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From Here... Just Like You
by Captain Christine Tursi

“From here…just like you” has never been my answer to the question “where are you from”. I’m a little bit from everywhere but also from nowhere at all. Always the new kid, the girl with the accent, the one from somewhere in Europe. Different enough to never really fit in, but not different enough for it to really cause me any problems. Still, I’ve spent much of my time attempting to make those slight irregularities in my identity as minimally visible as possible. The trick is easy: mirror, assimilate, dissimulate, integrate, adopt. Like what they like, do what they do. Make what is theirs, yours. Fit in at all costs.


The problem with this strategy is that you end up forgetting who you are and end up slowly disappearing. And that is seriously not the point of it all or the goal our Creator had in mind. I have (mostly) stopped since and discovered that God wants to use me with all my quirks, irregularities and not-fitting-ness. Allow me to make a jump from my personal biography and experience to our shared one as salvationists (this should not be that much of a jump since salvationism is indeed a big part of my identity and I would guess yours too if you’re reading this blog). The Salvation Army used to be the new kid on the block, with the weird accent (or to be more precise weird terminology), the foreign theology, the alien practices. We used to be the trouble-makers, the status-quo shakers, the radicals who wanted to conquer the world for Jesus. We didn’t fit in, we were definitely not meant to and we really didn’t care to (maybe back then we were enough people, so it didn’t matter and didn’t scare us off). In the world but really, really, really not from this world with our uniforms, our bands, our saved souls, transformed lives and incredible growth thanks to the One calling us to be different.


What happened? At some point we discovered the appeal of the world and made it our goal to belong: mirror, assimilate, dissimulate, integrate, adopt. Like what they like, do what they do. Make what is theirs, yours. Fit in at all costs. We’re “from here just like you, we swear”. Uniforms? No, you must be mistaken, we don’t wear them anymore; sanctification? sacramental life? The. mercy. seat? Surely not. We belong, nothing different about us. Somewhere along the way we started rejecting our roots, questioning our origins, putting aside our identity. What an incredibly high price we paid, to be liked, to be accepted, to start growing again. But did we get what we hoped for? The truth is brutally visible in my context; it might not be in yours or only slowly and silently creeping in on the margins; sure, some areas show no trace of it at all (yet). But sometimes I really fear we are disappearing and how will we win the world for Jesus if we actually do disappear? (because that is still our goal, right?)


In recent years I have developed a strong belief in strong roots and wings to fly. Neither extreme is healthy, a balance is hard to find but necessary. A realistic lens on the past and a hopeful glance towards the future. Non-negotiables we are convinced in and steps into the unknown future we are ready to take (confident that the former were inspired by God and the latter are known by God)… It all sounds good but I think, really, the question that needs answering first is do we even want to be The Salvation Army any more? If we don’t, that is not a problem, there are enough other churches we can start calling our homes. If on the contrary our answer is yes then we can forget ever feeling at home among the churches again (their friend, their ally, their brothers and sisters but never their twins), “from here…just like you” can never be our answer again or the assumption from those observing us. I don’t know about you, but normal has never really been my cup of tea and fitting in is not all it’s cracked up to be.


We’re not “from here” and it shouldn’t bother us anymore. We should fall in love with what makes us “us” again. God created us exactly like that, and that is what will help us win over the world for Him. I cannot wait to see it happening.










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