Tuesday, May 31, 2011



Saturday afternoon gave us much time to eat, share fellowship, meet old friends and for me, new ones. I very soon discovered that much of the love, affection and high esteem the people have for Sven was eagerly expressed to me too. People who seemed desperate to greet Sven, speak with Sven, have their photo taken with Sven and thank Sven seemed to come at us from every direction. It was wonderful to meet with some of the very first soldiers Sven and Kathie enrolled, to hear some of their stories and to see them still faithfully serving God through the ranks of The Salvation Army. We met some who were no more than children and now, young women bringing their own children to celebrate. Others who had aged somewhat over the twenty years but nonetheless still gave sincere thanks to God for what seemed like their ‘forefathers’ Kathie and Sven, their heroes of faith.

Many different expressions of worship were shared during the course of the afternoon, out in the park in the heat of the day. Young brass musicians playing jazzed up versions of familiar SA tunes. Dynamic youth drama groups performed. An Oslo Temple band ensemble sensitively fitted in to the whole weekend and added so much. Sven recalled leading them in the triumphant march as they opened fire in Leningrad, following the SA flag to the very place where his grandparents had been arrested.
Russian Cadets 1918 with Adjutant and Mrs. Otto Ljungholm (Cadet Zeligmann was arrested and scheduled to be executed; story follows in a few days)

However, I guess for us and particularly for Sven the highlight of the afternoon had to be watching and listening to the newly formed YP band from Yalta. They played enthusiastically having only been learning for the past seven months. Sven and Kathie planted the Yalta Corps, and the Commanding Officer had been one of their young people sixteen years ago in the Kiev Central Corps Singing Company.

KIEV CENTRAL CORPS SINGING COMPANY (with a young Captain Ruslan)

Sven now greeted some of their early recruits from Yalta. The Officer invited Sven and me to return with a group next summer (2012) to conduct a ten-day music camp and to encourage the ongoing work there amongst the young people. No one seems to take notice of Sven’s disability… He doesn’t allow them to. They still see him as that strapping Captain that led them, the pioneers into battle in the years following Perestroika. Any interested volunteers reading this please contact either Sven or me.

The evening celebration encouraged us to look at what is happening now and was enthusiastically led by indigenous Officers and youth of the territory. I found the youth of this territory to be an absolute inspiration and made me feel the Army is in very safe hands as I saw something of their passion, drive and enthusiasm.

Sunday morning brought the Commissioning and Ordination of seven cadets. A very solemn congregation gathered as the Oslo Temple Band ensemble prepared our hearts and minds for worship with their playing. Sensitively we were asked to remain seated as the colours were processed into the hall, followed by the Cadets. Sven however, with a burning in his bones, could not remain seated for the colours and so I witnessed my disabled husband, refusing help, struggle to stand as I realized he could not remain seated for the flag and all it represents. His ancestors and others were prepared to die for our colours, and some did. In hindsight, I wish I had stood too, but I guess many of us stood in our hearts and in gratitude to God for the beautiful sight of these soon to be Lieutenants. Sven has remnants of the flag his grandfather was holding as he was arrested in 1919. If these stories were told in the IFOT and corps, I believe every soldier, recruit, cadet and officer, including the ex-pats would rise as one in tribute and thanks to God for the true Eastern Europe early pioneers.

Glad Ljungholm, Major

Part Three will follow

Friday, May 27, 2011



CAPTAIN SVEN·ERIK LJUNGHOLM, serving in Russia, discovers a remarkable 'Salvationist' leader who has maintained 'the Army' in spite of imprisonment and proscription

'THE GENERAL is on the line and wants to speak to you," said the office secretary. I took the receiver and after a moment of anxious reflection answered, "Yes, General Burrows, Captain Ljungholm speaking, and a good morning from all of us here in Leningrad." (General Burrows had departed Leningrad a few days earlier following the re-opening of the work in Russia) However, instead of General Burrows' voice a man replied in Russian: "Kapitan, this is General Vladimir Mikhailovich, Armeija Spasenja, Yalta, the Ukraine." At first I thought it some hoax, but after a few minutes of conversation I realized that this was indeed a "general" in every sense of the word, even if self-appointed and assuming command in an area made famous for meetings conducted by heads of state rather than by The Salvation Army!

