Surprise ‘Hero’ award delights Fife Sunday school teacher
Published on 11 April, 2017
A Sunday school teacher from Fife who has been recognised for her life changing impact in a Scotland wide campaign has been reunited with a former member of her church youth group.
Church member Anne McMahon didn’t know she had been identified in the national media campaign as a ‘hero’ whose Christian faith had inspired a complete turnaround in the fortunes of one of the young people she had taken under her wing.
Now, thanks to the intervention of the Moderator of the Church’s General Assembly, Anne has rekindled a relationship which had lapsed in recent years.
Luke Murphy was 13 years old when he first became involved with the Sunday school at his Cowdenbeath church. Anne describes Luke as a ‘troubled wee soul’ who wore his long hair over his face as a barrier against the outside world.
Struggling to cope with multiple issues beyond those normally experienced in these difficult early teenage years, Luke found solace in the church where he gained enough confidence to share his testimony in front of hundreds of people and reconcile himself to deep rooted issues around his gender and identity.
Now 22 years old, Luke describes his teenage years as a very difficult period in his life. “I lacked confidence, I was bullied relentlessly. Anne, through her faith and the church, saved me.”
The Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, learned of Luke’s story through a feature in the Daily Record newspaper as part of LGBT Youth Scotland’s ‘Purple Hero’ campaign.
In the article Luke, who is a transgender man, identified Anne as the single greatest influence on his life through cultivating his faith, which has led to his feeling of vocation to serve the church.
Transformative power of God's love
Dr Barr said “I have supported different people to discern their calling throughout my life in the Church, and I was touched by Luke’s story. I was able to arrange a meeting with Luke, and was delighted to be able to invite Anne to join us and reunite them for the first time in three years.”
“Listening to Luke and Anne share their story, I heard remarkable witness to the transformative power of God’s love. Through their strong connection, both Luke and Anne spoke about how their faith had been stretched and tested by themselves and the reaction of those around them.
"Now Luke is professing his Christian faith to the LGBT community, where the church often struggles to spread the message of God’s love. In that sense, he is already expressing his vocation.”
Anne, who is a member of Cowdenbeath Trinity church, is delighted to re-establish her connection with Luke.
“I always knew Luke’s faith was strong and God’s love would see him through. Luke was part of the most remarkable group of young people it has been my privilege to work with. All we had to help them work through their difficulties was a room and a Bible but we all supported each other. Now I know Luke can bring other people to faith through sharing the Gospel too.”
Anne and Luke’s story also attracted the interest of BBC Radio Scotland’s Sunday morning show, who featured an interview with them in conversation with presenter Richard Holloway. You can listen again to the programme, with the interview taking place 1 hour 45 minutes and 25 seconds into the show.