Spine-tingling, God-glorifying Opening Meeting for World Youth Convention

Released 16 July 2010

THE mercy seat lined four and five deep and the stage filled to overflowing with people kneeling at drums seeking a deeper relationship with God was the culmination of the spine-tingling first indoor meeting of The Salvation Army's Raised Up World Youth Convention in the Aula Magna auditorium of Stockholm University, Sweden.

Commencing at 6.30pm and concluding around 9pm on Thursday 15 July 2010, it felt more like the exhilarating grand finale of an inspiring series of meetings rather than an opening warm-up event.

From the opening bars of the massed choir number 'Send the Fire' to the overwhelming response of hundreds of people moving to the mercy seat, following General Shaw Clifton's message based on Psalm 24, this was a God-blessed meeting.

The worship of God was so joyfully powerful that General Clifton was moved to state in the lead-in to his challenging message: 'This place has been rocking and pulsating with holy energy.'

And this was indeed the case as the congregation had enthusiastically combined with each of the participating creative arts groups in vigorous, God-centred, vibrant singing and dancing.

Speaking passionately and transparently to Raised Up delegates, the General captured the mood of the moment as he urged everyone to ensure that they had 'clean hands and a pure heart before God' so they could 'stand in the presence of God'.

Paradoxically, General Clifton reminded the congregation that for Salvationists being spiritually clean involves getting their hands dirty as they help those in need – 'and may we never forget that we were raised up by God to go to the people who need us most'.

The General forthrightly confronted those present about their present spiritual state when he asked: 'Have you come to the convention with clean hands and a pure heart? Have you cast aside all your idols and false gods?'

He said spiritual cleanliness cannot be earned or bought. 'The only way we can be clean and pure is by going to our knees and asking God to make us clean,' he stated.

In quoting one of the early leaders of The Salvation Army, Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle, the General invited everyone to seek 'a baptism of Christlike love so that we can have clean hands and a pure heart'. The response of delegates moving to the mercy seat was immediate.

Earlier in the meeting Colonel Birgitte Brekke, the convention organiser, welcomed all in the auditorium and everyone watching on the internet.

She said that during the next few days 'we look forward to seeking the things that are from above and celebrating the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army. We pray that God will meet with us.'

At this point General Clifton also brought some introductory remarks which included him saying: 'My heart fills up with love and thanks to God for all that this gathered host represents from all over the world. God has raised up this people known as Salvationists and Heaven smiles on us tonight.

'God is not going to waste all this. Are you ready to move with God?' challenged the General, and after a resounding 'Yes!' from the delegates he said, 'I've never seen a more ready people and God is going to bless us.'

Commissioner Helen Clifton read Psalm 24 and praised God for all he is doing through the convention delegates.

A number of Salvation Army creative arts groups from around the world presented the message of Jesus in a variety of ways, from street dancing to choir singing and big band.

A live link with Captain Billy Francis in Times Square, New York, USA, and the testimony videos from around the world, combined with video taken in the past two days of site preparations and delegate arrivals, were helpful reminders of how technology is an integral part of the world.

The meeting was compèred by Major Mark Sawyer (United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland), Major Angela Hachitapika (Zambia) and Captain Anneli Marthinussen (Sweden & Latvia).

At the conclusion of the meeting delegates went into territorial groups around the university campus to discuss relevant spiritual subjects for about 45 minutes.

In the Praise Party that followed the discussion groups more of the creative arts groups participated and once again the mercy seat was lined with delegates seeking a deeper experience of God.

Report by Major Laurie Robertson

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