Saturday, February 28, 2009

MISSION IN COMMUNITY

In 2006 IHQ published a report on The Salvation Army’s Integrated Mission entitled significantly, Mission in Community. Commissioner Phil Needham's study in Salvation Army ecclesiology was titled Community in Mission. Now the emphasis has been placed on Mission in Community. In the introduction, General Larsson wrote: “There is no doubt that when everything we do as an Army is added together, The Salvation Army is the very embodiment of integrated mission. . . . Ideally every unit, every programme, however specialized, should reflect to some degree the breadth of vision that integrated mission represents – salvation as physical, mental, social and spiritual health for every person.”

As the concept of integrated mission has gained acceptance around the world, essential beliefs have emerged as vital to this approach to mission:
• Care is love in action
• Care is holistic – body, mind, spirit and relationships
• People have capacity to care and to respond to their own issues
• Care encourages more care
• Active caring causes people to hope and change
• The grace of God is felt and revealed through our caring

The theological roots are found in the Incarnation [God with us], Grace [God before us], Redemption [God at work for us and in us], and the Body of Christ [God working through us]. The emphasis is on being with the people we serve in their living reality, moving out of our buildings into the homes and neighborhoods we serve. Listening to understand and learn is vital. Long-term relationships, wherever possible, build trust and indicate respect for the dignity and capacity of those we serve. [Rwanda – ‘You came, you stayed, you touched us!’] Integrated mission is about being available and working together to find solutions and create hope. Such caring should be the natural overflow of life in Jesus Christ.

The report includes many moving examples of integrated mission that is grounded in community and results in change – and salvation. But none more relevant than a story very close to home.

Pakistan is one of the Muslim countries in which the Army has flourished. In 2007 Pakistan celebrated the 125th anniversary of Army ministry in this dominantly Muslim land. It is now an Army of 60,000 senior soldiers. The Army has a presence in nearly 700 communities in Pakistan putting us in vital connection with the real issues of life in these centers. Already present in so many communities, the Army was able to respond quickly to the devastating 2005 earthquake. The SAYB reports, “The officers live with their people; strong relationships exist, affording a unique position to influence the development of individuals and communities.” Literacy programs have been organized and projects launched enabling the people to become more economically self-sufficient. In all of this, the report concludes, “The gospel’s power is evident in the lives of more than 7,000 first-time seekers recorded during the year” (SAYB 2008:195).

In 2007 when this report was written, the territorial leaders for Pakistan were Colonels Bo and Birgitte Brekke -- he a Norwegian and she a Dane. In September 2007 Colonel Bo Brekke was shot to death by an assassin in the discharge of his duties at the Army's territorial headquarters in Lahore. He was one of the most gifted leaders in the Army world. Before taking up the leadership of the Army in Pakistan, he and Colonel Birgitte Brekke served with courage and compassion in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Eastern Europe, Denmark and his home country. In Bangladesh they reached out to the poorest of the poor, providing programs of micro-credit to enable slum dwellers to attain some measure of self-sufficiency. For a group of homeless former prostitutes they provided literacy classes and work opportunities, forming Sally Ann products, a commercial fair trade venture, and arranging for the handwork of the women to be marketed around the world. Sally Ann products are produced by units in Bangladesh, Kenya, Moldova, Chile, Brazil and Peru. Pakistan and Ghana will soon come on line. There is a flag ship Sally Ann store here in Oslo. The Brekkes embodied the kind of commitment that transforms communities and individual lives.

In 2005 Colonel Brekke published an account of the development of the Sally Ann Fair Trade program. It is a truly remarkable and deeply moving account of the development of the program and the ways in which it has touched lives and transformed communities.

Jessore is a town of 200,000 in Western Bangladesh. There is a large community of commercial sex workers in a place called, Hatkhola Lane -- 285 women prostitutes -- 300 women and 100 children in all. Joseph Das has been working there for the Army since '97. Took years to build up trust. Joseph and his team belong. So much so that people in Jessore sometimes refer to the brothel in Hatkola Lane as the Salvation Army brothel!

Captain Albert Mir joined the team as a volunteer. Born a Muslim, he met Christ many years ago. He became an officer and works still in the brothel. At Christmas, he planned a one-man Christmas service in the brothel courtyard. Whores, pimps and customers stood around. Victims and abusers. A Jesus kind of crowd. The Captain read the Christmas story and spoke of love come down at Christmas. They didn't understand it all, but they knew Jesus understood poverty and knew what it was to suffer indignity. Then he brought out a Christmas cake and the brothel owner was asked to cut it. Cheers went up for Jesus, cheers for Captain Mir who cared enough to share the story. Cheers for themselves so important in God's eyes!

Do they make a difference? Brothel cleaner. Health care available. Condoms used more generally. More children go to school. More than 20 have been helped to leave the brothel. Organized into small production and savings group. Several work for Sally Ann. Ask Mina Rani Das -- a prostitute for 18 years. She still works in the brothel. She is there every day. She is one of Joseph's team. She wears The Salvation Army's blue sari uniform. "Something in Joseph's presence made an impression on her. The team's determination to continue their work in the brothel touched her. Captain Mir's gospel message moved her. She met Jesus in the brothel, and he changed her life!"

The Salvation Army is on a journey from Community in Mission to Mission in Community – patiently working together, walking together through suffering toward hope, trusting God to reveal His love and grace in the process. Without the vitality of the Community of Faith, instructed by the Word, energized by life in the Spirit and committed to mission, mission in community cannot be adequately sustained. "The mission of the Church," writes Commissioner Needham, "is inextricably tied to the life of the fellowship . . . . Only as the Church is gathered for nurture can it be scattered for mission. Only as it worships can it serve. . . . Fellowship without mission dies of spiritual suffocation. Mission without fellowship dies of starvation" (1987:75-76). Both emphases are appropriate to living out the call to be the People of God Together.

MOBILIZING THE FULL FORCE -- WOMEN AND MEN TOGETHER IN MINISTRY

No feature of Salvation Army life and mission is more unique than the effectiveness with which it has since the beginning employed the gifting of women in ministry and leadership. The principle of appointing women on the basis of their gifts and abilities rather than their gender once established, the task of leadership has been to ensure that the principle becomes a promise fulfilled. One could wish it had always been so. I have asked Commissioner Rader to share with you her passion for releasing the full potential of women for ministry. I fully share that passion. Together we have worked to affirm women in claiming their God-given right, as God calls and equips them by his Spirit, to preach the Gospel, to lead and to minister in His name.

We now consider the uniqueness of an Army with an unprecedented number of women who were included on an equal with men from the beginning. As early as 1895 the Orders and Regulations for Staff Officers drafted by the Founder, William Booth himself, made clear the Army’s official position on gender equality. It read,
• One of the leading principles upon which the Army is based is the right of women. . .to an equal share with men in the great work of publishing Salvation to the world. . .She may hold any position of authority or power in the Army from that of a Local Officer to that of the General. Let it therefore be understood that women are eligible for the highest commands – indeed, no woman is to be kept back from any position of power or influence merely on account of her sex. . .Woman must be treated as equal with men in all the intellectual and social relationships of life.

Evidence of this unique characteristic of the movement is seen clearly in Scandinavian Salvation Army history.

For example, Lt. Marie Hammer, along with one other woman and two men led in the opening of the Army in Denmark. A Danish officer, Mrs. Polvson, promoted to Lt. Commissioner in her own right was appointed leader of Woman’s Social Services in Sweden.

A former married woman officer leader, Commissioner Flora Larsson, who with her husband served in Finland, sometimes spoke of The Salvation Army in Finland as “an Army of women led by a man.” The majority of Finnish officers have always been women.

