The Self Denial Appeal is an annual 10 week event on The Salvation Army Calendar. Basically, Salvo members are encouraged to 'deny themselves' or temporarily 'give up' a small luxury in order to save money. This money is then given to the Salvation Army for missionary work in other countries. In the early days of this program, many people would give up dessert, one evening meal a week or chocolate. These days, people give up soft drink, dessert products (such as ice cream), take-away meals, movies, DVD rentals or other leisure activities.
At Junior Soldiers we encourage the children to think about something they can 'give up' for the duration of Self-Denial, so they can raise money for missionary service. One of my boys does extra jobs at home and instead of keeping all his pocket money for himself, some of the money goes into our 'Bally- Box' where we save the money for the special 'alter service'. I have encouraged my other member to save his tuckshop (canteen) money for Self-Denial instead of spending it. We will see if that happens.
You are probably wondering what all this has to do with Slavery and Sex. Each week of the Appeal, we watch a short video clip about places around the world where The Salvation Army is working and requires financial support. The clip usually introduces a Salvo who tells about personal experiences of Jesus and the practical assistance The Salvos are providing in their local area. They also talk about the financial goals of the church in that country and how funds will be spent. Here is the one we watched about The Salvation Army in Greece.
Last week the video was about the practical as well as spiritual support Salvos give to the homeless and the sex slaves in Greece. In the video intended for the 'adult' church service, it is simply stated that these people are working in the sex industry. The children's video sort of skims over it, simply calling them 'slaves'. The activities for last week explained the concept of 'trading' and that many parents sell their children into slavery because they are tricked into believing that their child is going to be better off. The children/ teenagers are usually fed and have a roof over their heads, but these children have no freedom. So, how do you explain to two 9 year old boys, what a Sex Slave is and why this industry still exists?
I explained the 'parents selling their kids' thing and then talked more about choices. As children in a Christian home, they have to be obedient to their parents but, for the most part they have opportunities to choose what they do with their time, what they eat, where they play and their friends. Children and adults who are slaves do not have these choices. They don't get paid for their work and they don't get to make the choices that we do.
I also talked to the Junior Soldiers about the choice that God has given us. He does not want His children to be 'slaves' but to have free choice. He wants us to choose to live according to His will, and He loves us and cares for us and provides us with all we need and more. We are really very lucky.
Some might frown upon the amount of time I spent on this with my boys, but I felt it was important for them to realise how lucky they are and how easily they can help. If everyone in Australia gave $1 towards an organisation to end poverty, we would have approximately $20 Million. Imagine what we could do, if we really tried!!
Next week I will tell you about some other things we are doing as a part of our Self-Denial 'giving' and our preparations for Easter.