It is a privilege for those of us who volunteer at the Salvation Army Ministry in New Bedford. Nothing is all encompassing, but by any fair measure, it shines as a special gift and our area’s Hope Center. The work that is done there speaks for itself, especially with those who struggle in our community during this pressure-packed Christmas/Holiday season. The faithful effectiveness of Majors Michael and Amanda Jung, and their year-round staff is most admirable and truly remarkable.
All of this wonderful work has its roots in a man who lived in another country a century and a half ago. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, has grown to become one of the great heroes in the Christian faith and one of mine in particular. It was in the midst of the fog of human despair that he relentlessly set out to share the greatest, most encouraging, and most profound message known to man. He didn’t do it from a cushy pulpit, slick television studio, or pastor’s study. He started by walking through the streets of London, England in the sweaty, bloody, and foul-smelling neighborhoods of those most hurting. Soup, soap, and salvation were placed high on the Army agenda. William Booth is a marvelous example of a man with the right heart, acting like Jesus with his sleeves rolled up.
A seriousness of purpose takes shape when a legitimate opportunity arises to share a hopeful message with despairing folks. When the audience is least, last, lost, and lowest among us as far as social, monetary, and educational standards are concerned, the opportunity becomes more of a direct challenge. What could or would you say to someone in the midst of being battered in their personal, social, spiritual, and/or financial life? Could you honestly look them in the eye and walk away believing you offered something that could make a difference?
If uneasiness has arisen in you, please listen and be guided by what William Booth didn’t just say but did in action. He went to the script of God that said go into all the world and make disciples. He relied on what God said about seeking Him and His Kingdom first and all the other things would be taken care of. He believed that if he served the least of God’s children, he would be serving God directly.
Friends, the question remains: What could you possibly say to someone in the midst of human despair? Real love is God alone because that is His nature. He doesn’t have love. He is love. Any other human variation of love doesn’t qualify as divine.
“It’s not by might or power, but by my Spirit,” saith the Lord.
Real hope is the anchor of our soul and the vision God is willing to give us to see beyond this life into His Heaven with the eyes of our understanding heart. By faith, all doubt of His love for us was removed when Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, rose again, and made forgiveness possible and the word Salvation to be first in the Salvation Army name.
When we focus on the essence of William Booth’s message, we see Jesus Himself telling people He loved them and He alone was their eternal Hope.
The only way a true message of hope gets through to anyone is when it is transmitted from God’s heart — the source and place of real love and lively hope. Let’s be encouraged because in the midst of it all, sits our local Salvation Army Ministry at 619 Purchase Street in New Bedford — welcoming the day as a true gift, and playing the faithful role of our area’s Hope Center.
Sincerely, Steven J. Bouley, Fairhaven
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