The Lord's Handmaid

Anna Sutherland 1939 - 2004

On January 22nd 2004, at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Anna Sutherland passed peacefully into the presence of her Lord and Saviour. She had been admitted to hospital in Inverness with a liver infection just before Christmas and on Friday 16th January she was flown to Edinburgh, where she died the following Thursday.
When I first met Anna in 1984, I was transported back twenty years to a time when one of the nation’s favourite TV programmes was Dr Finlay’s Casebook. Watching the programme, I used to feel that all the niceness, sweetness and kindness in the world had been distilled into the voice of the doctor’s faithful housekeeper Janet. That was how I felt when I met Anna. It was not only Anna’s lyrical voice that was lovely, I discovered, but also her character. She was wonderfully sweet, abundantly kind and genuinely nice.

Anna was born in the picturesque fishing village of Brora in Sutherland on the east coast of Scotland. In her teens, soon after her conversion, she felt the call of the Lord to Christian service and enrolled at the Faith Mission Bible College. Attending a Friday evening synagogue service in East Anglia, Anna realised that, for all their religion, Jewish people would perish without Messiah and subsequently applied to work as a missionary with CWI.

She began her missionary service in 1971 in Glasgow under the supervision of Ray and Nelly McCabe. Not knowing where to begin, she prayed that the Lord would “open doors” and give her “the grace to speak sincerely and honestly” to all she met. She was introduced to the Zionist organisation Pioneer Women but at the first meeting she sat quietly in a corner while the women argued loudly over every proposal. She wondered what she had gotten herself into. However, a friendship developed with a young mother who, after many discussions, recognised that Jesus was the Messiah. Anna worked very hard in Glasgow to the point that some of her colleagues felt her health was suffering. She was loved by the people she visited and helped, so much so that one elderly Jewish lady said Anna was the best friend she had.

In 1988 Anna joined John and Katie Graham in Sydney, where she was to work for twelve years. The Australian climate was more favourable to outdoor evangelism and, in addition to door-to-door visiting, John and Anna regularly distributed tracts at Bondi beach. She was a frequent contributor to the discussions at a Jewish/Christian dialogue group in Sydney, where she gently but fearlessly defended the gospel. Just prior to Anna’s retirement the 2000 Olympics took place in Sydney, providing an exciting opportunity for her to be part of a team reaching large numbers of people with the gospel.

After her retirement Anna returned to her beloved Brora, to a cottage overlooking the North Sea. Those who knew her will remember Anna as a calm, gentle and deeply spiritual lady who also had a great sense of fun. We miss her, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones.

Mike Moore
This article first appeared in the March 2004 edition of the Herald

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