Advancing the Gospel
A call to action for the Western Territory
By Kenneth G. Hodder, Commissioner –
When I was a boy, I was taught that whatever advances The Salvation Army advances the Gospel.
At the time, I didn’t fully understand that—it seemed too simple. It glossed over too much. But I can tell you today that in the fullness of time I have come to the decision that it is absolutely and undeniably true.
Now, I do understand the difference between the earthly and the spiritual and I could point to a thousand reasons that The Salvation Army is a human as well as a divine institution. We have a lot to do. None of us is perfect and there are many changes to make, but I will never apologize for believing what I was taught all those years ago, because I believe that The Salvation Army is being used by God. After all, if I didn’t, why would I spend my life serving in its ranks? Why would you?
I have seen the advance of the Gospel in so many places. I have seen it in the severely disabled girl at a Salvation Army school who crawled up to me and despite the daily horrors attending her life, looked up and with a broad smile saying, “Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so.”
I have heard the advance of the Gospel in the weeping of a man at a simple wooden altar who because of his addictions has lost his home and his family and his life’s work and I have felt my heart swell with the joy that comes from sensing the advance of the Gospel. I have felt it when a young woman hands me a small handicraft, which by its sale, will help her to escape abject poverty without selling her body.
I do not presume to understand God’s ways and I certainly do not know what his plans are, but I believe with all of my heart that God’s spirit is working through The Salvation Army. I am convinced that wherever Salvationists meet and preach and teach and serve and even suffer in the name of Jesus Christ, the world gets another taste of God’s love and grace and mercy—and the world needs as much of that as it can possibly get.
The Salvation Army is often misunderstood as a means of self-improvement. It’s also mischaracterized as just one more way to make the world a better place, but you and I know that it is far more than that. The Salvation Army is a part of a grand, overwhelming, majestic, redemptive story that began at the cross and that will go on long after you and I are dead and buried.
The Salvation Army is a thoroughly unique and yet totally authentic expression of the church, reaching, transforming, and then dwelling in places of God’s creation that most people will never see. Ultimately then friends, I believe that we Salvationists don’t often realize what we’ve gotten ourselves into. But here we are, and we move forward knowing that God is going to use this Salvation Army. God is going to make this Salvation Army a powerful place.
I know that The Salvation Army has great things ahead of it, and I believe that The Salvation Army will do what it has always done. I believe that it will lift up without putting down, that it will proclaim without denying, that we will always forge ahead without ever stepping aside, and that we will always stand firm without ever shutting out because wherever The Salvation Army advances, so does the Gospel. Hallelujah.