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Hope Shines

Have you ever wondered why David had confidence when facing Goliath? King Saul certainly questioned David’s ability. By Commissioner David Hudson
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Have you ever wondered why David had confidence when facing Goliath? King Saul certainly questioned David’s ability. While David’s trust remained in God, this wasn’t his first challenge. David told King Saul stories of defeating lions and bears while defending his flock; and if God was with him during those challenging times, he knew that God would be with him in this battle as well.

This year, in mid-March, we were thrust into a battle as well. Our lives changed in ways that neither I, nor probably most people, thought possible. Unemployment numbers spiked to record highs in the USA as stores and restaurants closed. “Social distancing” became the new phrase. People were living with fear, uncertainty, isolation and loneliness. 

We need to remind ourselves that while our nation hasn’t experienced anything quite like this in our lifetime, like King David, we have survived other significant challenges. I’m sure people, including The Salvation Army, were asking similar questions when faced with World War I. It is interesting—The Salvation Army was in America 40 years prior to that war, yet, in the opening of The Salvation Army’s services, not many events were mentioned. During the war, then-National Commander Evangeline Booth offered the services of The Salvation Army, literally leveraging all of The Salvation Army’s assets; and of course, the organization changed forever. Today, over 100 years later, people still talk about the donuts The Salvation Army offered to our troops on the frontlines.

Beyond the Pulpit

Today, I am blessed and encouraged by the work of faith-based organizations like The Salvation Army around the world. I’ve watched videos and seen thousands of people firsthand receiving food through our drive-up distribution sites. Church buildings are being used to provide childcare to medical personnel and first responders. Other groups, along with The Salvation Army, set up toll-free numbers to offer encouragement and support. The Salvation Army has expanded shelter capacity—some places are seeing double the number of people sleeping in our facilities each night. Hygiene supplies are distributed to families as well as the homeless. Shut-ins and seniors are being provided food and visits. All these things, and many more services, are being provided while staff and volunteers adhere to the practice of “social distancing.” 

“Meeting human needs in His name is an outcome of the gospel.”

The mission of The Salvation Army is to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His Name without discrimination.” Preaching the gospel is not limited to a pulpit, but extends to offering hope, dignity, grace, peace and assurance—this is God’s desire for His people. Meeting human needs in His name is an outcome of the gospel. As St. Francis is attributed to saying, ‘Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.’ 

Serve Others, Serve Him

This is not about doing good things so that people will notice us. Rather, it’s following Jesus’s guidance when He said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NIV). The Apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:17, “…whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (NIV). Christians serve out of an act of thanksgiving and gratitude—they shine His hope.

Jesus Himself said as we serve others, we serve Him. And that service demands action, whether it is washing feet, serving the Church or providing shelter, food, clothing and hope to anyone facing need. The need is the call to service. 

Whenever you see a Salvation Army truck or building, you see the words “Doing the Most Good.” This is not a slogan—it is a promise that The Salvation Army makes every day worldwide. Frankly, some days we fall short; but when we do, we promise to try even harder and to serve “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). It is a promise mandated by Scripture: “May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season He shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist” (Galatians 6:9, The Voice translation). Those who have come before us inspire us to do so. General Evangeline Booth said, “There is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need.”

These times will eventually pass, and lives will return to normal. People will remember the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 for years to come. Parents will tell stories of the days of isolation, uncertainty and fear. They will also remember the essential personnel and the heroes: including medical personnel and first responders. I believe they will also remember what followers of Jesus did during the darkest days to serve, assure and reassure others—offering a cold cup of water, a word of hope and reminding others that “together we’ll get through this.”

For Further Reflection

Books:

Unbroken by Dr. Luura Hillenbrand. This is the story of Louis Zamperini’s survival in a Japanese concentration camp during WWII.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. A Dutch watchmaker, Corrie ten Boom became a heroine of the Resistance and a survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps.

In The Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. This is the book I read every January. Nouwen teaches that leadership cannot function apart from community. This beautiful guide to Christian leadership is the fruit of Henri Nouwen’s own journey as one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century.

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Commissioner David Hudson An officer (pastor) for 45 years, has served as the National Commander for The Salvation Army in the USA for the past three years. David has a Master of Science in leadership and has been married to Sharron for 44 years. They have two daughters and two grandchildren. He plans to retire on June 30, 2020 with his wife, Sharron. 

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