through church attendance.

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At a Presbyterian church in Manhattan,

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Donald Trump met his greatest spiritual influence,

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the controversial pastor Dr Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote the

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international bestseller The Power Of Positive Thinking.

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His most famous book put forth a philosophy that if you

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thought good things would come your way,

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then good things would come your way, and if you changed your

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attitude then your life around you would change.

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Many Christians objected because it didn't adequately handle the

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reality of suffering in the world and the reality of evil.

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While some distanced themselves from the Peale theology,

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Donald Trump was a close friend.

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The pastor officiated at family occasions,

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including the funeral of his mother, Mary Ann.

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Donald Trump made a name for himself as

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a property tycoon and star of The Apprentice USA.

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In 2008, he visited Lewis with his eldest sister to explore his roots.

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Today, I'm retracing his steps with Iain Maciver,

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a local journalist who was there that day.

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This house here is where his mother was born and brought up,

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so Donald Trump himself came here to have a look.

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We were all waiting at Stornoway Airport, and Trump One landed,

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you know, with great ceremony, and he appeared at this door.

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And very presidential, looking back at it!

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He sort of stepped into a limo and was swept off.

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It was almost like a foretaste of what was to come!

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The house has remained in the family,

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so the visit was also a reunion.

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-OK. Got enough?

-Excellent.

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The cousins were assembled and waiting, and they all went in.

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We're told that he had a quick tour of the house. It didn't take long.

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Within a few minutes he was back out, battling the wind again.

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-I won't say, "You're fired," right?

-Oh, you can do that one, as well.

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Donald Trump is a controversial character, to say the least.

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Is it difficult for the Macleod family to be in the spotlight

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in the way that they've had to be recently?

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The cousins, they have decided amongst themselves

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that the best thing to do, at least for the moment,

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is to say nothing at all, and they certainly have

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no intention of upsetting, you know, their cousin.

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What do you think Donald Trump might have got from his Lewis

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heredity that would prove useful for Donald Trump in his presidency?

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We may already be seeing some of the Lewis background,

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the traits coming through in Donald Trump,

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in that he says what he thinks, whether he's saying,

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"You're fired," or whether he's giving his views about immigration.

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So although they're a reserved people,

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when they're put on the spot, island people, too, will usually

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tell you exactly what they think, whether you like it or not.

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I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news.

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Go ahead.

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Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy,

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as evidenced again this week.

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And after a divisive election campaign, it's not just Lewis

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people who are wondering what sort of president he's going to be.

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He has often in the campaign put people against one another.

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Whether he will keep that up during the presidency we don't know.

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I brought my Bible.

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-LAUGHTER

-See?

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He has said that he wants to be a great representative of

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Christianity in the presidency, and so I think I, for one, will be

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looking to him to see what that looks like.

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Thank you.

0:29:130:29:14

Christianity isn't something that you just say or you believe,

0:29:140:29:17

it's something you do, and so I'll be watching.

0:29:170:29:20

Next week, we're in Hull, the 2017 UK City of Culture.

0:30:530:30:58

But we end today with a hymn, a beautiful hymn,

0:30:580:31:01

from Scotland's capital. Bye for now.

0:31:010:31:04

Days before Donald Trump enters the White House as president, we find out about his family connections to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Music:

I, the Lord of Sea and Sky from St Andrew's Metropolitan Cathedral, Glasgow A Gaelic Blessing by St Albans Abbey Girls Choir Eternal Father Strong to Save from Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff Bring Him Home from Morriston Tabernacle, Swansea Spirit Break Out from Birmingham City Church, Birmingham What a Mighty God We Serve from St Germain's Church, Birmingham Spirit of God, Unseen from St Peter's Episcopal Church, Edinburgh.


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