Magazine Features

The Whole World Mobilizing

A CAMPAIGN TO REACH COMMUNITIES

Today, when the dimensions of religious tolerance are challenged and only some communities realize The Salvation Army is a church, General André Cox, the Army’s international leader, has called Salvationists to emerge from their “citadels” and to advance into surrounding neighborhoods. His aim is to see them share the Gospel of Christ and deepen their love relationship with people.

Commissioners G. Lorraine and William A. Bamford III, territorial leaders.

The Whole World Mobilizing campaign (TWWM), conceived and formulated in partnership with the USA Eastern Territory’s The Salvation Factory, is designed to enhance the Army’s presence around the world and to spread its outreach to people in local communities through its corps and Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) ministries.

Commissioner William A. Bamford, territorial commander, is excited about the campaign’s potential to enhance the Salvation Army’s global and local influence. His hope is that the mobilization of men, women, and youth will open new doors of ministry.

Building such rapport and connectedness, he believes, will lead to courageous conversations where real need is ultimately expressed, partnerships are formed, and Christ becomes a reality in people’s lives. “Obviously, there are going to be some people who will need our support. This conversation will help get us there,” he said.

Dispensing God’s love

On his office window hangs a small but beautifully handcrafted work in colorful stained glass. Within its rectangular wooden frame, sunlight sparkles through the word pharmacist. “My wife made this sign for me,” he said. “It reminds me of the day when, while working as a pharmacist in Massachusetts, I stood behind a counter and heard the Lord say to me, ‘You’ve been dispensing this medication, but I’m calling you to dispense something else.’”

Bamford sees the campaign as an opportunity for every Salvationist in the territory to dispense God’s love into the lives of people. “There are streets of opportunity in every community,”
he said.

“There are people out there who don’t know who we are. They don’t see us as part of the Church. We need to be out there and we need to be proud of who we are and to wear our uniform so that people will recognize us and say, ‘There goes The Salvation Army.’”

Bamford, reflecting on the ministry of Jesus, continued, “Jesus walked the streets. As He walked along, He interacted with people. Whether it be at a stoplight, or just walking down the street, we need to start the conversation.” Bamford said such introductions will lead to a deeper connection. “Have cookouts, share doughnuts, stage a concert, but remember, it’s the connection that opens the door. Let the people know we’re here—for them.”

Marching into the future

What most excites Lt. Colonel James LaBossiere, program secretary, is the prospect of the campaign becoming an integral part of the Army’s ministries throughout the territory. “One of the most important things for me is helping people to see the possibilities and to establish this as the norm, rather than a ‘once off,’” he said.

“Hopefully, they’ll see this as the way in which we need to live and to display our faith.”

When we look at the state of the world today, many of us tremble, yet the message of the Gospel of God is unchanged.” —General André Cox, International Leader of  The Salvation
ArmyLaBossiere says that, in marching through communities, the Army must be sensitive to and respect local ordinances, rules, and regulations. But even in the process of complying with such guidelines governing outdoor marches and open–air meetings, opportunities abound to serve and to partner with others. “We must embrace the idea that there is more that we can do than we can’t do,” he said.

“We’ve seen opportunities to partner with parks departments and with other local entities by supporting each other’s outdoor events.” He also said that, at an Emancipation Proclamation observance and parade, the Army received an invitation to distribute water. Those points of contact with multiple individuals became practical opportunities to potentially quench both their physical and spiritual thirsts.

Cross–generational

LaBossiere is also thrilled that people of all ages are involved. “It’s cross–generational,” he said. “Back in April, we had a campaign for children and youth. The meeting started as a rally, but quickly moved to the streets. I’m so greatly encouraged when I see our young people stand for Christ.”

LaBossiere, who is an avid hiker, wants youth and adults to take courageous steps of faith to reach people for Christ, now and in the future.  “I want them, as I did, to go from being afraid of going out, to wanting to go out. We want them to share the joy, love, and vibrancy of our faith with everyone and in practical ways.”

A vision for innovation

Earlier this year, the General appointed Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, World Secretary for Women’s Ministries and World President of SA Scouts, Guides, and Guards, to chair The Whole World Mobilizing Committee. She wrote to the Eastern Territory and asked if The Salvation Factory could help establish a vision for the campaign.

Envoys Sharon and Steven Bussey, who co–lead The Salvation Factory, traveled to International Headquarters (IHQ) and met with the General, Peddle, and the committee. In the process of finalizing a plan, the Busseys also held many Facetime sessions with the committee.

