July holidays in the 1950’s – golden sands, sunshine, blue skies, warm temperatures!

The Bahamas? No! It’s the East Strand, Portrush. Really? Yes. Really!! (Or is it my ageing memory playing tricks)

But the biggest attraction for this wee lad from Belfast’s Lisburn Road was not sun, sea or sand, but a bright red banner with the large letters CSSM. Those wonderful July days are still clearly etched on my memory – the games, the friendships made and the Rev David Armstrong delivering his great talks at the beach service, right on the button for us 1950’s kids.

Amazingly David Armstrong, some 25 years, later would be my boss when I joined the staff team of SUNI from the mid seventies until the mid eighties. How wonderful and surprising is the providence of God!

Along with my Christian home upbringing plus church and Sunday school, those Portrush CSSM days not only introduced me to the world of SU, but more significantly, reinforced in me the wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the years have gone by my appreciation of SU has grown and today I am still a keen supporter.

Those holidays in Portrush also introduced me to SU ‘s priority of promoting personal Bible reading. It was there that I got my first Bible reading card. For many years and up to the present day I have used “ Encounter With God“ notes to help me engage with God on a daily basis. What a blessing that has been in my Christian discipleship!

The Northern Ireland of 2013 is so radically different from the 1950s. Secularisation and materialism present a huge challenge to our churches. I believe that SU can and does have a significant role in this spiritual battle. The schools ministry and the summer programme are more vital than ever, given that so many children and young people do not have the privilege I had of learning and responding to the Gospel from home, church and Sunday school.

“ We’ll support you evermore “ is the chant heard at many a football stadium, but the “evermore“ of the supporters song reminds me of the “forever” dimension of our identity and destiny “In Christ “.

So thank you SU. I will continue to be your supporter until by the grace of God I enter into the “evermore “ of my great inheritance in Christ.

Ossie McAuley

A child that attended CSSM, an adult on staff and now a supporter for life!