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The heartbeat of The Salvation Army

The heartbeat of The Salvation Army

Matt Kay had a passion for serving others deepened after reading Major Peter Farthing’s book 1865.

By Matt Kay

Just over 12 months ago, I joined The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory’s Doorways team. It was shortly into this role that I saw a picture of poverty I’d previously not known or understood.

Growing up, I thought every family lived like mine. Then I began to learn about poverty, and I discovered that people in poverty often live for the day. They don’t have hope for the future; they just live with what they can see right now. I wanted to know more about this. I also needed to understand The Salvation Army’s roots in helping the impoverished. I saw an ad for Major Peter Farthing’s book 1865: The Year that Made The Salvation Army and so I purchased a copy. Reading it, I encountered two inspiring people, William and Catherine Booth, who couldn’t settle in a middle-class church while a whole other class of people lived on the outer, not seeing the light of Jesus.

Similarities in their situation to today struck me. In our time, the poor are disenfranchised from the world and the church. Often, they speak a different language; the issues which concern the church are often not the issues which concern the poor. At least that is what I am learning. Our churches say “come to us” but if and when battlers come, I suspect they often experience a church built for the middle class. Unfortunately, people in poverty may see no reason to leave their house to meet like we do. So we have to take a different approach; the church has to go out like missionaries. And, as 1865 reveals, it was just like that, too, for the Booths.

What 1865 said to me is that Christians have to model Jesus’ love in practical ways. We have to show heart. Reading the stories of William and Catherine Booth, something resonated within me. The heartbeat of the Army was exposed to me. I not only digested it but was left wanting more. I felt convicted by God.

We live in a world searching. A world hurting. A world in need. It’s not a world in need of being told how to live; it needs Christ-followers to show love. The kind of love Catherine showed which said, “I don’t care where you’ve been, what you’ve done or who you think you are, I want to show you love and my Saviour. When you meet him he will satisfy the deepest needs of your heart.”

I am finding a passion in me for why God raised up The Salvation Army. I have realised the legacy that Catherine and William and those before me have left. It’s not a legacy of comfortably sitting in church on a Sunday enjoying the salvation afforded me by God’s grace. It’s a legacy of getting my hands dirty to allow Jesus to save the lost.

I would commend 1865 to anyone keen to be grabbed by a spiritual heritage. I found it inspirational, convicting, Spirit-filled, and God-serving. Today’s Salvation Army people hear mottos like “Saved to Serve”. In 1865 you see where that heart came from, and it is changing my heart, too.

 

 

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