May 2012 (English)
The Lord continues to open my eyes to the amazing ministry carried out by Salvationists around the world. The vision of One Army, One Mission, One Message is not just an expression of hope. It captures the reality of an Army living out its faith in each community and country where it serves.
Mission flows from our relationship with God and the impact of our ministry relates directly to the message we proclaim. As Salvationists we never pretend to be able to fix everyone's problems. Yes, we try to meet the hurting, broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost at their point of need. We offer the most appropriate help and are consistently grateful for the way the Lord uses our service in a transformational way. Yet we know that deep pain, alienation and brokenness can only really be addressed through the saving power of our Lord who ransoms, heals, restores and forgives.
Since writing to you in March, I have visited many places and witnessed a vibrant Army of action and hope. You may be receiving details of these visits through International News Releases, but let me share with you some personal comments.
Three of these visits were in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland. A divisional celebration in South and Mid Wales gave a bird's-eye view of their great community programmes and then captured my heart with their awesome Welsh singing. What a feast of blessing! Easter weekend at Norwich Citadel in England was not only a time for reflection and celebration around the Easter themes at the Army hall, but the corps also took its message to the streets with three open-air meetings. The open-air ministry there is very intentional, providing a weekly outdoor meeting. People from the community attend regularly and see this as their church. The ROOTS weekend in Scotland may have been a very cold weather experience, but there is a spiritual fire burning in Scotland and the flame will be fanned by the Holy Spirit.
Please keep the international Army in view as you pray. Some places may seem far removed from your setting, but often they are the ones most needing our prayer support. Visits to Estonia and Moldova were eye-opening experiences. Both of these countries have been part of the Soviet Union and, like other places in Eastern Europe, are finding their own identity while at the same time learning what it means to be The Salvation Army. You would be thrilled to see this young Army that really understands that the message of Jesus is the motivation for their relevant and practical service.
During the past weeks I have been the guest for both 125th anniversary celebrations in Denmark and The Netherlands. During the commissioning in Copenhagen, I had the privilege of announcing the commencement of the Army's work in Greenland and then appointing the first officers. This congress built further on the hope that was already evident in Denmark. Though a small territory, it has a huge impact on society. In Amsterdam, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands graced one of our congress meetings with her presence. She was particularly interested in meeting some of the people who belong to our social centres and was grateful for the Army's work among the marginalised and disadvantaged.
One of my regular highlights is to visit the International College for Officers. I speak to each session at their spiritual day and also spend a day with them teaching about spiritual authority and answering their questions. These visits are always very special. The 26 officer-delegates come from every corner of the Army world and consider this experience one of the richest in their officership. Their eyes are truly opened to the international Army as they journey together for two months.
If you have not already signed up through your territory or the international website for the worldwide prayer meeting on Thursday mornings, I would encourage you to do so. The prayer topics are the 12 Mission Priorities of the One Army, One Mission, One Message vision. Add to these your own corps/centre/divisional/territorial needs. But above all, beyond petition and intercession, may your prayer be saturated with praise, thanksgiving and expectation. The Lord waits to hear from you. Let's be an Army marked by prayer. 'The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective' (James 5:16).
Thank you for your faithfulness in ministry and prayer. God bless you richly,