ALEXANDRIA, VA – What images come to mind when you think about The Salvation Army? A bell-ringer and a red kettle at Christmas? Thrift stores?
Sadly, that is about the extent of what people generally know about this evangelistic Christian church/charity founded in 1865 by William and Catherin Booth. The Booths left the traditional pulpit ministry in favor of going out into the streets of London, where they shared the Gospel with “thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards.”
The Salvation Army’s mission remains the same today as it was in 1865. “To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” That means that they still go to the languishing, love the unlovely, and reach out to society’s “rejects.”
What compels 1.5 million members of The Salvation Army to serve as they do in 130 countries? The simple answer is the love of Jesus for the lost and the hope He offers to the hopeless. But the other compelling forces are the unmet needs that have rendered those people feeling hopeless.
Take a couple of minutes to digest these shocking facts shared by The Salvation Army about some of the most desperate people in America.
- 1 million people in the US live below the poverty line. 14.5 million are children under the age of 18. The poverty rate among American children is the second-highest in the world.
- 60 million more are just one crisis away from the same existence.
- Food insecurity
- Nearly 17.5 million families in America go to bed at night hungry.
- Another 6.9 million face food insecurity every morning. Food insecurity is defined as “a disruption to food intake or eating patterns due to lack of money of other resources.”
- There are people in every ZIP code in the United States who are food insecure.
- 6,500 people are hospitalized every day in the US as a result of substance abuse.
- Drug overdosing kills 114 people in the US every day.
- Alcohol abuse takes the lives of another 205 every day. That’s 75,000 people per year.
- Human Trafficking
- 17,500 people are trafficked into America every year.
- The average age of minor-age children forcibly entered into the sex trade in America is 13.
- Domestic Violence
- More than 10 million Americans are victims of domestic abuse each year. That is one person every three seconds.
- 65 percent of those injured by domestic violence do not seek medical care.
The Salvation Army reminds us that “Love never leaves bruises, blood, or broken bones.”
- Military Veterans
- Eight percent of the homeless population in America are military veterans.
- More than 20 percent of veterans who have returned from Afghanistan or Iraq suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. 20 percent of those are also addicted to or dependent on drugs or alcohol.
- LGBTQ community
- 40 percent of all homeless children under 18 identify as LGBTQ. Those children are three times more like to contemplate suicide than other children their age.
- Nearly 33 percent of homeless transgender people are rejected by emergency shelter programs.
The Salvation Army reminds us that “All people are deserving of Christ’s love, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
- One of every 30 children in the US is homeless.
- 15 percent of homeless people are unable to recover from their situation without help.
- The Salvation Army provides over 10 million nights of lodging every year, along with essentials such as beds, clothing, food, and basic hygiene.
- Nearly 15 percent of elderly Americans (71 years +) suffers from dementia, primarily because they are homebound and lack social interaction.
In addition to those conditions and situations, The Salvation Army is often one of the first NGOs on-site to help survivors when disaster strikes. The group also offers educational opportunities for underprivileged kids and assists those who have become chronically unemployed among their many other services.
Primarily, however, “The Salvation Army exists to spread the Glory of God” by preaching “the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” Every program they offer “is rooted in our passion to serve God by serving the lost, the vulnerable, the needy, the poor, the hurting, the helpless, and the hopeless.”
These few insights should provide a broader understanding of the many needs the Salvation Army serves.
To read more news on Salvation Army on Missions Box, go here.