It is our great honour, along with all of Hillsong Church across the globe, to join with countless others and celebrate 150 years of service by the esteemed Salvation Army. I believe it is appropriate to take a moment to reflect on the significance of this great organisation and the qualities that have given it such longevity and a place of affection and respect in people’s hearts.
What Salvation Army founder, William Booth set out to do in 1865 – preach the Gospel to the poor and provide practical relief aid to the destitute, sounds exactly like Jesus’ declaration of purpose in Luke 4:18-19:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Today, it is difficult to appreciate the world of William Booth. The demography in which he and his wife lived and laboured was epidemic with crime and the desperation of people in London would have been nothing less than overwhelming. Notwithstanding William and Catherine Booth’s unyielding dedication, sacrifice and compassion, forged the bedrock of a ministry and aid work that continues to change the face of social justice and address the needs of poverty across the face of the earth today.
A century and a half on, and anyone would be hard- pressed to find someone who isn’t aware of the Salvation Army, or “the Salvos” as we Aussies have affectionately dubbed them. Christian and secular alike, the refrain, “Thank God for the Salvos” meets with little debate and much fondness; just about everyone could tell you a moving, personal story connected in some way with this beloved organisation, and I am no exception.
As I reflect on the profound impact of the Salvation Army on my own life, I am personally indebted to them and forever grateful. They played a role in the very foundation on which my own life and ministry has been built. At the time of my birth, both my parents were Salvation Army Officers having both trained in the SA Bible College, after finding salvation in Jesus through a Salvation Army outreach.
Years on, Hillsong Church has been blessed by partnering with the Salvation Army in our own communities – adding our strengths to such strong foundations, we have built lasting relationships and seen God do miraculous things through this God-ordained partnership. For the last 150 years, your commitment to providing meals for the hungry, beds for the homeless, employment assistance, refuge, counselling and assistance has resulted in the changed lives of countless individuals and generations. This is truly miraculous, and the cause for overwhelming and heartfelt gratitude in us all.
The value and influence of The Salvation Army through authentic acts of service and selflessness is quite simply, immeasurable, and we are all better for it. I not only admire your social work and selfless acts, but your commitment to building healthy local churches and meeting the spiritual needs of people in communities across this nation. As you carry forward with an unchanged vision and mandate, let us express our gratitude for 150 years of faithful service.
Our prayer is that together, we might embrace every opportunity to open our hearts and hands to give generously of our time and resource – that people might come to know SALVATION in Jesus Christ.
THANK GOD FOR THE SALVOS!
Brian & Bobbie Houston
Senior Pastors of Hillsong Church