Summary: A sermon to highlight the desparate need of others at home and overseas
Acorns for the world.
“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight- I’ll fight to the very end.”
You are all familiar with the words of William Booth’s final speech from the platform of the Royal Albert Hall in May 1912 and I am sure you are all aware that this is not the first time you have heard me read them. There are some who would say that the issues faced by The Salvation Army of our first general’s time are not relevant to the Army of the twenty first century but as I mentioned back in September of last year...
The problems remain, women are still weeping and more and more men are shedding tears of despair over the situations they find themselves in. Children are still going hungry, 30% of children in the United Kingdom are living below the breadline. Our prisons are full to bursting point, many of those serving time are there because of drink related crime. Alcoholism and drug abuse are on the increase, young and not so young women and men are selling themselves on the streets to make ends meet and feed their dependencies on whatever they find themselves addicted to and homelessness is still on the increase These are just some of the social issues that affect this country alone.
Last year’s earthquake in Haiti has left hundreds of thousands dead and even more living without shelter, clean water, food and in desperate need of medical attention but even before the earthquake, the Haitian people were struggling to survive. Haiti is known to be the poorest country in the world. The Salvation Army has been active in Haiti for many years before the earthquake struck, during the quake the Army’s buildings were destroyed but that didn’t stop the army swinging into action alongside the other relief workers on the island. Over one year on, the relief work goes on. In recent months we have seen the devastating floods in Pakistan, mud slides in Brazil and so on, wherever there is a disaster; The Salvation Army is in the midst of it, sleeves rolled up and getting its hands dirty.
Many of the countries The Salvation Army is at work in, although not as poor as Haiti are still struggling under their own poverty. The United Nations figures state that 25,000 people die of hunger or hunger related causes, put simply that’s one death every three and a half seconds, simply because they don’t have the means to feed themselves properly. H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. is now second only to the Black Death as the largest epidemic in human history, killing over two million people a year, which is one person every fifteen seconds.
In Deuteronomy 15: 11 God says “There will always be poor people in the [world]... therefore I command you to be open handed towards your brother [and sister] and towards the poor and needy.”
God is making it clear to us that he doesn’t want us to stand around watching his people die!
In two weeks time we will each bring our offering to the altar for this year’s Self- Denial Annual Appeal. Earlier we heard how the money you helped to raise last year was used to repair an orphanage in Bangladesh, build officer’s quarters in Zambia thereby freeing up the local community centre to be used at its maximum potential, provide a means of independent income for communities in Pakistan and tackle trafficking and domestic violence issues in the South America East territory At present I don’t have last year’s appeal total but in 2009 you helped to raise £1. 17 million. It is because the appeals of last year and preceding years dating back to 1886 that the Army can work amongst the poor and needy of the world. Earlier I read our Territorial Commander, Commissioner John Matear’s statement regarding this year’s appeal. In 2009 he wrote this...
“The principle of self- denial has been central to our lives as Salvationists for over 120 years. Our founder made this prayer on 6 October 1849: ‘God help me, enable me to cultivate a spirit of self- denial.’ Now we follow his example.” (Matear. 2009)
In this morning’s text we read of another act of self- denial, in verse 9 we read "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" (John 6: 9. NIV)
When I spoke about this text a few weeks ago we also looked at the text in the King James Bible which read “There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” (John 6: 9. KJV). We also learned that the Greek word John used for “Lad” could be used for either sex and commonly referred to a young slave.