Hanna Ouchterlony with 4 helpers held the first Salvation Army meeting in Sweden on December 28, 1882. This resulted in the Army spreading all over both urban and rural areas of that country. During a time of public opposition to the Army in Sweden, among those sentenced to 3 – 48 days in prison were 38 Salvation Army officers, 14 of whom were women.

Major Ouchterlony, later Commissioner, also led a campaign to begin the Army in Norway. By 1888 the Army was established. We are told that the first officer to be commissioned from the Training College in Norway was a woman, Captain Bertha Hansen. The fact that The Salvation Army granted women equal rights and opportunities with men in the 1880s appealed strongly to young and eager champions of women’s rights in this country and some quickly joined The Salvation Army and became officers. One, a woman named Othilie Tonning, later became leader of Woman’s Social Work for Norway and in 1910 was awarded the King’s Gold Medal for her contribution to social work.

In the words of the Founder, William Booth, “The Salvation Army employs women.” To this day The Salvation Army sets a fine example in numbers of women ordained and commissioned. Having said this, there are those within The Salvation Army who find unsettling parallels between existing attitudes within the Church regarding the ordination of women and their accorded roles and prevailing attitudes within the Army regarding ordained/commissioned women officers and their roles.

For example, it is particularly unsettling that we in the Army understand clearly the struggle within the Church of England when in recent years, representatives of the Anglican Church’s Working Party Concerned with Women in Ordained Ministry, faced with the issue of ordination of women to the diaconate, opined, “”Having willed the end, the Church is now faced with the challenge of willing the means.”

As the Church is faced with the challenge of willing the means, so is the Army. Moving from the radical theology and practice of an early Army of unlimited female leadership to recent times and more conservative/limited leadership roles for women officers in the Army has been and is a concern which demands our constant vigil. Salvation Army leaders are aware of the fact that although The Salvation Army does hold a very definite view and has a policy of equality between the sexes, it is doing so against a powerful, historical and cultural background concerning attitudes towards women. The misunderstanding of the word ‘equality’ and its practical outworking can create difficulties. Hence, the dilemmas in “willing the means.”

“A basic doctrinal principle,” says Salvation Army historian Roger Green, “was established as policy of The Christian Mission and this policy continued. It was strengthened with the birth of The Salvation Army. The principle was, ‘people were placed in positions because of ability and not because of gender.’”

This uniqueness of The Salvation Army is a treasure worthy of loving protection. Whenever our useable past is either forgotten or ignored, we seek to revive it. Pathways forgotten due to neglect or disuse we seek to rediscover. To lead women officers onto open roads to tomorrow is our ultimate goal.

Even before the Christian Mission became The Salvation Army, William Booth declared his intention to employ women fully in the work of ministry. He appointed women, married and single, in charge of many of the growing number of Christian Mission stations. They were expected to preach. They were the leaders. They had the example of Catherine Booth, the Army Mother and her remarkable daughters. Beginning in 1859 until her death in l890 she preached constantly with great power and effectiveness. Indeed, when Catherine Booth died in 1890, the November issue of Bible Christian Magazine, declared her to be “the most famous and influential Christian woman of her generation.” Her own preaching and writing persuaded many Christians of the value of women’s ministry.

Catherine knew that if she did not preach she would be disobeying God. She could not resist the urgent call of the Spirit. In responding to that call to preach she bequeathed to every woman officer, married or single, the privilege of proclaiming the Gospel in public ministry. There is no doubt that it was contrary to the cultural expectation for women’s roles at that time. It was contrary to the culture of Jesus’ time for women to be regarded as credible witnesses. To this Catherine Booth responded, “The women were last at the Cross, first at the tomb.” So from the women the news was first given of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. It was they who took the word to the apostles. They were the first missionaries and ministers of the resurrection message.

Nevertheless, the idea of women being sent out into the malicious degradation of the 19th century world horrified many. Crowds pelted them with all manner of flying objects and told them to go home. A letter to the editor of the East London Observer in 1881 expressed the shock of seeing the Salvation Army women at work, said, (quote) “It is hardly consistent with one’s feelings to see a woman standing at the corner of a street – preaching – and to what purpose? Why? To give encouragement to the roughs to deride, and to skeptics the opportunity of indulging in sarcastic remarks about the manner in which Christians publish their beliefs?”

Women have played and still play important roles during difficult periods of history. American author, Janet Hassey, reminds her readers of the vigorous nature of women in ministry during the evangelical resurgence between the American Civil War and the rise of fundamentalism in that country. She notes that during that period evangelical theology opened the door for women’s adventures on behalf of the gospel and outlines several factors that were at work.

She lists them as:
1. The horrible fate of the unsaved which motivated believers to ignore social convention for the good of the lost.

2. A sense of the nearness of the Second Coming of Christ which predisposed believers to see women’s gifts as part of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. . .these women received public encouragement from the leading ministers of the day.

3. The social factors at work such as the social upheaval of the frontier and the desperate needs of the urban areas which created an action-oriented atmosphere in which social convention withered and women’s ministries blossomed.

Later, the Church withdrew its enthusiasms and women were relegated to less important roles, indeed, roles that placed them just short of anonymity.

Reaching farther back into time, writer and historian, Paul Johnson, insists that women have played a structural part in Christianity, particularly during crisis times. For example, he says that the number of Christian women who were martyred reflected the resentment they aroused among pagan authorities. “Indeed it is likely,” says “Johnson, that women formed the majority of the martyrs during the decades of crisis and persecution.”

Once the crisis was over, baptism was accepted, Christianity made lawful and in time, powerful, women were pushed into the background, the principle of masculine superiority reasserted itself.

“When during the Dark Ages the Church remained in a critical condition,” says Johnson, “sometimes obliged to fight for its existence against paganism, it continued to call upon women to play a leading part in its survival. However, having resolved the crisis in the Church’s favor, women were again pushed aside and the masculine order prevailed virtually everywhere.”

Johnson points out that during the Reformation no way was ever found to mobilize women – no place was found for them in St. Ignatius’ Society of Jesus; they were excluded from the Counter-Revolution in education and invisible at the Council of Trent. So a great opportunity was missed and as a result, the Church lost half Germany and the Low Countries, the whole of Scandinavia and England.

Historian Paul Johnson foresees an approaching spiritual crisis in which women will be in the front line. He concludes, “It behooves us to learn the lessons of the past and ensure that women are allowed – indeed encouraged – to exert themselves powerfully when the next major crisis strikes the Church.”

It is unfortunate that pastoral directions forbidding women to speak or lead that were addressed to a particular historical situation by the apostle Paul have been taken as normative for the whole church by some theologians and church leaders. At the same time, the example of Jesus in his attitude to women and the practice of Paul, have been largely ignored. In her book, Women as Leaders, Katherine Haubert says, “Dogmas, much like those of the Pharisees, have sought to put a stranglehold on the life and liberty Jesus accorded women. The challenge for the church is to allow the redeeming results of the Cross and Jesus’ attitude to shape its views. The church needs to take the sickle of truth and cut through the barbed wire of cultural customs and taboo in order to follow the One who promised both men and women, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Paul declared, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Having made this liberating declaration, the apostle Paul lived it out in his relationships with women in the Church.

