GLASGOW, Scotland (BP) -- If you listen to Gena Wilson imitate the Scottish brogue, you'll think she was born in Glasgow. After 17 years, the woman from Beaufort, S.C., can speak in a Scottish accent that even the locals mistake as their own. She used to stick out as "the American" who for some inexplicable reason chose to live in one of the city's poorest areas.
Now, she's just known to them as Gena -- a friend, a mentor, a follower of Jesus.
She's led assemblies at the local high school, but most teenagers there have gotten to know her over a basketball or volleyball game, hamburgers at a café or Bible study in her apartment.
At first, "the American" was just a cool novelty to hang out with, but she's become more like a mother figure to some of the troubled youth in her neighborhood.
When Graeme was suspended from school, Wilson counseled him. When Carol* was beaten up by her boyfriend and needed a safe place to go in the middle of the night, she went to Wilson's flat. When Jessica's* mother was threatening to throw herself out of the window, she called Wilson. When Charles* was bleeding after a knife fight and needed a ride to the hospital, Wilson drove him.
For Wilson, a Southern Baptist missionary to Scotland, loving these young people is as easy -- and as hard -- as loving sons and daughters. She's been a part of their lives for more than a decade and seen their triumphs as well as their stumbles.Nobody cares
Wilson breathes the message of Jesus into these relationships, but it isn't always easy. She has seen some people turn to Christ and continue to follow Him. Others, like Graeme, have turned away from their faith and chosen to believe in their own abilities.
"It saddens me that they would choose to think that they can manufacture a life for themselves that's greater than what God can manufacture for them," Wilson says. "That saddens me that they would want to basically be god in their lives."
Many years ago, Wilson and a ministry teammate spray-painted the Gospel message in pictures in an old greenhouse -- a popular teen hangout. Today, the area is littered with used condoms and drug paraphernalia. Time and other graffiti have eclipsed the drawings, but Wilson can still see where a youth who used to attend her Bible studies painted on top: "Nobody cares, Gena."
Success is hard to measure in Glasgow. Addiction, violence and self-sufficiency war against her message of hope, deliverance and surrender. She has felt disheartened, she says, but she trusts in the redeeming heart of God.Keeping the faith
Graeme was one of the kids Wilson met on her neighborhood's block of flats 11 years ago.
Alastair Cochrane, a science teacher at the school where Wilson has served as chaplain for nearly 10 years, says Graeme was one of the kids who was always in trouble, always getting into fights and skipping school. But then Graeme met Wilson. Read More