Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28: 19-20
Almost four years ago, I came out of a short-lived retirement, and accepted an opportunity to go to work for the local Salvation Army, designated as the Augusta Command. The work was in Human Resources, where I believed I had much to offer, following a lengthy career in healthcare HR. I knew little about this “Army,” other than the work done for the poor of Augusta, including a shelter for the homeless on Greene Street. There was a church connection, as The Salvation Army was an off shoot of the Methodist Church, which started in England in 1865 under the direction of founder William Booth. The focus was saving souls by first tending to basic human needs of food, clothing, and shelter. This approach made profound sense to me and reminded me of the work of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her sisters, who offered care for the downcast and rejected of Calcutta and eventually the world. Please note that in my almost four years with the Army, I have never experienced any proselytizing to draw me away from my Catholic faith, although I have done a little catechesis, when asked about topics such as the Eucharist or the Catholic Mass.
Early on, I noticed a flag which flew from the flagstaff outside the Kroc Center, a community center and fitness facility, with the words “Blood and Fire” in large letters. At first, the words blood and fire seemed odd, and I wondered what was really going in the Augusta Command.
I soon learned that these words comprised the motto of The Salvation Army. The word “Blood” signified the shed blood of Christ, which was essential, along with the Resurrection, toward our redemption from sin. Then there was “Fire” which spoke to the fire of the Holy Spirit that enabled Christians to take the good news of salvation to all nations, giving others hope in knowing that Jesus made salvation possible. “Blood and Fire” spoke to me as a tool for evangelizing others to know the love of Jesus, which had already been a big part of my Catholic faith for a long time and fit nicely with God’s will for me to teach others to know the peace and joy which flows from experiencing God’s love and knowing his will and purpose for their lives.
Two years after joining the Augusta Command, I began instructing employees on the Mission and Values of the Army, as an expression of Christian unity. The intent was to encourage our team seek to extend the good news of the gospel to all people, especially those homeless and in otherwise dire circumstances, first addressing their basic human needs, and helping individuals to understand better their special talents and gifts, and how these are made manifest by God in each person.
Sometimes, God will take us places we would never have expected, to plant us to accomplish amazing things, and all He is looking for is our saying “yes”! I must always remember to bloom where I am planted.
Have a Blessed week, and positive Advent season!