December 2011 (English)
Sharing the Vision
It is time to connect with you again, and what a great season for sharing good news. No matter how hectic Christmas time is for any of us, we still get immersed in the first Christmas story. Even the traumatic woes of our world only serve to sharpen our need for Immanuel. He came into our world more than 2,000 years ago, but without a doubt he will come afresh in these days. Where one lacks comfort and direction, he will come as the Wonderful Counsellor. For a world at war, we seek his presence as the Prince of Peace. To the childlike, he is the Everlasting Father. Where human effort fails, he proves again to be the Mighty God. And his name JESUS says it all, doesn't it? He is our Saviour. May this Christmas be for you one of rich blessing.
Since last writing to you, the Vision Plan for the Army has been launched. You may have watched the video on the website or read about it in your War Cry or territorial magazine. It is the vision of One Army with One Mission and One Message. The 12 Mission Priorities are each preceded by the statement: 'We will...'. This is the commitment made by leaders at International Headquarters to be doing something to realise the vision. These priorities reflect the themes that have come from territories around the world, based on their strategies for mission. The logo produced by our Communications team has really caught on. I have seen it used by officers on their emails, in corps halls and distributed as bookmarks. In recent travels, I have used Scripture passages for my preaching that undergird elements of the vision.
In earlier letters I promised to mention some of my travels. Looking forward to these visits was like opening presents on Christmas morning, full of anticipation, surprise and joy. I was not disappointed. What a blessing this autumn to attend the welcome to the Proclaimers of the Resurrection session of cadets in New York! The Spirit-led response to the mercy seat is lodged in my memory bank. I thank the Lord for this mighty moving of his Spirit. Similar evidence of the Spirit's work was seen during visits to Africa (Mozambique, Malawi), South America East (Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) and Europe (Finland, Switzerland, Spain and France). The visit to Hungary and Latvia was an unforgettable Advent experience.
Every place was so different. The Army ministry was varied. The language, culture and worship styles were diverse. But there was a very real sense of the Spirit blessing our Army and empowering our people for ministry within their corps and communities. People were saved. Others experienced the blessing of holiness. Many young people responded to God's call to officership. How can we help but praise the Lord! How can we help but continue to pray!
If you have not taken the opportunity to join the Worldwide Prayer Meeting on Thursdays, please ask for details from your corps officer or check out the Army's international web page. It is, as a New Zealand Salvationist described it, 'a Mexican wave that begins in the South Pacific and moves across the Army world'. We are praying for our Army, its effectiveness in mission, for courage to share the gospel with love and grace. Please check out the details of the Mission Priorities and pray for each one. Pray fervently for revival. Pray that we will have a deep desire for God and hunger for holiness. Pray that the Army will be stirred afresh with a passion for the lost and the marginalised.
Let's live a life of praise, for Jesus is worthy. And what a time of year to offer our thanksgiving! May the Christmas blessings of joy, peace and hope be yours as you celebrate his birth.