Salvation Army must be confident in Word of God, says new leader

The new international leader of The Salvation Army has spoken of his desire to see the organisation balance serving the poor with witnessing the Gospel.

In an interview with the Washington Times, General Andre Cox said he had been challenged in recent years to demonstrate the fact that The Salvation Army are a people "who have received grace from God".

"We're grateful for His love and His transformation in our lives . but it's more than theory, it's got to take root in us and it's got to be visible," he said.

General Cox was appointed last weekend as the successor to General Linda Bond, who stepped down for "personal reasons".

He praised General Bond as a "woman of great courage, great faith, and great vision".

There are around 1.7 million people in The Salvation Army worldwide. In addition to worship, the church runs extensive social welfare ministries, including homeless shelters, rehabilitation centres for substance abusers, and support for the elderly.

Zimbabwean-born General Cox said the church's good reputation had been won over generations because of the "hard work of the people who day in and day out get on with the ministry".

"One of the concerns I share . is to ensure we are rooted and confident in the word of God, and we want to obviously reflect on the authority of Scripture, what it means to us. I want to see an Army on prayer, and I also want to see an Army that reflects the mind of Jesus," he said.

However, General Cox went on to say that a focus on the poor and the marginalised was The Salvation Army's "constituency" and that he wanted to see a "strong emphasis" on that.

He said this was especially necessary in the UK, where churches are providing many frontline support services to help people weather the weak economy.

"I think that recaptures something of the original calling," he said.

"We're not called to sit on pews or on chairs on a Sunday morning to worship. That is part of who we are, but we need to be inspired to reach out because of the faith we have, because of our spiritual life to serve suffering humanity."

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