The Living Out of God’s Grace
By Colonel Bill Luttrell –
“The more we are loved by God, the more we are going to love. The more we are forgiven, the more we are willing to forgive. The more we are treated with patience, the more we are willing to treat others with patience.”
These thoughts, penned by Max Lucado, remind us of the extension of God’s gift of grace.
We usually interpret this grace in the experiences of our intimate relationships with family, friends, our church home and occasionally with the broader community of neighborhood or business.
In spiritual reflection and reality, however the application of his grace is far-reaching, equally necessary, and received in the further reaches of the world; a world that has, in recent years become much more familiar and a part of our very environment due to international communication and reporting.
The joys and sorrows of the world come to our doorsteps through television, video, news reports and travel. The starving of Bangladesh–the hunger of North Korea–the war in Bosnia–the floods of central Europe– the struggle of Moscow’s homeless–the gutter children of Buenos Aires–the airline disaster in Guam and also in Miami. These are all too familiar to us, and with this knowledge we cannot easily ignore their relationship to the extension of grace which solicits our response.
We may feel comfortable and justified in our acts of worship or in our Sunday morning uniforms, but the living out of his grace is a life time, seven-day-a-week experience which validates our place in the world.
We know these places exist now and we know we can get to them.
There was a time (not long ago) when it was religiously acceptable to pray for the world or give money to the causes of the world. But now our world is smaller and the commitment must be made to go into the world. “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
Going and preaching takes on new meaning in our compressed, hurting world.
Our movement has a unique and challenging responsibility in ministry to the crisis spots in the world. A vision has been given to our international leaders and the “how to” charge has been given to skilled and experienced leaders Majors Roland and Dawn Sewell of International Headquarters. Major Roland Sewell, a civil engineer, has applied his ability in assessing the potential of the Army, responding with relief teams to troubled areas of our world. His wife is a nurse and capable organizer of resources and she can determine the strategic scope of our services.
Our mission is to provide the application of grace through our love, forgiveness and patience. This makes us the responsible agents of the Holy Spirit to go to serve without passing judgment on the prevailing circumstances.
In a recent trip to Bosnia I was humbly impressed by the reality of this mission. There, in the aftermath of war (which is difficult to understand, let alone judge) is a small Army of sensitive, intelligent, committed believers living out his grace in a seven-day-a-week ministry.
Captain Patricia Kiddoo provides the quiet, strong guidance to an international team that integrates its faith and calling into addressing the very practical needs of a people who struggle with the aftermath of a war which most of them have difficulty understanding.
The team includes Martyn Smith, a lay Salvationist from New Zealand (cousin of Cadet Kyle Smith), Dawn Lambert, a Salvationist from Great Britain, and Tim Kercher, a new Salvationist from Denver. Unable to do the enormous job all by themselves, they enlist the help of capable individuals from the community, who provide translation, cultural knowledge and local understanding. This enlarges the team to twice its original size and it is duplicated again by members of a Service Corps team–seven from the USA Central Territory, three from Sweden and (this is genius) 10 members from the local area.
Captain Kiddoo walks a narrow line of cooperation between the local community, the UN Forces, the local government and the regional NGO’s (Non-governmental Organizations).
Martyn oversees the building projects in providing materials for families who meet the criteria and they have the responsibility to provide labor (the old ‘barn raising’ approach) for the rebuilding of the house. He also works with Dovar, who operates the agricultural program that includes distribution of animals and equipment.
Dawn has moved from the responsibility of food kitchen and food distribution to working with widows and the elderly. Tim provides leadership to the 20 member international service corps team which is divided into small groups to work on the many projects supervised by the Relief Team.
Roger works with the micro enterprise project which provides loans to businesses in the community (they have a 95 percent pay-back rate).
Stuart Tong utilizes his abilities in financial and organizational management.
They are transient. The international members will serve anywhere from three months to a year and then may return home and go to another ‘hot spot’ in the world. Their ministry is effective, practical and the implications to the people are far-reaching — putting hands and feet to the Gospel.
Funding to support this ministry comes from governments, foundations, charity, international relief organizations, banks and our world services giving.
The personnel come from…well, from wherever they were when God inspired them with the needs in the world.
Certainly, there are men and women in our own territory, indeed in territories throughout the world, where God is inspiring them to live out their faith and his grace. You need to identify yourself to your corps officers or the nearest Salvation Army, or write to this newspaper and make yourself available.
What is our purpose in this mission? Certainly to relieve suffering and to provide the basic necessities of life. But there is a far greater purpose. In our service–we want the world to see Jesus and to come to know him.
“…this is my prayer for you. That your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding, with your love; that you will do many good things with the help of Christ, to bring glory and praise to God.” (Philippians 1:9,11)