Monday, April 21, 2014

Why continue?

Just this past weekend, a friend of mine and I were discussing some of the differences and problems that I have been having in regards to serving in The Salvation Army. There have been some ideological differences that have arisen where I take issue with the official stance. I won't discuss these here, but those of you who know me know exactly what those differences are.

My friend's question to me was:  "Why do you stay when you have these differences?"

It's a very valid question. Why should I stay and serve when I have a difference of opinion? Granted these differences tend to be sometimes at tremendous odds. It came to a point where an officer colleague said that those who do not agree with the official Position Statements should "separate themselves from the organization."

When I first saw that, I thought I did not read it correctly. Those who disagree should leave the organization? That was one of the most dastardly things I had read from a fellow colleague in a long time. With statements and opinions like these from fellow colleagues, it doesn't make it actually very conducive to a good working relationship.

So what does one do? What was my calling?


to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
as an officer of The Salvation Army

to love and serve him supremely all my days,
to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life,

to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends,

to maintain the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army, and, by God's grace to prove myself a worthy officer.
Done in the strength of my Lord and Savior, and in the presence of (the following wording to be adapted to local circumstances) the Territorial Commander, training college officers and fellow cadets. (1)

I have never shirked my responsibilities in this regard. My whole life is based on Deuteronomy 6:4,5. I feel that my main goal is always to go about seeking to win souls for Christ. Part of this expresses itself in meeting the needs of people. As I have told reporters before, what I consider evangelism is perhaps not what they consider evangelism. When I am feeding people, clothing them, loving them, this is my form of evangelism.

So while I disagree with some of the official Position Statements of The Salvation Army and how it executes those views, I am still committed to my covenant that I made with God. I made a commitment to uphold the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army as well. This is not, however, the Position Statements.

There is a significant difference between the Doctrines of The Salvation Army and our Position Statements. The Doctrines refer to what we believe. The Position Statements attempt to show how we view certain issues in society in the light of our Doctrines. I agree with a vast majority of the Position Statements, but not all. It should also be noted that the Position Statements vary from country to country, especially in its wording. That is why I am not posting a link to our Position Statements.

Our theology is ever-changing. There are some things that remain the same, but some things have evolved. For instance, it used to be unheard of for a divorced person to remain a soldier of The Salvation Army. He or she would have to be struck from the roles. Now not only do we enroll divorced people, but also perform wedding rites for them and ordain them as officers (clergy).

With that in mind, I recall one of my favorite songs regarding my calling:  "I'll Not Turn Back," written by John Gowans with music by John Larsson, both later becoming Generals in The Salvation Army.

I was going to record my own version for this blog, but experienced some technical difficulties. (Seriously!) So here is a YouTube recording of it. The words are as follows:

If crosses come, if it should cost me dearly,
To be the servant of my Servant Lord,
If darkness falls around the path of duty.
And men despise the Saviour I've adored.

I'll not turn back, whatever it may cost,
I'm called to live, to love and save the lost,
I'll not turn back, whatever it may cost,.
I'm called to live, to love and save the lost.

If doors should close then other doors will open,
The word of God can never be contained.
His love cannot be finally frustrated,
By narrow minds or prison bars restrained.

If tears should fall, if I am called to suffer,
If all I love men should deface, defame,
I'll not deny the One that I have followed,
Nor be ashamed to bear my Master's name.

In 2004 I was stationed in Hanover, Germany. That year happened to be a Congress (convention) of The Salvation Army. Interestingly enough, the Congress took place in Hanover, too. Our special guest for that weekend was General John Gowans. At one point, I had been asked to help with one of his workshops regarding his musicals. The General asked me to sing a solo, so I complied with this one. Being overcome with the words to the last verse, I started breaking up and crying as I sang the last verse. If you know me, I don't always show my emotions publicly, one of my many faults. General Gowans afterwards said that this was exactly how it was supposed to be sung.

When the Congress was over, our Chief Secretary asked me to entertain the General and his wife in our apartment for 4 hours because his flight did not leave until 6 in the evening. As nerve-wracking as that was, I thoroughly enjoyed the time of fellowship that we had together. It also gave me the opportunity to thank General Gowans for writing such a beautiful song that became an anthem for me. He died in 2012 and I will always be grateful for the opportunity just to have said "thank you" to him.

Am I called? Yes, absolutely. Will I serve? Always. They will have to kick me out before I leave.


  1. Love your testimony Timothy. Thank you so much for sharing!
    (Jack Washington)

  2. This was the answer I was looking for on Saturday, Tim. Thanks.

    1. It's typical of me that it takes a couple of days to actually get a response down. I have to mull it over first.

  3. like like like like like like love love love love. amen amen amen amen. . .

  4. I suppose it's better than staying because of some sort of aversion to homelessness.

    1. That would be very sad if that were the reason. Unfortunately, many former officers are faced with this problem as well.