During Holy Week, The Salvation Army’s Captain Jo Moir reflects on how the Easter story gives her hope
“I want to live in Easter Saturday, someone who lives in the ‘and’, someone who is aware of the sacrifice God made for me but also knows the celebration that will come.”
The journey of the Easter story can be found in our lives. We can feel the move from the Passion into the Resurrection most deeply at difficult times in our lives; when challenges come, a time of incredible pain, and suddenly in the midst of mourning, being gifted with something beautiful - hope.
Captain Jo Moir’s journey through the Easter story was seen in her first experience with God. As a young person growing up in a church family she was encouraged to explore faith for herself, not inherit it from her parents. Her parents used to tell her that ‘God didn’t have any grandchildren’ – faith is something that you chose for yourself, it wasn’t something you inherited like the colour of your hair.
When she was 15 she found a new group of friends, and decided that church wasn’t for her.
“Church just wasn’t the cool thing,” she remembers. “There were far more exciting ways to spend my weekend! And so I stopped attending and decided there was no God.”
These thoughts unsettled Jo to a considerable degree. If everything she thought she knew wasn’t real, what was left? Where was hope? Was there a heaven? What was the point?!
“Travelling through that period of doubt I have St Peter in my head,” Jo reflects. “He had a vision of who he thought Jesus would be: a heroic Jesus changing the world, fixing everything and fighting the Roman Empire. Suddenly all that promise was taken away as Jesus was put on the cross because he couldn’t see further forward than that. The trust placed in Jesus was overridden by Peter’s betrayal and denial.”
Two years later Jo’s parents, who were Salvation Army Officers, were given a new posting in South Africa. She had no intention of leaving her life behind, so at the end of her tether one night she decided to pray. She prayed that God would change the posting, and then she prayed that God would change her mind.
The next morning she woke up, heart completely changed. “I have no explanation for it, no earthly way to define it - I wanted to go to Africa.”
God had answered something in a very clear way and she had to pay attention to that. This began a journey of a different kind, a searching for the God whom she had given up on but had never given up on her. She smiles, “I think I had St Peter’s Easter Saturday feeling – waiting for something much more extraordinary than I’d even thought about in the first place, waiting for hope to be restored.”
Jo knows that God did not waste this period of doubt and confusion. It’s undoubtedly enriched her role as a Salvation Army Officer, which in her current post at William Booth Training College is often pastoral. Jo provides mentoring to the future Salvation Army officers, journeying alongside them and providing a safe environment for them to be open, entrusting her to reply with something of God.
It’s clear that for Jo the significance of the Easter story lies in living between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
“Good Friday is about trust and Easter Sunday is about hope, so Easter Saturday is where that transaction is made in between trust and hope. I want to live in Easter Saturday, someone who lives in the ‘and’, someone who is aware of the sacrifice God has made for me but also anticipates the celebration that will come.”
This year, Jo’s birthday falls on Easter Sunday, and she’s used this opportunity to make a bucket list of what she’s accomplished to see how it weaves together. She summarises, “I think my purpose is to journey with people. There’s nothing very flash or exciting about it, I just want to walk along the road with people. I’m doing it now at William Booth College because I get to journey alongside people exploring leadership.
“Turning 40 for me is an opportunity to look back and look forward to where I want to go, and what I see is 40 years of trust and the rest I’ll leave to hope.”
Easter Sunday also marks the first broadcast anniversary of the six-part BBC series ‘Paul O’Grady: Sally Army & Me’. In the series Jo was a mentor to Paul, guiding him as he explored the life of the church and charity.
“Journeying alongside Paul in Sally Army & Me was wonderful - he was exactly as I thought he was going to be! There’s a phrase in Yorkshire called ‘WYSIWYG’ [pronounced ‘Wizzy wig’] which means what you see is what you get, that was Paul. He is funny and generous, we laughed a lot – it was fantastic.
“I’m grateful we’re still friends. We still talk and that journey didn’t end when the cameras turned off. We’re sharing life, but it’s much more mutual than me being his mentor now!”