“When I watch the other church leaders of The Salvation Army’s Scarborough Citadel, I’m encouraged and inspired,” declares Marcia Farrell. “I, too, want to stand up and be counted, to go out and help the community. I want to be a helper. I want to be a witness for my God and for Christ.”
Born on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, Farrell immigrated to Canada in 2001 to join her husband in Toronto’s west end, and then moved to Scarborough in the east of the city with her two sons.
The church she’d attended was now too far away to commute, so Farrell and her two sons started looking for a place nearby. But she wasn’t spiritually content with the churches she attended.
So matters stood until the after-school program that Farrell’s children attended closed down.
“I had to find somewhere else for them,” she explains, “and I was fortunate that they were accepted at the program operated by Scarborough Citadel.”
Farrell interacted with Salvationists at the citadel and was impressed by what she saw and heard.
As it happens, Scarborough Citadel is situated on the ground floor of an apartment building, and the corps was hosting a potluck for the residents. Farrell thought it was a general invitation and decided to attend with her children and some of her homemade Caribbean dishes.
Though they were “crashing” the party, Farrell and her family nevertheless received a warm welcome.
“We loved how friendly and open everybody was,” she says. “You could see the sincerity, the honesty, the lack of pretense.”
Heartened by the experience, Farrell decided to attend a church service the following Sunday.
“I was blown away,” she smiles. “I realized The Salvation Army believes what I believe, that one has to be in total obedience to God and recognize that Christ came and died for our sins—and he’s the only way to salvation.”
“We loved how friendly and open everybody was. You could see the sincerity.”
But that wasn’t all.
After the church service, Alison Moore, the outreach co-ordinator, approached the family.
“Marcia, I want you to meet some people,” she said, and introduced her to Marg and Eric. “This is the family who’ve been praying for you and your children.”
“I was astonished,” Farrell says. “Here I was going about my daily business, unaware that these two people—and many more, I later learned—had been praying for us every single day. It warmed my heart. I hugged them like they were my family. For their part, they were thrilled to finally meet me and my children.
“That encounter confirmed to me that this is the place that I ought to be, at The Salvation Army. I realized I was home.”
Empowered to Help
Farrell and her children started attending regularly from then on.
“I loved the environment at Scarborough Citadel and saw how the congregation genuinely reached out to the community. I realized how much I wanted to be a part of this.”
But Farrell wanted to be more than someone who attends church.
“Making the decision to become a soldier was an easy one,” she says. “Being a soldier, wearing the uniform, represents who I am in Christ. I stand out!”
And she does.
“Marcia demonstrates a keen interest in, and understanding of, God’s Word,” says Major Ron Millar, the corps officer at Scarborough Citadel. “She’s a wonderful witness and actively invites family members and others to church.”
Farrell helps out at the food bank and in the corps office, and volunteers with the Christmas kettles.
Now that she has donned the uniform of a Salvation Army soldier, she sums up the transformation she has undergone in one word: “Empowering.”
“When we accept Christ as our personal Saviour and we go through our daily life, we sometimes tend to overlook some of the little things, like going the extra distance to help someone,” she explains. “But being a soldier, that’s exactly what I’m called to do.
“I’m called to be that help to the person who is disadvantaged, the person who is in need, the person who wants someone to pray, so I do feel different. I feel empowered to help.”