Gratitude for the Blessing of Open Doors

Lt-Colonel-Joan-Canning-215x3001Submitted by Lt. Colonel Joan Canning, Executive Director of The Salvation Army World Service Office.

Three years ago, God blessed me by opening the door to the leadership role in The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) – and to a personal and professional journey that has proven to be a most wonderful gift.

Along the way, He has opened other doors that allowed the  SAWSO team to crystallize the effectiveness of its ministry, mission and place within The Salvation Army, both in the U.S. and around the world.  As with all journeys, there were days of both exhilaration and exasperation – with each day strengthening our resolve to make the most of the opportunities given to us.

There have been numerous milestones, including some historic organizational decisions, to mark the progress of our success.


A young student, one of 1,500 area children receiving education at The Salvation Army’s College Verena school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

We have been working with U.S. Territories to determine how we can pool our expertise and resources to maximize our combined impact in the area of world missions.  In just the last few weeks, we have launched a pilot project in cooperation with two divisions in the U.S. Central Territory to enhance their world services Partners in Mission program while at the same time supporting The Salvation Army Kenya East Territory to realize more of their mission goals.

We have raised the level of accountability for ourselves, for our partners and for our funders.  For instance, we have been instrumental in a process that has just begun across The Salvation Army internationally to come to terms with how the Army measures impact.  This work will be on the cutting edge of a prominent discussion being held in many agencies around the world, and promises to help us qualify and quantify the efforts being made toward the transformation of people’s lives through our health and economic empowerment and livelihoods programs.


We have raised the capacity of SAWSO through the hiring of a professional development and communications staff.  We can now begin to let the world know about us and our purpose, and to demonstrate to our supporters in the U.S. that The Salvation Army is more than a domestic movement – that it’s an international organization with worldwide scope and focus.

We have established an implementation plan that will assist us in realizing more funding. These additional funds will allow us to enable even more people to lift themselves out of vulnerable health, socio-economic, and spiritual positions.  We have received the approval and the interest of our National Advisory Board to establish a task force who will lend their professional expertise to assist our strategy and work.

At the conclusion of these three years, we now look through another gate to a path ahead that is very bright.

I commend to you the new leadership of SAWSO, Lt. Colonels William and Debra Mockabee.  They come with a wealth of experience in leadership in The Salvation Army included opportunity to live and work in one of our partner territories.  They bring a passion for integrity and mission that will carry the mission of SAWSO into the future.

May God continue to bless you with new doorways – and may you always find the strength of faith to walk through to the new opportunities beyond.


SAWSO’s vision is to “create a world where people live in safe and sustainable communities in which differences are respected, basic needs are met, and all enjoy opportunities to learn, work, and worship in freedom.” Learn more at