27 January 2024

Mr Bates and the power of a story worth telling

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant

A photo shows Toby Jones as Mr Bates in Mr Bates vs the Post Office | Picture: © ITV Plc
Picture: ITV Plc

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant considers the impact of ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office.

The Post Office scandal has caught the attention of the British public this month, with updates about it still appearing in news headlines daily.

The injustices piled upon hundreds of sub-postmasters – who were wrongly convicted of false accounting or theft due to faulty computer software – have been known about for years. But in recent weeks, politicians have rapidly reacted to the public mood, and parliament has been working to legislate and quash all the convictions – overturning centuries of convention that the judicial system was independent of parliament. The people impacted by this scandal have rightly asked why it has taken so long for their plight to be taken seriously.

So, what changed? The ITV series Mr Bates vs the Post Office, a primetime drama, aired in the first week of January and brought the story to life for millions of viewers. Most of us struggle to get our heads around complicated IT systems and audit reports. However, people could connect with a beautifully written, well-produced drama, which brought people’s experiences of injustice, pain and anger to life.

It’s a reminder of the power of people’s testimonies. Facts, information and reports can have limited impact, but hearing someone’s heartfelt experience can change everything. That’s why it is important that Christians find ways to testify to the difference a relationship with Jesus Christ makes in their lives.

Testimony time used to be a regular feature in Salvation Army meetings. The Holy Spirit often speaks when people share what God has done recently in their lives. I’ve been in meetings when the testimony was more memorable and impactful than the sermon. The witness of ‘ordinary’ people in the congregation is often a great source of blessing. Testimonies connect the reality of life’s struggles with the transforming power of God.

When did you last have testimony time at your corps? Does having one meeting on a Sunday mean we don’t have time? Are we reticent to testify? Is it always the same people who share? Are meeting leaders scared of silence if no one stands up?

People probably need more time these days to prepare, as most of us are not comfortable speaking off the cuff. However, we need to rediscover the power of sharing our testimonies. If personal stories can challenge the Post Office, imagine how your testimony about God’s work in your life can change your community and energise our Army!

Reflect and respond

Written by

A photo of Dean Pallant.

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant

Secretary for Communications, THQ

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