Carol McDowall attends North Street Citadel in Hamilton, Bermuda, where she is on the leadership team. She also serves as the young women’s ministries leader, on the praise and worship team and with the youth group on Friday nights.
What’s your favourite family tradition?
The first one that comes to mind is of our extended family having lunch together after church on Sunday afternoons. After dessert, we share what we call “promise time.” Starting with the youngest child, we take turns reading a card with Scripture verses printed on each side, until we get to the oldest, who offers a prayer of blessing over the family.
Tell me a little about your spiritual journey.
I like to say that I was born into The Salvation Army. I enjoy observing people and watched and listened to how my elders carried themselves, whether it was at church or at social gatherings. I enjoyed hearing their testimonies in church—their fervour and excitement was evident and infectious. My grandmother, Hester Ming, was a huge spiritual influence in my life. She spoke about and lived out her faith walk with her Saviour and was not afraid to speak the truth to me in her guidance. Being involved in all the youth programs at my corps (Brownies, music camp, youth group, corps cadets, junior soldiers, singing company, young people’s band) made an impact on my spiritual growth and gave me insight into who God is and my need for him.
What spiritual disciplines or practices have helped you grow on your spiritual journey?
The spiritual discipline of spending time alone with God has most definitely aided in my spiritual growth. Over the years, this alone time has looked different—complete silence and meditation, prayer and journaling, musical meditation, studies, praying the Scriptures or prayer and fasting. Most recently, I have been led to adopt a kneeling posture when praying as my outward expression of acknowledging God’s omnipotence and displaying honour to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
What makes you feel most connected to God?
I feel most connected to God when I am out in nature, especially when I am at the beach staring out into the vast ocean and marvelling at his handiwork. I also feel connected to God when I am helping someone because I am a strong believer that we are to be Christ’s hands and feet in this world.
How has your relationship with Christ shaped your sense of vocation?
From the time I can remember I have been drawn toward the helping profession, and I work as an educational therapist in the Bermuda public school system. I view this as part of how God designed me. I have come to understand, through God’s living Word and example, the importance of serving, helping and being available to others. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, and I believe my purpose of helping those in need also extends to my vocation.
How have you experienced God’s faithfulness?
Several difficult times pop into my head when considering a question of this magnitude. The first was 30 years ago, with the reality of my dad’s heart transplant surgery. Since then, I have experienced loss and grief with the death of my paternal grandparents, whom I was very close to and cared for in their later years of life. I have had difficult situations in my marriage and in parenting two awesome young men.
But in every situation, every valley, every tear, every cry, God showed his faithfulness to me through his Word and promises. Whether it was a Scripture verse, devotional, prayer from a close friend, a song shared with me or a hug and the reassuring presence of Christ’s trusted ambassadors standing beside me holding me up, I never lost my faith. One of my favourite songs is He’s Been Faithful to Me.
What inspires you about The Salvation Army’s history and heritage?
What inspires me is the importance of not being fearful of meeting people where they are and of going to where they are. I am also inspired by William Booth’s emphasis on practical Christianity, that if an individual’s basic needs for food, shelter and clothing are not met, they are highly unlikely to listen to anyone preach about Christ.
I am also reminded of General John Gowans’ messages at the 2000 Atlanta Congress, where he talked about the need for The Salvation Army to be creative, think differently and consider culture. He used the analogy of fishing and asked the question: Would you go fishing with the wrong bait? I have never forgotten that question.
What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?
In the summer, my favourite way to spend a day off is to go for an early morning walk on the beach and watch the sunrise, take some pictures and then go for a swim. Later in the morning, I would meet friends for breakfast and coffee to enjoy catching up and sharing lots of laughter. Then I would take a siesta and spend the remainder of the day with my husband and two adult sons, having dinner together and joining in a movie or a game of cards.
What song always puts you in a good mood?
I enjoy dancing—or “shaking a leg,” as I sometimes say—and the song The Electric Slide, often played at family celebrations, has a catchy beat and dance steps that draw most people to the dance floor. Dancing to this song along with a group of family and friends is sure to put me in a great mood!