In Romans 16 he is careful to express appreciation for the contribution of women in the life of the Church. They played key leadership roles in teaching and ministering and he was quick to recognize their contribution and to thank God for them: Priscilla, who with her husband, Aquila, instructed Apollos in the way (Acts 18;26 and Romans 16:3); Junia, ‘outstanding among the apostles’ (v. 7); Tryphena and Tryphosa and Persis, “women who work hard in the Lord.” (v. 12, 13). Even his relationship with the troublesome women, Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2), gives insight into his attitude toward women. These women may have had serious disagreements, but Paul knew how important they were to the life of the Church at Philippi. They were not to be ignored, nor their contribution discounted. So Paul pleads with them to be reconciled. We find the same appeal addressed to the whole church in Acts 2:2 that they be of ‘one mind.’ Even more, he asks that special help be given them in sorting out their disagreements. “They have contended at my side for the cause of the gospel.” (Philippians 4:2-3). Not beneath him as inferiors, not behind him, but alongside him as equals. He depended on them. Paul does not take sides in their dispute. He does not scold them as children, he pleads with them as equals. Paul’s pattern in ministry was to work side-by-side with his partners in the Gospel, both women and men. (Philippians 1:5)

It is significant that Paul’s ministry in Philippi began in a prayer meeting of women, apparently led by Lydia. It was her heart that the Lord opened to respond to Paul’s message (Acts 16:14). We can be sure that when Paul later wrote to the church at Philippi, he included these women in his greeting (1:1): “To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus.” In the verses that follow, four times he uses the phrase ‘all of you’ (vv. 7, 8). He gives them an all-inclusive greeting in v 1. He gives them an all-inclusive assurance of his prayers of thanksgiving for them in v. 3. He is grateful for their partnership – all of them. He holds them in his heart – all of them, women and men. (v. 7) They shared with him in his suffering. They shared with him in experiencing God’s grace together (v. 7) He longs for them all with the love of Christ (v. 8). There is no hint here of discrimination against the women. The women are not excluded from any of this. He does not intend to ignore their full participation with ;him in the work of the Gospel.\

“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ!” Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers (I Corinthians 11:1). It is his example and the example of Christ we are to follow. What did Jesus do in his relationships with women? And what did Paul do in his relationships with women who were his fellow-workers?

Women need to be affirmed in their individual calling, their covenant and their commission. Their individual ordination as ministers of the Gospel of Christ must be recognized and affirmed beyond academic preparation within halls of learning. My concern is that women who are called by God to preach feel the full freedom to preach and to lead. We need to hear the voices of women from the platform and pulpit all around the world. Within The Salvation Army this is a privileged heritage.

In The Salvation Army we thank God for the leadership of women like the present Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Robin Dunster, the territorial commander for Zimbabwe, Commissioner Venice Chigariro; the territorial commander for India Western Territory, Commissioner Mary Rajakamari, for Commissioner Christian Macmillan, International Director for Social Justice and others. At every level, women leaders have been anointed by the Spirit.

A former General of The Salvation Army, Frederick Coutts spoke eloquently of the privilege of women to lead and to preach. He said, “In church order, theories of what ought to be so often break before the fact of what is. In the economy of the Kingdom, God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts, our thoughts. . .seeing that the grace of the Spirit and the gift of the office of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher have been and are so undeniably granted to women as well as men, ‘ for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,’ (Ephesians 4:11-12) who are we to withstand God?”

This places the emphasis on women and men as equal partners in mission; partners fulfilling God’s purposes for mission, ministry and making a difference in our world.

From a strategic perspective, William Booth long ago understood that we cannot expect to fulfill our mission without employing the full force, the whole Body of Christ, both women and men. The Salvation Army is intentional in its resolve not to allow cultural bias or traditions of interpretation of other views to deny women the right to fulfill their God-given calling as fully ordained ministers of the Gospel. Men and women need one another. I am impressed with how often the Word of God tells us to encourage one another. We all need encouragement. A word of affirmation can change the direction of one’s life and release one’s spiritual gifting. This is never truer than in the arena of women and men as equal partners in ecclesiastical ministry.

There is a world to win – a world of sin and suffering, of brokenness and bondage, waiting to hear the liberating Word and to feel the transforming touch of the Saviour’s love through us – all of us. As we look to future challenges, part of the new paradigm for the Church will be an expanding role for women.
PARTNERS IN MISSION

The Church of Jesus Christ around the world, and The Salvation Army as a vital part of the global force for mission and ministry, are facing unprecedented challenges and unanticipated opportunities. As never before the Army has mobilized to engage global issues of social justice.
While our history is not without dramatic precedents, as a matter of policy the Army's avoidance of political alignment and antigovernment activities in addressing issues of injustice has caused us to shy away from entanglement in justice concerns. However, the issues surrounding the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the threats to the value and dignity of human life and the horrors of human trafficking, with its roots in poverty, oppression, the abuse of women, and the spread of pornography, have awakened the Army to a more aggressive stance on these and other issues, including advocacy for religious liberty. As never before the Army is standing up and speaking out. In August 2008, General Shaw Clifton dedicated The Salvation Army International Justice Center in New York City. It is positioned near the headquarters of the United Nations where Commissioner Christine Macmillan, International Director for Social Justice is concomitantly the Army's liaison with the United Nations. It represents a firm step forward as the Army enters the arena of the fight for human life and dignity with renewed resolve.

On the occasion of the dedication, General Shaw Clifton declared:

The establishing of our new International Social Justice Commission is designed to give strong and articulate support to social justice initiatives by Salvationists around the world. It will allow us to network intelligently and sensitively with international bodies, like the United Nations in New York, in Geneva, in Vienna and in Nairobi. All this is, as far as we are concerned, simply a further step of obedience to God. The price of silence or of inactivity in the face of modern instances of social injustice is simply too high. . . . We will sometimes have to take risks with our reputation, and if need be with our fiscal resources. . . . We know that our contribution may have to be modest, but we will do what we can and we will combine with others of goodwill and like-mindedness in order to achieve the achievable, soaking it all in prayer. Prayer keeps us centred and grounded

As we face the unique challenges of these days new partnerships are being formed within the global Army and beyond in the sharing of resources and expertise, providing opportunities for the cultivation of leadership and the expansion of opportunities for mission. The metaphor for our time is not walls of isolation and self-sufficiency, but webs of collaboration and partnership as we share together in the work of mission.

The Army has traditionally found resources within itself to pursue its mission. We have tended to resist cooperation with other groups that might obscure our uniqueness as a movement. In a word, we were not at all sure that we needed anyone else and sometimes have been suspicious of others. The Army did not want to be seen to be competing with the churches. General Orsborn declared: “We are, and wish to remain, a movement for the revival of religion, a permanent mission to the unconverted, one of the world’s greatest missionary societies; but not a sect, not a Church, except that we are a part of that body of Christ called the Church Militant” (1945:5).

However, as we have seen, in the years that followed the Army has begun to accept its identity as a church body. Our position has now been further clarified with the publication this year of The Salvation Army in the Body of Christ: an Ecclesiological Statement authorized by General Clifton. An introductory summary statement introduces the more detailed explanation that follows:
• The Body of Christ on earth comprises all believers in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
• Believers stand in spiritual relationship to one another, which is not dependent upon any particular church structure.
• The Salvation Army, under the one Triune God, belongs to and is an expression of the Body of Christ on earth, the Church universal, and is a Christian denomination in permanent mission to the unconverted, called into and sustained in being by God.
• Denominational diversity is not self-evidently contrary to God’s will for his people.
• Inter-denominational harmony and cooperation are to be actively pursued for they are valuable for enriching of the life and witness of the Body of Christ in the world and therefore of each denomination.
• The Salvation Army welcomes involvement with other Christians in the many lands where the Army is privileged to witness and serve.”

WHAT OF THE FUTURE?

Ÿ Uniforms will continue to change, perhaps to more informal and comfortable designs. But the Army will remain visible, and available, even when it makes us vulnerable -- and we will remain unashamed of the Gospel of Christ which will ever be the power of God unto salvation for all who will believe.

Ÿ Musical idioms will continue to change. The bands may admit more woodwinds and their repertoire is becoming more and more contemporary. The praise worship tsunami has already swept across the world. One hopes that our rich tradition of hymnody which connects us to the whole Church in every age, will not be lost.

