Giving Sacrificially from the Heart
The Salvation Army is now active in more than 130 countries, and the Self Denial Appeal operates in every territory. Whether living in wealth or poverty, Salvationists from all walks of life generously support the Army’s mission to share the gospel and improve the lives of many people through the love of Jesus Christ.
The Self Denial Appeal started in 1886 when General William Booth, co-founder of The Salvation Army, called Salvationists to give sacrificially so that they could offer God’s love to a hurting world.
This month is the launch of this year’s Self Denial Appeal, where Salvationists around the world deny themselves of one week’s salary to raise money for territories within The Salvation Army family that do not have the level of funding of wealthier nations.
This year’s theme is ‘A Gift from the Heart’, which speaks to the blessings we have from God and how we can generously use these to bless other people.
Over the six weeks of focus, corps (churches) in our territory will watch videos of projects funded from past appeals and be encouraged as they see the impact gifting has had on past recipient communities.
Drawing on the key verse for the Self Denial Appeal this year, the videos also challenge us to see how people with little can still give generously from what they have.
‘Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have’ (2 Corinthians 8:11–12).
Individuals are asked to raise funds across the six weeks for international missions, with initiatives that range from going without items or events, such as dessert, café coffee or movies, to those who are sacrificially giving one week’s salary.
Lt-Colonel Milton Collins is the International Development and Support Secretary for the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory, who co-ordinates child sponsorship and the Self Denial Appeal. He says the network of International Development offices across the world makes it possible for projects to be undertaken. They also monitor the outcomes of gifting to ensure that aid gets right to where it needs to be, at the right time.
In his role, he regularly assists with life-changing projects for communities, which he considers a privilege. He ensures people’s monetary gifts are distributed to places in real need. Milton sees the difference this makes and the smiles on people’s faces when they receive this support.
‘There’s never really a week that goes by where I haven’t seen something which is just amazing come out of the funds that have been given or a place that’s been helped out,’ says Milton.
Working in a recipient nation
It helps that he has worked in a territory that received Self Denial funds, as he understands first-hand the impact that funds can make on the ground in countries that do not have the infrastructure and supports that New Zealand does. But what impressed Milton the most, was the commitment and generosity he found within a territory that received funds from past appeals.
‘When I was in Papua New Guinea (PNG), I went to a meeting thinking that I was going to be speaking with them about Self Denial and how we were saying thank you for the funds we’d received for projects in PNG, but they actually had been fundraising to bring all this money in to give for the Self Denial Appeal internationally. It was just amazing!’
He reflects on one encounter that has stayed with him over the years. ‘A little girl walked up with six silver coins on her paper plate. She’d been fundraising for six weeks to bring the money in.’
New initiative from past funding
PNG is once again a receiving country for this year’s appeal. One of the past recipients of the funding is the Lae Street School in Lae. The school was set up so that children whose families could not afford to access education were still able to learn. The government in PNG does not cover school costs for children, so families are especially grateful for the Lae Street School as it provides free education.
Stanley is a soldier and young-people’s sergeant major at The Salvation Army in PNG. He didn’t like seeing children begging on the street with no purpose, getting into trouble and missing out on opportunities, so he came up with the initiative of developing a school environment that catered to these children. He thought he could help with their learning to get them back into education, and eventually back into main-stream schooling.
Milton visited this school and saw the teachers working in harsh conditions. He says there were so many children all wanting to high-five him, and it was awesome to see them eager to learn.
Self Denial money was allocated to the school. It has since been used for a renovation, including putting lino on the floor, painting the walls and adding new lighting. Small things like this helped the children feel important and encouraged in their learning.
Also, each student received their own school pack with an exercise book and a pencil. This is truly significant for these children because not every child in PNG has their own book and pencil—they often share with many students.
Just down the road in the town square there are still children sitting on the street begging, but Stanley’s initiative has meant that many children now have access to education. Many past pupils have gone to further learning and work opportunities and successful lives.
On the ground
Major Lynne Medland, a New Zealand officer currently serving in PNG, says ‘Lae Street School helps the children who live on the streets in Lae and gives them an education—an education that they wouldn’t receive without this school. Not only do they learn basic reading and writing, but by the time they reach Grade 8, they’re also doing other core subjects like science, social science, English and maths.
Children also receive food while they’re at school which makes a huge difference to their every-day lives. It also makes a big difference in the potential of their lives going forward.’
This and programmes like it are funded by the Self Denial Mission Fund and Lynne says, ‘people’s sacrificial giving makes a huge difference to the lives of these children and many other people like them around the world. Thank you for what you give and may God bless you.’
Along with PNG, another country featuring in our territory’s Self Denial Appeal this year is Kenya.
In Kenya West Territory, The Salvation Army’s WORTH project is empowering women to become leaders and entrepreneurs in their communities.
Women in communities come together to support one another with various initiatives that enable long-term sustainable incomes. They can also access loans and literacy programmes.
Through group savings programmes and business training, women are providing for their families, feeling a sense of worth for themselves and giving hope to other women for brighter futures.
Denying ourselves for others
The 2022 appeal saw over $1 million raised in our territory. This great result means people’s lives are being transformed through the love of Jesus and the work of The Salvation Army in developing countries.
The Self Denial Appeal is about coming together as a community of faith and participating in the six weeks. Incredible work is happening worldwide and it’s a reminder to each of us that we all have a gift that can be given—‘a gift from the heart’.
How to access the resources
Our territory partners with The Salvation Army in Australia in the preparation of the content for the Self Denial Appeal, and together identify countries where we have international development projects.
There’s a range of resources available for the Self Denial Appeal which can be found online at selfdenial.org.nz. This website makes it easier for resources to be used by individuals as well as at a local corps/centre. All the videos are located here, including the children’s videos.
A new feature is the ability to read the devotionals online from your phone or tablet rather than printing them out. The weekly devotional takes about 10 minutes, with a prayer, Bible reading and time for reflection.
There’s also a family devotional, youth and children’s resources—designed by the Children’s and Youth Mission teams—which has some great printable material. Get on board right at the start and make your commitment to using the resources and the devotional; it’s full of encouraging stories of how ‘a gift from the heart’ made a difference in people’s lives in Kenya and Papua New Guinea.