As the "general" spoke he shared not only his experience as a Salvation Army soldier, sworn in at the St. Petersburg VII Corps in 1918, but also a hitherto unknown segment of our history. He had been arrested and exiled for 20 years in Siberia due to his Salvation Army activities during the Second World War. My interest and admiration piqued, and needing a "day away," my wife and I decided to visit this unknown hero. As my schedule was quite demanding I opted for a flight the next week as I would be in the south of Russia in Volgograd researching an outbreak of HIV in a childrens hospital with 238 toddlers infected. On arrival at the Volgograd airport I was not totally surprised to learn, after a delay of several hours, that my flight was delayed until "tomorrow sometime, however, if you wait until this afternoon, we may get you on yesterday's flight." On eventually landing at Yalta's regional airport in Semfiropol and walking towards the crowded outdoor luggage claim area I spied the authoritative imposing figure of a man who could be no one but the "general" himself.

It was an emotional and gripping moment for me, not only to meet the living proof of the adage that "old soldiers never die," but also to shake the hand of a man who had served in St. Petersburg at the side of Adjutant and Mrs. Otto Ljungholm, my grandparents.

The General, his Adjutant and translator... (note the crest on the General's breast pocket!)

Accompanying the "general" was his driver and "adjutant" of the last 40 years. The 1-1/2 hour car journey to the "general's" headquarters was made considerably longer due to the frequent stops on the mountainous road to refill the boiling radiator. Once in Yalta it was straight to "headquarters," a portion of the "general's" ramshackle home high on the hillside overlooking the Black Sea and Yalta. He led us out on the veranda and there stretched himself out as his hand went into the branches of the tree and plucked loose some fresh figs for my wife and me. "It's a biblical fruit, and good for you," insisted the "general," as he tossed us each our very first fresh fig.

Then it was to the "office" for the official welcome. He presented us to his wife, and handed to us his homemade but neatly printed SA business card. After a few moments of discussion the phone rang, and neither my wife nor I was surprised that the natural telephone greeting was, "The Salvation Army, the General speaking"!

On returning to the table he shared that part of his story his wife allows, the part that is not "too painful to tell or to listen to."

The 'General' had begun holding SA meetings in the local Ascension Church and recruiting potential soldiers...

Sven Ljungholm
Former Officer

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Silence Was Deafening ! Ukraine - part two

The word “Ukraine” translates from Old Eastern Slavonic as “borderland,” or “edge of the state,” and that description could not be truer. Ukraine is the cornerstone for the ‘west’s’ expansion, and the increased ‘western leanings’ by Ukraine was clearly evident, except by the church, and a small percentage of the population, including the country’s leaders.

Although more than 90 percent of the country is Orthodox, Ukrainians were much more open to the arrival of Protestant than the Russians were. Bordering principally Catholic and Lutheran countries Ukraine had been exposed to other theological traditions, although non quite as radical and militaristic as the The Salvation Army.

Orthodoxy in Ukraine is actually two entities: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the autonomous Church of Eastern Orthodoxy in Ukraine (UOC), which is under the Moscow Patriarchate. The former is unrecognized by any other canonical Eastern Orthodox Church but accounts for 21 percent of Ukraine’s population. And in a private audience with the Patriarch I was given a warm welcome and assured of any necessary assistance. (their funding comes primarily from the USA and they no doubt saw us as the potential provider of aid that we eventually became, thanks to The SA in the UK (BOSCOME CORPS AND WINTON CORPS & USA EAST)
The terms “borderland,” or “edge of the state,” also described the dynamics as they concerned faith and values in Ukraine. At the first sign of a crack in the Soviet control of entertainment and the media the onslaught of western decadence let loose. There was a constant battle for people's attention and spare time. The devil had enjoyed 50 years of mostly uncontested riotous living by most, subsequent to invasions of sovereign lands and endless strife and killings. Hope had vanished...But the devil's victories are always temporary,

Our first Sunday worship meeting resulted in some 50 seekers! As there was no penitent form, as we know them, the seekers came forward as the invitation was extended and stood along the perimeter at the front of the hall and shared in a recited prayer. Each seeker was given an invitation to recruit class and they began the very next evening with almost 100 potential recruits present, most having attended the Sunday service and others simply being invited by friends.

