The Turnbulls are the beautifully dressed white couple you notice as you step into the Redeemed Christian Church of God (City of God) in Aberdeen, Scotland. They both play different strategic roles at
every church service. Mrs Turnbull conveys the message of tithing to the congregation every Sunday morning and the husband reads a portion of the bible shortly before the pastor of the church, Dr Mark Osa Igiehon preaches the word for the day.
Their dexterity is amazing in a church dominated mostly by Nigerians. At the end of each service, Mrs. Turnbull moves to a well laid table, smiling while serving tea, water and sandwiches to first time worshippers at the church. Her husband would be busy doing something else. Lately, Sunday Sun approached them to know more about them, their encounter with Nigerians in the church and life in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Mr. Turnbull speaks
Could you tell us about your background?
I was born in Aberdeen 69 years ago and my parents were both working. My mother brought up four sons. We were all brought up in a Christian environment and were taught to differentiate the right from wrong. We were taught not to take cakes or biscuits when visitors came to the house and we behaved ourselves . We were well mannered. I also taught my son the same Christian upbringing. We had to work as God doesn’t want your hands to be idle. We taught our children and grandchildren that too. They must get up in the morning and work. I graduated from secondary school at age 15 in Aberdeen. Subsequently , I played professional football for Aberdeen. Later, I played in England then came back to Aberdeen in 1963, the year former US president Kennedy was assassinated. I worked in the docks too. In those days , if you had to attend university, you had to have real money. Most people in Aberdeen didn’t have the money to do that, so only a select few parents could afford to train their children at the university.
I had potentials for university education, but I was more into sports. I eventually came back to Aberdeen and worked in the docks which was the best job in Aberdeen in those days. I was at the docks for 23 years.
From there I went to work in one of the big factories where they do yarn for clothing for 10 years and subsequently I retired at Robert Gordon University as a Janitor. I was 64 at the time I got the job. I didn’t know I could get the job at that age but I did.
How did you get involved at the City of God with your background?
My wife knew a lady many years ago. She came to our house one Friday night in February and there was this music up the corner of the street. We were amazed at the singing and the drumming. The lady said it’s a wonderful gospel music. It was a cold night, so we all went with our winter coats to see what was happening. Of course, we joined them dancing and we noticed it was the Nigerian community that organized the event. Subsequently , the assistant pastor, Niyi, invited my wife and the lady to his church on Sunday. We used to attend Elim Church which was also Pentecostal. We were there for many years and also got married there. When I got home that evening, my wife asked me if I knew where we were going the next Sunday and told me we would be worshipping at an African church down the street. I said what? . We went to the church that Sunday and it took us a couple of months to settle down. We had to get used to the ways things were done and ever since, we have never looked back. We have been worshipping there for at least six years now.
How has it been?
It’s been wonderful and we are trying to win souls for God through the Nigerian church. We have never been to Nigeria though we have been invited several times. I don’t really have any aversion to Africans, but we keep our minds open. We see things on TV in some parts of Africa that I wouldn’t like to talk about . Nigerians here are respectful especially to elders . We are trying to get white people to attend the church. This has been our priority since we started worshipping at the church. Pastor Mark Osa Igiehon never said anything in this regard but we feel it’s our job to attract more white people to the church. Many white people don’t even go to church now, they keep saying they’re atheist. They would rather go to any church they want to attend and when they feel like. So far, we enjoy fellowshipping with Africans but the only thing that they need to improve on is punctuality. I tell them, if you work for Shell Petroleum and you go to work late, you will be sacked. On Sunday mornings or during weekly meetings, my wife would tell me common, get ready, don’t be late and we will get to church and there won’t be many people there, but they’ll all come later. During evening meetings, they are always late too. That’s the only thing we want the church to work on. We are very happy. My wife is involved in the church more than I am. She has completed the bible course as well as the discipleship course. She has done other courses too. We are really blessed. If we hadn’t come to the church we would never have done such courses.
How did you meet your lovely wife ?
We met at Elim church and we were married there. We have been married for 16 years. It’s our second marriage. We used to sit 20 yards from one another, but I used to give her a hug at any opportunity. We were friend’s for four years. I lost my son’s mother to breast cancer and my wife lost her daughter in a car crash a year before. So we used to call one another at night. We used to be on the phone a couple of hours. How are you tonight I would ask her, and she would say “oh, I’m really down”. We helped one another to get through it because we chatted each other up. For four years, my daughter-in-law had been praying unknown to me that God should give me a life partner. She invited Joan over for supper and I had to pick her up to my son’s house and the rest is history. There was once a two day prayer meeting at Elim church which my wife attended. There were also three guys from Ukraine who attended and one was 7 feet tall, a huge guy. This was before we were married. My wife told them “I want you to pray for a husband for me” and he asked, “what will you like, do you want to be specific” and she said “Yes, I want a husband, a relationship in three weeks and I want a man who wears a colon tie and can dress himself ”. The guy prayed for her and before three weeks, her desire was granted. It was within those three weeks that my daughter-in-law invited Joan over to the house.
How was Aberdeen years back when you were growing up?
A big change came in 1970 in Aberdeen with the oil boom. Americans came with lots of money and things changed. People almost thought they didn’t need the Lord because they’d become so prosperous. Many of the churches there have been converted to night clubs now. Like anything else, money changes people. As people became prosperous, they thought they didn’t need God. Aberdeen is not the caring city it used to be. People don’t have time for one another now like they used to. You could leave your door open and go out in Aberdeen but now you can’t leave your door open. People helped one another, but now people next door don’t know who their neighbors are . Today, Aberdeen is so cosmopolitan. Things have changed.
We will be 70 this year. We never think about age. Age is only a number. Many people of our age get up in the morning, spend couple of hours watching TV, take some tea and go back to watch TV. We don’t do that. We move, we keep thinking young. Every morning we always thank God and so far God has been faithful. We always thank God for our health.
How did you start your hospitality business?
My wife started the business. She has been in the business for so many years now.
Mrs. Turnbull speaks:
Can you please tell us about yourself ?
I started doing business when I was very young. I was 19 and I had my own shop. It was a clothing shop. I sold dresses. Initially, I was working in my brother’s restaurant and I decided I wanted to have a place of my own. I worked all day as I had two jobs and one was with an oil and gas company. I saved enough money for the shop and that was in 1985. Later, I got a place and I took in homeless people, women and children taking care of them until I was 60 years old. I was brought up in the Christian faith. I attended church until I gave my life to Christ. The church is my life. Since my youth , I never joked with church activities. My parents were Catholics . Being part of the church kept me focused. When I gave my life to the Lord between 1985 and 1986, I realized that He was my helper and I was looking up to Him for everything. You can’t do without the Holy Spirit. Really, I just walk with the Holy Spirit. I will be 70 this year. We enjoy seeing Nigerian people coming here, we love to help them. Whenever we see new people from Nigeria coming to Aberdeen, especially to worship with us, we love to look after them.