The Power of the Cross

Jullianne Sanchez was raised as an ardent Jehovah’s Witness. In fact, some of her family still shuns her since she’s left the sect to become a Salvation Army soldier of the Lawrenceville, Georgia, Corps. Today she is “totally sold-out” to doctrines of The Salvation Army—but it has not always been so.

Oddly, one obstacle that took her quite a while to overcome is the Cross. The sect holds that the cross is never a factor simply because it is considered to be an object of worship for Protestants. They also do not believe in the concept of the Trinity.

So for many Sundays, Jullianne sat in the congregation of the Lawrenceville Corps, looking at that cross behind the pulpit and struggling with the concept of it all. She came to realize, thankfully, that the cross is an object of bittersweet shame, and part of God’s plan for the salvation of the world.

“For a long time, I felt chills down my spine just to hear words like ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ ‘Holy Spirit,’ ‘Trinity,’ or ‘Triune God,” she says.

The question begs, why would someone so steeped in the doctrines of one particular faith, begin attending church at the Army in the first place?

The answer is simple.

“I began attending for two reasons,” Jullianne replies. “First, for my daughter, who was in a music recital in a program offered here at the corps. The second reason is for my husband.”
Jullianne explains that her husband had been a Christian for many years; they even prayed together while they dated and well into their marriage.

“Then one day, he declared that he no longer believed in God,” she says, adding that she was perplexed by his statement, and that the subject of religion had become such a hot topic in their home, they finally agreed never to broach it again.

“But in 2012, I became pregnant with our second child, and my husband was driving down Sugarloaf Parkway (the location of the Lawrenceville Corps) and he saw a sign out front saying that a yard sale was soon coming.”

They needed baby clothes, so on Saturday they walked into the corps lobby.

“That’s when we spotted a notice about a registration for music classes at the corps,” she continues, “and our oldest daughter was interested in learning, so we signed her up.”

When the time came for the music school’s recital, the Sanchezes discovered that The Salvation Army is not just an organization known for helping many people—but that it is a church!

“We both felt very welcomed and accepted, right from the start. But the real shocker for me came when my husband said after the recital, ‘I think we should come to church here!’” she says, still in amazement.

Jullianne and her 15 year-old daughter, Molly-Mae, were enrolled on the same day as Salvation Army soldiers. Her husband is planning to become an adherent; and their three year-old daughter enjoys being with the other children at the corps.

So, how did she come to grips with her previous concerns about the Cross and the Trinity?

“I was listening to a Christian radio station and began hearing a song by the group ‘Hillsong United,’ called Oceans. The words of that song spoke to me as if the Lord was saying, ‘Jullianne, you’re on the right path. Open your mind and allow no limits to your faith!’”

The song’s prayer has become Jullianne’s:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
Let me walk upon the waters;
Wherever You would call me,
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander;
And my faith will be made stronger,
In the presence of my Savior!

Living in an Upside-Down World

WE LIVE IN AN UPSIDE-DOWN WORLD. Although most of the general population would probably disagree, many Christians affi rm it wholeheartedly. Th e Bible declares this to be true: “When I am weak,” Paul says in his second letter to the church in Corinth, “then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). In this same letter the apostle says that God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong, and the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

Throughout Scripture there are many examples of how human thinking is at odds with God’s wisdom. Consider these five areas.

POWER. In the eyes of the world, power is hierarchical. The boss is more important than the employee. The colonel gives orders to be obeyed instantly by the buck private. The slave is subservient to the slightest whim of the master. The Bob Cratchits of the world buckle under the demanding requirements of the Ebenezer Scrooges. To be on top is to have control. Or so it seems.

In the Bible, Jesus says, “The last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16, NIV).

He illustrates this by telling the story of an ill, hungry beggar who scavenges for scraps of food that fall from the table of a rich man. After each eventually dies, the beggar finds himself in Paradise, while the rich man is in Hell, begging for just a drop of water on his parched tongue (Luke 16:19-31).

The beggar turns out to be blessed, while the rich man is doomed to torment.

ECONOMICS. As far as money is concerned, especially for those in poverty, it seems that whoever has more of it is at an advantage. But that’s not how it works in the economy of the Kingdom of God. Often, less is more.

In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus and His disciples observe worshippers as they place gifts in the Temple treasury. Many people put in large donations, “but a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.”

Jesus says to His followers: “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” Her gift, though tiny, was worth more than the huge gifts because it was given out of poverty, with love.

An unknown poet once wrote:

But Heaven’s arithmetic mystifies man
When the answer is faith and a prayer.
To get you must give, and to add you divide,
And to multiply things you must share.