A youth choir was formed along with a Sunday School “work” committee made up of 10 or so teens (Kiev University students) who had come to the first meeting and were ‘hanging out’ in the newly established offices every afternoon following classes. They were very proficient in using computers and immediately set to work printing 300 weekly Young Soldiers for use in the Sunday School. Two of them became translators and all became uniformed soldiers, some three months later. Some decided to create a puppet ministry and others in time became Sunday School teachers, songsters and bandsmen. The Singing Company Leader, Olga Afanasieva arranged and printed the first Russian version of Happiness and Harmony.

Recruit classes lasted 12 weeks and we used Colonel Milton Agnew’s Manual of Salvationism, which we had translated and published in Russia during our Moscow tenure. Junior Soldier classes and singing Company practice were held on Wednesday evenings and on Saturday afternoon.

There was no shortage of ministry opportunities. Our Kiev activities were quickly made known for us to the Kiev population by the local media. And, Kathie and I were besieged with invitations to attend various public events and once there often became the focus of TV cameras and newspaper stories. And the Western Orthodox church was quick to embrace and welcome us into the ecumenical body. Our initial social work concentrated on children’s homes, prisons and invalids.

A very welcome problem was the explosive growth in the numbers attending our worship services. Within weeks we had almost 400 people attending Sunday School and felt we had to establish programmes to keep the young people focused, involved and committed during the week. Corps Cadet classes were begun along with a semblance of the Future Officers Fellowship programme. Some 90 plus teens met weekly for CC lessons, the majority coming in full uniform and in fact most wearing uniform to school or work on those days.

Kathie quickly established a fellowship evening on Fridays. She located a pub around the corner from our offices and met with the owner. She learned that their profits on a Friday night equaled about 20 USD by selling 15 or so bottles of poured vodka drinks and beer. She negotiated a verbal agreement whereby the owner would pour the same amount of vodka down the drain for which we would pay 20$.
We would then be allowed to bring in our own soda (chased Pepsi trucks each time we saw one and purchased directly from the roadside), popcorn machine and our keyboard and speakers and have sole use of the restaurant from 6.00 – 10.00pm. It was renamed- you guessed it! THE BLIND BEGGAR… dozens of new teens were drawn to the Corps through this fellowship.

Many of the new recruits came with suggestions of where the Army could best serve and expand our ministry; two officers and no soldiers at this point. One of the ministries that blossomed immediately but came as a total surprise to Kathie and me, however, not to God, was one focusing entirely on the Kiev deaf population. One of the recruits asked me to join her for a special theatre performance as she felt there was a possible ministry to a unique audience. She hadn’t told me who they were.

As was the case so often I was running late and we rushed to the theatre arriving well after the curtain had been raised and the performance begun. Ordinarily I would have waited for the intermission before entering but the recruit/translator grabbed my arm and said ‘it’s ok, we’ll just walk right in’. So we tip toed in, making every effort to move quietly in the strangely silent theatre. I was surprised that there was no sound coming from the theatre as we entered the doors and even more so when I looked up at the brightly lit stage and saw some 20 or more costumed actors all using sign language. At the end of the first act all in the theatre raised their hands and shook them enthusiastically, the deaf audiences’ way of applauding and showing appreciation.

During the intermission I was introduced to several dignitaries including a couple that God had earmarked and directed to head up a new ministry for the deaf population in Kiev’s newest church, the Kiev Central Corps. This large number of God’s children had been hidden from public view and contact in group homes located far from the country’s major cities during the Soviet era.

The following day invitations were printed and distributed to the deaf school and to groups working with this population. The following Sunday some 20 deaf persons were in attendance, joining several hundred others in the Holiness Meeting. The meeting was translated for the deaf by Irina, standing to the far left of the platform. The deaf were seated at the front right of the rented hall. Kathie immediately saw them as her ministry and endeared herself to them by counseling them and in turn learning some basic sign language.

The Singing Company learned to 'sign' many of their songs, and at least one song was signed by them each Sunday. If a programme item was deemed worthy of applaud, hundreds of raised hands flapped their approval in our hall. In due time the deaf soldiers formed their own ‘songsters’ and drama team. Each Sunday as the scripture was read the drama team acted out the Bible story.

