One World, One Hope
by Kelly Pontsler, Major –
“As we read the Bible from one end to the other, we see a God committed to calling a people for himself. That is God’s mission. Missions (with an “s”) is the human involvement in God’s mission.”—Roy Stephen for Urbana.org
We, The Salvation Army, believe in world missions—it is in our DNA. International Headquarters is currently investigating the possibilities and potential for the Army to move into another 20 countries. I’ve seen the list. They are places to which most of us would raise an eyebrow but these places are filled with people that God loves as much as the rest of us!
I believe in world missions. I was a young corps officer in Boulder, Colo., working on sermon material from the book of Joshua when God spoke to my own heart and mind very clearly about moving into a new land. I suddenly understood that, if I was honestly committed to serving the Lord however he would lead me, then I needed to be willing to do that without boundaries. I couldn’t build a fence and say, “here is fine…but not there.” Serving the Lord requires personal sacrifice.
The continuous ministry and worldwide work of The Salvation Army depends on a continual replenishment of its resources. This includes the commitment of our time, our energy and capacities, and our financial support.
Self Denial is our tangible involvement in God’s mission! It’s not an event. It’s a lifestyle and a spiritual discipline. It’s about giving of something that I value. Self Denial giving is personal, both for the giver and the receiver.
I like this reminder:
“God’s main intention in human history is to reunite himself with a world that is estranged by sin. All that he is doing in space and time is an effort to further that desire. From the first verses of Genesis to the last verses of Revelation, his intention is articulated and illustrated. The wonder of it all is that he wants to accomplish this mission through the faithfulness of people like you and me.”—John M. Criswell
In Ephesians 2:11-22, the apostle Paul reminds us that in the past, we were without Christ and without hope. But now, through the blood of Christ’s death we are no longer foreigners or strangers. We are citizens together with all of God’s people. And we have hope! We belong to ONE WORLD, and we share ONE HOPE. And we have a role to play if others around the world are to make the same discovery.
Thank you, for your personal commitment to God’s mission through your Self Denial giving.
May God bless you abundantly!
SELF DENIAL is about Relationship
All for one, one for all
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. (1 Corinthians 12:25-27 MSG)
The Three Musketeers is an exciting cloak and dagger story by Alexandre Dumas. Set in 17th century France, it tells of the adventures of a young man named d’Artagnan, as he leaves home to become a musketeer. The musketeers were soldiers in the Royal Guard—fiercely loyal to their commander in chief and to each other.
The musketeers were inseparable, as they frequently chanted: “All for one, and one for all!” They depended on each other. If one musketeer found himself in trouble, the others were there to back him up. If one musketeer dropped his sword and could no longer fight, another stepped in and took up his cause without hesitation. They knew they could count on each other. They looked after each other. They were in the fight together.
In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul reminds us that the human body is a unit, even though it is made up of many parts. Some of the parts are more visible than others, some seem to be more useful than others, but they are inseparable. If one body part struggles due to illness or injury, the others are affected. The parts are interconnected.
Now transfer that thought to a larger body, The Salvation Army. Together with other believers, we form the body of Christ! The Salvation Army is currently operating in 112 countries around the globe. Our international network is amazing.
Like the musketeers we form one body, one community fiercely loyal to our “commander in chief,” who is the Lord Jesus Christ. And like those musketeers we need to know that we can rely on each other.
Can the body depend on you? All for one, Christ for all.
SELF DENIAL is about Compassion
…All of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8 NIV)
People react in different ways to bad news. Sometimes we try to ignore it completely or sputter out, “oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” and then move on quickly to something else.
Compassion is the capacity we have to sense and empathize with the suffering, unhappiness or misfortune of someone else—coupled with a desire to alleviate it. Compassion says, “oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” and then quickly adds, “what can I do?”
From its early beginnings, The Salvation Army has responded to the distress, poverty and suffering found in every corner of the world by asking, “what can we do?” From that simple phrase has come the creation of an international network of ministry and service which includes 2,200 schools, 314 hospitals and clinics, 193 summer camps, 37 homes for street children, 542 addiction recovery programs and 54 homes for the blind and disabled.
Our corporate response to suffering is phenomenal. But in his letter to the church, Peter very clearly says, “all of you.” Compassion is personal.
General Albert Orsborn captures that in the words of song number 527 (Salvation Army Songbook):
The Savior of men came to seek and to save
The souls who were lost to the good;
His Spirit was moved for the world which he loved
With the boundless compassion of God…
Except I am moved with compassion,
How dwelleth thy Spirit in me?
In word and in deed
Burning love is my need;
I know I can find this in thee.
Compassion bubbles up from somewhere way deep down inside. It’s the outward expression of that “burning love.”
Take a look at the world, see what response The Salvation Army provides and ask yourself, “What can I do?” Then do it.
SELF DENIAL is about Justice
Love your neighbor as yourself
Have you seen that advertisement? Two brothers both want the last piece of cake. The mother wisely says they will have to share it. The boys offer eagerly to be the one to cut it. The son chosen to cut is obviously pleased that he has made the pieces not quite equal in size, as he’s certain he will get the big piece. And then the mother points to the other boy and says, “choose your piece first.” The ensuing scene is familiar to anyone who has grown up with siblings— “That’s not fair…” is a common complaint. And when you are 8-years-old, getting the big piece of cake is important, right?
Justice is a word that we frequently hear and read in the news stories of the day. It relates to a sense of fairness and impartiality. In common usage, we say that “justice has been done” when a punishment fits the crime. But the word describes a relationship that is much deeper than “an eye for an eye.”
Justice is also about accepting our fellow brother or sister in Christ as equally valued by God and equally worthy of the opportunity to live and develop to the full extent of human capacity.
As Americans, we have unlimited access to clean drinking water. Nearly one billion people in the world do not. What is right or fair about that? Human survival depends on access to clean water. Justice means that the family living in another part of the world has the same right to safe water as my family. We may get to it in different ways, but the point is that it is available.
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” implies justice, fairness and impartiality. Through our Self Denial giving, The Salvation Army is able to provide access to clean water, health care, education, training and Christian ministry around the world.
Self Denial is a conscious choice to say, “no” to something for myself, so that I can say, “yes” to physical and spiritual life for my neighbor. We are equally valuable in God’s economy!
SELF DENIAL is about Mercy
No return required
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)
Return on investment (ROI) is a term used to describe what is received as a result of a business decision. If a company keeps its money in an interest-free checking account, the ROI is zero. If they decided to move that money into a simple savings account, the return might be two or three percent interest a year. If they opt to put the money into a stock portfolio, the return will be (hopefully) even better! The greater the return, the more profitable the company will be. And that keeps the owners happy!
We live in a consumer-driven world. The basic concept of “return on investment” is not limited to the business world. We are bombarded daily with advertising that urges us to buy things because of what we will get in return. It might be a quality, long lasting product or maybe the satisfaction of being a bit more popular, because you’re wearing the right brand.
The point is that ROI is all about me: what using my money in that way will do for me. The danger is that we can begin to think of every movement of money as an investment that needs to bring us some kind of personal gain. Sometimes we just need to make a gift, no expectation of return attached.
Mercy is an act of kind assistance that is done just because a person is in need, not because they have earned it by some action on their part or because we get something in return. It’s about goodness and charity, not just because we should but because we can. It’s about being a good neighbor and being ready to help. Because we can.
The Salvation Army is organized into 58 territories and commands around the world. Last year, more than half of them received some form of financial support through the International Self Denial Fund at International Headquarters, enabling them to continue carrying out our mission in their countries.
Our Self Denial commitment is a gift, not an investment. No return required. Because we can.