The World Needs You
Covenant Renewal Sunday is not only a call to recommitment for officers and soldiers, but a call to all who do and will choose The Salvation Army as the vehicle to bring the message of salvation to the world.
In 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote, ‘Imagine’, with lyrics that still roll easily off the tongue almost 50 years later. The song called for peace during the Vietnam War, and urged the world to live in unity. Music critics claim the song’s message has remained relatable throughout the years—the desire for unity and peace resonates strongly in the human psyche. But for people of faith, the lyrics are obviously jarring:
Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky. Imagine all the people living for today. Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace.
The fact that Lennon identified religion as part of the problem rather than the solution is confronting. And yet the answer he offered remains as empty today as it has proven to be since the song was written. A world without hope, without the assurance that God is ultimately in control and will right every wrong and wipe every tear, is clearly not the answer. Far from it. Now perhaps more than ever, we need to imagine a world where the hope of Christ is embraced.
As we face a global pandemic with its ensuing economic fallout and waves of unemployment—the world needs the hope found only in Jesus Christ. And it needs you and I to illuminate that hope in meaningful ways.
Being and doing salt and light
Territorial Commander Commissioner Mark Campbell is excited that Covenant Renewal Sunday, on July 5, gives us the opportunity to reflect, remember, reaffirm and reimagine God’s call to us to bring hope to the world by being salt and light.
‘The world desperately needs the salt and light of Christ [Matthew 6:13–16]. First and foremost, it needs the message of Jesus Christ. And that message comes through us, his people. The world needs you! It needs our being—who we are in Christ, and it needs our doing—our love, our voice and service. Knowing who we are in Christ as God’s people is the foundation. Our faith and prayers determine our attitudes and give us the determination, courage and energy to then go out and love and serve. Who we are internally flows out into our attitudes and actions,’ explains Mark.
‘Ultimately we are a sent people. Jesus prays in John 17 that his disciples would be out in the world making a difference. Pentecost was all about sending us out with the power of the Spirit so we could be salt and light. Salt literally means to “stop the rot”. I like that. That’s what we’re called to do as God’s Army. That’s why the church has been placed in the community. Our job is to “stop the rot”, by being the salt of Christ.
‘We’re also called to be light. I loved the way groups of protestors in the United States gathered together in response to George Floyd’s death and used the light of their mobile phones—holding them up in the air—as a symbol of light illuminating racism. Light signifies hope and shows the way for others to follow. Light is powerful. When we identify with the light, others can find the way to Jesus. I spoke to a young person recently who’d “come out as a Christian” in his workplace. In doing so, he discovered there were other Christians there too—other lights. Now he’s connected and stepping up wanting to be salt and light.’
You are the Army
Territorial President for Women’s Ministries Commissioner Julie Campbell affirms this, ‘We want to be a strong force for God in the world. We want to move out of lockdown prepared to do whatever it takes because our world is in such great need. We need to ask ourselves again: Who are we? Who are we as an Army? What does God want us to do? What part will we play
Julie believes that sometimes we forget that each one of us makes up The Salvation Army. ‘The world needs The Salvation Army, but that Army is you and me. It’s not just the brand or the buildings, it’s who we are, wherever we are. God needs us to be salt and light disciples. Yes, we serve in The Salvation Army, but it’s the part we play as individuals that matters most and makes up our corporate identity.’
For Mark and Julie, Covenant Renewal Sunday this year is not just about soldiers and officers. ‘We certainly want our officers and soldiers to have the chance to renew their covenants again—that’s a special and sacred matter between those individuals and God. But we also want to celebrate the contribution of every person who serves as salt and light to the world under the banner of The Salvation Army—and that includes our highly valued staff and volunteers.
‘As Christians, we’re all part of the Body of Christ—part of the new covenant. But God continues to call people to step into covenant with The Salvation Army specifically. And so we want this to be an invitation for people to respond to God’s call and put their hand up to be a soldier and align themselves with the mission and ideals of The Salvation Army.’
Imagine we’re all in
Mark will be pre-recording a message for Covenant Renewal Sunday for use in corps worship settings, and even during the week in centres around the territory. SalvationOnline is also preparing a full service featuring Mark’s message. There will be special The World Needs You covenant renewal cards for people to sign, including space to note any specific leading God may reveal.
