August 2011 (English)
Very shortly I will commence international travel to Africa, South America East, New York and several countries in Europe. I look forward to seeing the Army around the world. What wonderful opportunities to learn and to minister! I will want to share some insights from these visits with you. These letters will also keep you informed on what is happening with regards to our international vision and associated action steps as well as soliciting your intercession for specific prayer topics. Of course, the pastoral tone of these letters will continue. To incorporate these emphases, I will in future publish this letter under the caption, Sharing the vision.
When in London, I attend the corps near my home. The congregation is very diverse when it comes to culture, age, economic standing, personal needs and knowledge of the Army. Sometimes, looking around, you would wonder how such a different group of people could be called a family but we are. The worship service gives quality time to greeting each other, prayer and testimony and is followed by fellowship around a cup of coffee. It is all so authentic, warm and relevant. The preaching is exceptional and the word is not just exhortation but sound teaching. Time is given to the sermon. Then there is the mercy seat appeal. Again, no rush. Though I have only been able to attend the corps a few times, I have witnessed some very moving responses. The week's programmes offer an array of ministry for body, mind and soul. The corps carries the needs of the world and the community on its heart. Its intercession and practical service are convincing proof of its dedication. In describing the corps where I soldier, I hope I have described yours. What I have always loved about the Army is that soldiers of all ages are involved in our worship and service.
Our time together with the family of God is integral to who we are. We are nourished by the worship, the fellowship, the sermon. Yet the personal spiritual journey needs consistent attention as well. Eugene Peterson (translator of The Message) said, 'The Bible is given to us in the first place simply to invite us to make ourselves at home in the world of God ... and become familiar with the way God speaks and the ways in which we answer him with our lives.'
I encourage you to spend time each day entering into his sacred space, through his word and prayer. Jesus advised us about these private encounters: 'But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen' (Matthew 6:6). For me, the room is the Scriptures. Make yourself at home there. Discover him; hear him speak; see the world from his point of view. Jesus goes on to say, 'Then the Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.' His greatest reward is the reality of his presence! May you experience the joy of it this day.
God bless you richly.