Every year at Christmas time, it’s common to see the bell ringers all over town standing at the red kettles of the Salvation Army. Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with Major Randall Davis to learn more about the goals of the organization. According to Davis, there is a standard operating policy that applies to every community pertaining to donations and distribution. All contributions received within a county remains in that same community to be used for needs such as food pantries, clothing, youth camps, serving meals, nursing home visitation, emergency financial assistance, holiday food boxes and toys. Giving is not limited to financial gifts but anyone who would like to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand is also much appreciated. Their mission statement which emphasizes the great commission of Matthew 28:16-20 reads: “Our Christian message is based on the Bible; our ministry is motivated by the love of God and our mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to help those in need without discrimination in the name of the Lord.”
It is no secret that top executives of well-known charitable organizations make staggering salaries, however the Salvation Army Commander who by the way manages a 2 billion dollar per year ministry, makes a very modest annual income of under 20 thousand dollars. While some charities are only left with pennies on the dollar after salaries and expenses, the Salvation Army gives an amazing 93 cents of every dollar to help those in need. They are actively involved with trying to help the poor in 121 countries around the world and their main office is located in London England where it was founded in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth. In the beginning, these enthusiastic missionaries faced harsh opposition because as they preached the gospel on street-corners, those who were going in and out of the bars were being spiritually transformed by the power of God. By publicly presenting the message of grace through faith, God’s Word was having a positive influence on those who needed deliverance from sin while having a negative impact on the lucrative businesses that sold alcohol and all the other forms of carnality. According to Davis, he says throughout the years there have been many devoted Christians who have embraced the battle-cry, “heart to God and hand to man” and he testifies how this has been the driving force of his own personal vision and faith for over 50 years. While dedicated to intervening on the behalf of the misfortunate, the ultimate goal has remained the same and that is to lead men and women into a personal relationship with God.
Wealth is not the answer to all of our problems as there are treasures in our poverty if we know where to look and how to see. It’s much easier to toss in a few dollars and go our merry way without seriously thinking or praying for those who are desperately in need. Even though giving is admirable and associated with caring, it’s the spiritual love and compassion we have for one another that is much more valuable than our contributions. When basic needs have been taken care of, this bond of trust can develop friendships and open the doors of opportunity to share about God’s plan of salvation and actually was the pattern that Jesus used in His earthly ministry. The poor are always the first to be impacted whether the economy is struggling or booming and those who are insensitive will be the first to accuse individuals who struggle for not trying to work more but this is not always the magical solution in every situation. There are many reasons for perpetual poverty including individuals with disabilities, the elderly that live on limited incomes and all the innocent children just to name a few critical situations. The Bible does not ask us to analyze with our judgmental opinions but rather to respond with mercy, compassion and obedience. “The generous will also be blessed because they share their food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9.
Dr. Holland lives in central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more, visit billyhollandministries.com.