Faith in Action

Students of the World

International Social Justice Commission

The International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) is an arm of The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters and is based in New York City. It serves as a think tank designed to bring the Army closer to fulfilling its spiritual and humanitarian mission. The ISJC is also a pipeline for nurturing young Salvationists who, during the process of a year, come to learn more about the United Nations and the Army’s potential influence there. Upon completion, these interns return home inspired to continue their studies in world affairs and to perform compassionate service to others.

Two such interns are Joseph Halliday and Jacob Hevenor. From September 2016–17, Halliday lived at the Williams Residence on New York’s West Side and worked in the ISJC offices on the East Side. Hevenor now serves at this post until September, residing in an apartment “above the store” at the ISJC offices on 2nd Avenue.

Although Halliday is from England and Hevenor is from the United States, they share much in common as Salvationists and as students of the world.

Jacob Hevenor

Jacob studied international affairs in school. “I was thinking, working at the U.N. would be a dream job,” he said. “I grew up as a Salvationist all the way through. So, to work for The Salvation Army while going to the U.N. is a dream come true.”

Jacob acquired an interest in international affairs from studying geography. “When I was growing up in Massachusetts, I was fascinated by maps,” he said. “I did some traveling when I did a semester abroad. I went to Madrid in Spain. I also visited the U.K., France, and Italy. I even went down to Morocco and the Mediterranean.”

During his internship at ISJC, Jacob wants to explore New York City. “I grew up in the rural suburbs of Lowell, Mass.,” he said.

Jacob said he attended Gordon College, one of the top Christian colleges near Boston, because it had an international affairs major.

“The department was a combination of political science and economics,” Jacob remembers. “So I had a mix of econ classes with a focus on international business and political science and comparative politics—comparing our government with other governments. It also offered foreign policy and international relations. Foreign diplomacy was also part of my classes.”

After the internship, Jacob wants to go back to college. “I want to pursue a masters, whether it’s in policy or diplomacy. I look to this year offering endless possibilities.”

Joseph Halliday

“My mom started taking me to The Salvation Army when I was about seven,” said Halliday. “I’m from Portmouth, which is a couple of hours drive outside of London.”

Three years ago, Joseph graduated from the University of Kent in Canterbury, where he studied politics. “After I graduated, my corps officer shared information regarding this internship with ISJC. I had never heard of it, but it seemed to fit me almost perfectly. I felt like God was telling me that this is what I should be doing next. I had reached the end of me trying to figure that out. It was time for God to have a say in it. So I applied and got selected.”

Joseph had always wanted to visit New York, but never wanted to live there. “It was quite a big step to leave family and friends behind,” he said. “But I felt like God was going with me. That thought made it a lot easier.”

Joseph feels he’s learned a great deal during his stay. “My faith in God has grown and developed. I’ve made a lot of good friends. I’m more confident, and my skills in the workplace are better.

“For example, I’ve done a lot of writing. I’ve attended U.N. meetings where I’ve made notes and written reports. I’ve posted on the ISJC website, with the aim of informing the Army world and people who would find that information useful and relevant.”

by Warren L. Maye

“People get the impression that [relating to strangers] is just an American problem,” said Lt. Colonel Dean Pallant, “But when you travel the world as we have, to Zambia, Kenya, and other countries, you realize that this is a human problem.”

Pallant, director of the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission (ISJC), says anyone can be forced to leave home and become a stranger. Living in today’s broken world, displacement can happen suddenly and for a variety of reasons.

“We are to listen carefully to what people are saying, be they refugees, migrant workers, or illegal aliens—terms which I prefer to avoid,” said Pallant. “We are to listen to the strangers. Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, known for his work in Christian ethics, says there are strangers throughout the Bible and God speaks through strangers.”

A global conversation

In an attempt to encourage empathetic communication between people during humanitarian crises, the ISJC recently hosted an online Global Interactive Summit on Refugees and Displaced Peoples.

Using Skype and Facebook Live, several panelists from around the world brought ideas to a virtual table, set at ISJC Headquarters on 2nd Avenue in New York City. The SAconnects Media and Social Media teams facilitated the two–day broadcast.

The summit celebrated what has been achieved thus far in the area of compassionate listening and effective communication and reflected on lessons learned for future action.

Each 90–minute session comprised a panel of three or four people. Each participant made a 10–minute presentation, followed by discussions aided by a chairperson.

Panelists pitched their talks for a grassroots audience rather than for policy or program experts. Observers participated in the discussions by sharing online comments and questions in real time.

“By sharing in this way, Salvationists will be able to go to leaders in their country and say, ‘we should do this, because the Army in other parts of the world are successfully doing it,’” said Pallant.

“Depending on the locations and circumstances, people will implement strategies in different ways,” said Pallant. “Nevertheless, we are trying to keep the focus on people—not as ‘them’ but as ‘us.’”

The challenge

Pallant recognizes the tremendous challenge facing a populace that has been conditioned to avoid speaking to strangers, even those seeking help.  “It’s actually easier for people to use the fear and suspicion of strangers to their own benefit. That ‘boogeyman’ image can be easily created.

“So we need to be protesters—in a good way—and sometimes prophets.  It’s principled, it’s determined, but it’s also gracious.

Building bridges

“So, how do we build bridges with the strangers in our communities?” Pallant asked. “How do we genuinely engage in a way that will be transformative and Christlike?”

Pallant said research in these areas suggests that Salvationists should talk to their corps officers and other leaders to explore what they can do to build bridges in their own communities around the world.

“That’s the privilege that ISJC has by being a part of International Headquarters—our connection with the world—and this week, the world has joined up with us in conversation in New York City and it has been great.”

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