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The ripple effect of ‘goodness’ in a small Tasmanian town

Salvation Army content writer Naomi Singlehurst believes in the power of ‘good’ to transform lives.

NAOMI SINGLEHURST reflects on the new Salvos brand creative expression, ‘Believe in good’, using an example of a moment in history when a young Salvation Army ‘lass’ stood up for her good God


Recently, while pondering the word ‘good’ in light of the refreshing new Salvation Army brand creative expression ‘Believe in good’, a book came to mind.

The book, Angels on My Wings, written by the late flying padre Esrom Morse, details a simple good work by a young female Salvationist in the late 1800s that produced immeasurably good fruit throughout generations of Esrom’s family.

This young Salvationist woman – maybe full of faith and fortitude, or possibly terrified and timid – started preaching on the street in the small Tasmanian town of Deloraine.

Punters returning to town from the local races that day may have ignored her or mocked her as a ‘do-gooder’, or maybe much worse. Whatever the reality – and we will never know this side of heaven – she most certainly had a divine appointment on that particular day. Her good work in preaching the gospel would reap immeasurable fruit.

Esrom writes that his grandfather, George – a tough man and a successful racehorse breeder and trainer – was one who was intrigued by what the young girl in a Salvation Army bonnet was saying.

He writes: “A big change came to the Morse family when George Morse (dad’s father) stopped on a street corner after the Deloraine race meeting one day and listened to a little Salvation Army girl preach.

“George had always known he was a sinner but had never heard that Jesus Christ had died to save him from his sin. But there on the road in Deloraine, he asked Jesus Christ to forgive him, and he knew he was forgiven.”

George’s transformation was apparently profound and had a deep and lasting effect on his very large family and his community.

Esrom writes: “Every one of [George’s large family of] boys became committed Christians and became actively involved in Christian activities. All the girls married preachers … To the best of my knowledge, every one of his grandchildren have become Christians, as have his great-grandchildren.

“I have often wondered if that little Salvation Army lass actually ever knew of the change that Christ brought to the life of my grandfather that day, and I am certain she could never have dreamed of the [ripple] effect it would have down through the years on others.”

Esrom Morse and his book, which relates his experiences as a flying padre.

God’s multiplier effect

While there are many examples of good works that produce good fruit every day in the work of The Salvation Army, the Deloraine story gives just a glimpse of how wide-ranging the ripple effect through many generations can be when we do good and obey God.

The rationale for the new ‘Believe in good’ brand creative expression is as follows (in part):

“As Christians and Salvationists, we ‘believe in good’ because we believe in the love and goodness of God.

While the Bible does say that no one is good, only God, Christians, often teased as ‘do-gooders’, are still biblically called to do good. Hospitals, laws, schools, charities, slavery abolition – so many things that our society calls ‘good’ were built on the belief in doing good that followers of Jesus hold.

The culmination of God’s goodness is the timeless gift of Jesus who transforms the lives of those who believe in him and who then carry the goodness of God to others … [Remembering] we are not good in ourselves, but only made good – right – through the sacrifice of our good God in Jesus Christ.”

God’s goodness and life transformation

The story of the young Salvation Army ‘lass’ preaching on that street corner in Deloraine resonates with me when I think ‘Believe in good’ because her faithful and obedient good work resulted in so much that was, and is, well … good.

And while we are not redeemed by our good works, we are most certainly redeemed for good work.

We are redeemed by our good God, who works all things together for good in all things for those who love him. Ephesians tells us we are saved by grace, but also tells us: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (2:10 NIV).

I like to imagine our young preacher in Deloraine – especially if she was mocked, jeered at, jostled, or even shunned by her family – eventually coming face-to-face with her Lord.

I smile as I imagine her surprise at the flow-on effect in so many lives – including Esrom, who had an amazing ministry of care to remote communities around Australia – and so many more ripples through multiple generations and multiple ministries – from her one good work on that one day in Deloraine.

Hopefully, she – and we – will one day hear the most beautiful words of all from Jesus, our Good Shepherd – “Well done, good and faithful servant …”.

*Naomi Singlehurst is a Content Specialist for The Salvation Army Brand/Mission department


New Salvos message like a ’breath of fresh air’ – to read Major Peter McGuigan’s Viewpoint on ‘Believe in good’, click here


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