Shoulder to shoulder

“The school system wasn’t designed for me and I wasn’t designed for the school system”.

These were the words of a 17 year old student who Tracey and I met last weekend. At one point in his life, the young man had just about given up on the idea of finishing school. But then he met some Salvos who came alongside him.

At The Salvation Army’s Youth Outreach Service (YOS) he was able to access an alternative schooling environment: support, encouragement and tailored tutoring for a small number of students. “I am going to finish year 12!” he told us proudly. This is a great example of The Salvation Army coming alongside others with the love of Jesus. He even told me: “I’m not religious, but I prayed the other day.”

Throughout our time in the Queensland division last weekend Tracey and I witnessed many examples of The Salvation Army living, loving and fighting alongside others. From the young adults at YOS, to men and women fighting to recover from addiction, and people of all ages and backgrounds joining together to worship and experience the love of Jesus, The Salvation Army is seeing Australia transformed one life at a time.

The other day I noticed a quote on the wall of a Salvation Army building. It said: “If they could, they would. What are the barriers?” This quote reminded me that sometimes people get stuck not because they don’t want to change, but because they find themselves facing barriers or obstacles that seem insurmountable. This can happen to any of us, and when it does we need people who will come alongside us.

This is the second time in two weeks that I have been struck by a quote displayed in an Army building. The second quote said: “Nothing about us, without us.” This is an important reminder that it is a partnership. We are called to engage and join in the fight of the person who experiences hardship or injustice, discussing the situation and planning together how best to approach the battle ahead. Synonyms for ‘alongside’ include: ‘By the side of’, ‘shoulder to shoulder’ and ‘next to’. Every one of us needs others who will stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we journey through difficult times.

This Army is on the move and growing with lives that have been transformed with the love of Jesus. Two corps officers this past weekend introduced me to newly enrolled soldiers and people who are preparing for enrolment on the upcoming National Vision Commitment and Covenant Renewal Sunday. The evidence of God at work is all around us. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of an Army that is living, loving and fighting alongside others.

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