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'Not on my watch' promise fans Fran's faith focus

'Not on my watch' promise fans Fran's faith focus

'Not on my watch' promise fans Fran's faith focus

North East Salvos Campbelltown campus adherent Fran Farrall with her corps officer, Captain Aaron Stobie.

By Fran Farrall*

My connection and involvement with The Salvation Army began about 12 months ago when Captain Aaron Stobie and I clicked to ‘follow’ a community group on Facebook.

One night, there was a discussion about living alone, loneliness, isolation, the lack of connections within the wider community for various reasons too numerous to mention here. I posted that it was ‘easy’ to disappear; to become invisible; to vanish and to be forgotten.

Captain Aaron [Corps Officer of the Campbelltown campus of North East Salvos in suburban Adelaide] responded and used the phrase ‘not on my watch!’ before sending me a private message introducing himself with an invitation and offer of transport for any of the activities I would like to attend.

A few weeks later, I attended my first Rediscovery Church where I was warmly welcomed and accepted by a wonderful group of people. With time, caring and supportive friendships have been established and grown.

There was, and are, so many avenues to serve the wider community through the numerous Salvation Army services, programs and charitable works – such as preparing Christmas hampers for those in need.

I have always believed in a loving Heavenly Father, the atonement of Jesus Christ and his teachings. One of my earliest memories of going to Sunday school in the mid-1960s was wearing a pretty pink hat and singing ‘Tell Me the Stories of Jesus’. Of course, as the years passed my knowledge, understanding and relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus developed and deepened.

I haven’t always attended church services on a Sunday, but my faith, trust and reliance on his guidance and blessings have never wavered. I was raised by my mother with the ideal that one lives their faith every day in every way – in our lifestyle, not just for an hour or so on one day of the week.

I have extended family and we gather for the major holidays and celebrations but, of course, that has been difficult this year with the COVID-19 situation. There are frequent messages, telephone calls and even letters in recent months. My son is in NSW, so we call each other once a month or so.

Academically, I have earned a Master’s degree, with an emphasis on the ancient cultures and an in-depth study of several religious traditions from the religions of Rome and the Near East and how culture and religion influence each other.

I love the Bible and history, especially ancient history, so I enjoy placing events in the Bible in their historical and cultural contexts. That knowledge leads to a deeper understanding of the Bible.

Last year, Campbelltown City Council did a study as it wanted to know the needs of that dynamic group of people in the area asking reasons why they were not involved in the local community, what was available, how these could be improved, how to reach people with information about the available activities, groups and clubs.

I was asked to be involved in the study as I was at the younger end of the age range they were interested in and in the income bracket of just being on the pension – so below the poverty line.

As a member of the Facebook community group, I was simply responding to someone’s comment regarding how, sometimes, those who live below the poverty line get forgotten and we ‘slip through the cracks’ because we don’t have access to the information, which is so frequently only available on the internet. Older people do not have the funds for a computer, or often the interest, to learn about it.

I have limited mobility and don’t own a car so I can’t readily get out and about to groups, clubs and activities in the community. I had not found a group, club or organisation where I felt I could contribute and ‘belong’ until Captain Aaron reached out with his invitation and friendship through that Facebook community group.

I decided to become an adherent within The Salvation Army because I had found (or rather Captain Aaron had found me!) a wonderful, loving, supportive Christian community. I was humbled and honoured to be involved as a member – all because Captain Aaron with his endearing ebullience and his care of the wider community declared that no one would be forgotten and vanish ‘on my watch!’

* Fran was sworn in as an adherent of North East Salvos Campbelltown Campus, Adelaide, on 17 July 2020.

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