Recently I was at a retreat in which the guest speaker had benefitted from the services The Salvation Army provided as a young child when his family was in crisis. It didn’t sound like they asked for help. From what I gathered from the story, an officer heard that this family (who didn’t attend the Army) was in need and simply brought over a couple bags of groceries. This officer then invested in the family and, more specifically, in the young boy. Today he is a leader in the education field, loves the Lord, and sings the praises of what the Army means to him.
I was taken aback by the story. It’s not an unusual story, but for some reason this one hit me a little harder. You see, so often we as Salvationists get together and spend our conversations “fixing” the Army. We tend to be negative and find problems to talk about. Shoot, sometimes we even embellish so that we can “one up” each other. Rarely do we find ourselves sitting around a table talking about how awesome our Army is and, more importantly, how awesome it is that God has entrusted this organization to us.
Guess what? The Salvation Army is awesome. The Army is an Army that serves in so many areas. We have:
Congregations in over 120 countries
Social services that serve men, women, and children in a variety capacities
Rehabilitation centers that celebrate men and women who have completed their recovery program
Incredible ministry camps that run throughout the year
Schools that provide education to children in developing countries
Hospitals that care those who are suffering from AIDS
Emergency Disaster Services that respond to people’s needs in the darkest of times
Family Stores that not only sell discounted furniture and clothes, but support the ARC programs
Drop-in centers for abused women and children, runaways, and the homeless
Missionary programs that send people across the world to minister–either as part of a short-term mission or for years at a time
Micro-loan programs that help those in impoverished areas start their own sustainable business
And that is just the tip of the iceberg! (Feel free to add more to the comments section. I know I missed a ton!) The coolest part in all of this is that the Army does this in the name of Jesus. Each day people come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Each day, through these programs, lives are radically changed. Amen!
It’s true that the Army isn’t perfect. That’s because it’s made up of imperfect people (us). But we need to remind ourselves daily that we serve alongside some incredible men and women of God. We have been saved to serve. He has gifted this to us, and it is our responsibility to keep it awesome and growing. Who’s with us?