10 Nov Worth fighting for
“I’ll fight. I’ll fight to the very end.” – General William Booth
The phrase ‘we will remember them’ has become synonymous with the remembrance of Australia’s wartime heroes. At significant moments throughout the year, Australians are reminded of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we as a nation and our allies can live in freedom. This coming Saturday is one of those well known reminders commemorating the 99th anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the First World War.
These reminders are chilling. They signify bloodshed and sacrifice. These reminders are sad. They remind us of loved ones no longer with us and the enduring impact of war on our society. These reminders are motivating. They exemplify how far we’ve come and the courage and leadership required to avoid circumstances of conflict in future.
This remembrance anniversary holds not only significance as an international commemoration, but also for our movement. It was on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915, through all the toil, the bloodshed and the misery that two legends were birthed. The courage and bravery of the Australian soldier and the unwavering wartime service of The Salvation Army.
Long before this conflict in the early 1900s commenced, The Salvation Army established its intention to live, love and fight alongside all humanity without discrimination, in the most desperate locations throughout the world. The spectre and reality of war highlighted this spirit and the need for the Salvos to be a physical presence in fighting all forms of injustice, be it in conflict zones, alleyways of major cities or in dusty streets of rural towns.
On arrival to Australia a few years back, Tracey and I were given some required reading to comprehend the fighting spirit that typified Salvos here in this nation. One of the manuscripts passed our way was a legend of the First World War and of our movement, Major William ‘Fighting Mac’ McKenzie. For those of you who don’t know, Fighting Mac was a Salvation Army chaplain who tended to the physical and spiritual needs of soldiers wherever they were on the front line. He saw things no one should see, and accepted a responsibility that no one should be burdened with. He went ashore with the troops at Gallipoli, and in one three-day period conducted 647 funeral services and received the Military Cross for his work, virtually unheard of for a military chaplain.
Fighting Mac served without fear, criticism, condemnation or any thought of himself. His ministry gave his comrades hope in their darkest of hours.
One of the 2,000 people who assisted in creating our new vision told me that our Army needs to come up with a vision statement worth dying for. At first I was taken aback by what was quite an arresting comment. But then it hit me – Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow Him. This vision statement is a reflection of Christ’s mission, a mission he invites us to partner in with Him. He gave his life for this mission, and this is a vision that calls us to the same sacrificial living.
Today I also call out and thank those who have joined us in the trenches as we seek to fight alongside others. Our newly formed Cabinet have recruited some of Australia’s best and brightest talent to help the Army achieve greater impact throughout the nation. Three of our new Heads of Department have recently commenced their roles. I would like to acknowledge our Chief Financial Officer, Wayne Treeby; Chief Human Resources Officer, Penny Lovett; and our Chief Property Officer, Paul Walec who have showed tremendous enthusiasm for our mission to share the love of Jesus to all corners of this nation. Welcome to the movement!
I am so incredibly proud of Salvo heroes who live, love and fight everyday on the front lines, attending to the most pressing needs of Australians. To transform the lives of Australians with joy, peace and love… isn’t that worth fighting for?