An Army Vision for the New Least
by Gordon Bingham –
Territorial Social Services Secretary
…a church that is compassionately active in serving humanity…catalysts for meeting the spiritual and social needs of our community…
Our vision includes what has elsewhere been called “compassion in action,” and it derives from the international mission statement of The Salvation Army. It is not an option to be carried on as convenient or when and if funding becomes available. In compassionately caring we are following both the command and the example of our Lord. Serving humankind is basic to who we are; it expresses the unique gifting of The Salvation Army and lends substance to the military metaphor, placing us at the “front lines” of human need and problems.
To be “compassionately active” means going beyond sympathy or even empathy with regard to human need, to doing something about it. As Salvationists we have ample opportunities to become active in service: in our realization of our vision, volunteer work in our social service programs will be as common in the lives of Salvationists as is participation in any of the sections or activities of our corps.
The key to successful involvement in the social services is the concept of holistic caring. Holistic is not a buzzword meaning only that we want to add an evangelical dimension to our work with people. It means that we see and receive people as fully-dimensional: not just souls to be saved; but individuals, each unique and multi-faceted; not simply as people with needs, but people with strengths, with hopes, with present capacity and potential for the future. Holistic caring means meeting people where they are; attending to their agenda, not our own, and engaging them in honest, warm and accepting relationships. From such a starting point, meaningful and life-changing encounters must follow.