ETHICS. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, says in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

The everyman described by Solomon is not a blithering fool, casting all caution to the wind and choosing to live without concern for the future. He is a reasonable individual who makes what he considers to be solid, sane choices that will lead to happiness on earth and eternal life.

But there is something wrong with the equation. He believes his generosity to the poor, his general truthfulness, his regular attendance at church and his equal-opportunity view of his fellow men are the right choices that will bring happiness now and a place in Heaven when he dies. But Solomon’s conclusion is that all of this good activity leads to death.

The missing ingredient for this man is recognition that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and need a Savior. That Savior is Jesus Christ, of whom it is written in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved.”

The truth is that we are not saved because we’re good; rather, we’re good because we’re saved.

VALUE OF LIFE. There’s nothing more valuable to a human than his or her life. Americans spend billions of dollars every year on medical care in order to extend our lifespans. Yet in John 12:25 (CEV), Jesus says, “If you love your life, you will lose it. If you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life.”

The Master goes on to explain His statement: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24, NIV).

Mother Teresa is perhaps the most well-known example of a “lost life” bearing fruit. And Salvation Army literature is replete with stories of officers and soldiers who died to self and thus reaped rich rewards for the Kingdom—some tenfold, some a hundredfold.

REALITY. If the topsy-turviness of the world is evident in such things as power, economics, ethics and the value of life, it is even more so in the realm of reality itself.

The Apostle Paul makes an astounding statement in his second letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 he writes, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (NIV).

We are used to trusting in things we can see and touch. We sit in a chair because, from sight and feel, we know that it will support us. We look at the ocean, and we assume that it will always be there. We stand in awe of towering mountains and sense that nothing could ever destroy them. We view ancient buildings hundreds of years old and never consider that one day they will collapse. But Paul tells us that, because we can see them, they are temporary. It is the unseen— faith, trust, love and the Almighty Himself— that are real and that will last for eternity. The Apostle Peter reveals that, at the end times, “the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10, NIV). But the permanent things, the unseen things, will remain.

Within a few years of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Paul and Silas set out as evangelists. In Thessalonica, things go well for three weeks. Then a group of envious men and their followers go to the city authorities complaining that the Christians have “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, KJV) and now are disrupting the peace of their city.

It was true: Christians did turn the world upside down in the first century. Thank God the situation has not changed. God’s people today live with a different reality than the world. We have discovered that God’s way, though it may seem contrary to human reason, is always best.

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By Commissioner Robert A. Thompson

Spiritual Power

God is the source of all spiritual power, and should be sought for constantly in two ways if we would have and retain power—by meditation on His Word and by secret prayer.

Several years ago I was preaching at a New England corps (church), commanded by a rather gifted officer. He appeared to be much impressed by my familiarity with and use of the Bible, and one day he remarked that he would be willing to give a fortune, if he had it, for an equal knowledge of the Scriptures. He was much taken back when I assured him that he was quite mistaken as to the strength of his desire, for if he really wanted to get acquainted with his Bible, he could easily do so by spending the hour and more that he gave to the newspapers each day in prayerful study of God’s Word.

Men and women everywhere are crying and sighing for power and the fullness of the Spirit but neglect the means by which this power and fullness are secured.

The saintly John Fletcher said, “An over-eager attention to the doctrines of the Holy Spirit made me in some degree overlook the medium by which the Spirit works, I mean the Word of truth, by which that heavenly fire warms us. I rather expected lightning, than a steady fire by means of fuel.”

Glad, believing, secret prayer and patient, constant meditation on the Word of God will keep the sanctified man or woman full of power, full of love and faith, full of God.

But neglect of these results in spiritual weakness and dryness, joy-less labor, and fruitless toil. If you have lost the power and sweetness of your experience through neglect of these simple means, you will not receive the blessing back again by working yourself up into a frenzy of agony in prayer, but rather by quieting yourself, talking plainly to God about it, and then hearkening diligently to what God says in His Word and by His Spirit. Then peace and power will soon return and need never be lost any more.

Most people give about ten hours a day to their bodies for eating, drinking, dressing, and sleeping, and maybe a few minutes to their souls. We ought to give at least one solid hour every day to restful, loving devotion with Jesus over our open Bible, for the refreshing, developing, and strengthening of our spiritual lives. If we would do this, God would have an opportunity to teach, correct, inspire, and comfort us, reveal His secrets to us, and make spiritual giants of us. If we will not do this, we shall surely be spiritual weaklings all our days, however we may wish to be strong.

The Devil will rob us of this hour if we do not steadfastly fight for it. He will say “Go and work” before we have gained the spiritual food that strengthens us for work. The Devil’s piety and eager interest in God’s work is amazing when he sees us on our knees! It is then that he transforms himself into an angel of light, and woe be to the soul that is deceived by him at this point!

