William Booth’s passion was to bring the Gospel to society’s outcasts. As his ministry developed in the East End of London, Booth experienced a growing awareness of the complex nature of poverty and its impact on the life circumstances and life choices of the poor. For him, it was not an option to skim over the surface of the issues but to tackle them head-on. His response was to find ways of practical support interwoven with the presentation of the Gospel. And his intention was not to simply give temporary aid, but to help people permanently improve the circumstances of their lives.
From its earliest days, this knowledge has shaped the way The Salvation Army has grown and developed and it still motivates The Salvation Army in its mission today. Slogans such as ‘Soup, Soap and Salvation’ and ‘Heart to God and Hand to Man’ have expressed this passion to communicate the Gospel in a relevant and vibrant way that includes addressing real, practical need.
Early expressions of social service in New Zealand were Rescue Homes for young girls trapped in prostitution, and Prison Gate work that provided safe accommodation and assistance to find employment for men newly-released from prison.
The Salvation Army has remained attuned to areas of need in individual lives and in New Zealand society. When new social issues emerge, The Salvation Army is frequently at the forefront of finding a practical response. Although specific issues may change, common elements remain the same. ‘Soup, Soap and Salvation’ may sound a simplistic motto, but it addresses the heart of human need and is embedded into the fabric of Salvation Army mission and motivation.