“It’s been exciting to see it become a reality,” said Envoy Steve Bussey.

He recalled the 2015 Boundless Congress, which was held in the O2 Arena in London. “When I looked out over that stadium, I was amazed at how many Salvationists there are in the world,” he said. “I realized The Salvation Army is giant around the world. If you brought all of the Salvationists in the world together, you’d need a hundred O2 Arenas to hold them all.”

Since that’s not possible, a different concept of a worldwide gathering took shape in the minds of committee members. “The idea became, rather than call everyone to one place, what if there was a way to knit Salvationists together in a shared experience where they could recognize the scope of Salvationism around the world?” Bussey recalls.

Lt. Colonels James and Patricia LaBossiere, territorial secretary for program and territorial secretary for Spiritual Life Development.

He said there are many small Salvation Army corps around the world, but when every senior and junior soldier is mobilized, they could collectively have a tremendous influence. “Part of this vision answered the question, ‘How do we unite Salvationists together like a Greek phalanx [assemblage] who are coordinated and united together in a shared experience of living out Salvationism and sharing the Gospel?’

“The Whole World Mobilizing is a campaign designed to break what the General is calling the ‘citadel mentality.’ He says an Army that has been defeated will retreat to a citadel, behind walls, and hide themselves from the enemy,” Bussey said.

“But how can we be an Army of salvation that is on the offense, but we’re hiding away from the war and the battlefield? We actually should be going out on the offense.”

Bussey said TWWM lets every soldier know that they play a role in a spiritual battle.

“There are 1.5 million Salvationists,” he said. “If we could mobilize them, we would see this world transformed. We would see the Gospel being communicated. We would also see The Salvation Army transformed.

“Salvationism only makes sense when we are engaged and mobilized. We were born in the streets.” Bussey also quoted Founder William Booth, who said, “So far as I can see, the great battles of the future will be fought in the open air.”

Reaching lost souls

Bussey said of the lost souls, “They are our people. That’s our mandate. That’s our founding vision. Salvationism doesn’t make sense unless we are a mobilized Army.”

Bussey said corps should be innovative as they plan projects for the campaign, whether meeting a need or holding an open–air meeting. “We have to attract attention,” he said. “We must be intentional.

“Salvationists should also preach redemption—always,” he said.

The idea became, rather than call everyone to one place, what if there was a way to knit Salvationists together in a shared experience where they could recognize the scope of Salvationism around the world?”—Envoy Steven Bussey
“The reason we have a spectacle, the reason we go out of our buildings, the reason we connect with people, isn’t just so we know who people are, it’s because people are [spiritually] lost,” he said. “The ultimate cancer they are struggling with is—sin.

“The eternal consequence of that is an eternity of punishment and separation from God. Therefore, we have to be an army of salvation.”

Bussey said the campaign is about “getting out and doing anything.” Many corps have developed innovative plans, from prayer walks to block parties to witnessing opportunities.

“The idea is to get out and engage and demonstrate that there’s a group of people who care about the lost,” he said.

“A march can be manifested by handing a person a cup of soup or by having a conversation at a school. A ‘march’ is going to the people to communicate the Gospel. The idea of a ‘worldwide march’ is stepping out of our buildings and into the community with intentionality to see people saved.

“Witnessing is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you lose it. It would be sad if the Lord were to come back and find that Salvationists were locked in a cupboard. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Beyond the imagination

Bussey, quoting Ephesians 3:20, said, “When Salvationists are empowered by the Holy Spirit, God will show them ‘immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.’

“This campaign is about stepping out and seeing God do things above what we could hope or imagine,” he said. “When we get serious about His commission, that’s when we can experience the full empowerment of the Holy Spirit. That’s when we see things that are not done in our strength.

“When we start going, that’s when we truly know the full strength of the Lord. When we go, that’s when we truly are The Salvation Army and we live out our birthright. That’s when we truly become who we were designed to be.”

“The idea is that mobilized Salvationism becomes a natural part of what we do,” Bussey said. “It’s the reestablishment of one of the most vital priorities in The Salvation Army. It’s a rebirthing of a spirit of Salvationism.

“Anyone can do this. You don’t need a giant budget. Just get out and do it. Be Salvationists. Every experience can be a micro–open air.”

Salvationists can go to The Whole World Mobilizing phone app and be inspired as they see events posted from around the world.

Warren L. Maye and Robert Mitchell contributed to this article

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