Ancient castles and churches dot the rolling green hills and rocky cliffs of the Scottish landscape, baring witness to thousands of years of history that have shaped Celtic and English culture. That history is still being written. In 1999, Scotland elected its first separate parliament from England in over three centuries. Today, public opinion still pushes for independence from the United Kingdom, which has cultivated a sense of bitterness and rivalry between Britain and Scotland. As the nation shifts and fidgets under British rule, Scotland continues to learn how to stretch its new limbs of freedom and stand alone without the aid of its long-time patron.
Within its borders, tensions still exist between Protestants and Catholics and between Highlanders in the north and Lowlanders in the south. In the larger cities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, drugs, especially heroin, are becoming a problem along with other drug related crimes. Alcoholism is widespread due to the cultural ideals that ale and beer consumption are inherently Scottish. The country has the discouraging moniker of the worst-performing Western European nation in the areas of employment, economy, education, and health care. Unemployment rates are high, and there is a long history of illness and mortality due to poor diet and lack of medical attention. Nearly half of all children are born out of wedlock, and the number of households containing a single parent is increasing. Social mores that view violence toward women as acceptable result in large incidences of domestic abuse and date rape.
Scotland has been home to some of the most renowned missionaries and theologians in Christendom, including David Livingstone, Mary Slessor, Robert Moffatt, and Eric Liddell. Even in the face of violent oppression from English leaders and doctrinal schisms with the Catholic faith, the church still stands as it did one thousand years ago. However, there is an urgent need for a revival to take Scotland back to its scripturally grounded roots and radical faith. Membership in churches is half of what it was fifty years previous, and there is a severe shortage of clergy to meet the spiritual needs of the people. There is still a hunger for the word of God in this nation, and God will not fail to fill them fully with the wisdom and peace that they so desperately crave.