Seedtime and Harvest: Christian Focus Publications
John’s Christian Viewpoint column from the Highland News dated 27th May 2021
One of Scotland’s largest publishing firms is based at Geanies House near Fearn in Ross-shire. Christian Focus Publications, originally established by Blythswood’s founder Jackie Ross was taken over in the 1970s by William Mackenzie from Inverness and his three brothers.
William grew up in Inverness, and as a teenager personally engaged with the Christian faith in which he had been raised. He studied Agriculture and in his 30s became responsible for the family-owned Balintore Farms.
He was familiar with the rhythm of seedtime and harvest. Faith showed him that the process of summoning seed to life is an expression of God’s hidden-in-plain-sight activity.
William’s publishing began unspectacularly, with two books of Bible stories for children retold by his wife Carine. The aim, then as now, was to share the good news of a loving, forgiving, welcoming Jesus. Now, annually, hundreds of thousands of books for adults and children are sold around the world.
On one level, the growth of Christian Focus can be attributed to wise decision-making, but decisions are made in an attitude of prayerful connection with God: it’s not hard to believe that God is active in the firm’s growth. In the early days a visiting stranger prayed that ‘the Lord would cause this isolated office in the back of beyond to reach the end of the world.’ Afterwards, doors opened, new opportunities arose, significant authors offered their books for publication.
I hear stories of those who have been helped and encouraged by Christian Focus publications. A pastor’s sense of vocation is refreshed; a teenager finds confirmation that he is secure in God’s love; a mother reading her child a Bible story grows conscious of the reality of God.
Why do these books sometimes have this effect – not simply expanding the mind, but bringing spiritual renewal? It could be explained psychologically, but deeper than psychology lies the hidden-in-plain-sight power of a God who awakens.
The firm’s books are shaped by the Reformed Theology (arising from the Reformation) which William and his fellow Directors believe most accurately reflect the Bible. But he points out that some of their titles – for example children’s books and spiritual classics – are sold to a wider audience – Anglican, Catholic and Pentecostal. This reminds me that people with other theological backgrounds find there also an encounter with the living Jesus.
This Jesus remains central to William’s life, ‘Nothing less than Christ can satisfy,’ he quotes. ‘And once you find him nothing more could be desired.’
In autumn, the farmer reaps the harvest, and weighs it, and in a good year rejoices. The publisher, sowing the seed of God’s truth, sees only glimpses of the harvest. But there is another Farmer who sees it all, with delight.
(Photo above is of William Mackenzie. That below of the warehouse at Geanies.)