By Captain Felicia Grant
Seattle, WA Social Services Director – Northwest Division
From its humble beginnings, the Founder of Home League (1907), now Women’s Ministries, coined it a “help one another society.” Women in social work is one of the continuous strands of ministry for The Salvation Army. We see Women’s Ministries impact and significance throughout our history, beginning in 1890 when Captain Emma Brown organized the first Slum Sisters brigade. Serving families living in deplorable conditions, such as no heat or running water in cramped spaces, often shared with other families and shared bathrooms. On-call day or night, they bathed the sick, fed children, washed clothing, cleaned houses, and cooked a lot of hot meals. During World War I in 1917, women Officers of The Salvation Army, trusting ingenuity, equipped with very few supplies: gas masks, helmets, and .45-caliber revolvers; served up thousands of donuts to WWI soldiers.
Even before becoming an Officer, I remember serving, supporting, and sharing with people who just needed a little help rebounding from an unexpected situation or experiencing a series of unfortunate events, those who in the past had been the ‘giver’ and now need to ‘receive,’ most often in a state disbelief and shame. Scripture shares our victory because of Christ in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” We find ourselves in a unique place throughout history as Ambassadors of the Gospel, Proclaimers of Peace, lavishing love as was lavished on us, equipped and prepared to meet both the spiritual and practical needs, to aid and to inspire those who enter our doors. What a fantastic opportunity to have this eternal impact at pivotal times in the lives of so many!
Women in Social Services are inspired by the love of God and knowing His love is for all, and they want to share that Good News. The Salvation Army operating and ministering through the arm of Women’s Ministries in Worship, Service, Fellowship, and Education in 132 countries, in every zip code in the US, is and will continue reaching the world for Christ!
Inspire, in Latin inspirare means to ‘breathe or blow into’ from in- ‘into’ + spirare ‘breathe.’ The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, in the sense ‘impart a truth or idea to someone. This definition takes my mind to the song “Great Are You Lord” by Casting Crowns. The chorus says, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise Your only.” Inspired by the love of God, His Word, and the Power of His Holy Spirit, through our praise we also inspire others.
What does that look like in day-to-day Social Work? Through Relational Social Services, a simple yet genuine conversation, as shared in the Gospel of John Chapter 4, shows how a conversation can transform lives. When we can and want to inspire others, we establish a beautiful bond through the experience of speaking, teaching, and lovingly restoring women (and men) from all walks of life who are in a place to be inspired. As we follow the model of Apostle Paul, unapologetic in who he was in Christ (Galatians 2:20), we plant seeds of hope and reflect on God’s grace and provision in the lives of those we serve. I believe we see this hope in the story of The Good Samaritan told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke 10:25-37. [Note: Check out this month’s craft & devotional, Love Your Neighbor, that also talks about the Good Samaritan]
Women’s Ministries, inspired through Educating, Fellowship, Service, and Worship, and now we encourage others as we serve our communities, wrapping our arms around them in acceptance, love, understanding, and grace. Personally, I have experienced the bonds that tie through Women’s Ministries, gained life-long friendships and have been blessed and (hopefully) have been a blessing to many. Our time in serving others, lives on in each family, and organically spreads hope beyond our service to an individual or their family but often it spreads through family, social circles, either sharing their experience with The Salvation Army or modeling and serving others in their own capacities. As they carry on the love and concern shown to them, I believe through the realization of what Christ has accomplished in their life, they can begin to personally consider inviting Christ in their life.
Relational Social Services allows The Salvation Army to partner with clients and journey with them helping them move past barriers and obstacles to the betterment of their lives. During this time, we have the opportunity to inspire them during conversation; with our faith and experience in who Christ is and how God sees each one of us and knows our every need, inspire! Women’s Ministries is the perfect partnership that leads to the opportunities for families to become introduced into Corps programs.
(Major Jason Swain, n.d.)