It is a long way to go to follow your calling.
But one Sutherland minister has emigrated to the other side of the world.
Bonar Bridge and Lairg Free Church’s Reverend John Forbes, his wife Mary and their five children – Katherine, 12, James, 10, Donald, nine, Elsa, seven, and five-year-old Kenneth will settle in the tiny New South Wales country town of Wauchope, Australia in mid-December.
Rev Forbes was minister for a decade in the Free Church of Scotland in Lairg but will now serve as the minister of the Wauchope Presbyterian church.
The former Army officer studied at Cambridge University, and worked as an accountant, before becoming a full time minister in Lairg.
“I began to realise that the Christian ministry was my true calling,” Rev Forbes explained.
“I went back to study theology as a student with the Free Church of Scotland and was ordained in 2008.
“The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia (PCEA) or “Free Presbyterian Church” is a Bible-believing church and has warm fellowship and good relations with all other Bible-believing Christians and churches, even if we differ on some of the non-essentials.
“The word ‘Presbyterian’ is really a description of our form of government. It’s from the Greek word for an elder and means that our church is governed by ministers/elders who meet together in council from time to time.
“We differ from Anglicans and Catholics in that we don’t have a hierarchy of offices within our church. No bishops or archbishops, every minister is equal. Locally elected lay elders also have an equal say with the ministers in our church councils.
“It’s the form of government of the Scottish national church, and came to Australia with the Scottish settlers of the 19th century.”
Despite moving more than 10,000 miles from Scotland, Reverend Forbes admits he will miss living in Lairg.
“Lairg a very beautiful part of the world which has a lower population density than Australia,” he said.
“Only 2.7people per sq km. The manse in Lairg had a glebe with a few fields for use by the minister. We kept a few Cheviot sheep and chickens. Sometimes we reared piglets. I had a farming background so this was one of the perks of being in a rural charge.
“It was a difficult decision as we loved our congregation and people in Scotland but I felt I could be more useful here.
“We still think the Highlands of Scotland is the most beautiful place on earth but the weather in NSW is much more agreeable.”