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Are there any questions?


Salvos Online has a new weekly column called ‘Mal on Monday’, where Major Mal Davies looks at the lighter side of Army life. During his 20 years as a Salvation Army officer, Mal has experienced the highs and lows of officership and also the humour and laughter that often comes with it. So, get your week off to a positive start each Monday morning with a cuppa and a giggle courtesy of Major Mal.

 

Salvation Army mission comes in many different forms and, many years ago now, I had the opportunity to lead a chapel service in one of our accommodation programs, this one for men who were otherwise homeless or sleeping rough.


The officer in charge asked if I’d like to lead the chapel service the following week, and I agreed to do so. He said that many of the men were new to faith – or still finding their way towards faith – and were unfamiliar with the Bible or Christian doctrine. So, the standard rule was that if anyone in attendance was uncertain about what was being said, they were allowed to put their hand up and ask for clarification. I thought this was a good rule to have.


I prepared the service – a few songs, some prayer time and a 10-minute message – and was ready and raring to go when Wednesday arrived. After introductions and opening prayer, and some singing, it was time for the mini-sermon that was sure to bring seekers to their knees as well as glorify God and make Satan’s knees tremble.


I began: “Today we’re going to look up a passage from Acts about the apostle Paul and the early Church.” Four hands went up.


I thought, “Hello. I haven’t even got past the first sentence.” I then took them one by one.


Q: “Was there an early church service? I thought this was the only church service on today.”

A: “Ah, I see. No, by ‘early Church’ I meant way earlier, like 2000 years ago. The first church. The earliest church.”


Q: “What’s an apostle?”

A: “Hmm, an apostle was someone who told others about Jesus; someone who was a leader in that early Church I spoke of. Often, they’d travel to places and start new churches. Paul was an apostle.”


Q: “What act?”

A: “Sorry?”

Q: “You said we were going to read from one of the acts, was it the first act, the second act ...”

A: “Right. No, plays are written in acts; I was referring to a book in the Bible called Acts, which is sort of short for ‘the acts of the apostles’.”


Q: “This is my first time at chapel.”

A: “Lovely. Thanks for joining us.”


Q: “Why are you looking up a passage?”

A: “A ... what? ... looking up a ... sorry?”

Q: “You said we were going to look up a passage.”

A: “Oh! I see. I meant we’re going to find and then read a passage of text in the Bible.”

Q: “Oh, okay. That’s a relief.”


I decided to start again. “Right, so we’re going to find some text in the Bible, set at the very beginnings of the Christian Church, that tells us about a follower of Jesus named Paul. All clear?”


One hand went up. I responded (too loudly and too quickly), “Yes, what is it now?”


“Can I go to the toilet?”


– Major Mal Davies and his wife Major Tracey are the Corps Officers at Adelaide City Salvos


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