18 February, 2013

Unpacking Social Holiness

As World Social Justice Day is observerved on Wednesday February 20th, it is timely to ask: How do we connect our faith with our actions?  Chris Elkington shares his thoughts on 'social holiness' below: 

"How can we put our personal holiness into action?

Early last year I received an invitation to attend the Salvation Army’s inaugural International College for Soldiers and represent the Australia Southern Territory in London. I was one of 25 delegates between the ages of 18-30 years, with representatives from each of the five Army zones all around the world. The ICS held at the Cedars and lasted for two weeks. It had three distinct mission intentions (1) Knowing: Biblical, theological and historical knowledge of The Salvation Army, (2) Being: Focusing on Personal Holiness, putting into practice spiritual disciplines and (3) Doing: Implementing knowledge of social holiness in a practical way. Although I was very excited about being given the opportunity to meet with Army leaders including General Linda Bond as well as being able to visit the birth place of the Army in London’s East End I knew that God was going to challenge me deeper in my faith as well as my covenant to him as a soldier in The Salvation Army.

During the second week of the College our focus was mostly on Social Holiness- ‘Just Holiness’ with guest lecturer Major Hannelise Tvedt (Assistant Programme Secretary United Kingdom Territory). Major Tvedt spoke of the importance of holiness as being social- putting our personal holiness (Christlikeness) into action. Acts 1:8 reminds us “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NLT) Holiness oozes out of us. When our hearts are totally committed to Christ we become filled and led by the transformational power of the Holy Spirit. This allows us to be completely open to God and his saving work in our lives and the lives of others. We have as humans the capacity to be changed by God and become holy.

Catherine Booth has been quoted as saying that you can’t save souls with a long pole. Social Holiness involves getting ourselves into places where no one else dares to go, being strong enough to be in the world but not of the world and game enough to share the message of Jesus. Social Holiness means moving beyond the four walls of buildings, social centre, halls and fortresses and being ready to fight for those who have no voice, those who are hungry, those who hurting and those who need the love of Jesus. We too had the opportunity to express this in a practical way and were sent out in small teams across the streets of London to meet with people in Corps and Social Centres. Our purpose was to evangelise, but to understand that in all people there is an image of God and that we need to identify God in them.

The Salvation Army with its military like structure was raised as a dynamic Army of love that reaches out to the ‘whosoever’. It is a holiness movement, motivated to meet the needs of others in a practical, inclusive and non-confrontational way without discrimination. The act of ‘just holiness’ is being able to see the needs of others, putting them first without thinking an agenda. It’s easy to become critical of others, to judge, to become self-centred and to comment on those who may seem different. Although I too at times can find myself becoming comfortable with the four walls of church I am reminded that through our personal holiness (being made like Christ) I must also be demonstrating this through the act of social holiness- my lifestyle wholly reflecting Christ in the world.

Social Holiness reminds me that I need to be in community with others as God would want me to be. Being aware and inclusive of others differences, seeking to meet with people personally and on their level. I love fact that in the early days of the Salvation Army the pioneers seemed to instantly speak the language and culture of the people of the time. Whilst their innovation and outward methods of evangelism produced much success it was also by the inward working of the Holy Spirit, moving within the hearts of those they were witnessing to that allowed them to overflow with love and compassion. Every time I think of Social Holiness I become excited about the endless possibilities that can happen when our hearts are open to Christ’s leading and when we are fully engaged in his work. For I know that is by God’s strength that he will do the saving work through the inner working of the Holy Spirit on our lives. As soldiers of Salvation I am reminder of the words of General Bond during her Sunday morning address at the ICS “We must be soldiers, disciplined, spirit filled, daring not confrontational…on the march, not on the parade square”. "

About Chris: Chris Elkington is the Children Pastor at the Box Hill Corps where he changes the world one puppet show at a time. He is qualified school teacher and is studying a Master of Educational Leadership. Chris has a passion for children’s ministries and has participated in camps and programs in outback Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

01 February, 2013

Post Freedom Sunday

So your corps has met together to observe Freedom Sunday, now what? How do you continue to support and advocate for victims of human trafficking? We want to empower YOU to be influences of change in your local community. Below are some resources Just Salvos thought would be appropriate to share within your Corps and local community. Lets tap into the passion experienced during Freedom Sunday and continue to change the world for those who are victims of human trafficking.

