Let me share with you my encounter with Julie. Julie seems to know everything there is to know about plants. She was in my office one day and noticed the remains of two orchid plants. To my eye, they were in the last stages of life and were soon to be thrown out. Beautiful while they lasted but they had had their day. Not so in Julie’s estimation. She urged me to hang on to them and one day they would blossom. Months passed by and the sceptic in me wondered how much Julie really knew about plants. Imagine the surprise when a shoot began to emerge and then a bud. I am now looking at a beautiful orchid with four more buds ready to burst. Julie saw something I did not see because she knew what I did not know.
What we witnessed in Prague at the recent Europe Congress told the same story. The Army in central and eastern Europe had been proscribed in some countries – lifeless and without form – and in others it was non-existent. To the human eye – dead! But the Lord knew there was an Army waiting to burst through the dry ground so it could bud and then flourish. When Salvationists from other parts of Europe joined hands with these new Salvationists as we sang They Shall Come from the East, They Shall Come from the West, you would have caught the vision of One Army – missional in nature and boldly committed to moving forward in faith. How do we account for all this? It is the Resurrection power of our Lord that not only brings life to an individual but who raises up the people of God as a powerful witness. Since 1990, the Army has opened or re-opened in 13 European countries.
Though the circumstances were different and the occasions diverse, the Lord showed me hope realised as I shared in the commissioning weekend and 90th anniversary in Ghana. You could not be part of such celebrations without believing that the Lord is blessing and will continue to bless his Army. And this moving of his Spirit is not only seen in continental Europe or Africa. In the East Midlands Division (UK Territory with the Republic of Ireland), our three meetings in various parts of the division told the same story. Salvationists are sensing a fresh wind, a fresh fire. God who has his plan is opening our eyes to see what can be.
Recently we held the General’s Consultative Council at Sunbury Court. The three meetings each year always include the participation of the International Headquarters commissioners and also 12-15 representative territorial leaders from around the Army world. Our themes for these meetings are drawn from the International Vision Plan. For our September meeting, we focused on evangelism. Guest speakers dealt with the topic of evangelism in the areas of relationship building, reaching children and youth with the gospel and evangelising seniors. While the information and discussions were stimulating, we all admit that it has to be so much more than talk. It must be in the forefront of the Army’s ministry at the grassroots level, not just corporately but personally.
Those topics mentioned in this letter are causes for joy and gratitude. Yet we also have some very serious challenges that face our Army. The power of prayer cannot be underestimated. Intercession and petition are crucial. We need his view of things. We must seek his wisdom, guidance and grace. Yes, we can trust the Lord who holds the present and the future in his hands. But this is not only true for the Army. This is true for each one of us.
God bless you richly as you live in fellowship with him, rejoicing in his every provision of life’s joys and every grace for life’s challenges.