‘I imagine people signing those cards in every corps and centre across New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. I have this picture in my mind of us all signing The World Needs You cards and declaring, “I’m all in!”,’ affirms Julie.
The world needs you to pray
Mark and Julie are also emphatic that the world needs us to pray. ‘Prayer and practical service go hand in hand. We want everyone “on duty” in prayer for the world during the month of July,’ affirms Julie.
Territorial Secretary for Spiritual Life Development Colonel Heather Rodwell is leading the prayer charge throughout July (more information can be found in this issue’s news feature on page 14).
So many ways to serve
There are so many ways to serve in and through The Salvation Army. God is still calling officers to lead the mission, but there’s also great need for specifically qualified leaders and workers across the Army’s operation.
National Director for Addictions, Supportive Accommodation and Reintegration Services (ASARS), Lt-Colonel Lynnette Hutson explains that she is always on the hunt for passionate people with a heart for helping others.
‘We need such a wide range of people with social work and addictions training skills and qualifications in this area of the Army’s work. We also welcome people with “lived experience” of addiction and recovery. We need you to be support workers, and we can help with training,’ she explains.
‘We also need officers who might have a passion in this area. God ignited a passion in me for people who are homeless and struggle with addiction and it became “the call within the call” of officership for me. We know that wholeness is found in a relationship with Christ, and across ASARS we have a high percentage of people making a faith commitment. It’s a highly effective space for the kingdom. But even when people don’t make a faith commitment, we still make a huge difference in people’s lives. It’s a very rewarding field.
‘For young people or people changing career paths and pursuing their own educational pathway, consider studying with a view to working for The Salvation Army by pursuing qualifications in the Health and Wellbeing sector. There are also a lot of generic pathways into ASARS work—including nursing, occupational therapy, mental health and psychology. Talk to us. The doorway into ASARS work is broader than you might think in the twenty-first century.’
Saying yes to diversity
When it comes to Salvation Army officers, the days of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ or ‘jack-of-all-trades’ concept is well and truly over. Territorial Candidates Secretary Captain Kylie Tong says, ‘We need people who break the traditional mould!’
With 12 accepted candidates for 2021 (eight in New Zealand, four in Fiji), and work already underway for the 2022 intake, Kylie is excited by the wide range of people applying for officership. ‘It’s exciting to see the increasing diversity amongst those applying and being accepted as officers. So, if you think you don’t “fit the box”, believe me “the box” is changing! It’s enlarging its scope, and God’s making all sorts of new ways for different sorts of people to take their place in our ranks as leaders.’
Importantly, the process toward officership is changing for Māori and Pasifika candidates. And while these changes may be coming too slowly for some, they nonetheless signify that the Army is changing, and truly seeking to ‘bring life’ by training leaders who represent our Army’s rich diversity and commitment to upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
‘Don’t be limited by what you think “the box” looks like or what it’s looked like in the past. Have the conversation,’ Kylie urges. ‘We still need people who are adaptable and resilient, can lead others, and who are obviously sold out for Jesus. But we also need people to bring their whole selves and see what God does with that sacrifice.’
Never too young (or old)
The Salvation Army in New Zealand was founded by young people, and young people today are still bringing their passion and energy to the mission. Territorial Youth Secretary and National Director for Youth Missions Training Captain Mat Badger points out that teenagers who choose to follow Jesus are automatically thrust into salt and light missionary service at school and sometimes also at home. ‘They need our support, prayers and encouragement. It’s not easy being a young person—Christian or not—in today’s world. There’s a lot to navigate that didn’t exist for prior generations.’
Young adults are also applying for officership, studying with a view to working for ASARS, training as youth workers and, like so many other Salvationists, they’re being salt and light in the world while fulfilling their various vocational callings as teachers, IT specialists, retail assistants, trades apprentices, digital engagement managers—you name it!
Mat also explains that responding to the call to work with young people and training accordingly is far from a smooth path, but it is rewarding. Qualifications in youth development can lead to working in churches, schools, government departments and as sports coaches and chaplains. ‘The reach of faith-based youth work in the twenty-first century is extensive,’ says Mat. ‘We need salt and light in all these spaces.’
The world needs you
Imagine if we ignored that call? John Lennon believed the world would be better off without heaven and religion, and people still sing along and try to imagine such a place. Let’s be the kind of church that makes them think twice. The world needs you!
‘You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.’
Matthew 6:13–16 (NLT)