Religious vocation isn’t commonly discussed anymore, so it’s hard to get a sense of how prevalent the calling is. When we think of vocation, it’s often the image of a nun or priest in robes that springs to mind.
Major Margaret MacDonald’s story is a modern story of vocation, of giving one’s life to God’s work by rolling up sleeves and getting amongst the marginalized in the community. That’s the Salvation Army way.
She grew up in a Salvationist family in Wales, who came to Australia as Ten Pound Poms, finding their feet in the Salvationist community in Bunbury. Margaret first felt the calling to the ministry as a teenager and was champing at the bit to get started, but was strongly encouraged to continue her education, which she did. She finished a DipEd and began a teaching career, which she found so rewarding it threatened to derail her earlier plans.
But when she and her husband Alan took stock, in the early years of their marriage and careers, they realized they could no longer ignore the powerful call to the ministry, so they headed to training college for two years and then into the community to do God’s work.
What does that mean for a Salvationist? Assisting people at a grassroots level in their community in so many ways, intervening in domestic violence situations, offering help and advice when money is tight, even providing food and shelter in your own home. As Margaret puts it, it’s “to be God in that community”.
Margaret and Alan have faced some enormous hurdles, some of the placements they were given by the Salvation Army were truly challenging, especially raising three boys at the same time.
Sincere thanks to Margaret MacDonald, to her family and to the Salvation Army Floreat Corps for their generous help in bringing this story to life.