Adelaide City Salvos doing unto others
Adelaide City Salvos doing unto others
6 October 2017
A new café van launched last week at Adelaide City Salvos will continue the corps’ push to live, love and connect with people outside the walls of the church building.
The multi-congregational corps already takes street teams into the “party-precinct” of Adelaide every Saturday night, working alongside South Australian police to provide a safety presence for late-night revellers and to connect with rough sleepers. The café van is an extension to this ministry, to provide a static point of contact.
“It’s about reaching out more broadly into the community and into the city of Adelaide,” says Adelaide City Salvos DUOs (Do Unto Others) Coordinator, Jo Hodge. “Really connecting with young ones and older folk alike so people that are out for a night in the city can come down and grab a coffee, sit down and chat and we can just get alongside them.
“The longer-term vision is for us to be able to move into music festivals and places where we can provide a safety presence and also a place where people can come and hang out.”
Adelaide City Salvos is no stranger in the South Australian capital, particularly among the late-night scene. Its “Do Unto Others” ministry has been running for the past five years, first getting out into the city several nights a week to offer meals and make connections with people experiencing homelessness.
"We recognised that we were not able to really connect with those that we were coming across," explained Jo. "So in keeping with John Gore's famous statement - 'If there is any man here who hasn't had a decent meal today, let him come home to tea with me' - we opened our doors to our community of homeless and vulnerable and disconnected and invited them in to join us for dinner."
These days they seat up to 200 people for most meals.
“Everything we’ve done has been through God’s direction and guidance,” says Jo. “We’ve never gone, ‘Let’s do this,’ or, ‘Let’s do that.’ It’s always been through God placing it on our hearts. God has directed and inspired us to "love this City" and that is what we are doing. We have that on the back of our Street Team jackets and on the van, and get plenty of comments as we wander the party precinct. We want to love this city like Jesus does."
In winter, Adelaide City Salvos keeps the corps open all night, making up comfy swag-beds with real sheets and pillows, and allowing rough sleepers to stay the night and enjoy a shower and a hot breakfast the next morning.
“Up to 30 stay with us and some of them will wander in during the morning and say they haven’t slept that soundly for a very long time,” says Jo, who says the success of the initiative has been all about the heart of its volunteers.
“One of the things we always say with our program is that it’s unconditional. We don’t judge anyone and when they come through our doors we just love them exactly how they are. We don’t ask them to change or do anything different ... but changes do inevitably come because that’s how God works.”
Timmy started coming along to the Adelaide City Salvos “Do Unto Others” meals when they first began. He’d made a connection with the City Salvos running the street van so when they invited him to a sit-down meal, he thought he’d check it out.
“He’d come every week,” says Jo. “Some week’s he’d be very drunk, other weeks he’d be sober, but he was welcomed every time.”
After a time, Timmy became unwell and, having no friends or family to support him, members of the DUOs team liaised with health professionals and were regular visitors in hospital.
Sadly, Timmy passed away. But not before he gave his life to the Lord.
“He said to me just before he passed, he said, ‘I’ll save you a seat up there,’” remembers Jo. “It was just such an awesome experience to know that had it not been for our program opening its doors he would probably have died alone and without faith.”
More doors opening
Opening doors and connecting with people is at the heart of Adelaide City Salvos. This year its “City Youth” team decided to extend the regular Friday night youth group with the launch of a Friday afternoon high school drop-in space.
There’s gaming consoles, computers, board games and comfy lounges, and the youth pastor, Jacob Hodge, says word is spreading among the young people who regularly come into the city on a Friday afternoon.
“We want people to know that if someone’s having some trouble or if someone’s having a bad day they know they can come to City Youth on a Friday night and they’ll just feel really welcomed,” he says.
Many stay on for the Friday night youth and worship service, which is one of three different congregations that the corps hosts throughout the week.
“I think we’re in the 21st century and church looks different now,” says Jacob, with Jo adding that, “in the world that we live in right now people are not going to come [to us.] We have to go out to them.”
Corps Officer, Major Christine Waller, says authentic church is not about a particular “style” or “program”, but being the hands and feet of Jesus in every situation, regardless of where you are or what day of the week it is.
“I love the Romans 12 verse from The Message translation, ‘Take your everyday life, your walking around life, your ordinary life, and offer it to Jesus and he’ll do something amazing with it’.
“And that’s what I just see our people doing here.”