(l-r) LT. COL. JOANN Brodin, Colonel Linda Bond, and Lt. Col. Harold Brodin. Bond spoke at Sunday morning’s general session.
With passion and conviction, Colonel Linda Bond, chief secretary for the Canada and Bermuda Territory and newly appointed territorial commander for the U.S.A. Western Territory, spoke to the assembled National Social Services Conference delegates during the Sunday morning session.
She began with poetry.
And in despair I bowed my head.
There is no peace on Earth, I said.
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.
Then peel the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.
“I state that today as a statement of faith because I believe in God — I believe in Jesus — I believe in the Holy Spirit — I believe in the truth of the revealed word. But if I were speaking to you today on a feeling level, I would have to say: ‘And in despair I bow my head.’
The news this week, has been about children. I do not understand — I cannot comprehend — and I would make no judgment about how a mother could drown five children. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that on the west coast of Canada a father could burn his house with six children in it. It is incomprehensible to me and to you.
How can we watch the news?
How can we watch Israel and Palestine?
How can we see the bombs fall on Afghanistan?
How can we watch the bloated bellies of children around the world and see the flies lodging on their pocked cheeks and not feel despair?
…and you people — you know better than I do. You are in the front lines. How can you look at the person in bondage — how can you sit beside the bed of a dying patient — how can you hold the hand of someone with AIDS — how can you see the children deprived — the oppressed around you — how can you do it and feel joy in your heart — and in despair, you bow your head.
But there is Jesus — and he gave this world the church so the world could have hope. And I believe, as part of the church, he gave the world The Salvation Army — and it is not to be a holy club. It’s not to be a group of people who love to sing songs and play music. It’s not even a group of people who are professional in social service or run good evangelistic meetings. We are people on a mission. And I believe The Salvation Army has never ever realized its true potential.
A sense of mission
We often think the best days are behind us. I firmly believe the best days are ahead of us. But they are only ahead of us if God’s people take seriously that this world needs the church, and God in Christ has given The Salvation Army a mission. We talk mission until we are blue in the face — but I believe missions are much more than talk.
Mission is about doing
Mission is about evaluating at the end of the day to see if you actually did it.
Talk is cheap, and never so cheap as when we talk about mission and never do anything.
But our Lord had a sense of mission, and I believe needy souls are still my mission. Oh that the Lord would come upon us this morning and say: ‘You can do it!’
In the Gospel of John we read that after talking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus returned to the disciples and found them surprised he had been talking to a woman — especially when he skipped his lunch.
As I look around here I know there are very few things we miss a meal for. But something very significant had taken place. They urged him to eat, but he said: ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me — and to finish His work.’ — not just to do the work, but to finish it.
Mission effectiveness has to with compassion, congruence and result — and I believe Jesus was mission effective. We need to take a leaf out our Founder’s notebook — and I don’t mean William — I mean Jesus. The way we must pursue our mission is the way Jesus did it, and the way we must evaluate it is the way Jesus evaluated it.
In the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus’ spoke to his Father, saying: I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.
I see that as a mission. Jesus demonstrated mission effectiveness in the lives of the people who served with him. It was an essential part of his mission. The Father had given him people, and they accepted him — results.
He invested in the lives of his disciples by declaring his uniqueness. He declared his difference — up front — all the way along. He was the God-man.
He invested in them because he articulated his mission. He said to them: ‘Follow me!´ You’re going to be part of the mission. I will make you fishers of men.
He invested in them by revealing the way he lived. Watch me, he said. Listen to me — you’ll get a hint of how to do the mission.
He sent them out on a mission themselves — Go — take nothing with you — just go — and they went and did exactly what Jesus had done.
He revealed the cost of carrying out his mission. He helped them to learn from their own failures. They learned that they could not always be successful.
He modeled and called for servant leadership.
He invested in the lives of his disciples. That was part of his mission. And he’s doing this today. He’s investing in your life today. Many of you are serving in some very difficult places — but there is a power through the spirit of Jesus that can give you strength and power in your life, and you become bread for the hungry.
You do believe, don’t you, that part of your mission is investing in the lives of those you serve with. It’s one thing to clothe the naked and feed the hungry and visit the prisoner, but if the casualties are people within our own circle of influence, then you must ask how effective has your mission been.
