It seems like 2020 was a long year. The weight of last year won’t be soon forgotten. Most memorable events have a date: January 1, February 14, September 11, November 11, to name a few. The COVID-19 crisis has challenged all of us to endure, to be purveyors of hope.

Giving Hope Today. It’s a phrase familiar to us all; perhaps too familiar. It is our brand promise, but also our commitment to community. Seeing it so often leaves us a bit blind to it. Like a familiar landmark we drive by every day, we know it’s there, but we don’t pay it much attention. But it’s more than a brand promise—it provides us with a reminder of our work and our identity.

Did you know that it is part of a manifesto developed by the Canada and Bermuda Territory in 2006? The manifesto begins like this: “I believe in compassion. I rely on God’s strength. I live out my faith. I point people to hope.”

I point people to hope—of course, we believe that Jesus is the hope of the world. Without him we are lost, and without that component in our work we fail completely. The manifesto goes on to say this: “I feed empty lives and hungry spirits. I rebuild hope from shattered dreams. I am a willing listener for a hurting person. I am a bottle of water for a weary firefighter.

I am a safe shelter for a weary traveller. I am an opportunity for a child. I am an answered prayer. I am a second chance.”

Those are inspiring words, but note that all these statements begin with the word “I.” It must be me and it must be you. There is no passing it on to another, nor avoiding the call of those who need hope. For many, we are it. We are the hands and feet of Jesus, giving and going where others may not or will not. We are the willing listener and the opportunity for a child who finds the world hostile and dangerous. Our actions may indeed be prompted by God so that we become the answer to someone’s prayer.

I remember many times when I have arrived at someone’s home or hospital bed in what appeared to be a divine appointment; God had sent me along at just the right moment. I know you have those experiences, too. So, let’s each be the one who obeys the prompting of the Spirit of God.
Note the last of those three words: Giving Hope Today. It’s today for us, it’s now for us, it’s immediate. We cannot put off until tomorrow what can be done today. It may seem endless, but that’s the nature of our mission. As we walk into 2021, we are reminded that we are still purveyors of hope.

The manifesto includes this reality: “I am an Army. Drafted by the Creator. Commissioned by a Man who defied death. My enemies are despair and destruction. My ammunition is grace and mercy. My allies are generosity and potential. As I stand in solidarity with others, we all grow.”

These are days of deep need, but hope is the essence of our mission. We must use grace and mercy as the ammunition in this war on despair. But we can only do so if we, too, are relying on the daily work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Here’s how the prophet Isaiah puts it: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

I am The Salvation Army. Giving Hope Today.

Lt-Colonel Fred Waters is the secretary for business administration in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

Illustration: Joe Marino, courtesy of SAconnects Magazine

Leave a Comment