GENERAL Linda Bond made a
passionate call for The Salvation Army around the world to be united in
mission and message and to grasp new opportunities as she launched the
International Vision: One Army, One Mission, One Message.
The vision is given substance through 12 Mission Priorities
– full details of which can be seen in the Vision Plan (http://sar.my/one). These priorities
call on Salvationists to say 'we will' to principles such as deepening
spiritual life; reaching and involving youth and children; and communicating
Christ unashamedly. The General said she was aware that, if not approached
practically, a vision could be 'only a pipe dream'
but that the Mission Priorities make it clear that 'you have to do
She emphasised that One Army, One Mission, One Message
should not be seen as 'the General's vision' but that she wants Salvationists
around the world – who she described as having 'the DNA of The Salvation
Army tattooed on heads and hearts' – to say: 'This is our vision'.
'As General I need to own the
world's priorities,' she told a packed meeting room at International
Headquarters (IHQ) in London. She committed IHQ to 'owning' the Mission
Priorities and explained that the final wording had come about after extensive
consultation with Salvation Army leaders around the world.
General spoke to Salvationists around the world when, referring to the biblical
promise that God would care for his people, she said: 'I truly believe
Salvationists need to know we have a hope and a future.' Her words were being
recorded on camera before being made available online (http://sar.my/one).
The General told the congregation that in order to be 'One
Army', The Salvation Army 'needs to be marked by holiness and prayer'. She took
this point further: 'People should look at us and say: "Here is a holy people
of God – a people with a passion for the gospel."'
She called on Salvationists to see self-denial –
sacrificial giving to the Army's world mission – as a vital part of their
service. She spoke of the willingness she sees by people from poorer countries
to help even those who have greater resources, saying: 'We need each other
– we need each other's money!'
on to the next aspect of the vision, the General reaffirmed the importance of
The Salvation Army's integrated mission, saying that it 'has to be emphasised
again and again and again'.
The vision statement speaks about going 'into the world of
the broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost, reaching them in love by all means'.
The General sought to ensure that this was understood fully, explaining that
the broken and lost could refer to people in physical and financial need but
that it could just as easily describe 'the unsaved and people who are outside
She explained further that the Army must not hand over its
'service to suffering humanity' to its social services; nor could it leave it
to the officer training colleges to do all the work to grow saints within the
She had a clear message for corps, social service centres
and headquarters everywhere: 'If there is a Salvation Army shield on your
building, you do all the mission!'
The General was equally clear about the Mission Priority to
reach and involve youth and children. 'The future of The Salvation Army,' she
said, 'may hang on the priority to which we give our approach to children and
youth.' She said that work with young people should not be ignored because of a
perceived lack of time or resources, and she committed IHQ to involve young
people in its public meetings.
Speaking about the Mission Priority to 'stand for and serve
the marginalised', she challenged her listeners by saying that The Salvation
Army needs to 'find its voice and stand for people who are marginalised in
society,' explaining that the Army is 'married' to such people.
Innovation in mission, said the General, is to be
encouraged. 'Just go for it and give us good ideas,' was her call to the Army.
She backed this up – despite admitting to being naturally conservative
– with a call for Salvation Army boards to have a 'can-do' attitude such
that their natural response to ideas should be 'yes' (unless there was good
reason to say 'no'!) rather than being over-careful and instinctively
General admitted that in parts of the world where The Salvation Army is adored
by the public there is a danger that 'we wouldn't want to jeopardise it by
being politically incorrect'. She said that the Army should always make clear
that it does its work because 'the love of Christ compels us', adding that she
would love to see that phrase on the wall of every Salvation Army social
centre. Taking a strong stand on its motivation may mean that the Army
sometimes loses money, admitted the General, before adding: 'But I would rather
have the blessing of the Lord.'
Picking up on another of the Mission Priorities, the
General called for a reaffirmation of the belief in transformation, explaining
that – through the power of the Holy Spirit – a person can change
his or her life not by making resolutions but by undergoing a revolution!
Communication was highlighted as a priority. The General
said that she loved Salvation Army open-air meetings but warned against holding
them 'next to a brick wall' where no one was listening. She called on
Salvationists to grab the opportunities presented by modern technology. 'We
need to use the World Wide Web,' she said. 'We could have a million people at
our open-air meetings!'
Drawing her thoughts to a close, the General admitted that
there was nothing inherently new in the International Vision. However, holding
up her Bible, she told the congregation and those watching online that from
Genesis to Revelation there was a common thread – 'God's relentless
pursuit of relationship with humanity.'
The General wondered what Salvation Army Founder William
Booth would think of the International Vision, concluding that he would
probably say: 'Go and do something about it!'
'I want you to be encouraged,' said the General to
Salvationists at IHQ and around the world. 'I believe God raised up The
Salvation Army.' And while the International Vision contains 'nothing new', she
hopes that it creates opportunity for Salvationists everywhere to look at what
they say and do so they will 'use new language and find new ways of doing
THE meeting also included the launch of a new book, Love
– Right at the Heart by Commissioner Robert Street, published by
Salvation Books. The book, written to work in harmony with the International
Vision, examines how Salvationists have a responsibility to one another, while
taking their caring ministry to the world. The General said she hopes all
Salvationists will read the book.
A new song, 'As I Have Loved You', has been released to
accompany the book. A recording of the song, sheet music and a backing track
are available online at http://sar.my/aihly
Report by Kevin Sims