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17 May 2022
Major Terry Smith on the platform at Petrie Station, Brisbane.
Major Terry Smith has a broad, infectious smile, and nothing brings that smile to his face more than greeting Friday morning commuters at Petrie railway station in Brisbane.
Terry, 81, officially retired from his role as a Salvos officer (pastor) more than 20 years ago.
“Once I retired, I had time on my hands, and I was looking around to see what I could do,” he said. The first opportunity was a three-month role driving “a group of American evangelists” around Australia as they followed the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games torch relay and led outreach activities in each of the towns visited. I was a volunteer at the Olympic Games, too. When that finished, I went looking for something else.”
The then Pine Rivers Shire Council introduced a program where volunteer drivers provided senior citizens with transport to and from appointments or the shops. Terry said he was a driver for 10 years, three days a week.
Terry began his railway platform outreach around the same time he started with the council. “I went on Wednesday mornings to the Strathpine station, and then, on Fridays, I would do the Petrie station – that’s most Fridays from 2001 … until today,” he said. “I understand the Salvos need money, but I take it as a mission in greeting the people and saying, ‘Good morning, have a good day’. I don’t ask for donations. I let the uniform ask that question.”
Terry retired last year as a Red Shield Appeal area coordinator, which included visits to high schools to address students and call for doorknock volunteers. Then there’s his 20-year hotel outreach – going with Salvos publications, a collection box, and his joke of the week “to put a smile on the faces of patrons”.
He has also visited Woodford Correctional Facility most Thursdays for 16 years, on top of being on the roster to run Sunday services. But the railway platform outreach remains close to Terry’s heart, and despite his advancing years, he has no plans to ‘retire’ from this ministry. “While I’ve got the strength and the Lord gives me the strength, I’m happy to continue,” he says. “I enjoy meeting the people and seeing a smile on their face.”
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