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Response to Pillar Five Of General Eva Burrows’ Agenda for the Future
by Jacqui Larsson

“To support efforts for peace in the world, and champion the principles of justice and equity.”

 

For those who don’t know me, I am writing today from my little corner in the USA West Territory, in response to General Eva Burrows’ call for direction, and specifically for her fifth pillar of focus “to support efforts for peace in the world, and champion the principles of justice and equity”.  I come to you today as a Salvation Army employee of twenty-three years, currently serving as the Territorial Social Justice Ministries Director and Anti-Trafficking Contact Person, but also as a lifelong Soldier in the Army’s ranks.  My thoughts come from the seats in the congregation, the twenty-one years I served from the Music/Asst. Program Secretaries office, and my two years within my current role in Social Justice, and although I have learnt more than I could ever imagine in my current role, I acknowledge that I still have a long way to go in this field as I strive to do just as General Burrows exhorts: to support efforts for peace and champion principles of justice. 

 

Scripture makes it clear that this fight for peace and justice should remain at the forefront of our lives as we travel our journey of spiritual formation and strive to live a life like Christ, and I believe that the Army has made this a priority throughout its existence.  We are known around the world for our ministries during the War, for our Emergency Disaster response, and for the ways in which we have fed and clothed those in need throughout the years.  We have read the Founder’s call to “Fight” and heard of his famous memo to focus on “OTHERS”, but how does this translate to our everyday lives as Soldiers as we “stand against the proliferation of weapons of war”?

 

I have to say that as a Salvationist I had never heard of the stories of “The Maiden Tribute” or the “Match Factory”, or even the campaign to free prostitutes from bondage in early twentieth century Japan, until I started my current role as a Social Justice Director.  I was well-aware of the many excellent Programs we had to offer within the church but was unaware of our fight for justice and equity outside of our four walls.  Now, does this mean that this fight was not happening in my small corner of the world?  No, absolutely not!  And is it possible that as a Soldier I was so busy running from one Program to another that I was oblivious to the good work being done around me?  Yes, probably!  But as General Eva Burrows encourages, the need to “encourage salvationists into a new awareness” is an ongoing battle that needs to be fought.

 

We have come a long way, and I truly believe that we have made great strides over the past 35 years since this agenda was set before us by General Burrows.  I am so encouraged by the amazing work being carried out around the world, the anti-trafficking programs serving thousands of men, women, and children from around the globe who have been enslaved against their will, the shelters set-up to serve our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA+ community, the education and awareness being put in place amongst officers and employees as we strive to lift up those who have experienced prejudice and inequity in their lives.  However, I also feel the juxtaposition of turning inward and seeking to spend much of our time and energy on “looking the part” and “creating a performance” rather than turning outwardly toward those in need as we “speak out with courage” and strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world where even the word justice has somehow become politicized.  Is it possible to minister to the Salvation Army Soldiers within our four walls, focus on discipleship as we evangelize to those wandering in the darkness, and also fight for justice for the vulnerable being oppressed, downtrodden, and outcast in society?  I believe so, and these six pillars are still applicable today as we seek the Holy Spirit’s guiding and attempt to reach that balance.

 

We, the Army, have been blessed with a powerful voice, a seat at the table, and, compared to many, great resources to do the Lord’s work around the world, so let’s continue to do just that as we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

   

 

 

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