“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
I often go back to our mission statement as I roll up my sleeves and get to work doing the ministry God has called my wife and I to here in Sheridan. It helps me to stay focused and centered, no matter what part of my job I am doing: Love God; preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and help others in His name.
The closest Biblical metaphor that defines who we are as an organization is found in Luke 10 — The Parable of the Good Samaritan. In this well-known parable, an expert in Jewish law tests Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answers the question with a couple questions, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
I love the answer given, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,’ The Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ Leviticus 19:18b.” Great answers straight from the Torah! And Jesus agreed, “You (expert of the Laws of Moses) have answered correctly,” Jesus replied, “Do this and you will live.”
I’m sure this expert in the law was feeling pleased, but he was confused about one thing. “Who is my neighbor?” he wanted to know. So, Jesus told the very familiar parable of the Good Samaritan and at the end he asked, “Which of these three was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hand of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Since 1865, The Salvation Army has lived out this parable, and since 1916 in Sheridan. We exist to seek to save the lost. “Salvation” is our middle name. Soup, soap and salvation if you will. We preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word on Sundays and at Bible study, yes, but more importantly, we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in deed Monday through Friday. We meet human need in the name of Jesus Christ without discrimination — period. Why? Because we love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind.
Everything we do, everything we say, every person we help, every need met is an act of love, compassion and mercy. Have you been “robbed” by this world? Are you metaphorically — or actually — laying in the gutter? If so, The Salvation Army will be your neighbor and give you a hand up in love.
If you are a believer looking for a way to take your faith out of the pew and into the local mission field, we welcome you to come join our Army. Your financial support, your volunteerism and your prayers are all needed to accomplish the mission. Thank you to all who helped us during this past Christmas season. Every ring of the bell; every nickel dropped in the Red Kettle; every volunteer hour; every bicycle, toy or article of clothing donated through the Angel Tree program showed you to be a good neighbor, too.
The words of our Lord are the same today as they were 2,000 years ago, “Go and do likewise.” And in these loving acts of kindness and mercy to your neighbors you will demonstrate that you love God, too.
Envoy Gary Dobney serves with The Salvation Army in Sheridan.