Both in our preaching and teaching we used an inductive approach starting with examples of Christian living and life style and asking recruits to find rules in the Bible and Ukrainian philosophy. The deductive approach began with the Bible, SA doctrines, then holiness teaching, then examples, and then practice. The latter could be found in many areas of the salvationist’s private and corporate service. Key in building people up was in commending them on their spiritual growth at every turn. They were insatiable readers and all carried a New Testament at all times, along with whatever evangelical text they could find; most of the Russian texts produced by the Baptists or books in English borrowed from my private library. Few were ever returned, and that’s fine!

Sven Ljungholm
Govan Citadel Corps, UKT

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grace, Inclusiveness & Sexuality

I love it when my tribe looks outside of itself for wise voices, inspiration and a different perspective.

So, it’s been good in the last couple of weeks to have been able to pick up on one of those intersections along the way.

Jay Bakker of Revolution Church in NYC has been speaking to JustSalvos– the Social Justice Department of The Salvation Army in Australia. Jay crops up around 5.30 talking about grace, inclusiveness & sexuality, but the whole vid is worth a look & listen.

Some might imagine this to be a strange alliance; Jay is a straight yet gay affirming, tattooed and pierced “outlaw preacher”, and The Salvation Army is….well…what are we?

If you are in the US, and all you ever knew about The Salvation Army was picked up from bits and pieces you’d found on the web, you might well (erroneously) think The Salvation Army was a right wing fundie organisation who puts a lot of time, energy and cash into pushing a homophobic agenda. (I explored this a little on a couple of earlier posts, “Salvation Army on NPR…some thoughts” and “Sally Bash”) If – on the other hand – you had a small degree of personal experience of The Sally Army you’d struggle to even recognise the way it is occasionally perceived in some quarters.

The reality is quite different.

Does The SA hire hire gay people? Of course it does. Do we have gay people as part of our worshipping communities? Sure. Do we have friends and family members who are gay? Yes – many of us do.

The Salvation Army is a movement that started life – influenced by Jesus – radically reaching out to the marginalised and in large part that remains the case. Sometimes, though, we do need to remind ourselves of that, and in kind of a way Jay is a reminder of that heritage. The alliance I mentioned doesn’t seem at all strange to me. After all, early Salvation Army meetings were full of people who weren’t welcome in the Churches of the day, and may well not have been seen dead in their buildings given the choice!

Like many/most Christian tribes we’re on a journey when it comes to our interpretation of and response to human sexuality, and there is no longer absolute consensus at grass roots within our global ranks about quite where we stand on this issue. The place where we are today may well not be where we are in the future.

Our current engagement with people like Jay…and Andrew Marin… and Tony Campolo and countless others has to say something about at least our willingness to find ourselves in a place that reaches out to our LGBT brothers and sisters with love and grace.

Johnny Laird

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We truly want to get better

'It is true that as some say that LGBT people have had (and in some places still are) difficulty in the Salvation Army. As in the rest of society, we have over the last 10-20 years matured to see people as people and not based on labels we can on each other. We have reason to ask forgiveness for that…

We truly want to get better at living in mutual honesty and openness.
As a Christian, foremost in my life is to live both in obedience to God and his will, in the belief that it is the highest good for all people. It is my choice based on my love for Him. At the same time I must be credible in that love and respect people who have a different biblical interpretation, position and lifestyle. "

Commissioner Marie Willermark

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Swedish Big Brother

It seems difficult for modern people to accept that God moves in our lives. Keep in mind that he even has views of our sexuality. Today it is widely believed that all forms of sexuality must be welcomed. That's one reason why the Salvation Army was so heavily attacked last Sunday in TV4's "Cold Facts" - it will not allow its soldiers and officers to live in a homosexual relationship. However, they exclude no one from membership because of weakness or temptation. Yet their lifestyle requirements as viewed as discriminatory.

It seems that’s quick to change the thinking in this country by incessant hammering on the same nail. That it would be discriminatory to argue that marriage is only for man and woman is absurd. Marriage laws exist to provide a framework about the nature of the relationships that give rise to new life, to protect the weak and for regulating inheritance and other rights. The fact that not all heterosexual couples have children is one thing, but no homosexuals can procreate together and have children. It focuses on two different forms of union with completely different basic conditions and it is not discriminatory to recognize the difference.