Ÿ Evangelism will always be our priority as a 'permanent mission to the unconverted' but it will more often be pursued in a context of caring and shared suffering, walking with the poor and together discovering God's transforming and reconciling grace.

Ÿ Our structures of administration and styles of leadership may change. The linking of Army personnel in 117 countries through the Lotus Notes network has already made our world flat in new ways (to borrow the metaphor of Thomas Friedman). It has changed our corporate culture significantly and altered the way in which we do business.

Ÿ We will not compromise our internationalism, the organic unity of the Army worldwide. But the territories will no doubt exercise greater autonomy.

Ÿ We will continue to explore developing technologies for communicating our message and facilitating our ministries.

Ÿ Our ministry will be marked by integrated mission, not just as coordination of our services to people, but by entering into the life and community of those whom we serve in the name of Christ.

Ÿ We will continue to find expanded roles for women, married and single, in pastoral leadership, preaching and leadership responsibility.

Ÿ In our globalized world we will see a freer exchange of resources and a renewed willingness to cross national and cultural barriers to share the Gospel.

Ÿ The future holds a heightened concern for justice issues addressing the challenges of global poverty and powerlessness, hunger, the exploitation and abuse of women, the increase of sex trafficking, the spreading threat of pornography and other issues.

Ÿ Without compromising who we are as soldiers of Christ, we will find new ways to work in partnership with others in pursuing our common mission and in meeting human need in the name and spirit of Jesus.

Ÿ We will watch the unfolding of God's purposes for the Church and for the Army filled with wonder and praise.

The Army will change and adapt in many ways. It is in our DNA to do so. But the Army will be The Salvation Army -- one Army, marching under one banner, women and men shoulder to shoulder, with a clear mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human need in His name without discrimination -- marching on until our Heavenly Captain returns in glory and we rise to meet him in the air.

FOLLOWING THE VISION

The Founder of The Salvation Army had a grand vision for the future of the movement. He spoke of it in a series of messages to Army staff officers gathered in council following the 1904 International Congress in London, (international, for the Army flag was already flying in 49 countries!) (Booth, 1904:47-58). The language is colorful, eloquent, gripping. To have been there would have been to be captivated by the urgent authority of his unmistakable voice, the intensity of his delivery, the very sight of the aging prophet.

"I see a conflict -- a fight -- no! More than a fight--a long-continued war. . . .I see again a vast multitude of the miserable, the lonely, the outcasts of earth . . . the cry of whose agony has come up to Heaven. And I see everywhere among them the mighty blessings conferred upon them by our Social operations." Booth sees colonies for the hopeless all over the civilized world -- land Colonies growing to be 'Salvation Cities.' And there are orphanages, reformatories, medical colleges and nursing institutions that rise before his eyes, with officers and others streaming out across the suffering world bringing healing as they valiantly quest for souls. "I look," says the Founder, "and there rises up before my eyes the mightiest and most practical body of Salvation missionaries as yet known upon the earth." "Not less than 100,000 officers, men and women, of all nations, races and tongues, whose business it is to make Salvation known." There is more: "The World's University for Training men and women to deal with the universal sins, vices and sufferings of humanity, is at last an accomplished fact, and a glorious fact."

Everywhere he sees the 'Salvation Citadel', for no city or village can be found without one -- a house of prayer and a 'Battery of Salvation' and center of "every conceivable humanizing and spiritualizing influence and activity." Then the Founder rises to the climax of his vision in his final peroration: "I tell you that the eye of my imagination is resting on the first universal gathering of The Salvation Army's triumphant hosts on the Elysian fields of the Paradise of God." Millions and millions more. "Who are they? They are Salvationists. They were Salvationists on earth; they are Salvationists for ever," gathered at the Throne of God on that Triumphant Day" (Booth, 1904:47-58).

Much of that vision has been realized. On many things he proved truly prescient. We may not be there yet, but brothers and sisters, this I can tell you, The Salvation Army is marching on!

PAUL RADER, GENERAL (R)

A MISSIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE UNIQUENESS OF THE SALVATION ARMY

General Paul A. Rader (Ret.)
Commissioner Kay F. Rader ADDRESS DELIVERED ON 2/28/2009 OSLO UNIVERSITY, NORWAY
The Salvation Army International Mission Statement
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by love for God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination.

From the first the Army was destined to be a global movement. It commenced unremarkably in a street meeting to the front of the Blind Beggar pub in the impoverished Whitechapel district of East London in the year 1865. There the movement which became The Salvation Army began its march to the loneliest redoubts of human sin and suffering around the globe. The vision of the founders, William and Catherine Booth, quickly expanded to embrace the world. "Remember," he early admonished his growing corps of leaders, "no officer can be a Salvationist in the wider or fullest sense except he has in some measure this world-embracing love. I want every officer in every part of the globe to take his share in this wider life of the Army . . . . To think, and to feel and to pray and believe, in a large world-embracing way." "My arms are around the world," he famously remarked, "and my heart is set on its salvation!"

ARMS AROUND THE WORLD

September 19, 1882, a former magistrate in the Indian Civil Service, Frederick St. George de Latour Tucker (later to become son-in-law to the Founder and adopting the Booth name), now wholly devoted to the Army's mission and bearing the rank of Major, landed in Bombay with his team -- four in all, dressed in nondescript Indian garb. The Governor of Bombay had received word from London of an imminent 'invasion' by The Salvation Army. They were met by a large contingent of police lining the waterfront. They had expected them to arrive a thousand strong. Undaunted they marched away, with flag, cornet, the drum and tambourine. Major Tucker, who adopted the name of Fakir Singh, knew well what he was attempting in adapting to Indian culture and lifestyle. The Founder had urged them to 'get into their skins.' They meant to do so as far as health and strength would allow.

It was arguably one of the most thoroughgoing experiments in missionary identification and cultural adaptation since the Jesuit missionary to India, Robert de Nobili in the 17th century [1577-1656]. De Nobili, however, chose to identify with the higher caste Hindus. The early Army 'undauntables', women and men, took the humble saffron and scarlet garb of the religious mendicant, assumed Indian names, and moved barefoot from village to village, begging for their daily rations. Booth-Tucker's biographer underscores the influence upon him of the great 16th c. Jesuit missioner, St. Francis Xavier. Booth-Tucker himself refers to de Nobili and Constantin Josephus Beschi [1680-1746], who carried on de Nobili's work. True, over time the more extreme forms of sacrificial identification proved impractical and were abandoned for more moderate, yet still controversial, practices that gave the Salvationist missioners an acceptance among the common people often denied to others.

In 1880, two years earlier than the launch of the Indian mission, another of the Army's early great-hearts, George Scott Railton, landed at the Battery in New York City accompanied by seven 'Hallelujah Lassies.' This ragtag band was hardly formidable in appearance, but they came with a bold purpose to plant the Army's colors and 'open fire' on sin and suffering in America. They could not have imagined the eventual extent of the work they were commencing. The Army in the USA is now deployed in over 9,000 communities, with some 400,000 members and 3.3 million volunteers, sharing the transforming Gospel of Christ, while also assisting more than 28 million persons in 2007 at a cost of over $2.8 billion dollars.

The Army in the United States also adapted in its own way to the working class culture with its use of language and spectacle, music hall tunes, circus posters and choice of venues, not to mention the involvement of women missioners and converts. The sociologist, Pamela Walker, explores this phenomenon in her doctoral dissertation, Pulling the Devil's Kingdom Down: Gender and Popular Culture in The Salvation Army, 1865-1895 (Rutgers Univ. 1992).

