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May27FriDo you have what it takes to wear your faith? May 27, 2016 by Brandalyn Musial
I have a confession to make: I am proud to be a Salvation Army soldier, but I've always had an issue with the uniform. I'd only acquired one to make my role and presence clear when I was on church business, not because I loved wearing it.
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I've struggled with it on a few levels. It's pretty bland compared to my closet full of colourful and interesting items. The uniform isn't comfortable—and it's cold in the winter. I've never been clear on when and how to wear it.
But last year's Boundless 2015 congress in London, England, changed how I view the uniform.
A Boundless Experience
When I arrived at the O2 Arena in London to pick up my registration package, my heart was in turmoil to see all the uniformed Salvationists there. Tomorrow, I will lose my individuality, I thought. I'll look just like everyone else. I'll just blend in. (And when have I ever “just blended in”?) I'd don my uniform for the day's events and activities, doing what I was expected to do, not because I wanted to.
But a funny thing happened when I started wearing my uniform on a daily basis. Riding the trains, normally quiet commuters would initiate conversations, asking who we were, where we were going and what the uniforms meant. People asked us about our beliefs and the work of The Salvation Army, and shared with us their stories and beliefs. We were engaged by store clerks, shoppers and postal workers. It was surreal.
Equally unique was being able to identify fellow Salvationists, in the streets, stores, trains and restaurants by their white shirts and distinctive shoulder tabs. What a precious experience!
Riding the trains, normally quiet commuters would initiate conversations, asking who we were, where we were going and what the uniforms meant
When congress concluded, my husband and I packed ouruniforms neatly in our backpacks as we prepared to spend our last few days seeing some of the English countryside. Our post-congress experience was a contrast to the previous five days, however. Now, we rode trains where no one engaged us in conversation, we entered stores and restaurants where no one asked who we were, what we believed or about The Salvation Army. The Army faded into the general population. We no longer stood out, and we couldn't identify fellow Salvationists. We truly felt as if something was missing. It was now much harder to reach people and interact on a less-than-superficial level.
Change Your World!
Since coming home, I've made more of a point of wearing my uniform outside of the times when I'm performing a specific Salvation Army activity. I can see now great value in the uniform, in being able to be visibly identified as different—God's people on an earthly mission. I no longer feel I need to wear the uniform because it is expected. I wear the uniform because it enhances my ability to connect with people.
I believe The Salvation Army is starting to lose its recognizability in our communities and that many people don't know that, first and foremost, we are a Bible-believing, ministry-focused, salvation gospel outreach.
But what if they could see us? What if we were visible daily in the grocery store, school and mall? What if the doors of communication were opened because of how we dressed, and people readily knew that we were people they could talk to, cry with, pray with and ask questions of?
I'm the first to admit that the uniform isn't the most comfortable item in my wardrobe, but I now believe that there is value to wearing it more often.
I would like to put out a “uniform challenge” to my fellow uniform-owning Salvationists: Will you join me in choosing to wear your uniform more than you are required to—or inclined to? Will you choose to put it on one day a month when you are not going to church or a community outreach event or to your Army job? Will you wear it on a normal “day off” to the grocery store, school and mall? Will you choose to stand out as one of God's people, visible in your community?
I don't think that wearing our uniforms will change the world, but it might just make a difference in our local community outreach.
Will you accept my uniform challenge?
Brandalyn Musial attends Mount Arrowsmith Corps in Parksville, B.C.