Today is the Salvation Army’s 150th Birthday. The world is a much better place for the inception of this amazing organization. My world is a better place because of them. In fact, I just cannot stay silent on this day of celebration. So here are 6 reasons that I am grateful for on this Founder’s Day.
- Sound Biblical Teaching: The Salvation Army is a not only an international movement, but a church. As a girl growing up in a second-generation Army household I remember how quizzical faces became when I told them that I attended the Salvation Army for church services. My paternal grandparents were Salvation Army officers as well as most of my father’s siblings. At one time, the Dalberg family was quite a name to drop in the American SA. So it was natural that we attended the Army for our weekly church services. I am grateful for the foundational and scriptural teaching I received as a Junior Soldier.
- Family Heritage: I cannot think of a finer legacy than that of “Heart to God, Hand to Man”, and even though I no longer attend the Salvation Army as my local church I have always had a tender spot in my heart for serving others. In fact, I am now the Executive Director of a Christian non-profit Love INC. I know that this is due to the heritage that the Salvation Army has instilled in my life. I am eternally grateful.
- Radical Love: The Army truly does love the unloved. You know…the ones no one else wants in their church; the homeless, the dirty, the slightly insane, the man or is he a woman, or is he a man? I’ll never forget one of the first Salvation Army church services I brought my children to when they were still elementary students. Scripture was read by a bearded woman…a fully-bearded woman and special music was done by a woman playing the accordion while on oxygen. Not to mention there were several outbursts by an intoxicated man. My daughter whispered to me, “This is better than the circus!” I was mortified by her comment. But this is their calling, my beloved Salvation Army. One of their songs boldly proclaims, “Oh to love the unloved, in the service of the Lord!” They love people right where they are…and many times those same people learn to live better, godlier and more productive lives. Some of them even enter the ministry. I’ve never seen a better record of truly transformed lives. Love changes everything.
- Patience: There have been seasons in my lifetime when I have been more than a little concerned about the direction of my beloved Army. I have feared that like many other charities that they might lose their spiritual roots, but every time God has raised up His standard and the Army has remained faithful to His call. I pray that they will continue to seek wisdom on how to continue this vital ministry in a mixed up and crazy world. But through it all I have learned to give organizations time to correct and autocorrect and to respond to obstacles. This Army is the Lord’s and He is well able to take care of it.
- Love of Others Before Love of Self: I am thankful that as a Junior Soldier I was asked to sign a commitment never to drink alcohol. I am not sure if this continues to be a practice, but this commitment had a profound affect on my life. It was a commitment I took very seriously. And the reason for this commitment was not because the Bible says not to drink. It was for the sake of the weaker brother and sister, for the many who come to the Salvation Army for help. It was for the love of others. Even as an adult, when my first marriage fell apart and I was a single mom confused and alone, I remember having a fleeting thought that maybe I should try drowning my pain in a bottle of wine. But then I remembered a piece of paper that I had signed as a 10 year old and I ran instead to the Throne Room and into the arms of my Savior. He was able to handle my pain better than any bottle of wine.
- Refuge: Recently I have had a family member use the Army’s services due to mental illness. The family didn’t know what to do. The local church didn’t know what to do. Quite honestly, government programs didn’t have any answers. But my beautiful Army they embraced him. They loved the one that no one had any answers for and he is on his way to recovery. It was too difficult for family to fight alone. The Body of Christ needed help caring for this member. When there was no government program; When caring for the loved one was destroying family; When the Body of Christ was weary and weak, that’s when the Army became a place of refuge. This is my Army, and I am forever grateful.