Adaptability has been a hallmark of the Army since its inception. The name itself: The Salvation Army, adopted in 1878, the militant rhetoric and quasi-military structure all reflected the chauvinistic culture of the time. Significantly, that period in England's history also gave birth to the Church Army within Anglicanism and hymns of Anglican origin like 'Onward Christian Soldiers', written in 1865, the year of the Army's founding. The Salvation Army was 'aggressive Christianity' with a mission to engage the forces of darkness in battle. The scriptural metaphors of spiritual warfare supported the Army's brand of Christian militancy. The battles were real, the casualties high and the issues eternal in consequence.

In this 100th anniversary year of the Army's mission in Korea, attention should be drawn to the appeal of the Army to the peace-loving people of the Land of the Morning Calm, when it 'opened fire' on the peninsula in the Fall of 1908. Korea had then and has now a long and painful history of suffering at the hands of militarists. One would have thought the uniform, the flag and language of a militant movement offensive and off-putting to Koreans. But uniforms are a way of life in Korea and there is a noble tradition of Hwarang warriors in Korea's story that seemed to render the association of military forms and structures with the earnest religiosity of Koreans more acceptable. And the Army proved adaptable to Korean culture in other ways as it settled into its mission. Korean dress was adopted by the expatriate officers as well as Korean names. Both the revivalist tradition in Korean Protestantism, stemming from the Great Pyong Yang Revival of 1907 and the influence of shamanism on devotional practices are reflected in Korean Salvationist worship traditions. With some exceptions, missionary officers adopted a thoroughgoing Korean lifestyle, particularly those stationed away from the capital city of Seoul.

The Army has not maintained a mission structure apart from the administrative control of the territory where expatriates may be appointed to serve. Missionaries are currently referred to officially as 'reinforcement officers.' They serve under the leadership in the territory, most of whom are nationals, and, for the most part, are expected to live on an economic level as consistent with that of national officers as feasible, with some consideration for health, safety and family requirements.

Paul Rader, General (ret.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

ON RETURNING HOME -Part Two -

I am a person who is organised, likes to know what is happening each day, can’t bear surprises and needs to know where I stand.

My application for re-acceptance commenced back in September, although I had spoken with my Divisional Commander before then about the possibility of returning to ministry. I have had DHQ interviews and a new process is now in place for all candidates applying for Salvation Army Officership. I had to go through a Psychological and Psychosexual screening test and had to go to a re-accepted conference in London. This consisted of several interviews, role play, preaching a sermon, questions asked by an interview panel and I was able share my experiences of past, present and future hopes. Then the recommendation of the interview panel had to be presented to the Officer Review Board at THQ. I waited several weeks for this outcome, which seemed to take forever, as we had the Christmas period in between, but, praise God, 8 weeks later I was thrilled to hear that I was now re-accepted and would be receiving my "marching orders" next week !

On 12th February, I was appointed to plant a neo (new expression of salvation army) in the East Hull area. I cannot put into words how I feel, but know God is already and has been for some time preparing the way. I have just joined the gym in the area where I am going to work and already having some interesting conversations with people. Having worked in this area before I am now coming into contact with a different generation of people and piecing together family members I have not met before. I worked as a Youth Worker before I commenced working at the hospice for 3 years and had the privilege of working with a young girl who struggled to connect with school and who seemed to get in with the wrong crowd. To cut a long story short this young lady is now, living independently, has gained qualifications to A level standard, has taken exams in drama and is now working as a Youth Leader. It was this young ladies mother I met in the gym, who gave me an up to date account of her daughters life. I was able to share with her about my new appointment to the area she shared with me some of the things that she liked to do and what was already happening, she shared her dream of being able to support others through her own gifts of creative writing. I quickly asked for her contact details, and thanked God for my first recruit!

There are so many exciting things happening in Hull, and I believe it’s the ‘best’ city to live and claim the land for God. There is a real togetherness with the local clergy and the churches are seen as working together for the good of the Kingdom.

I pray the words of our founder William Booth:-

To make our weak hearts strong and brave,
Send the fire!
To live a dying world to save,
Send the fire today!
O see us on your altar lay
Our lives, our all, this very day,
To crown the offering now we pray,
Send the fire today, Send the fire today.



Remember,” Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step”! (Oswald Chambers)

Many blessings,
Tracey Oliver ('Former', soon to be active SA officer UK Territory)

ON RETURNING HOME - Part One -

Rise, let us be going —Matthew 26:46
OSWALD CHAMBERS (from MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST)

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realised what they had done it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realise we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, "Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing." In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.

There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, "Get up, and do the next thing." If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.
---------------------------------------------

I have been out of officership for nearly 11 years and when I had to leave I experienced such great despair, I felt shattered, as though someone had dropped me from a great height and like ‘humpty dumpty’, broken into many pieces, and thought could I ever be put back together again? Thankfully Jesus came and lovingly healed my broken life. The past and my experiences have now been put to sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ and although I will never forget my experiences I have been able to move on with my life.

I have searched these past years to find opportunities to serve and I have already shared some of my experiences, of the past nearly four years being involved in Hospice care. I thank God for this ministry, I have learnt so much which I know will enhance my future ministry as a Salvation Army Officer.

The process back has been a test of patience and reliance upon God, who has given me the strength to get through.

I am a person who is organised, likes to know what is happening each day, can’t bear surprises and needs to know where I stand.


Many blessings,
Tracey Oliver ('Former', soon to be active SA officer UK Territory)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

THE ARMY DNA - Part Two -

I would like to read some reflections by former officers who may, like me, find that some of the ‘verities of the faith’ do not reflect their present belief system. How does that affect their worship, their involvement with the Army, their interaction with Army people? What does it mean for the future of their faith? Do not get me wrong; as I said earlier my DNA is still very much Army. I am convinced that if I cut myself I would bleed 'Red, Yellow and Blue' all over the carpet. I believe that the Army has been the catalyst in more changes for the better in the spiritual, emotional and physical life of the countries where it has worked than can ever be given credit for. I believe that still the Army has such potential for the betterment of humanity than most other Faiths and humanitarian organisations. Without acceptance of the Articles of Faith, however, I feel that I will always be an outsider.

I am aware that some will say I can be involved in many other ways. For me, though, I feel that I will always be outside the fold after having been so intimately involved while I was an Officer. I would be interested to hear how other people have coped in continuing their involvement without the acceptance of all the Articles of Faith that, for me, make up the basis of true Salvationism.

This is not a plea for counselling in any sort of fashion. I now have a new career, and have been significantly involved with my career's professional body in Australia, the UK and a small part in the States, I have been an elected leader of my profession in two of those countries and have become a Fellow, so I have not been idle in my leadership involvement. I do counselling, coaching, mentoring within many fields and very firmly believe that I am continuing to fulfill a part of my covenant that I still hold dear. I attend my local Corps irregularly and I am very proud of my association with them and am still full of respect for the Officers. There is no higher calling than to be the spiritual leader of a Salvation Army Corps.

Life goes on. What I have become is in direct correlation to my commitment to the Army. Any position I hold will benefit from all I learned and experienced while I was in the Army and I will credit the good training that I received. Not formal training I might add. Unlike one of the correspondents who sang the praises of their College days, my experience was something of a cross between music camp and a ‘Carry On’ movie (50’s and 60’s English slapstick comedy), but we survived with a lot of stories and adventures that carried us through the first few really tough years until we could put Officership into context of what it all really meant.

As I write this I am listening to the ISB playing ‘A Pastoral Symphony’ by Robert Redhead. I am, I confess, a brass band person who loved living in Birmingham UK for a number of years and every year went to the Nationals, confident that the Birmingham Salvo’s band would have done very well if they had competed. In the notes to this magnificent piece of music it indicates that it is based on an officer’s life and ministry depicted by the three movements. It describes the officer as a ‘being’ person rather than just a ‘doing’ person and urges the faithful breaking of the bread of life to his people. In the second movement are the overwhelmingly powerful words of Albert Osborn’s powerfully disturbing words ‘Except I am moved by compassion….’ As a simple question, it is unsurpassed. Then the third movement sums it all up; ‘In my life Lord, be glorified’.

