5 May 2023

From watching Paul O'Grady to becoming a territorial envoy

Territorial Envoy Ali James

Photo shows Ali James.

Territorial Envoy Ali James shares how she followed her calling.

It’s all Paul O’Grady’s fault that I’m now a territorial envoy – although God had a part to play in it too, I’m sure! His 2016 series Paul O’Grady: The Sally Army and Me ran for six episodes and we were hooked. It affected me deeply.

I’d grown up in an Anglican vicarage and was part of Dad’s church until I was 13, but horses and science drew me away. Science, I felt, had all the answers and I stayed away from church until I was 29.

We were living on the stud farm where my hubby, Ray, worked and one day there was a fatal accident. My response was to take our two boys to church, not for myself – I didn’t need God – but for them. I spent the next six months in tears at the words of the songs. I’d come back to God.

We settled into a lovely, lively, caring independent church, and we thought it would be our forever home. Alongside our pastor, I was very involved with setting up and running the town food bank. This I did for 11 years. It was my voluntary work while my main job was in academic publishing.

I love seeing the changes Jesus makes in my life, the lives of others and the Church. I was an avid member of the local Churches Together group, and through this the Salvation Army officer and I decided to do a Bible study together.

One evening she asked me if I’d ever considered ministry. It felt as if a huge pebble plunged down inside me – fear and excitement in equal measure! I knew I was being called to be a minister in The Salvation Army. We talked for ages, and I came away with a biography of the Booths under my arm – reading it blew me away. Driving home I knew life would never be the same again, although I was dreading telling Ray.

I woke him as I went into the sitting room. ‘Ray, we need to talk. I think I’m being called to be a minister in The Salvation Army…’

He sat up pointing at me and said: ‘I told you that when we watched those programmes all those years ago!’

I am so glad we took that leap of faith. I am now in my first appointment as a territorial envoy, leading the corps in Great Yarmouth, and we’re loving it!

Written by

A photo of Ali James.

Territorial Envoy Ali James

Corps Leader, Great Yarmouth

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