Earlier this summer a number of us received an update from James Davisson who is among other things a Chicagophile.

He said he was ready for a break, to explore more of Chicago.  Gail and I had dinner with James last Monday in his Bucktown neighborhood.  Walking down Milwaukee Avenue the restaurant ahead looked inviting, so we ended up eating vegan at Native Foods.  We sat outside, every few minutes the ‘L’ thundering by.  Good vegan fare.   Though all three of us can easily throw down a cheeseburger.

James just completed two years as a teacher in Chicago public schools on the southside, home to Barak Obama and the University of Chicago, also home to students struggling to make the most of the education offered in some of the most under resourced neighborhoods in America.

James’ two years was made possible through City Year, an experience that gave him “the privilege of working in some great elementary schools on the south side of Chicago, running tutoring, mentoring, and after school programs and trying to make a difference in the lives of young people .”

I like what he’s been doing.  James made a commitment to serve the world God so loves.   This is mission:   to go and to give.  No surprise to those who know James is a Salvationist, a son of distinguished Officers, a follower of Jesus.

Shouldn’t James be doing this in the Salvation Army?

Another Salvation Army friend is currently working overseas in a country which is not very friendly to what this person is doing on the sideline.  Sharing the gospel.  Again, an opportunity via a non-SA connection.

Do we feel uncomfortable when individuals, especially Salvation Army people, find meaningful missional engagement outside of Army circles?

The Army needs people of mission and the Army is a great place, maybe the great place, for missional work, if it has a place for my personal mission.  If there isn’t such a place, I need to find it or “then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jeremiah 20:9).

I don’t think any of us engaged in Salvation Army mission stop caring for James and others.  But Army people are busy, so busy that when persons step out of the orbit of Army activity, veer out of the pathways of Army community, it’s easy to not tend well to them.  We tend to neglect.

Anyone in mission needs care, needs to be part of a community of faith where spiritual life is tended to.  The challenge is for us to not neglect the missioner.  Even when the missioner’s activity is not connected with the Army.   Even when the mission takes them away from the Army circles of culture, family, life.

But, then we could ask how well do we take care of one another who are busily engaged in mission within Army circles.

May we offer great hearted care to James and others who serve the world God so loved, wherever He may be using them.

John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’  But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me.  Whoever is not against us is for us.  For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.   (Mark 9:38-41)