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A war on two fronts

A war on two fronts

A war on two fronts

1 November 2019

Commissioner Robert Donaldson continues to explore the concept of mission delivery.

By Janine and Robert Donaldson

Have you got your eye on the ball? Have you caught it or did you drop it?

In our last article we shouted “Catch it!” to two important matters for The Salvation Army in Australia – mission delivery at the local level, and values (with their associated behaviours).

Personally, the concept of holistic integrated mission was caught in 1992 when we served at The Salvation Army Chikankata Secondary School in Zambia.

More than 700 teenage boarding students received a high standard of education over three to five years, and participated in daily prayers and chapel on Sunday.

In addition, more than 400 students chose to participate in Corps Cadets every Tuesday evening, where discipleship was a key focus. The school also provided a range of activities through which life skills and leadership were developed.

No wonder that when students graduated, many made significant contributions to church and community. Whilst serving at Chikankata, I [Robert] read an excellent book by Salvationist Dr Roger Green, titled War on Two Fronts: The Redemptive Theology of William Booth.

In the book, Green traces two phases of William Booth’s theological and ministry development:

• 1878 – His revivalist ministry with its emphasis on personal conversion.

• 1889-1890 – The understanding that salvation was both personal and social.

The Army now had a dual mission: war on two fronts. While Booth had always had a great concern and empathy for the poor, his focus had been on getting sinners saved.

Following the Army’s first foray into social salvation through the Prison Gate Brigade in Melbourne, Booth now formed what was known as the Social Reform Wing.

Booth’s theology had now developed to embrace “a gospel of redemption from personal sin and a gospel of redemption from social evil”. This is the missional heartbeat of The Salvation Army and the foundation of what we describe today as holistic or integrated mission.

Jesus came not merely to save souls but to make people whole – body, mind, spirit and relationally (Luke 10:25-28).

He came that we “might have life to the full” (John 10:10). Only those mission expressions of The Salvation Army that minister to people’s needs and personal salvation can authentically be called The Salvation Army.

Recently, we had the privilege and pleasure of visiting Berwick Corps in Melbourne’s southeast and seeing its START program, which offers assistance to people with addictive behaviours, including drugs, alcohol and gambling, and involves a holistic approach to recovery.

As a result of the program being integrated into the corps in what is a seamless process, people are progressing on faith pathways, coming to faith in Christ and participating in the church at Berwick.

It’s a wonderful example of what we mean when we talk about a holistic mission expression. To read more about the program, go to others.org.au/berwickstart We are thankful for every Salvation Army mission expression and Area Leadership Team that is intentionally working to develop holistic mission in order to see our vision become a reality.

And we warmly, but strongly, encourage all Salvos, mission expressions and Area Leadership Teams to embrace our ‘why’, our reason for being, our ‘war on two fronts’, our holistic and integrated mission ... and begin to see Australia transformed one life at a time with the love of Jesus.

“Catch it!”, and may God bless you.

Commissioners Janine and Robert Donaldson are the territorial leaders of The Salvation Army Australia Territory.

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