Campbell Tweedie OBE is best known for his work in the meat industry in Northern Ireland where he is a strong advocate for the sector. However, when he was awarded an OBE earlier this month it was for his services to both the industry as well as his community work through his church. He tells TINA CALDER why faith has been central to his life since being saved in his teens
When the New Year’s honours list was released earlier this month one name that stood out was that of Campbell Tweedie, chair of the NI Meat Exporters’ Association and director of Dungannon Meats.
Mr Tweedie was awarded an OBE not only for his services to the red meat industry but also for his services to the community.
This year marks two very important anniversaries for Mr Tweedie. Sixty years in the meat industry and 45 years since he, along with others, helped to set up the Dundonald Elim Church.
Having been saved at just 14, Mr Tweedie said his faith has been central to most decisions in his life and the church has played a big role in both his personal life and career.
He explained: “My faith began as a young man of 14, I attended a few church missions and I was converted at a Christian camp then and I got involved in Christian work in the early stages of my life. I felt that this then helped me through my measured success.
“I was always taught to go to Sunday School and church. I’ve been a deacon and an elder of churches for about 50 years.
“When I listened to the Gospel I believed the word of God that said we are all born in sin and that the only way to God is through the Lord Jesus and I accepted him as my saviour. I saw a lot of guys who had been dramatically changed at different services. I had heard a story about a converted alcoholic and had seen the difference it made in his life and it really encouraged me.
“I enjoyed being involved in church life, it wasn’t something I had to do, it was something I wanted to do.
“I do feel that having a strong faith and putting your faith in God on a daily basis gives you good guidance - people think it’s wrong to say this but when people realise you have integrity and honesty I think they put a lot more trust in you.
“Although I’ve mixed with everyone, I think when people know about your faith it helps you forge trust relationships with people.
“There’s a wee verse in the Bible that people would quote to me when I was a youngster ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things will be added on to you’. Meaning, if you seek him first the other things will come rather than seeking the other things first - it’s always been a verse that I’ve held on to.
“Success isn’t built on how much money you have but how fulfilled your life has been towards others and I felt that within the business you created employment, came across people who needed help and I absolutely have enjoyed 60 years in the meat industry.”
Faith was so important to Mr Tweedie that when he got the call to help set up a new church he accepted without hesitation.
“Forty-five years ago this year myself and another friend were responsible for starting the church we have today, the Dundonald Elim Church. We started with eight people and now we have over 300,” he said, adding: “I was a member of the Elim Church on the Beersbridge Road and the Minister there said they needed a church in Dundonald and asked would we get involved in pioneering one in the area.
“When I was 14 I would never have thought I would have helped to start up a church, we’ve had some great people involved including great pastors over the years. We have 200 in the Girls’ Brigade and around 150 in the Boys Brigade.”
Being an active member of the church has helped Mr Tweedie throughout his life to “stay strong” when, like many, his faith has been shaken.
He said: “Throughout my Christian faith I would say that it has been challenging at times to adhere to some of the restraints the faith may require but you have to look within.
“There’s another verse I like: “If the heart condemns you not you’ve peace towards God”. So if I felt condemned by something I would say ‘enough’s enough’. I’m not saying that I would have done anything wrong but what I mean is say, for example, if you were pricing something or whatever I would always turn to what I felt was right through my convictions and that was driven by my faith.
“At times I’ve questioned my faith. I have been at the bedside of a lot of difficult situations and sometimes when you see a situation happening and you stop and you ask ‘why?’ and you have to stop yourself and remember that God is sovereign.
“There are a lot of things that shake your faith like young people getting struck down and I would be telling a lie if I didn’t admit that.
“To be honest with you, nearly every difficult situation I have found myself in I’ve sat down and I have prayed about it.
“Someone said to me once that 99 per cent of the problems you have are actually not problems at all, it’s worrying about problems that don’t come to pass.”