Monday, February 7, 2011
[General-elect Linda Bond]
Salvation Army General-elect Linda Bond
The following is an excerpt of an interview with The Salvation Army’s General-elect Commissioner Linda Bond. Commissioner Bond will serve as our organization’s world leader beginning in April of this year. To read the full interview, click here.
1. Please tell us about yourself and your background.
I was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, as the youngest of 13 children. My mother was British, migrating to Canada with her parents when she was 17-years-old. My Canadian father was a coal miner.
The coal mining town and political environment in which I was raised also affected the way I view life and I thank the Lord for this. The marginalized, the poor and the addicted were part of the community landscape, and my parents were committed to seeing things change for the hurting. This was consistent with what I later learned to be the Lord’s mission – and the Army’s.
2. Can you please describe your thoughts and feelings when you were nominated for and then elected as General of The Salvation Army?
When I was nominated I felt it was an affirmation from my peers. My overall feeling was that ‘this is of the Lord’. He had been speaking to my heart through Scripture, and although I had not intended to, I accepted nomination in obedience to the Lord. I felt that I had to wait to see what he wanted to do. When I was elected I was humbled, but I had a real sense that this was the Lord’s doing. To me it was a miracle – it was a work of grace.
3. How is the election of a Salvation Army General different from the election of a political leader?
Well, there is no lobbying, for one thing! The major difference is that it is bathed in prayer. Unlike a political election, only a certain group have a vote yet all the Salvationists are praying for the High Council members to be granted wisdom by the Spirit.
4. Please describe spiritual leadership in a Salvation Army context.
I have very deep convictions about spiritual leadership, and for many years I taught classes on spiritual authority. To me the first point of spiritual authority is that power belongs to God. The power that he delegates to us has to be a power of love, the power to die to self, the power to live for others, the power for people and not over people.
5. Please outline the Army’s mission and explain how it is relevant and valid around the world today.
Well, everybody seems to quote Retired General John Gowans and I, too, think he captured the mission of The Salvation Army in his phrase ‘Save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity’.
Salvationists seem to know instinctively that the Army was raised up by God to connect people to Jesus. They also know that we believe that people can be holy now, that they can be Christlike. It’s in our DNA to serve. So that is the mission of the Army and those are the guideposts for us.
How is it relevant? Well, the world needs Jesus – that’s pretty relevant, isn’t it? The ills of mankind are not going to be addressed by any other means, except through the Cross of Christ. When we talk about the relevance of holiness, this world needs to see that the people of God make holiness believable. It needs to see authentic, deep Christians who live out the life of Jesus and do not just talk about it.
There is suffering humanity – all we have to do is watch television on any given night or look around our communities and say ‘We need Christians with their sleeves rolled up’.
6. What are some of the strengths of the Army worldwide?
Our name, because we are known in most places and are found trustworthy. Trustworthiness is a huge part of what makes us effective. People trust us and we never want to lose that.
Another strength of the Army, I believe, is its mission, which is so clearly defined. You would be hard pressed to find a Salvationist who did not know the mission. There is something about being very clear about our purpose that makes The Salvation Army as effective as it is.
Our visibility is also a strength. People recognize our uniforms and logos.
We have a long history yet we are known in society as an organization that is able to change its methods to relate to each generation while holding true to its essential principles. We must continue to do this, to be adaptable and flexible but principled.
7. What will be the main challenges facing you as General?
It is a challenge to serve in a very complex world without losing sight of our mission. We must also serve in a secular world and never be ashamed of Jesus. Both will take courage, wisdom and grace.
8. How do you hope to use the latest technology in communicating with the worldwide Army? A question has been asked already: Are we going to have a blog?
I like using technology actually – I just love it! We need to explore every means to use technology to best advantage in order to fulfill our mission to the world.
As for a blog – again, for me it would be a matter of finding the time. But more importantly, I hope to visit and travel frequently, and I know from experience that in many parts of the Army world, it can be extremely difficult if not impossible to get on-line. But the Office of the General will require me to communicate by every means possible. I will do that. For many, they will expect to hear of these travels through a blog. Others will welcome regular electronic letters. But best of all is face-to-face contact and travelling will give lots of opportunity for this.
9. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have to thank The Salvation Army. I’ve had hundreds of messages from all over the world and I am a bit overwhelmed by it all. I want to thank people who offered Scripture – people keep sending me Scripture. People offer congratulations but they also promise prayer support. There is no greater gift that someone can give to me. I need prayer.
I would love to be strong and energetic and healthy and totally committed to what the Lord called me into this position for. I just want to do what he has called me to do.