From Salvationist 4 April 2020
I SPENT most of my early life abroad with my parents who were on Salvation Army service in Ghana and Pakistan. That was normal for me. It was only when I returned to the UK, just before my 10th birthday, that I faced a culture shock. People did things differently here and it was a struggle to fit in. My new schoolmates laughed out loud when I turned up with the old-fashioned football boots I’d used at my previous school. They nicknamed me Stanley Matthews – if only my football talents had lived up to the name!
That was almost 50 years ago but, despite advances in communication, moving to a new country can still be a challenge. On pages 12 and 13 Major Pam Cameron shares insights into international service and the work of the Overseas Services Unit. The unit supports personnel in their transitions to other territories and back again, as well as during their terms of service.
Major Rosemary Dawson writes about the international service of Majors Brian and Dorothy Knightley on pages 10 and 11. The Knightleys served in Zimbabwe and led the Army’s work in Liberia. For that achievement they were admitted to the Order of the Founder – the only UK couple to have jointly received the award.
Someone once described culture as ‘the way we do things round here’. The way we do things round here has changed in the past few weeks. It’s almost as if we’ve moved to another country.
Our lives have been altered significantly from just a short time ago. With the majority of us having to stay at home for most if not all of the time, we’re having to adapt to a ‘new normal’. Not only are we coping with new practices but we’re using unfamiliar terminology. ‘Self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘PPE’ (personal protective equipment) are now part of the language, and the word ‘furlough’, which we often speak of in the Army, is now being used in a quite different way.
Our changes may be temporary, but it will be interesting to see if there are any longer-lasting effects. Will people be kinder to one another? Might we take more care with our hygiene and be more discerning in our spending? And will the resolve, imagination and co-operation that are being used to address the situation be harnessed to solve other crises such as climate change, homelessness and poverty?
With all that’s going on it would be easy to lose sight of the fact that this Sunday is Palm Sunday – the day when we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He wasn’t what people expected. He came to change the culture, to establish the Kingdom of God – a new way of doing things round here. The people found that difficult to accept and soon changed their cries from ‘Hosanna!’ to ‘Crucify him!’ – not realising that his death and resurrection were the exact means that God would use to change the world.
Whatever changes we may be struggling with – personally, in our families or with our work – may we be assured of the unchanging love of God expressed on the cross. And may we allow God to transform us into the kind of people who can help transform our culture into the culture of his Kingdom.
From the Editor
LIEUT-COLONEL JONATHAN ROBERTS
Check out our article of the week here.
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