When Captain Mat Badger signed up to be a Red Shield collector, he didn’t know it would change his life forever ...
The first time I collected for the Red Shield Appeal was back in 1996. I was studying at Laidlaw College in Auckland, when a fellow student—who was a Salvationist—convinced me to sign up.
Even though I was raised in a Christian family in Rotorua, I had never had anything to do with The Salvation Army prior to this. My family went to a ‘normal’ church—whereas The Salvation Army had always seemed a bit weird with their uniforms and brass bands. But I was eager to take part because the Booths (Salvation Army founders) were on my reading list for the ‘Church History 101’ course I was taking.
I was assigned a fairly short street, and given a red and white cardboard collection box—remember those? This, of course, was back in the street-walking, dog-avoiding, door-knocking days. But I’d been a parking warden for the Rotorua District Council, so I thought, ‘How hard could collecting money for a good cause be?’
Quite hard apparently. I only collected about seven dollars! But this was because I was so warmly received at the first few homes I visited. I had such great conversations (with a few cups of tea) that I didn’t get very far before it got dark. This warm and positive response to a Christian organisation was a first for me. People wanted to talk to me because I was with the Sallies.
I heard people’s stories about help they had received, and interactions their family members had during WWII. It was a real privilege. There were even a few ‘God conversations’ and I felt really in my element. I fell in love with the mission of The Salvation Army that night while collecting!
I started attending church at Waitakere Central Corps (Faith Factory), got involved in the mission, and was enrolled as a soldier the following year. When I completed my studies, I was employed as the pastoral assistant to the officers, which was so rewarding.
I worked for the Army for another seven years (four of those in Gisborne) before surrendering to the call to officership. Who would have thought saying ‘yes’ to collecting for the Red Shield Appeal, would be the fork in the road that would change the direction of my life?
Now, I am the Territorial Youth Secretary—a role that is my absolute passion. I love inputting into the next generation and feel it is my ‘calling within the calling’ of officership.
Over the years my enthusiam for engaging with people, through the the Red Shield Appeal, has continued to grow. I still get to listen to people’s stories, talk about the services we provide, and answer questions about how the money collected is used. I’ve even been able to refer people to some of our programmes and services, as well as share my faith. My fundraising skills have vastly improved as well!
Last year, one of our team dressed up as Darth Vader, since Star Wars Day on ‘May the fourth’ fell during the Appeal—it was lots of fun!
But a friendly smile and warm demeanour are all you really need to be a great collector. Investing an hour or so of your time will not only be a gift to New Zealanders in need, but a gift for you as well.
To sign up, see your local Red Shield Street Appeal Coordinator or go to www.salvationarmy.org.nz/collect
(c) 'War Cry' magazine, 6 April 2019, p11 - You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.