On the outside I am a ‘Former Salvo Officer’. On the inside however, I carry all the emotion that entails… joy and pride at having been one; pain and trauma that I no longer am one.

Cheers

‘Fletch’

Peter Fletcher
Melbourne Australia

Monday, February 23, 2009

THE ARMY DNA - Part One -

Congratulations on this forum.

I am a former officer whose DNA is still firmly planted in the Army culture. After a lifetime involvement and 23 years as an officer, I left the ranks in the early 90’s. Over the years, I have had contact with a number of officers who have left, many with significant unresolved issues, bitterness and often an all-encompassing emptiness. This forum is something that I believe will benefit many former officers. It would have been greatly appreciated and helpful to me in those really traumatic times when it appeared that life as I had known it had ended and I had to take those difficult first steps in a ‘hostile’ world.

Even when I was an officer, I found the lack of contact with former officers very puzzling. It was, as someone expressed to me, almost a fear of Officers that leave because they may ‘contaminate’ in some way those that remain ‘faithful’. It was left to the Field Department to sort out all the 'tough stuff'. In my case it was left to only one officer who made contact more out of personal concern than anything else. The official position when I left after 6 months was "come back or else". At the time I chose the ‘or else’ and for a number of years was very much in the ‘wilderness’ so to speak.

Yes, I did know people who would literally walk by on the other side of the street, who would ring up and tell me how I had ruined all my families' lives. People I thought were friends and comrades would snub me quite dramatically. I was not allowed to speak at my son’s wedding because, well, I am still not sure. The bride's Officer parents were in control of the event and I seemed to have been cast in the role of the tolerated black sheep of the family. That is a painful memory that will stay with me for a long time. It seems that leaving Officership is always attended by disruption and despair. There is just no standard response that, at least in past years, was available to ease the transition.

I read with some bizarre sort of jealousy, those entries from people whose spiritual life has continued to develop in the fundamentalist, ‘this is what the Bible says; I believe it; that settles it’ format. I say jealously, because I would love it to be that simple for me… to be able to accept the doctrines as is, re-sign my Articles of War, and while donning my uniform take part in the Corps again. I just simply cannot, and after much soul searching, do not want to. This is complicated by the fact that I am occasionally plagued by the ‘what ifs’. I see many of my peers in leadership positions and I wonder if I really could have made a difference to the future of the Army, in my small part of it anyway.
Cheers

‘Fletch’

Peter Fletcher
Melbourne Australia

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I TURNED AND THE HOMELESS MAN WAS GONE... -CONCLUSION -

G. K. Chesterton lovingly recalls the story of the young friar Francis in his book ‘St Francis of Assisi’, and I believe it serves as a fitting reminder to the Christian of today.

High in the dark house in Rome, Assisi Francesco dreamed of being called to battle. It was a vision splendid with swords, spears, shields and helmets, all bearing the sacred sign, crusader-fashion. He saw in that vision a call to arms, a bidding to a distant battlefield. ‘He as not without some vision of the wreath of laurel which Caesar has left for all the Latins.’ He dreamed of coming back a great prince. A short time after settling out to battle he fell ill, to a recurring sickness. During this spell of illness he had a second dream, and here the voice came to him: ‘You have mistaken the meaning of the vision. Return to your own town.’ And Francis traveled back to Assisi in his sickness. By now a disappointed and dismal figure he began to wait for what should happen next. ‘It was his first descent into a dark ravine that is called the valley of humiliation …’ He was puzzled and bewildered.

One day, while riding listlessly on the city’s outskirts, he saw a figure coming toward him. He halted and saw that it was a leper. He knew immediately that this was a challenge to his courage, not as he would have found in the Crusades, but as one would challenge who knew the hearts of men. He knew he would never have shrunk from the banners, spears, or attacks of Perugia. But here Francis saw his fear walking toward him, coming to meet him face to face. For once ‘his soul must have stood still’. Then, as if knowing nothing of fear, he sprang from his horse and rushed on the leper and threw his arms around him. It was the beginning of a lifetime vocation of ministry among lepers. To the man he gave what money he could, remounted his horse and rode on.

Francis, sensing the need to catch a final glimpse of the leper, turned, as he rode, to see him once more, but he could see no figure on the road.

Come, meet the homeless. Come, see Jesus.

Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Active Soldier
Exeter Temple Corps, UK














---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

"O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, harmony.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sorrow, joy.

Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I TURNED AND THE HOMELESS MAN WAS GONE... -Part THREE -

David Watson shares the insight of an Indian Christian in his ‘I believe in Evangelism’ ‘People are no longer converted to a doctrine. They can only be attracted to a way of life they see as a practical alternative to the values and assumptions of our competitive, alienated, materialistic society. We have been presenting Christianity (the system) and not Christ the person … We have to present to the world a living Christ, fresh, always life-giving and nourishing …’

In this charismatic age we need to be reminded that the charisma, the charm of our loving Saviour was not found in solitude or absent union with His Father; it was in His joining and sharing with the oppressed, the alienated, and those living without hope. P.T. Forsyth says that we are ‘potential Christs’ in the sense that Christ grows in us and rouses our faith to action.

He is our example: We are not to live isolated from the world’s suffering in some monastic fashion of seeking participation with deity. We must not let our love for God cause us to neglect our duty to love the poor. If we love God we must also love our neighbour. Our Gospel compels us to live completely, this is to communicate a Gospel which corresponds to people’s felt needs. And in doing so we need to cry loudly the public shame in which we share for not having done more.

While many question whether the plight of the homeless is the result of the politician's inability to mobilise, or the result of social scientists' inability to programme, it is no less the Christian's shame for not recalling the words 'As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25: 40 RSV)

Christians must also assume the additional responsibility to cry out loudly about all blatant social injustice we meet, and we meeet a great deal of it. Offering Christian hope, as worthy as that is, while remaining silent on the cause of injustice is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called 'cheap grace'. God seeks both the salvation and the individual and the healing of His total creation. We must seek it out so that God can 'execute righteousness and judgement for all who are oppressed.'

Elton Trueblood warns that 'one of the insidious dangers of any religion is spiritualism', and indeed many demonstrate a satisfaction with a sense of arrival, becoming 'satisfied with what goes on in a place of worship with no real worry about poverty adjacent to it'. Trueblood goes on to say, in 'The New Man For Our Time', I cannot be wholly saved unless my brother is saved because, in the unforgettable words of John Donne, 'I am involved in mankind'. Ours is the total involvement of being in God's salvation plan for man, for all men, and, for the salvationist, this means perhaps most especially the unloved.

We must remember that, while all Christians are conscripted to serve as soldiers of Jesus Christ, the Salvationist is called to a very special duty. Eberhard Arnold shared these words at a worship meeting in Rhon Bruderhof, 2 October 1934: 'What it amounts to is a clash between two opposing goals. One goal is to seek the lowly people, the minorities, the handicapped ... the prisoners ... They are the degraded, the enslaved, the exploited, the weak, the poorest of the poor.' Clearly we canot be all things to all people. Our call is to find Jesus and to serve Him in this latter group.
MY LIFE MUST BE CHRIST'S BROKEN BREAD, MY LOVE HIS OUTPOURED WINE...





