SOLAS and the Springbok

This month we catch up with Steve Osmond to find out about SOLAS and his move from South Africa to Scotland:

Tell us about your journey to Perth and Tayside Christian Fellowship?

It was mid-August last year when we packed up our little family – 2 pooches included – and set out on our adventure to sunny Scotland! Well, maybe not-so-sunny-Scotland. Having lived under the South African sun for 36 years, the Scottish winter has been a cold shock to the system.  Anyway, weather aside, we landed and made our way to our new home in Perth, feeling somewhat less energetic than when we’d set off – travelling with a 2 and 4 year old will do that to you. 

The idea to move had been planted about a year before, after Robyn and the girls and I had come to Scotland for a holiday. It was during that time that I met the team at Solas Centre for Public Christianity, and – long story short – a year later we landed here in Scotland for me to join the Solas speaking team. I have studied and then worked in the sciences for many years, as well as having worked in full-time pastoral ministry for several years. I love the sciences, but also have a real passion for engaging people with the truth of Christianity and showing how it makes sense of the big questions of life. So, when the opportunity for me to join the Solas team came along, we felt the Lord move us to take the opportunity. The office is based in Dundee, but Perth being so central it seemed like a good place to base ourselves. 

Before we moved we took an online tour of the churches in the area, and TCF was one of the closest to where we live now. We try, as best we can, to go to a church that’s in the same community we live in – so TCF is one of those, although there are many others too. But, on our first Sunday here we decided to start off by visiting TCF. It’s always hard to go to a new church, and we were even more aware of that given that we’re in a different country now. But, from the moment we walked in we were so warmly welcomed and invited in, and we ended up coming back the following week, and the next, and next. So, we never did make it to visit any other churches, we just feel so at home at TCF and think that the ministry and community there are wonderful – so we’re happy to call it home and be part of the community.

Can you give an overview of Solas and your role there?

At Solas we focus on persuasive evangelism – that is, persuasively communicating Christ into today’s culture and articulating and presenting the Gospel in a way that is comprehensible and compelling.  Often people have many misconceptions about the Christian faith, or have had no contact with it at all – and so we look to present the Gospel, help people understand what it’s all about, and answer questions and objections that people may have. 

I’m part of the speaking team for Scotland, and my role has a few aspects to it. The first is evangelism. I do a fair amount of speaking on university campuses to audiences that are not Christian. I also speak at evangelistic church events, perhaps held at cafés or pubs, or wherever else the invitation comes from. The second aspect of the role is training. I speak at churches across the country doing equipping and training with congregations so that they can grow in skill and confidence with their own personal evangelism and apologetics. Often people have the desire to speak to their friends, family, and colleagues about their faith, but just don’t know where or how to start, and are worried they won’t know how to respond. So we do training to remove barriers and grow people’s confidence and skill in that. 

I also do a fair amount of preaching, writing for website articles, podcasting, and short answer videos for the website and social media. The short answer videos are a great resource for quick answers – check them out here: 

Can you let us know how your faith has led your journey?

That’s a big question, and I could probably fill a book worth of pages on that, but here are a few thoughts.

I felt a calling to ministry in 2013, and particularly to evangelism and apologetics. I’ve never really considered myself a natural evangelist, but over the years I’ve come to love engaging with people about faith and my Christian beliefs – for three reasons: a growing conviction that this is what the Bible calls us to do, learning that there are good answers to questions, and learning how to ask good questions when engaging with people. The more I’ve done this the more my faith has grown as I’ve leaned in to it. 

Coming to Scotland was a really big decision for us as a family, but we felt that the Lord has truly paved the way and opened doors each step of the journey. From meeting the team at Solas – quite accidentally – to all of the admin of getting visas and then the resources to make the move. His hand has been over every step, and that has really grown our faith as we have experienced again and again His faithfulness.

What compels me most and has led me all the way through this journey is looking back and seeing God’s faithfulness in my life in so many ways. I am a broken and sinful person who was rescued by God’s grace many years ago, but I continually receive that grace each day. My faith in Christ – that he really is the Son of God, as he claimed to be – means that this is the best news we could ever hear. The good news that God the Son stepped into the world to take our sin on himself and pay the penalty that we rightly deserve before a Perfect God, and instead we receive grace and restored relationship with God. Amazing grace! That’s the truth and reality that the world needs to hear about, and so as best as I can I focus on that and let it be what leads me.

What have been your favourite things settling into TCF, Perth and Scotland?

It always takes time to build new relationships,  and although we’ve only been here for a few months now, we feel like we’ve settled in well at TCF. The real sense of authentic community is one of my favourite things about the people at TCF – we’ve been well loved from the moment we stepped through the door. I also love the way that the community comes around those in need. In the past few months there have been all kinds of challenges that people have faced, but I see that the congregation has rallied around them to support them in so many ways. I find that so encouraging, and is something we should exemplify as the people of God. It’s also a church that is focussed on Jesus, and that’s evident in everything that happens there.

Perth is a wonderful little town and we feel very much at home here. We lived in Johannesburg before moving here, which is pretty massive with a population significantly bigger than the whole of Scotland! So for us it’s a small and quiet place, but has everything you need within walking distance – that’s quite a novelty for us. 

What would you recommend to anyone new to Perth and/or faith in the area?

For those new to Perth: walk. Walk as  much as you can and keep your head up to take in the beauty around you, this a such a little gem of a place. Don’t be afraid to greet people – I’ve had some really fun conversations with people, and all it took was a little ‘Hiya’ as I went by. For the most part it seems that people are really friendly and happy to engage. Pause and look around. Take in and appreciate that this is where the Lord has put you, for however long that may be.

If you’re new to faith…come to TCF to worship and learn more about your Saviour, Jesus.

Article published May 2024