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Book Review

Fisher of Men at Glasgow Docks by Sam Laughlin; published by and available from John Ritchie Ltd; 192 pages. Price £8.99. (9781907731754)

This inspiring book relates how one man, with the heart of a true evangelist, reached out to seafarers from around the world on the many ships docked at Glasgow. In the Foreword Alan Gamble tells how Sam Laughlin "of Ulster stock…spent most of his working life in the Clyde shipyards".

After Sam's retirement at sixty-five he visited the docks on a regular basis for sixteen years. Together with his wife Wilma, they have opened their hearts and their home, welcoming strangers from all corners of the globe.

Such endeavours provide a fitting testimony to the power of the gospel and the ability of the Saviour to save and keep. Alan Gamble states that "God's work today needs many more servants like Sam".

The Introduction sets the scene with Sam seen driving through the empty Glasgow city streets early one Christmas morning to visit the ships. This was his yearly custom. He tells us that "The ships that were in dock welcomed me with open arms".

Each seaman received a bag containing biscuits, a hand-knitted woolly hat, a calendar and a New Testament. There was also Christian literature in their own language if possible.

During his many regular visits to the docks as Port Missionary with permission from Clyde Port Authority, hundreds of men and women were brought under the influence of the gospel and many visited Sam and Wilma's home for supper after responding to his invitation to hear the gospel preached on a Sunday evening at the Gospel Hall in Linthouse.

The book is divided into numerous short chapters with titles such as: "Fire in the Galley", "The Brave Aberdonian" and "The Bottle Thrower".

There are many illustrations and photographs that allow the reader to enter into the atmosphere of Sam's experiences and the colourful characters that he encountered on the ships over the years.

In "He Changed His Mind" a tall, rough-looking man on a Polish ship entered the mess room where Sam was setting out his literature on a table and scattered it all onto the floor before leaving. Sam simply picked it all up, placed it back on the table, smiled and said to the rest of the crew, "Very nice gentleman". Before the visit was over, the angry individual who had shown such strong opposition to the gospel, would have in his possession a calendar and a New Testament.

Fisher of Men at Glasgow Docks has been written for the glory and praise of God and would make an ideal gift as both believers and unbelievers are challenged by it.

-A Cameron

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