One hundred and twenty people recently came to a preview of the film ‘The Worth of a Soul’ at the Elim church in Livingston, Scotland. “It was spectacular,” recalls the pastor, John Henson. “There were so many visitors, and they stayed for ages.”
What made the night so special was the presence of Ross McIntyre, a member of the church, whose moving story the film records. The gathering naturally included many of his family and friends. “They had coffees and teas at the end, and were there until the close of business,” remembers John. “That’s always a good sign. They were so new to Christian faith, and a fantastic seed was sown.”
When God changes an individual life, the ripples begin to spread. So who is this family which is being so impacted, and what is happening with it now?
“I grew up on a typical council estate and had a fantastic childhood as the only child of two loving parents,” remembers Ross. “My Dad was a fireman, and my Mum worked in factories.”
“Mum always taught me to believe in Jesus, though she doesn’t go to church now. But as I grew older I forgot it, and I got into a crowd which was drinking.”
For three years Ross served in the Royal Air Force. “I enjoyed life in the Forces, and got a lot out of it,” he said. “But I couldn’t discipline myself to stop drinking, and there was a steady decline.”
The film records how the alcohol addiction led a tragic road accident. Ross, who was driving, suffered a fractured neck and had to be resuscitated. His close friend, who was a passenger, passed away.
And so, a few months later, he found himself standing in the dock, hearing himself being sentenced to prison. “Your whole world falls apart,” he said. “My fiancée was sitting there, and my first thought was: ‘How is she going to cope?’”
Although it was a tough season, seeds of faith were sown while Ross was locked away. “I kept my head down, and managed to get a job in reception,” he said. “One of the people who came through regularly was Bob, the prison chaplain. He had been in the police, and had a problem with alcohol: so I could identify with him. We struck up a friendship.”
It was the words of Bob, germinating in his mind, which led Ross after his release to head for church.
Pastor John Henson remembers the day. “I was standing in the car park, greeting people on their way into the service. A stranger walked up to me and said: ‘I’m looking for God.’ ‘You’ve come to the right place,’ I said. I walked with him to the entrance and welcomed him in.
That morning Ross heard the story of the Son of Man, who came to seek and save what was lost; and he gave his life to Him.
How has that affected the marriage? “My wife Mandy knows that I’ve changed for the better, and she’s happy with that,” said Ross. “The biggest thing is that the desire for alcohol is just not there. I’m no longer going off missing for several days. So our relationship is much stronger.”
It is not just in his own life that Ross has seen God’s power working. Sometime after his conversion, Mandy developed pneumonia, and there was a build-up of fluid outside her lungs which needed draining. “I heard about it in the morning at work,” said Ross. “I just started praying. By three o’clock I was at the hospital. I was allowed to go in, and they had her connected to the ultrasound.”
“I could see the scanning machine, but there was no longer any sign of the fluid. The junior doctor was looking at the consultant, confused. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I just thought: ‘Wow! I know who’s done this. It was a massive boost to my faith.’”
And how have the changes affected other family and friends? “I’m really close to my two boys,” said Ross. “My youngest, Robbie, comes with me to church. Most of my friends have seen the film; they knew what I was like, and they’re happy to see the change as well.”
After the film was shown in Livingston, Robert Bell, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association coordinator for Scotland, gave an opportunity for family and guests to take a copy of a book called “Living in Christ”. Ten people responded.
Meanwhile Ross finds that his own calling is developing. “I’ve just been asked if I’ll help with the youth group on Sunday night,” he said. “I’ve been praying, and I’m going to go for it. I’ve also definitely been drawn back to the prison, where I’m going as a volunteer.” He is sharing his faith with men who used to be fellow inmates, and the ripples are spreading.
The film accurately captures the character: a sincere and – as his pastor recognises – humble man. John quoted D. L. Moody, who said: “Faith achieves the most, and love works the most, but humility keeps the most.” The pastor added: “I feel sure that God will use Ross in surprising ways.”
You can watch the film ‘The Worth of a Soul’ here.