Now that the state has decided differently, would the populace also prevent the many of us who stood up for this view from continuing to put forward our objections. It is alarming. If one is not allowed to ask the basis on what their elected representatives decide the future of democracy is in danger. A modern list of forbidden thoughts begin to take shape. A foced commonality of thought become the order of the day.

If humanists get their way, the Salvation Army and others who believe like them will miss out on (funding) contributions for social work activities. If municipal contributions for social services begin to be conditioned in this way it is difficult to foresee the consequences.

When these (funding) contributions were introduced, it was recognized that the diversity of the Swedish organizations’ and  denominations’ values were viewed as asset. But now we have secular fundamentalism, which has hoisted itself to the highest spiritual authority over all the churches and communities. They tolerate no contradictions and have no doubt in their own infallibility.

It has, in fact, throughout history been a plus for religious movements that they have been able to change society because they have not held similar values. Think about how Pastor Peter Wieselgren and Evangelical revivalist preachers changed the whole thinking about alcohol. It went as far as Sweden, in order to quiet crying children, providing them with rags soaked in alcohol to suck on. Many adults refrained entirely from drinking when they realized that it spread so much misery. So it was that the Swedes wre rescued from drinking themselves to death. But oh what a lot of scorn they endured by Albert Engström and others in the cultural establishment.

We need a similar counter-force against today’s sexliberalism. The Swedes would feel much better if more of them respected biblical high ideals of love and faithfulness in life-long marriages but also the warnings and stop signs in the sexual arena, no matter how offensive they may be perceived by the current Swedish establishment.

Olof Djurfeldt
Former Sr. Editor

Translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

Friday, May 20, 2011


It’s a week since the army’s bashing by a TV crew patching together a convoluted picture of one of the world’s most respected religious organization. The sophisticated, knowledgeable viewer would have recognized that the production team was grasping at straws and came away with just that; one small thread of controversy on which to build a credible argument of scandalous revelations. They failed miserably, but not without damaging the army. While the general public’s respect and trust appears undamaged, support and funding from secular municipalities are threatened.  I wonder if the Cold Facts intended such damage; threatening the welfare of the thousands assisted by the SA, including homosexuals.The evil that men do lives after them”, whether committed intentionally or not.

As I reflect on the TV program I see a clash of paradigms, in fact a great number of them.
  • 1.    Public broadcasting’s obligation to act fairly and honourably
  • 2.    Reporters and researchers to respect the integrity of their program’s subjects; their values, rights and privacy
  • 3.    Individuals purporting to have an active Christian faith experience to reflect that in their professions.
  • 4.    Christians ought to reflect a unity of spirit and act on it.
  • 5.    Both sides are responsible to act on their stated ethical values
  • 6.    The SA’s position on homosexuality and membership was kept unclear for too long.
  • (Journalistic ethics have been delineated in an earlier article.)

2.    1. Cold Facts repeatedly crossed the line using surreptitious methods, using faked spiritual counseling sessions by duping SA personnel, and intruding on SA property and personnel’s privacy.

 Stefan Sward, well known Pastor and news commentator wrote wrote. "Cold Facts slants the issue in a very peculiar way apparently with the singular purpose to harm the Salvation Army. It also uses journalistic methods that are far removed from professional journalism. The surreptitious filming of confession and counseling sessions is directly offensive to the Salvation Army. In addition to not disclosing your intent and stating what questions you intend ask. And then to ‘hang out’ the Salvation Army on display when they do not participate in your game, and your conditions on how to respond to your questions.

Cold Facts’ action has created uncertainty in an entire profession - priests and pastors. There will be a nagging concern that there is a hidden camera present in the soul-care and confessional settings.
3.    2. At least 2 of the Cold Facts’ team are identified as being active Christians in the recent past. Assuming that they are still active in their faiths (Mission Church and Pentecostal Church) did they act on their residual obligations; as journalist but foremost as Christians. 

Sward, "I had taken for granted that the program has been made by entirely secular journalists who are total novices on how Christianity works. When I last learned that several of the key players in the Cold Facts undercover scrutiny of the Salvation Army were active ‘freechurch’ members, I was shocked and deeply saddened. I could not imagine this in my wildest dreams.