The mission of our Lord Jesus Christ was also addressing the needs of the sufferer. Jesus associated himself with the marginalized, the disadvantaged, the oppressed, the outcasts. His ministry was to a demon possessed man, a leper, a paralytic — to publicans and sinners, to the Samaritan woman, to children, to thieves. Our Lord had given himself away for the people nobody would stand with or for.
A personal experience
I was in a corps on an Easter Sunday morning. We were having breakfast very early — and during the breakfast a man walked in who I must admit was the most effeminate man I had ever seen in my life. Looking at him, people around began to giggle.
I said: ‘Who is that man?’ and they replied — ‘You should be lucky today — at least he’s wearing men’s clothes — usually, he comes dressed in drag. I felt after the breakfast I should speak to him. But, looking back, as I walked over to him I really believe I was being condescending. It was the divisional commander having a talk with a man who likes to dress in drag — to let all the officers and soldiers know that I do the Jesus thing.
Just as I was about to speak to him in a condescending way, the Lord brought deep, deep conviction and told me not to speak down to this man. I was a sinner just like he was a sinner and all of us are sinners. I was raised in a Christian home — I heard the Gospel — and I responded — but I’m still a sinner — saved by grace. I’m not better because of position or family circumstances or because I heard the Gospel at the Army. I am a sinner saved by grace — and the Lord convicted me when I spoke to that man — and I spoke to him as a man with great dignity. Within a fraction of time, he began to tell me of his circumstances, and I understood the pain of his pilgrimage.
Our mission is to address the needs of the suffering — the poor the oppressed, the imprisoned. Moreover, it is time that The Salvation Army regains its prophetic mantel as well. It’s time that The Salvation Army work to link the ethicist and the theologian and the legal people and the social worker and to bring them together and come to the government and to the media and come to the table with a well spoken word that can influence laws and change society.
I believe in social justice. I believe that The Salvation Army has to be involved in advocacy. I believe we must unleash this power within us of qualified people. I don’t mean someone who simply stands at a microphone and talks off the top of their head and tells the world it’s going to hell. I mean a Salvation Army that has thought through its position and knows there will always be homeless if we have certain laws — people will always be hungry if the rich are stealing all the food — we must be prepared to lose publicity and money to stand shoulder to shoulder with the disadvantaged. And I pray that God will grant you and me the influence to see that it happens.
That’s what Jesus did. He addressed the laws. He confronted the demons. He spoke to the religious leaders about things that were hurting his people.
Mission effectiveness is doing what Jesus did — the way he did it — and believing we can make an impact.
Reconciling men to God
Lastly, let me say the mission of Jesus was in reconciling men to God. I think Paul gave the most succinct mission statement I’ve ever read. He said: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’
‘You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ We cannot build a Salvation Army if ‘salvation’ only means service. We cannot in conscience say we understand mission if we think it is only physical or emotional or mental or social needs to be addressed. We will be a true Salvation Army that Jesus is not just a teacher or a preacher or minister or healer or counselor — he is the savior of the world.
Talk about a ‘mission impossible.’ People in bondage to sin — a mission impossible — but Jesus said I come into the world to finish the work He has given me to do. And the work He has given me to do is to save sinners — to dispense grace like a mighty ocean rolling over humanity — and he did it — he did it. On Golgotha’s hill one day, our Lord shouted the words: It is finished.
I remember reading about one of the participants in the recent Olympics who came in so late that the crowd had pretty well gone home. Interviewed at the end, he was asked why he hadn’t quit? He replied: ‘My country didn’t send me to start the race. They sent me to finish.’
On that hill long ago — Jesus became sin for us. He bore our punishment — our sins. The God-man on the cross that day turned aside the wrath of God, and we were set free. He redeemed us. He justified us by grace through faith. He reconciled us and made us friends with God. He has made us alive.
The world needs Jesus. The world needs a savior. The world needs a means of reconciliation with God.
I think mission effectiveness is most hampered when officers and employees see themselves only as ’employees.’ Mission is more than a contract. It’s about who I am and what I do and how my life is broken on the sea of humanity.
The church of Jesus Christ needs employees and officers with a mission heart — who at the end of the day can hear Jesus say Well done my good and faithful servant.