SA MISSIONS | MAJOR ANN BRAUND
In The Salvation Army we give emphasis to mission fund raising during the months of March, April and May. In the past decade we have seen a shift in the name of this campaign from Self-denial to Partners in Mission. This shift has intentionally moved our focus from self to others. In the gospel of Matthew we are taught that we find ourselves when we are willing to lose ourselves for the sake of Christ. Christ set an example; He who was rich for our sakes became poor so that we who are poor through Him could become rich. Christ emptied himself for others. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians spoke of the joy that comes when we pour ourselves out for the sake of others, “even if I am being poured out like a drink offering… I rejoice … because it is an offering that advances the gospel” (Phil. 2:17). Drink offerings were flammable liquids poured over other sacrifice and ignited. The scripture teach us that there is great joy when we pour ourselves out so that the faith of others will burst into flame.
The Apostle Paul addressed the Church in Philipp as ‘partners in the gospel.’ For Paul the gospel was more than a message, more than good news. The gospel was and is our mission. Paul spoke of advancing the gospel. Paul rejoiced that his sufferings had advanced the gospel.
We are invited, in our annual Partners in Mission fund raising campaign, to participate in the joy of giving. As we generously give to our Partner Territories; Liberia, Zimbabwe, Germany, Latin America North and Malawi they will be able to continue offering life changing ministries. Let us do our part in supporting our Partners in Mission. The Canada and Bermuda Territory Partners in Mission fund raising goal this year is $2.25 million. The College for Officers Training has been challenged to raise $8,400 toward that goal.
In January I was given the opportunity to see some of the work being done in the Latin America North Territory. I returned home with a camera and a heart full of images of dedicated Salvationists who are advancing the gospel.
We met The Salvation Army officers In Honduras, two single women serving in cities approximately 500 miles apart. They each lead a Corps and Social Service ministry. There social ministry is a partnership with the government in running an education program for paediatric patients in the hospital. The Salvation Army provides volunteers who take assigned lessons to patients who cannot come to the hospital classroom. This program allows children enduring long hospitalization to maintain their schooling. The Salvation Army volunteers are young, ages 16 – 20 years old. In Honduras Salvationist youth are front line workers in both corps and social service ministries.
We met The Salvation Army officers in Nicaragua, a newly commissioned couple appointed to Managua. They run a corps and an outpost. Nicaragua is the newest country added to the Latin America North Territory beginning in 2010. The outpost is in a shanty town 21 kilometers from the city. A member of the corps lives there and welcomes the Corps Officers for a weekly prayer and praise. A circle of blue plastic chairs are placed under a tree, children and adults gather. This shanty town is home to 1500 families.
In Costa Rica we visited inner city corps, thrift stores, feeding programs, a rehabilitation centre, DHQ, THQ and the Training College.
I want to tell you about a corps located on a street nicknamed, Stab Alley. Here, drug traffickers as young as 14 openly do business. A shanty town occupied by 350 families is a five minute walk. The regular Sunday attendance is 80 and draws people from the neighbourhood. We visited one of the corps families living in the shanty town home, dirt floor, rough wood, rusty tin roof… This corps runs a feeding program and homework club five days a week, it offers music lessons for neighbourhood children and provides a safe and nurturing environment for vulnerable people. As we walked from the corps to the feed centre and on to the shanty town it was exciting to see children stop their play and run to greet the Corps Officer.
At the conclusion of the tour we gather In Colonel Tito Paredes’ office. My attention was drawn to the eleven flags that sat on his desk, a little flag for each of the ten countries in his Territory; alongside those flags was a little Canadian flag. Colonel said, “Every day I have 11 reasons to pray – the ten countries of my Territory and my partner country – Canada.” As he includes us in his prayers let us remember our Partner Territories in our prayers and in our giving.