Did the show’s host Cicci Hallström forget or deny residual Christian obligations in favour of her journalistic ambitions?

Cicci Hallström, TV4, said in her candidacy for the Church Mission Board in 2006 that she wanted take advantage of the good reputation of the Mission Covenant Church. And that a pressing issue was; 'that people outside the church know what the Mission Church is and what we stand for. Think if we would actually try to wipe out the prejudices that exist…’

One way to do so would have been to speak up for, rather than damage the unity of the church.

Paul wrote around the year 61 A.D., urging a spirit of unity and fraternal concern words that Cicci and all Christians hold dear to this day;
·      If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ
·      if any comfort from his love
·      if any fellowship with the Spirit
·      if any tenderness and compassion

·      then make my joy complete by being like-minded
·      (then) by having the same love
·      (then) by being one in spirit and
·      (then) by purpose.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others 

The Christian must be morally and spiritually distinct from those around us, and with a new way of thinking and a new moral sensibility. If we have the light of God in our souls, and the truth of God in our hearts we must live lives that are clearly distinct from that of the society around us.
Dr. John Stott shared in a conference I attended, “The greatest indictment that can be levied against a Christian is to say- You are no different from the world!” Who among us have not been tempted, and yielded to the temptation for personal gain or glory, and stepped away from our promises to be true to Christ? Ought we not to forgive as He forgives, as He’s forgiven us?

Klaus Dietz, S.J. serving in parish ministry in Sweden for 37 years shared these observation about Christianity and secularization in Sweden.

1.    “In Sweden, we have a very small number of active Christians.
2.    Nine percent of the population can be called Christians—that is, they believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, life after death, the triune God—traditional dogma.
3.    About 3 percent of the population participates in services every Sunday.”

The Christian’s voice is quickly losing its resonance. All the more reason then that those in influence should speak out.

Dietz goes on, “In Swedish society, religion is viewed as superstitious, old-fashioned, uninteresting, nonscientific, fanatical. The Catholic Church has the stamp of being fanatical and fundamentalistic because of its stances on abortion, homosexuality, homosexual marriage and the role of women in the church. The evangelical churches are thought too small, too controlling and also too fundamentalistic—they quote the Bible all the time, and they do not take on philosophical or theological arguments".

Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Former SA Officer
USA, Sweden, Russia and Ukraine


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Government authorities want to change the Salvation Army theology

Now authorities want to revise the Salvation Army's theology!
In response to the Cold Facts’ TV report of the Salvation Army a number of municipalities are considering a review of the local contributions made to the Salvation Army. Among other things Stig Rådahl, Chairman of the Board of adults with disabilities in the municipality of Uppsala is speaking out. The World Today (newspaper) writes:
"But the new guidelines on which associations should receive funding in Uppsala: it is hoped (the) organization changes its internationally adopted policy on what requirements should apply to a Salvation Army officer (soldier).”

“The work they do for us in the current situation is of such a level that I do not know who else could provide it; it’s of benefit to so such a great many people. So I want to see it from a position of (our) influence can make the Salvation Army to not have this position, "said Stig Rådahl."

I am truly flabbergasted when I read such a statement.

First, it appears Stig Rådahl is surprised that the Salvation Army has the same view that Christianity has had for two thousand years and that the Salvation Army has had as long as it has existed. Can a politician be totally ignorant of what the outside (Christian) world looks like?

Secondly, it doesn’t look very good for politicians to use (government) grants to people with enormous support needs as power leverage to force a church to change its position on a theological question. Don’t they understand that it’s not the Salvation Army they punish through such action but instead the very people that the municipality is responsible for taking care of.

If the municipality determines that it will take care of their needy, the Salvation Army’s theology has at least led to the municipality itself assuming responsibility for those for whom one (they) has an obligation.

Lt. Peter Baronowsky
Reg. Commander, Latvia

(Translated' S. Ljungholm)

There's a point we're missing here...

Whilst I agree that the way in which Cold Facts conducted themselves is despicable, reprehensible etc., I think there is a point that we are all missing.

