by Kevin Sims
BERNI Georges, the designer and illustrator who brings to life the articles in this magazine, is - on the whole - a contented, happy man. He has a positive attitude to life and, although he’s sensitive by nature, not many things noticeably affect him.
I say this to set in context what happened last week. Berni and I were grabbing a coffee to talk about this issue of All the World but I noticed he seemed a bit down. Worried there might be something wrong with his family I asked if he was OK.
He sighed and said, ‘Doesn’t it get to you sometimes, the things in the magazine?’ He went on to list the problems featured in this issue - trafficking, slavery, genocide, extreme poverty. ‘I know we’re showing how people are being helped,’ he added, ‘but ...’
He didn’t have to say any more and I couldn’t really disagree. If this magazine is somehow representative of ‘all the world’ then one of the messages is that this world is pretty messed up! Some of the things you will see in this magazine may make for uncomfortable reading and there’s sometimes the feeling that the work being carried out by The Salvation Army is an ultimately futile effort to turn back the tide.
But here’s where such negativity has to stop! Yes, the world is pretty messed up but while there are still people and organisations like The Salvation Army trying to change lives there is hope - that most intangible yet important of things. And for Salvationists and other Christians (and, in fairness, people of other religions) this hope is built on faith - faith in God and belief that this world, with its problems and unfairness, can be changed.
Karl Marx famously wrote about religion being the ‘opiate of the people’. He meant it negatively but I’d look to the positive aspects. Religion can be a means of escaping from everyday hardship, it can help you deal with pain. Faith won’t stop your hunger or take you out of a bad situation but it can enable you to hold onto the hope that your loving God is looking out for you. For many thousands of people, The Salvation Army is the means by which this hope is dispensed.
As the apostle Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans: ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us’ (8:35, 37 New International Version).
I hope this issue of All the World doesn’t fill you with despair. Instead, I hope it opens your eyes to the ways that ordinary people can be ‘more than conquerors’ and that it inspires you to do the same.