We have lost our children
Recently, while researching in London, I requested to view The Salvation Army’s young peoples’ magazines; The Little Soldier and The Young Soldier. I was told that these were in deep storage as no one used them for research. This shocked me as in an age of historical research designed to give ‘voice’ to the marginalised and the minority, why have children and those who work with them had little voice in the history of The Salvation Army? The volumes of The History of The Salvation Army by Robert Sandall and others give information on the beginning of youth and children ministries and George Hazell in The Training of Junior Soldiers analysed the history of The Salvation Army’s training of young people, yet the voices of young people are still absent.
Catherine Baird in Of Such is the Kingdom stated,
The Army teaches that a child may know God, may see Him in Jesus, and, through a vision of His goodness and beauty, became aware of wrong-doing and have a capacity for repentance, seeking forgiveness and turning from evil to good, becoming a follower of Christ – which means striving to put into practice those truths which the Master taught” (p. 6).
If a child can know God, why have such little voice in the Army’s history? The magazines aforementioned gave stories from a children’s perspective and helped to form a future of a growing vibrant Army of God. So as voices of feminism, ethnicity and postcolonialism force historians to investigate different voices, let us not forget those voices of the children of The Salvation Army. At these times, the voice of a child could again teach us the right way forward.