Davidson, no stranger, now heads the 20schemes women’s ministry in Niddrie.
Her mother used drugs “and had some abusive partners,” so Davidson had “a real problem with men who wanted to display authority. If they asked me to do something, I would just not do it to prove a point: I don’t have to do it and you can’t force me.” She sees her employment in a Christian ministry as ironic because “me and my friends were known for throwing bricks at the church. We’d climb onto the roof, break the drains, throw things at windows, and sometimes target the cars of the Christians.”
Then one of Davidson’s friends wanted to go to church. Davidson did not, because she “liked partying and drinking and things like that, so to sacrifice a Sunday morning. … I liked the person I was when I was drunk.” But her friend, a single mum, “was desperate to come, so we came to church. I remember being so bored.” Even though Davidson read her Facebook feed during the service, something drew her back. She kept coming. She met Christians who “became good friends and they weren’t just fake friends” who tried to manipulate her.
Davidson says one 20schemes strength is that leaders live in the schemes they serve: “Outsiders coming into your community can make you feel like they’re going to fix you.” Another strength is the willingness to talk about sin: “I really didn’t see myself as a -sinner. … I wasn’t as bad as the person next to me, because so many people I knew had committed horrendous crimes. … Then to realize that actually I was a sinner and heaven and hell were very real.” A third strength is the emphasis on forming a church family: “I lost most of my friends when I became a Christian. Part of that is because they don’t like change, but my change forces them to look at their own lives.”
Davidson’s background helps: “At a lot of middle-class churches people put on their best face when they come in,” but life in Niddrie is rawer, and Davidson is able to tell those who visibly mourn, “I know this is a crappy time and I know how you’re feeling.” She says 90 percent of her work is with people coming from non-Christian homes, and it’s those she feels particularly called to serve: “I didn’t hear the gospel until I was 21 years old, and I want that to be different for our kids in our scheme.”
MANY OTHER 20schemes staffers have similar backgrounds. Paul McLoughlan, the 20schemes church planter in Bingham and Magdalene, grew up in a scheme and became a Christian in 2006 while in a Christian recovery center for addicts: “My life had become a mess due to my shallow, hopeless lifestyle.” He knew he had to change: “The way I was going it was going to be a short life.”