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My "one-bag life"

My "one-bag life"

My "one-bag life"

17 March 2017

The oversized sports bag that contained the belongings Emma limited herself to using for 40 days as part of the Self Denial Appeal.

By Emma Moore

Ten years ago, I lived in a NSW country town. Etched in my memory is a T-intersection where a general store sits and where three roads meet.

One road is sealed and leads back into town. The other is unsealed, dusty and winding through the rolling hills towards isolated farms.

This junction, or intersection, reminds me of the place I found myself two years ago; a mother to two small children (my daughter, Zephaniah, was 4, and my son, Ezra, was 2), a wife (to Matt) and a Salvation Army officer.

I longed for a simple life but found that the clutter of my everyday was overwhelming. I sat at an intersection. One road continued on towards more clutter and the other led to a very different and simple place.

In The Salvation Army, the Self Denial Appeal marks a time of self denial for the purpose of raising funds for overseas mission. Each year, I forgo something simple to set aside funds for the appeal. But that year, as I faced the junction and realised that things had to be different – more simple, more uncluttered – I made a decision.

Captains Matt and Emma Moore. Emma embraced the Self Denial Appeal in a very practical way. Photo: Lena Pobjie 

I embarked on a journey of eliminating my personal belongings and decided to live on the very minimal. I selected a bag and through a process of elimination I placed personal belongings (including clothing, shoes, toiletries, books and study items) in the bag.

For 40 days I lived off the items in the bag and nothing else. During this time I did not purchase any new items and did not use any belongings that did not fit in my bag. It was an experience on the unsealed, dusty and winding road leading out of town and to a place of amazing beauty.

Self Denial Altar Service Sunday has always been very meaningful to me. I usually lay my offering at the altar and then stay there in prayer, sobbing my heart out. For me, any sacrifice I make seems so minute and insignificant compared to the great need in our world. I always feel there is more that I can give up, more I can do, more I can offer! 

My life was changed for good through My One Bag Life experience.

I admit that I am still weak in my approach to material goods, but I have learnt that when we say “yes” to only a few things we can easily say “no” to the excess. This realisation has given my life beautiful space or margins, and it is here in this space and in these margins that Christ speaks ever so clearly.

Read Emma's full My One Bag Life journal about her experience at  

Last year, the Self Denial Appeal raised more than $3.5 million in Australia alone, funding mission support in Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Malawi, Pakistan and Kenya. This year, the appeal (26 February–2 April), will feature the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Mexico. For more information about the Self Denial Appeal, go to


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