Yes, it is right that TSA position on homosexuality is not 'news'. But what is not realised is that the very interpretation that homosexuality is a sin causes such incredible destruction, leading to all manor of violence, and torture, and murder. Christ said 'You shall know them by their fruit'. If this causes such destruction, then how can it be from God? Would we call a coloured person a sinner because their skin is black? And that they cannot be saved and experience the Love of God as long as they have black skin? Yet at one point, that is what the church believed. They believed the Bible taught it. But eventually, interpretation changed. Would we say that women are inferior to men and unable to experience salvation on their own apart from either their father or husband - and if they were disowned from their father and did not have a husband, then as long as they remained a women, they were outside of the love of God? Yet at one time, that is what the church believed. Interpretation has changed.

The same applies in this instance. No matter how loving we claim to be. The very act of voicing that interpretation of scripture causes such destruction, violence, torture, and even murder. We cannot be ostriches and hide our heads in the sand and pretend it isn't so. Too many people are dying for us to do that in good conscience. We must take a stand and put a stop to this violence - and the only way we can do that is to change our theology and interpretation of scripture. Any other way, we are only contributing to it - no matter how much we would like to think we aren't.

Just something to think about.

Yours in Christ,
Graeme Randall
Former Australian East.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Every Which Way but the Right Way...

Save us from Hypocrisy
During Christmas last year TV4 reported that more and more help is being sought from the Salvation Army in Uppsala. Therefore it’s hard to imagine that taking place this spring the Uppsala Politicians want to suspend contributions to the organization. However subsequent to the Cold Facts’ story where the focus has been on one sole issue, namely the army’s ‘supposed’ attitude towards homosexuality, that is exactly what happened.

The Salvation Army is a Christian organization. Their view of sexuality is based on a biblical interpretation that claims that sex is something that should occur only within marriage between a man and a woman. That is not news. Cold Facts could just as well have been asking whether it's OK to be Salvation Army soldier and live promiscuously. The answer would also fall under the same topic and the answer would be no…

The main concern is the care of our fellow man, also based on a Biblical interpretation.

Marcus Smith

(translated SEL)

Salvation Army logo
The Poppy Project's funding will instead be given to the Salvation Army. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian
The Salvation Army will take over responsibility for the care of adult victims of human trafficking on Monday.
The controversial decision marks the official end of Home Office funding to the Poppy charity, which pioneered specialist services for victims of sex trafficking.
The withdrawal of funding means that Poppy, the biggest and most established organisation of its kind, requires £450,000 in donations by the end of June to continue. It has accused the government of removing its funding for "politically motivated" reasons.
But Major Anne Read, the Salvation Army's anti human trafficking response co-ordinator, said her charity was ideally placed to help victims of trafficking. The charity has, she said, a "long history of rescuing people who have been lured away from home and ended up being exploited".
She added: "It is unacceptable that thousands of people in the UK and thousands more around the world are being held against their will, living in desperate situations, abused and exploited.
"For many years we have worked with and campaigned for these vulnerable victims, working with government, police and other agencies to help victims of human trafficking. We are also partners on many of the groups which exist to ensure this issue is kept on the public agenda."
The £2m-a-year support will last for three years. It will pay for women and men who have suffered exploitation through trafficking to receive specialist support, including safe accommodation, counselling, medical care, translation services and legal advice.
Justice minister Crispin Blunt said: "Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime, which thrives on the vulnerability of its victims, and one the government is determined to deal with.
"These victims of modern-day slavery are often subjected to kidnap, rape and torture and this funding will allow the Salvation Army to work together with counter-trafficking agencies and specialist support organisations to provide an escape route for these men and women."
Abigail Stepnitz, the national co-ordinator for the Poppy Project Eaves charity, said that since the charity joined an oversight board assessing the government's compliance on tackling trafficking two years ago, it has successfully appealed 17 UK Border Agency decisions on the identification of trafficking victims and forced countless reassessments. "The government doesn't like someone who will rock the boat. We were a problem for them in that sense," she said.
The government has said the decision to change providers was "much better for victims of trafficking". But Stepnitz expressed concern over the quality of the new service, questioning the assumption in the government's brief that most victims would require only 45 days of treatment.
Stepnitz said that at least 90 days was required. The average length of treatment at the charity – which can support 128 women and has helped more than 700 since it was founded in 2003 – is between three and eight months.