Sven Ljungholm
SA Soldier
Exeter Temple Corps, UK

Saturday, February 14, 2009

BREAD OF HEAVEN

WELCOME ...: 'I TURNED AND THE HOMELESS MAN WAS GONE ...' Part four

I TURNED AND THE HOMELESS MAN WAS GONE... -Part TWO-

The woman he spoke of had lived for several months in the doorway of a bank, two blocks from the hall in what is perhaps the world’s highest –rent district. I made my way as quickly as possible. However, when I spoke to her there was no response and I asked a passer-by to phone for an ambulance. Before the ambulance could arrive she died, almost in my arms. While there was concern expressed by some on-lookers , for most, however, the scene was all too familiar.

The age old sentiment was shared by one, ‘to think that she was once the daughter of a proud and loving mother and father’, and I felt compelled to add, reminding myself perhaps, that the filthy, by now noxious-smelling 50 or 60 year old ‘bag lady’ was also loved by her Heavenly Father.

Are we truly different from the world? Is Christ’s love, and the power of His resurrection clearly seen in us? Could it be that the world still waits for a Saviour because His living presence isn’t reflected in our service?

If the world is pointing to the Christian and saying you are no different from the rest; if the world sees the Christians stepping over or around the homeless; surely likening the perceived indifference to the holocaust can be understood. Our message must be clearly seen as being different from the answer given by the social scientist, where ‘technique is all’. Our hope is one that offers purity to the dirtiest, hope for the worst fallen, and a vision swept clear of human prejudice and folly. And as that hope is shared it also offers a living testimony to the critics.

The crucifixion reminds me that Christ died for the world, yet it was for me. And in His dying for me, He not only offered salvation but called me to service. Reginald Thomas in his book ‘To Know God’s Way’ says: ‘Jesus comes to ask something, as well as to give something; and (we must) understand that sacrifice, denial, and even a cross are essential parts of the Christian vocabulary, just as much as rest, joy, pardon and peace. You have to know that you will not always be fascinated by our Lord, for there is part of His gospel to which you might not be anxious to turn.’ We claim a salvation and experience that makes us complete in Him. Can it be said we are complete when the pattern of our behaviour shuns the experience for which He came? Are we truly walking in His Spirit when we sidestep the very ones He names as Himself?

INSIGHT

David Watson shares the insight of an Indian Christian in his ‘I believe in Evangelism’ ‘People are no longer converted to a doctrine. They can only be attracted to a way of life they see as a practical alternative to the values and assumptions of our competitive, alienated, materialistic society. We have been presenting Christianity (the system) and not Christ the person … We have to present to the world a living Christ, fresh, always life-giving and nourishing …’

In this charismatic age we need to be reminded that the charisma, the charm of our loving Saviour was not found in solitude or absent union with His Father; it was in His joining and sharing with the oppressed, the alienated, and those living without hope. P.T. Forsyth says that we are ‘potential 'Christs’ in the sense that Christ grows in us and rouses our faith to action.

He is our example. We are not to live isolated from the world’s suffering in some monastic fashion of seeking participation with deity. We must not let our love for God cause us to neglect our duty to love the poor. If we love God we must also love our neighbour. Our Gospel compels us to live completely, this is to communicate a Gospel which corresponds to people’s felt needs. And in doing so we need to cry loudly the public shame in which we share for not having done more.

Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Former SA Officer
Exeter Temple Corps, UK

Friday, February 13, 2009

I TURNED AND THE HOMELESS MAN WAS GONE... -Part ONE-

A witness during the Nuremberg war crime trials shared his experiences with the court. He, along with several other Jews, had escaped the gas chamber in Wilna, Poland, and in fleeing the Nazis, sought refuge for a time in a Jewish graveyard. During his time of hiding, the man, a poet, described the details of a birth he had witnessed in one of the graves. A young woman gave birth to a boy, and she was assisted in the delivery by the 80 year old Jewish grave digger. The grave digger, seeing the boy child, and hearing his first cries, carefully wrapped the babe in a white linen shroud and prayed: 'Great God, hast thou finally sent the Messiah to us? For who else than the Messiah Himself can be born in a grave?' Three days later the poet witnessed the wrenching scene of the baby sucking tears from the mother's cheek, as without the necessary nutrition she was unable to produce milk for him.

After three days the grave closed in on the baby and he died. The scene again turned to hopelessness.

In the Christian faith, however, the hope is alive, for Jesus Himself said, and we have the witness in ourselves, that, 'after three days I will rise again'; after three days our Saviour was re-born, raised to life, in a grave. While the story is complete in itself, there is a poigniant reminder here for the contemporary Christian.

I attended an ecumenical lecture last week sponsored by the Jesuits and heard, what I suppose many Christians are already sensing, that the plight of today's homeless is by many being paralleled with the holocaust. The world points to the Christian and says: 'I remember a similar lack of concern when thousands were destitute, dying. If your Saviour has really come, why all this suffering, and why the Christian's indifference?' John Stott has said that the greatest indicment that can be levied against a Christian is to be called 'no different from the world.'

Just over 20 years ago Salvationists from around the world met in London and revelled in a week-long celebration of arrival. It was in a sense an arrival to more than just our centenary; it was in many respects our arrival into an areana of respectability. General Fredrick Coutt's words in that celebrationheld in New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine in October 1965, echoed the Old Testament words that: 'We who are not a people, have been made a people.' An editorial article in The Officer magazine published the same summer states that: 'William Booth's cry for arms long enough to reach the rich on the one hand and the poor on the other has been gloriously achieved in the Army.' We had arrived. But inherent in any such sentiment is the danger of complacency, of resting on laurels, of delegating responsibility to others.

I have no ready answer for what has happened in society to move us to where we are. However, one need not be a social scientist to focus on the change that has taken place. In the few years since we celebrated our arrival I wonder if indeed the reach of our arms and the depth of our devotion to the homeless hasn't changed; if we haven't somehow also come to accept the situation of the homeless as the status quo. I don't mean we're not doing anything, but are we doing enough, or even as much as we can?

John Stott, in his book 'Understanding Christ' pays great tribute to us in quoting from 'The General Next to God'. He relates Booth's staunch discipline and expectation of his soldiers, and how Salvationists dedicating their children: 'must be willing that the child should ... spend all its life where God should choose to send it, that it should be despised, hated, cursed, beaten, kicked, imprisoned or killed for Christ's sake.' But that was nearly a century ago, we say, and times have changed. That was before we arrived; it was during the time of our newly formed church being persecuted. Is it that the church is less persecuted today, or as John Stott says, 'simply ignored'? Is it that we are not different enough from the world, willing enough to speak up, to speak out, and to act out what God still calls us to do? Are our arms still wrapped around the poor?

The homeless in New York City, indeed in most cities world wide, are today so commonplace that they are woven into the very fabric of the city. Ironically they have become such an integral part of New York's profile that when Hollywood studios shoot their several dozen movies here annually, the casting department always include in their 'talent search' many homeless persons to lend an air of authenticity. It wasn't all that long ago that the same casting directors phoned the Army for help in locating potential 'street people', or to borrow a group to provide an open-air scene. Indeed, 'bag-ladies' and 'street-persons' are today so comonplace in our society that these nouns, unknown to us 20 years ago, are colloquialisms today.

There isn't a square block in New York, with our estimated 60,000 homeless, that is free from either the presence of these, 'God's children', or the indicment of indifference. Just a few weeks ago I was called to service by a member of the Norweigian Mission to the United Nations. He knew where our Corps was located (almost in the shadow of the UN) and knew something of our mission. He explained that a street- person, one we had cared for over a period of time, appeared extremely ill and would we investigate her plight.





Dr. Sven-Erik Ljungholm
THE OFFICER Magazine - July 1987

Sunday, February 8, 2009

MY HEART STILL BELONGS TO AFRICA -Part Four-

From The SA Archives - Commissioning as they were performed in the1950s - "God bless you Lieutenant; your Marching Orders!"

