Article of the week: Spreading the love of Jesus
10 July 2021
As the Herald’s Challenge launches on 10 July, Aylesbury herald Brian Kennedy tells Emily Bright how the papers help him share the love of God with his community
TODAY marks the start of the Herald’s Challenge, a campaign that runs through July and encourages more corps members to sell Salvation Army papers on the high street.
This year, the Publishing Department is encouraging people to volunteer an hour or more to sell Kids Alive! and the War Cry. The start of the challenge offers an opportunity to highlight the hard work and dedication of Salvation Army heralds.
One such individual is Brian Kennedy, a long-serving herald at Aylesbury Corps in Buckinghamshire.
‘I was asked a few years ago whether I could distribute the papers in Thame,’ he recalls. ‘My automatic response was yes.’
Brian explains why he believes sharing the Army papers is so important:
‘They provide a ministry, a witness for Jesus, and are a face of The Salvation Army. The important thing in my role is to be available to people, whoever they may be. It’s not about me, it’s not about the heralds and it’s not even about The Salvation Army – it’s about spreading the love of Jesus Christ.’
In recent months Covid-19 restrictions have meant that Brian and many other heralds have had to pause their paper ministry on the high streets. I ask him how he feels about being back out on the high street now that restrictions have lifted. His enthusiasm is tangible: ‘It’s absolutely great!’
He explains that being a herald, a public face of The Salvation Army, provides a helpful stepping stone for starting conversations with members of his community.
‘You have lots of conversations with many people. Some have been involved with The Salvation Army for generations. It’s lovely to hear their stories and the way they love what we do around the world.
‘The Salvation Army is so respected by everybody. People come to me and say: “The Salvation Army are the people that we support.”’
Brian uses these encounters to pray for those who want it. He says: ‘Many people have particular problems, and it’s nice to be able to offer them support in prayer by saying, “I’d like to pray for you, if you give me the name and the situation.” They appreciate this, even those who don’t really profess to be Christians.
‘It’s different every single time, and it’s a matter of responding to each situation as it occurs. Last week I prayed for an older chap who had been physically fit all his life but was having particular problems with back pain.’
Brian has become well known over the years and is a palpable presence on the high street.
‘I’m now stationed at Hale Leys, which is a shopping mall in Aylesbury,’ he says. ‘Lots of people recognise me because I’ve been in the town for about 50 years. I’ve got a fairly high profile as I don’t hide under a bushel. So lots of people say hello.’
It’s not only through heralds that people can encounter God. The papers also provide an introduction to the Christian faith for those who might not otherwise explore it, covering relatable and up-to-date topics.
‘We’re able to distribute the newspaper to people who sometimes may not even be involved in Christian life,’ says Brian. ‘And, of course, Kids Alive! is a good thing for opening up the minds of young people.
‘I am rather struck by the fact that we, through our editorial team, are so bang up to the minute, which really is brilliant. For instance, a recent issue of Kids Alive! featured the Euros football tournament.’
Brian remains humble about his work as a herald, highlighting the real reason why he regularly heads out into the high street with the papers:
‘It’s about the love of God and people. Being a herald really gives us an opportunity to be in touch with people and to spread God’s love.’
When asked what he would say to a prospective herald, he shares with great joy: ‘It’s magic. It’s wonderful. You won’t stop doing it! It’s so uplifting. It gives you a buzz and there’s nothing quite like it.’
He ends with a few words of advice: ‘Have no trepidation whatsoever. Just be normal, be yourself and enjoy every single minute!’
EMILY IS PROMOTIONS AND MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR IN THE PUBLISHING DEPARTMENT, THQ