What a wonderful photograph! A group of Salvationists, circa the 1950s, marching along High Street withstanding the rain. Nearby the procession leader is an elderly lady, dressed in a thoroughly sensible overcoat, unbreakable shoes, and her Salvation Army uniform and bonnet. She is followed by a group of stragglers, mainly in Bible-black, soaked to the skin and valiantly managing a collection of instruments and bedraggled flags.
Not much of an advertisement for the Kingdom. Did they look a bit weird as they claimed the shining highways for God? An odd bunch in the eyes of the world? Maybe, but only until our hearts are warmed by the sight and we begin to see this photo with admiration and affection. Might the tiny Salvationist giant of yesteryear be entitled to say, “Yes, my legs are as crooked as a £6 note. But do you see the soaking wet ribbon on my bonnet? It says, “The Salvation Army.” That tells me Jesus is leading these kids in the hope that someone might hear that God loves them too.
In this picture, we catch a glimpse of evangelism that not even a rainstorm deterred. People were willing to look strange if it meant touching lives. We are confronted with a reminder that oddness is sometimes called for and fitting in was never the plan for God’s people anyway. Humbled, we march on.
Written by Stephen Poxon