1. Hold Bible Studies on social justice or human trafficking.
Download Just Salvos bible study here
Download Stop The Traffik bible studies here

2. For Women’s Ministries or Youth Ministries: Host a Fair Trade Fondue party.

3. Download Ethical Shopping Guide Apps (available through the App Store).

4. Purchase Just Gifts OR hold a fundraiser at your corps and select a project to support. Contact Just Salvos for more information.

5. Continue to pray! Hold prayer meetings - insert prayer stations into your meetings or bible studies.
6. Sponsor a child. When you sponsor a child you provide them with an education and begin the process of removing them from poverty, drastically reducing their chances of being trafficked. Visit  http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/get-involved/sponsor-a-child/ for more informaiton. 

7. Continue to be informed. Spend 10 minutes a day reading up on Human Trafficking. Just Salvos recommends you visit the following websites:

8. Spread the word! Tell your friends, family, work colleagues about the issue of Human Trafficking.      

Or, if you can think of other ways to get involved and advocate for victims of human trafficking, email us! We would love to hear from you.

Freedom Sunday

What is freedom?

Over 2.1 million people in our world are not free. They are enslaved in human trafficking; forced into labour, sexual exploitation, domestic slavery or castoff for their organs.

The Salvation Army in Australia has set apart 17th February to acknowledge and pray for victims of human trafficking. Human Trafficking not only dishonors the glory of God inherent in each individual, it is also a violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Article 4 states, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms” (United Nations, 2013).

What can we do? We can pray.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8)
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Select the following links for some prayer resources as well as a service outline specific to The Salvation Army.

Start Freedom Sunday Prayer

Service Outline - The Salvation Army

Start Freedom Sunday (Prayer 2)

Additionally, visit the Centre for Spiritual Life Development for some great prayer resources. http://www.salvationarmy.org/csld/247prayer

World Interfaith Harmony Week

“Once we bring people together, we find that there is so much commonality in approaches. There are differences in texts, and rituals may be different, but the core is similar. In talking about conflict, all agree that healing has religious roots. They agree that violence and suffering are not supported by any religion. That brings the discourse on peace to the fore. The idea is not to bury differences, but to agree on common principles. Then the groups agree to work with their different capacities. They work so that differences can become strengths”.
Jacqueline Ogega Director, Global Women of Faith, Religions for Peace.

February 1st - 7th is World Interfaith Harmony Week. To observe this week, Just Salvos asked three individuals to share their thoughts on interfaith harmony. We hope you are challenged and encouraged by the following viewpoints.

I strongly believe that interfaith harmony is a critical task for all religions in the 21st century. It’s not just about moving beyond the terrible history of interreligious persecution and bloodshed – though we desperately need to do that. It’s also more than just being politically correct or promoting tolerance. It’s fundamentally about acknowledging that God is bigger than any of us can grasp, even within the best of our religious systems. Our hold on the sacred, on revelation, on truth, is always provisional. We take hold of it in humility and with all the faith we can muster, like catching water in a net. With this attitude, we can learn from other traditions without compromising our own and grow in the spirit of love and compassion that is common to all the major faiths.
- Captain Jason Davies-Kildea

There is a particular anxiety and fear that accompanies the unknown – your first day in new employment, visiting another country for the first time, being confronted by another faith tradition or belief system. I believe interfaith harmony is moving past the fear and seeking mutual respect and understanding. As Christians, we have a mandate to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27), this includes those who worship another as their god. Interfaith harmony means we acknowledge that everyone is made in the image of God and treat them accordingly – with love and grace. Interfaith harmony allows us to actively engage in the lives of those who hold different belief systems and encourages us to be informed; we might just find how we can work together to bring the Kingdom of God.
- Amanda Merrett

I was blessed to part of an outpouring of that sentiment in the week following the horrific massacre at Port Arthur in Tasmania. An interfaith service was held in the city of Hobart, spilling onto the streets with loud speakers. People stood side by side, some comforting others, some silent, others weeping softly alone, yet not alone, as different interfaith elements were read and expressed from the leaders of the service. The expressions were those of love from God and need for one another. Mutual respect was evident as Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians received from God and others. Though this occasion was not stimulated by religious conflict, I discovered that so much healing came from the community of those who came together and who wanted to pray. The need for prayer was primary. This became the situation even later as Salvation Army chaplains knelt with those who came to honour their loved ones at the site of the killings. No matter what the background of the person, I heard of comfort as people were helped to pray and remember. There were open entry points to faith and its expression. There is much we have in common with others and we do well to listen, learn and share as we explore our common humanity. This is the value of interfaith harmony.
- Marion Weymouth