I do thank God that, for many years, in various ministry roles, He has helped me to resist the Devil at this point and to take time with Him until my soul has been filled with His glory and strength, and has been made triumphant over all the power of the enemy.

Human Needs Index

Anew instrument developed in a unique collaboration between Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and The Salvation Army provides a reliable way to measure human need in real time across the United States and to track these trends over time. The Human Needs Index (HNI) uses The Salvation Army’s rich collection of service data to expand the pathways through which individuals and communities in poverty are identified and targeted so that immediate and long-term solutions to improve these conditions can be implemented. It is the first measure of poverty-related need constructed from the analysis of a nonprofit social service organization’s data.

Current statistics show that nearly 16 percent of Americans, about 48.8 million people, live below the government-defined poverty line. For many decades, policymakers, practitioners and nonprofit leaders have sought accurate and timely data to measure poverty, economic well-being and vulnerability. Data gathering and analysis play an increasingly critical role in decision- making for organizations across sectors. However, little is known about conditions facing the hungry, the homeless or the unemployed. Some scholars and policymakers have argued that the official poverty rate may not accurately capture the true level of poverty in the United States, either because the household poverty threshold is too low or because it does not effectively capture all the elements that constitute a family’s financial situation.

Researchers at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy worked with Salvation Army staff to select the HNI’s seven key indicators from more than 230 service variables consistently tracked across time and regions by the Army. The HNI aggregates these seven indicators at national and state levels, at monthly intervals dating back to 2004.

The index uses indicators that represent features of well-being that may not be captured by traditional measures of need-based poverty. The HNI reflects need substantiated by consumption and not income, which may signify more extreme deprivation at local levels. “This allows us to go beneath the level of income and look at the complex ways households are dealing with vulnerability,” says Dr. Una Osili of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “We tend to think of things like food needs as indicators of poverty, but we don’t necessarily think about energy assistance as a component, or assistance with medical care.”

The information for these variables has been statistically tested and validated to ensure scientific rigor. The result is a comprehensive measure of need that can track changes in demand. The measurement will also be updated quarterly—another advantage that set the HNI apart from other measures of poverty, which are unable to identify these variations either with such specificity or immediacy. The index also takes into account factors influencing changes in need such as seasonal effects, natural disasters and periods of reduced economic activity.

The HNI score is a single calculation derived from the net amount of all seven indicator variables and changes in those variables from a standardized baseline score (100) from one point of time to another. The composite score is used to compare need-based services across time and location. The HNI score is not to be interpreted as percentage points of change. It is standardized so that the minimum (baseline) value is 100 (resulting in an average of around 101), with a standard deviation of 1. The HNI’s values are primarily useful for comparing conditions within or across communities in the United States.

The national HNI score was lowest in 2004 (100.33), indicating that poverty-related need was relatively low during this period. At the start of the Great Recession in 2008, the HNI score began a gradual increase, with a score of 101.00, and climbed to its highest peak in 2012, when it reached a score of 102.19.

The extensive data for tracking needs draws on the careful statistics maintained by the Army at its 7,546 centers across the United States. From its beginning, 150 years ago, the Army has kept meticulous records of the services it provides as a way to gauge its effectiveness and achieve accountability. Through the HNI, government agencies and nonprofi t organizations can measure changing needs within states and regions, and the Army can measure the impact of its services and direct relief efforts accordingly.

“With more than 130 years of serving millions of people in the United States, The Salvation Army has a treasure trove of data about the most basic human needs,” said Commissioner David Jeffrey, National Commander. “It is time to put all that data to use. We hope the HNI becomes an important tool for policy leaders, researchers and other social service providers to help our country become increasingly responsive to the needs of the poor.”

One such provider that could benefit from the HNI is Pathway of Hope, a Salvation Army initiative with the goal of removing intergenerational poverty among families by providing one-on-one counseling with a caseworker every week. “If demand for emergency assistance drops within a given zip code,” says Lt. Colonel Ron Busroe, national secretary for Community Relations and Development, “we can take some of those dollars and invest in more support from families to have them break the cycle of poverty.”

Today, nonprofit agencies have become vital partners in poverty reduction. Yet, while the efforts of nonprofit organizations in providing for basic human needs are wellknown, the data quantifying these effects and measuring the impact has neither been in the public domain nor used widely to inform policy debates on poverty. The Salvation Army in particular has played a critical and expanding role in improving the well-being of individuals and local communities. In fact, thousands of nonprofit organizations throughout the United States, including the Army, constitute the safety net of services addressing basic human needs.

The HNI offers critical observations informing the work of nonprofit organizations and public policymakers working to reduce poverty. Understanding the distinctive ways human needs change, in specific locales and at particular times, may inform public policy reform in a more deliberate, meaningful and successful manner.