William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army began its social work because ‘men slept out all night on bridges’. He saw a need and took action to meet it. In 2011 in Melbourne men, women and children still sleep in parks, in cars and under bridges. I see them and know many of them as I carry out my daily duties at The Salvation Army, Melbourne 614 as a ‘Crisis Response Worker’. We! all of us who profess faith in God, not just those of us who work in the homeless sector have a responsibility to do something about it. My Christian walk began the day I walked into the William Booth Mens Hostel in Adelaide as I am sure it did for many before me and many after me. Since that day my life has changed dramatically but I never want to forget the feeling of destitution I felt on that day. Nor do I want to forget the people who went out of their way to do something to help me put my life back on track in the name of Christ.
The Salvation Army prison ministry began in 1883 because a man cried out ‘give me a chance’. Everyone we encounter in our lives deserves a chance. James Barker, the officer responsible for TSA Social Services in Australia in 1883 said “it is better to be swindled 99 times than turn away one deserving soul”. Who are we to think it is up to us to decide who is suitable for God’s Kingdom? There is a song that’s words say “Whosoever will may come” One of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life was whilst assisting the Prison Chaplain, David How in Adelaide and conducting the morning service in E division of Yatala Prison. I had prepared a message before hand and the Holy Spirit said to me as the men entered the room “That is not the message I want”, so I put down my notes and talked about relationship with God through faith in Christ. I don’t know what I said, people gave their hearts to Christ but I knew that day my life mission was to allow the Holy Spirit to use me as He sees fit.
The Salvation Army runs many Social Services, being the hands and heart of Jesus for many in our society. They do it because they are God’s Soldiers and the Bible says in Mark 16:15 “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature”. William Booth wrote on the 24th June 1904 ‘Some men’s ambition is art, some ambition is fame. Some men’s ambition is gold. My ambition is the souls of men.’
God calls us to share His love, to reveal Him to the hurting in the world. To share their burden and lighten their load so that they might know a simple truth. God loves them, cares about them and wants to help them to be all they can be for Him.
I was challenged this week by a colleague about my passion and it made me stop and think. Why I am I here?. The answer is simple to help others know the simple truth listed above. God rescued me from addiction through the love and caring of His Son and His people so I too can help others come to know Him as the One True Higher Power.