The H.O.M.E mission of The Salvation Army Toronto Housing and Homeless Services – Part 3: Mission

As a reminder, I've been writing a series about our vision and strategic direction at The Salvation Army Toronto Housing and Homeless supports which is summed up with one word: H. O. M. E. 

For this piece I'd like to focus on the 'M' in H.O.M.E: Mission. 

It's probably obvious to those who know me that this is component is most profound to me. In my role as Mission Strategist, my whole job is about making sure that all of our staff members think missionally about all of the work we do in each of our shelters. So, much of what I do is about training, mentoring, teaching, and writing about our mission. 

And our mission statement is this:

The Salvation Army exists to share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human needs, and be a transforming influence in the communities of our world.

Everything that we do in all five of our shelters has to feed into that mission. If what we're doing doesn't have anything to do with mission, we need to stop doing it.

So how does that look practically? Well, if a staff member comes to me with a new program idea, I always ask them "how does that fit into our mission statement?" If that staff person can't articulate what their idea has to do with this mission, I will ask them to go and think about it and come back to me when they can better explain how it fits. Even if I knew full well that it could be a perfect fit for the mission, if that staff person doesn't know this, I ask them to make sure they do.

It is absolutely vital that all of our staff, no matter what position they are in, from housekeeping, to environmental services, to a counsellor, to executive director, they have to be thinking about how their position fits with this mission. We are all on the same team striving for the same goals, all with vital roles to play.

So in breaking down these three prongs of our mission statement, I’ll try to unpack the practicalities of this a little more.

1. Share the love of Jesus Christ

What does it look like for us to do this, considering that not all of our staff identify as Christian? Well, we need to take a look at the Bible and read the stories of how Jesus showed love to others.

As far as I can tell, He showed love by never being willing to buy into cultural norms and labels, (woman at the well story is one example), by having compassion on people (which we know in Greek means that He felt people’s pain right down to his guts), by reminding us to not ‘throw stones’ at people unless we are perfectly innocent of any wrongdoings, and by laying down His life for His friends.

If I believe that all people were created in the image of God, I believe that no matter what a person’s faith background is, showing the love of Jesus Christ in this way is possible and vital.

2. Meet human needs

At The Salvation Army we are good at this. We feed, clothe, and shelter people, and we meet people’s basic human needs in lots of other ways.

But when Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” have we become too selfish with this blessing of giving and unintentionally created dependent people by our need to give stuff away? What might it look like for us to, instead of only giving, ask people what can they offer? What are their gifts, dreams, hopes, and talents? After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

When a person sees that they are not just needy, but have gifts to contribute, that’s when the real healing can begin.

3. Be a transforming influence in the communities of our world

We are just one part of the body. We network and partner with other parts of the community/body in order to be a part of the whole.

Then we will not only be a transforming influence, but be transformed ourselves in the process.

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About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Dion Oxford is the Mission Strategist for The Salvation Army's five homeless shelters in Toronto, called Housing and Homeless Supports torontohhs.org. Dion along with his wife, Erinn, and daughter, Cate, live in Toronto and are committed to journeying alongside people in the margins of society. He blogs at dionoxford.com