Overwhelming Response to God's Call on Final Day of World Youth Convention

Released 21 July 2010

GOD poured out his grace and blessing in overwhelming abundance on the fourth and final day of The Salvation Army World Youth Convention in Stockholm on 18 July. Amazingly, the level of celebration and commitment significantly surpassed the extremely high levels expressed during the previous three days.

Hundreds of life-changing decisions were made throughout this day of complementary contrasts, when praise, personal reflection, practical teaching and prayer combined to produce remarkable responsiveness to God.

On Sunday night more than 200 delegates purposefully made their way to the stage and mercy seat in response to General Shaw Clifton's clear, quiet calls concerning officership.

Initially around 120 people joined the General on the platform when he asked for everyone to come forward who had already formally commenced their application for officership in The Salvation Army.

At least 80 more delegates moved to the stage when the General requested anyone else who now had a compulsion from God to apply for officership to join those already standing with him. Another two people went when the General asked, 'Is there anyone who wants a life of hardship, challenge and risk? Then officership is for you!'

A further approximately 60 people, who needed more time to prayerfully consider God's officership call on their life, stood as the General prayed for them to receive clarification from God on this important matter.

In addition to the more than 260 people already standing, 60-70 went forward when the General opened up the mercy seat for people to come who had matters other than officership to bring to God.

And when the crowded mercy seat was clear General Clifton made one final appeal. This appeal was to those who were already officers. He suggested they come to be renewed by God, to ask him to make their appointments fruitful, to give them courage and to ask for added purity, power, health, strength and wisdom for every day. More than 100 officers quietly and thoughtfully went and knelt.

This immensely moving mercy seat response came after all the commissioners present at the convention had given everyone in the auditorium a covenant card to sign. This was a sacred time as delegates prayed quietly before signing the covenant.

Earlier in the meeting there was a much louder worship atmosphere involving uplifting, exhilarating music and testimonies. A significant commemoration moment was the celebration of Salvation Army ministry in the 10 countries where Army ministry has commenced during the past four years.

In a wide-ranging, incisive message General Clifton encouraged the delegates to 'stay awake and alert to see what God will do beyond our wildest imaginings'.

Using Luke 9 he reminded those listening that Jesus sent the 12 disciples out specifically for two reasons: to win people into God's Kingdom and to help those in need.

From Luke 10 the General pointed out that while sending a further 72 others out to do pioneering work Jesus remarked that the labourers were few. General Clifton said that it is still the same today. 'We don't have enough people in our training colleges. For many years the number of cadets worldwide has stayed steady at about 1,200 despite many powerful factors that could have worked against us. We praise God for this blessing, but it is still not enough,' he stressed.

He then asked the delegates, 'What are you going to be? What are you going to do with your life? You can choose to serve self or to follow Jesus. If you choose self your life will gradually fall apart because that's how the devil works. But if you choose God's way they ring the bells in Heaven and you always have the resources of Heaven to call upon.'

General Clifton warned all present that the devil will try to pull them down as they leave the World Youth Convention. He urged them not to fall for the temptations of Satan. Instead, he said, 'give yourself to God, be humble, stay teachable, stay close to God, hide in Christ and be obedient to Jesus in whatever he tells you to do'.

He also encouraged them to be true to the doctrines of The Salvation Army, to wear Salvation Army uniform and to offer a helping, compassionate hand to all in need.

'We know there is sin but we also know there is a Saviour who brings purity and forgiveness,' said the General.

The morning holiness meeting, led by the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Barry Swanson, included an excerpt from a musical on the life of Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle, testimonies from delegates, Commissioner Sue Swanson talking via live link to Salvationists in South Africa and a DVD expressing the Korea Territory's outreach vision.

In his thought-provoking message the General plainly outlined from Mark 12 how it is important for everyone to surrender their intellect to God and to develop it as much as possible, all the while using it in the service of God.

He said our mind also needs to be crucified to self so that we have the same attitude as the mind of Jesus. He added that it is vital that our surrendered, crucified mind is combined with a childlike heart (Luke 18).

To illustrate the characteristics of a childlike heart General Clifton shared personally about his relationship with his five grandchildren and said that even though they each have different personalities he loves them all.

He said this is how God loves us and that, as children approach their parents and grandparents with unreserved love, in the same way we can come to God.

Following the General's message scores of people knelt at places of prayer at the foot of the stage, on the stage and in the body of the hall.

The Sunday afternoon praise meeting was full of colourful singing and dancing as the African delegates were centre stage. One country after another, the African delegates inspiringly worshipped God.

Commissioner Helen Clifton brought an overview regarding advances the Army is making throughout the world and said there is still much to be done. She asked the delegates to pray for the Army to keep spreading in cities and countries.

The glorious, exuberant worship of the Praise Meeting followed territorial discussion 'Buzz' groups and an hour of complete silence. During this time delegates, in quietness, individually worked through a prayer booklet prepared by General Clifton. Delegates later testified to the powerful impact of this quiet time as God spoke into their lives.

The day's activities commenced with a combined prayer meeting led by Captain Matt Clifton (UK Territory with the Republic of Ireland) and concluded with the retiring of the flags after a brilliant indoor finale featuring 'Send the Fire' combined with 'O Boundless Salvation', a massed choir, African drums and Holy Spirit-fuelled joy.

With mixed emotions the delegates gathered outside the Aula Magna building at around 11pm. While a brass band played, the flags came down and The Salvation Army World Youth Convention of 2010 was officially brought to a close.

However, according to the delegates, while the event may be concluded the work of God in and through them is not.

Comments from them include:

'I've learned so much.' 'God has shown me what I have to do next.' 'I've made so many friends from all over the world.' 'I'm going back home to share as much as I can.'

'The freedom in worship here is what we need at my corps.' 'I haven't worn uniform much but I wore it here and it was okay. Seeing all the other countries wear it has helped me.' 'The teaching was so helpful.' 'Loved the Buzz groups.'

'Everyone was so friendly.' 'The volunteers were awesome, especially the group hosts – nothing was too much trouble.' 'I want to organise a youth conference for our country.' 'I loved all the singing at the train stations and on the trains.'

'It was great to have so many Salvationists in the park on Saturday.' 'It was brilliant having so many countries come together.' 'I had a fantastic time.' 'God did massive things.' 'In 2050 I'll be the General and I'll be organising another one.'

Report by Major Laurie Robertson

Photos of the World Youth Convention are at Flickr.com

Video footage of the convention and other information can be found at: www.raisedup.org

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