The War College (TWC) is a postmodern incarnational training community. Located in Canada's poorest postal code, since 2003 students from all over the world have enlisted and dedicated a year of their lives to be equipped warriors to win the world for Jesus with love. Salvationists Jonathan (Principal) and Carla Evans (Spiritual Formation Director) are the present leaders of TWC and share how the College finds its pulse at the hub of prayer, intercession and spiritual formation.
The War College (Vancouver, Canada and Bermuda Territory) has been part of the Vancouver 614 Corps and community since its inception. Alongside an extensive curriculum, who we are and what we do must be founded in the Lord and so we discipline and schedule our lives accordingly.
Daily we engage in the ancient practice of praying the Bible, we read the Bible communally and intentionally walk the streets and visit friends in slum hotels to offer prayer, help and friendship. We meet in accountability and prayer groups to encourage and correct one another. We meet to worship in praise and adoration through prayer and we learn and practice the spiritual disciplines that we might "get in the ground" where God can do his work in us. Our intention is that all that we do as a community of believers comes from and back to prayer.
At TWC we long to see young people really live. The ongoing, inward transformation of a person is enabled by this intimate and deep journey with God and others. TWC aims to create a space for young people to be raised up in the wholeness of whom God created them to be so that they might reflect this life and godliness to a world in that same desperate need of love and wholeness.
In February 2004, a 24-7 prayer wave swept across Canada which saw Salvation Army groups in Newfoundland, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia taking one week of non-stop prayer in succession for a full six weeks.
Vancouver 614 was scheduled to cover the last week of prayer. The prayer room set up, dubbed the War Room (TWR) was located in a War College student's room in the Empress Hotel, where the students reside during their training. Each person would sign up for three hours at a time, taking the prayer in shifts, and would focus on interceding for the community and listening to the word of God. The prayer would be non-stop, day and night, as in Isaiah 62:6-7: 'On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.'
At the end of this week of prayer, the presence of God was strong and convicting and many eagerly yearned for more. Therefore it was decided to continue TWR on a monthly basis until more revelation was received on how to proceed. After some time it became apparent to the intercessors and the leaders of 614 that Yahweh was calling Vancouver 614 to carry on the intercession and worship in TWR indefinitely and to honour the name of Yahweh, wherein we find our strength daily.
Since that time we have had regular reminders from the Lord that TWR is the most important thing we do as a community. Yes, a number of us live communally and incarnationally, we engage in many justice and mission initiatives, we teach and disciple people, and we run cell groups in our neighbourhood, and all these things are extremely important to our community life and to the mission of our Corps. However, obedience to this call of non-stop prayer takes precedence over even all these noble and good things. 'Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.' (Psalm 127:1) The battle belongs to the LORD, and we must never forget that we only advance as we pray.
In June 2007 TWR transitioned to a new location. While the vision of TWR being a non-stop place of listening, intercession, honouring the name of Yahweh, and communal prayer did not change, there was a broadening of the scope of TWR to better reflect how it is the hub of our community, as well as an emphasis on liberation and intimacy in prayer that goes beyond just discipline and duty.
The larger space made it more possible for us to pray in larger groups, or to have different forms of prayer happening at the same time (i.e. worship, contemplative, ministry etc), something that was very difficult before. As such, we devoted whole walls to justice projects, in particular Human Trafficking and the issue of conversion of low income housing to condos in our area. We set aside space for intimate prayer and worship; a wall dedicated to intercession for each other and for situations around the world; space for musical worship; a library full of edifying books; a prayer labyrinth in the middle of the huge open space.
Most recently (Jaunary 2012) we have faced the same reality of many in our neighbourhood who have been displaced - we could no longer use the larger space for TWR as new development of the building we occupied began. We are closely connected to other Christian communities in our neighbourhood and have taken the welcome and opportunity to use some of their prayer spaces in this time of transition. We can see that God is using this time to knit us more closely with our brothers and sisters as he is the center of the ways we are coming together.
We anticipate what God will provide for us in the days to come, and continue as a community with prayer as its hub, to pray without ceasing, to seek the Lord in all things, and to honour the name of the Lord with the whole of our lives.