A sol­dier for God

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Ruddy Mathi­son

THE SAL­VA­TION Army be­gan in 1865 when Wil­liam Booth es­tab­lished an evan­gel­i­cal and phil­an­thropic or­gan­i­sa­tion to preach sal­va­tion from sin and prop­a­gate pu­rity of life among the poor and des­ti­tute peo­ple of Lon­don’s East End.

The mis­sion of the Sal­va­tion Army has not changed. It is an in­ter­na­tional move­ment, the evan­gel­i­cal part of the uni­ver­sal Chris­tian Church, ac­cord­ing to Ma­jor Vin­cent Davidson, who over­sees the Span­ish Town and Lin­stead corps in St Catherine.

Davidson told Fam­ily and Re­li­gion that the Sal­va­tion Army is in­ter­twined in the life of the par­ish; ful­fill­ing so­cial and spir­i­tual needs of peo­ple from all walks of life. “The mes­sage of the Sal­va­tion Army is based on the Bi­ble. Its min­istry is mo­ti­vated by the love of God. Its mis­sion is to preach the gospel of Je­sus Christ and to meet hu­man needs in His name with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion,” he stated.

“One of the philoso­phies of our founder is that, if you preach to a per­son when he is hun­gry, he will not take in what you are say­ing to him. But, if you feed him and then preach to him, you will get a bet­ter re­sult.”

He con­tin­ued: “We con­ducted our sum­mer va­ca­tion Bi­ble school. The youth are pos­i­tively im­pacted. We op­er­ate a ba­sic school, again touch­ing and shap­ing young lives,” he ex­plained.

“Our church halls are open ev­ery Sun­day for wor­ship. Pas­toral coun­selling, grief, mar­i­tal and spir­i­tual coun­selling ser­vices are of­fered daily. We re­spond with cloth­ing and food in emer­gency-dis­as­ter sit­u­a­tions.”

Ad­dress­ing the is­sue of preach­ing the gospel, Davidson dis­closed that the Sal­va­tion Army Span­ish Town corps en­dears it­self with the man­date given by Christ to preach the gospel.


“We preach not only from our pul­pits, but also through our so­cial ser­vices. We are an army with our sleeves rolled up to give ser­vice to oth­ers as de­fined by Matthew 25:36.”

Ac­cord­ing to Davidson, the Sal­va­tion Army recog­nises the chal­lenges that face not only its so­cial gospel, but the gospel of Je­sus Christ. “You re­ally can­not sep­a­rate the two – the gospel and car­ing for oth­ers,” he said.

Re­flect­ing on the con­tri­bu­tion of the Sal­va­tion Army in the ef­forts by other re­li­gious lead­ers to use a spir­i­tual ap­proach to deal­ing with crime in Span­ish Town, he said: “Our re­sponse to the crime mon­ster is – we do not op­er­ate in iso­la­tion. We join with other church com­mu­ni­ties. We are a part of a co­or­di­nated re­sponse by all the churches in Span­ish Town un­der the um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion of the Span­ish Town Min­is­ters’ Fra­ter­nal. We have made var­i­ous bold moves and co­or­di­nated in­ter­ven­tion to im­pact the com­mu­nity with the gospel, which is still po­tent and pow­ered by God in bring­ing about mean­ing­ful spir­i­tual and tan­gi­ble re­sults.”

De­scrib­ing his per­sonal jour­ney, Davidson, who has com­pleted 23 years as a Sal­va­tion Army of­fi­cer, re­called how he wres­tled with the thought of join­ing the Sal­va­tion Army for al­most seven years be­cause he needed to be sure.

“Even­tu­ally, I be­came con­vinced that I was called by God to be­come a Sal­va­tion Army of­fi­cer to preach the gospel, whether from a pul­pit or serv­ing oth­ers. God con­tin­ues to speak and even used me to re­veal to other per­sons their calling. I did not need much con­vinc­ing af­ter that. I an­swered the call and said yes to God,” he said.

He in­formed that he is con­stantly re­minded of his calling by one of his favourite verses of scrip­ture, John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and ap­pointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that what­ever you ask in my name the Fa­ther will give you.”


Ma­jor Vin­cent Davidson

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