07 February 2017

IN New Zealand to install the new leaders of the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory, the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Brian Peddle) and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World Secretary for Women's Ministries) challenged Salvationists and friends to mobilise and share their message of hope with the world.

Speaking at Wellington City Corps, Commissioner Rosalie Peddle – coordinator of the Whole World Mobilising initiative – told the congregation, ‘We have to get back to what God is calling us to as a Salvation Army – getting out into our neighbourhoods with the message of the love of Jesus, telling people there is hope for a hopeless world!’

The Chief of the Staff said that, while it was good to see people coming together on Sunday, ‘You can’t stay here! You have to come to grips with the benediction – that God sends us out to a broken world. If God’s church is not mobilised into the world today, it is of no use to the world today.’ He continued, ‘We do not live in a world where people knock on our doors and say, “Tell me about Jesus.” God has rescued us; he can rescue others. Mobilise your heart and your convictions – God has given us a voice in the world!’

The new leaders of the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory, Commissioners Andy and Yvonne Westrupp, took up the same theme, calling on Salvationists to adapt their approach so God’s message of salvation made sense to those ‘who desperately need Jesus Christ’ in their lives. The Westrupps most recently led The Salvation Army’s work in Papua New Guinea for three years.

‘We are delighted to be home and to have the privilege of being involved in what the Holy Spirit is doing in this territory,’ said Commissioner Yvonne Westrupp (Territorial President of Women's Ministries). She was confident God was working in The Salvation Army, ‘opening and closing doors’, but said it was important to respond with action.

Territorial Commander Commissioner Andy Westrupp called for ‘holy boldness’ to go through those open doors. He described how years earlier, while ministering to addiction clients who attended their corps, he realised the way The Salvation Army ‘did church’ often distanced it from those struggling to find God. The couple put that knowledge into practice when successfully planting a corps in Wellington’s northern suburbs in 1995. ‘The key was changing how we [presented the Christian message], so the Christ of the Cross could make sense to people,’ he said.

The ‘gulf’ between the churched and unchurched was even more of a challenge in 2017, he said, partly because people had even less biblical understanding. ‘Young people do not have any idea at all about Jesus Christ, and the cynicism of the world we live in has Teflon-coated their hearts.’

The challenge was clear. ‘If we continue to do the things we’re doing, our numbers will continue to drop and we’re going to die. We have to adapt! We’re not going to water down the gospel message, but we need to find ways to make sense to our target audience. We can adapt – if we have the will!’

Report by Major Christina Tyson


Tags: South Pacific and East Asia, Events