I struggled as a seminary student. There were many rules to which I was to adhere that seemed silly – especially from the perspective of a 30-year-old. The independence that I had embraced both in life and in thought was greatly challenged. I was living in a fish bowl and honestly did not like it very much! I must say, however, that many special friendships were forged with not only those in my session (class), but with those ahead of our class, as well as those behind us. I think my favorite class of the two-year program was studying The Salvation Army doctrines – I enjoyed the in-depth discussions we had about the beliefs of The Salvation Army as I embraced them in my heart.

I was commissioned (ordained) in June, 1995. My first appointment was as the assistant pastor at the Louisville (South), Kentucky Corps. I enjoyed very much leading church services as well as youth programs and the congregation was dedicated and encouraging. For me, however, I began feeling that I was not sacrificing myself for God as I had hoped. I felt like I was really working full-time as an employee of The Salvation Army. After 1 ½ years there, I spoke to the head pastors and let him know that my heart was telling me that I needed to resign as an officer. They were very supportive and only wanted me to do what God was telling me to do, but their superiors decided that maybe moving me to another appointment would be the answer.

For six months, I was the assistant pastor at the Anniston, AL Corps. While there, I was saddened by the attitude and demeanor of the head pastors as they were unable to connect with the congregation. I was placed in an awkward position between the congregation and the pastors. It was difficult for me to witness the frustrations of the congregation yet have my hands tied to do anything about it. When I did finally speak to their superiors regarding the situation, I was given no support whatsoever. (It didn’t help me that their superiors were also the principals of the seminary where I had attended – I was considered a difficult student!). In June 1997, with the blessing of my parents, I resigned.

For the next couple of months, as I was staying at my parent’s home, I went through a short bout of depression. I felt guilty because I thought I had let God down, as well as my parents and The Salvation Army. My resignation left me feeling alienated from all of my friends – all of whom belonged to The Salvation Army in one way or another. I was also sadly disappointed that no Salvation Army officers attempted to reach out to me for counsel or just to find out how I was doing. But then in September, I received a call out of the blue from an officer who was the administrator of a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Louisville, Kentucky. He had heard that I was looking for a job and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes!

It was at this ARC that I discovered a special, hidden secret of the Army - what a unique ministry! This particular facility was for men only and was a residential program that taught men how to let Jesus help them win their battles over their addictions. Even though I was working in Accounting, I discovered that there were many ways I was able to minister to the men in our day-to-day activities. This was exactly where God wanted me to be. It was at work that I met my husband – a fellow employee of the ARC. I didn’t like him when I first met him, but I soon learned he was a deeply caring and spiritual man. I fell in love with him and we married. We attended the services at both the ARC and the Louisville (South), KY Corps, but I have to admit that I enjoyed the spirit of the ARC services the most!

The year 2002 was sad for the Louisville ARC. After many years with the inability to support itself as ARC programs should, The Salvation Army decided that it was time to close the rehabilitation program. It was difficult to see the disappointment in the eyes of the men who felt that they were being evicted from their “home.” Although many decided to transfer to ARC programs in other states, there were many that stayed until the last moment possible due to the fear of venturing back out into the real world.

Because we believed in and loved the ARC program, my husband and I decided to transfer to the ARC in Jacksonville, Florida. We worked there for several years and I continued to enjoy playing the piano at the weekly services and ministering to the men in the program. But we got homesick for Louisville, Kentucky and returned home. Believing that God always opens doors of opportunities, I took a job at a local university and found myself in a new arena that I was totally enjoying. No one knew anything about me and it was refreshing to be able to begin a new career with a blank slate. After growing up and working for The Salvation Army my entire life, this was a new and welcome change! What a great opportunity to shine God’s light! And, after 20 years, I was finally able to complete my Undergraduate degree in Accounting! I still missed having contact with my old friends, but recently was able to reconnect with so many of them through Facebook – an internet social network. What a simple way to keep in touch! I hope the Army learns to take advantage of this tool to further its growth worldwide.

Although I am no longer a Salvation Army officer, I have no regrets. I believe that I traveled the path that God created for me even though that plan was not always easy to see. I cherish all of my experiences because I truly believe that they are what can make us better people if we choose to allow them to. I am contentedly married and am at peace with my life.

There are times, however, that I long to hear the rain beating on the tin roof of our African home; or to close my eyes savoring the taste of a fresh mango picked right from the tree; or feel my heart swell as I listen to African drums beating. Though I am happy in my life, my heart will always belong to Africa!

Melanie Collins-Owens
Former
AFRICA/USA

Saturday, February 7, 2009

MY HEART STILL BELONGS TO AFRICA -Part Three-

My parents believed that it was important for native Zaïrians to lead and teach fellow Zaïrians and to feel proud doing so. Therefore, when it was time for us to return to Zaïre for our final missionary term, it was agreed by The Salvation Army International Headquarters that my dad be allowed to train his replacement – Mr. Joseph Buditu – as principal. This was quite a bold initiative for not only that time period, but for that country.

In 1974, our missionary journal as a family came to an end – well, physically anyway. I would not realize until much later in my life that our time in Africa had forever molded me into the person I am today. As I think back now over those years, I have a new appreciation for the way my parents raised me and how they allowed me to become an independent thinker. I also remember the day my mom prayed with me at my bedside as I accepted Jesus into my heart. The date was written in a Bible my mom gave me after we prayed – Easter 1973.

When our family returned to the U.S., you can probably imagine the adjustments we all had to make to life as an American – especially when we were sent to Detroit, Michigan!
I still recollect playing in the many feet of snow we had as we missed one week of school – we had never seen anything like that in Africa! The most visible thing my parents noticed was how wasteful Americans were - especially with food. It took them many months to reconcile that fact with the still fresh, vivid images of the many hungry Africans they had encountered not so long ago.

I adapted pretty quickly to my new world. As our family moved from Detroit to Kansas City and then on to Atlanta, I suppose one could say that I was a typical “preacher’s kid.” If I wasn’t in school or participating in extracurricular activities, I was at the Corps (church). I not only sang in the choir and played a horn in band, but was active in many other church youth programs. I had heard my parents preach God’s Word, and although I listened, I did not truly understand how it related to me and to my life. I knew all the facts of God’s forgiveness, grace, and love in my mind, but was not able to truly apply them to my heart or soul.

When I was in my twenties and was discovering who I was as a person, I felt like I didn’t belong. I had a restless longing to be anywhere but where I was – my heart desired to be back “home” to Africa where life was simple and I was happy. When I attended Asbury College in Kentucky, I had changed my major 5 times; I had taken French in school thinking I wanted to work for the Air France airline; I took Russian lessons because I thought I wanted to work for the United Nations. I had no direction and had no earthly idea of what I was supposed to do with my life until I moved to Washington, DC to work for The Salvation Army in Accounting.

It was in DC that God placed me in a wonderful fellowship of young people who were all striving to learn more about God. It was during this time that I became truly grateful that even as far back as my African days, my parents had allowed me to live with an independent, open mind with no pre-judgments or prejudices; to accept people just as they were with no regard to race, religion, education, or anything else that can cause barriers.

My upstairs neighbors were Pentecostal and I loved them! I can’t tell you how many deep discussions we had on various spiritual topics and I learned so much. It was refreshing to hear beliefs that contradicted what I had heard at the Corps or that brought out issues I had never contemplated before. I was thirsty to learn anything that I could about God and His Word. I will always treasure those times as I grew so much spiritually. It was then that I truly understood what Jesus had done for me and I became sanctified with the Holy Spirit. Although I was working for The Salvation Army and was an active member at church, I didn’t feel that I was doing enough for God…I heard Him calling me to full-time service and the way that I thought He wanted me to achieve that was to attend The Salvation Army seminary to become an officer (minister).


Melanie Collins-Owens
Former
USA South