17 October 2012

THE Salvation Army's first-ever International College for Soldiers (ICS) took place from 10-24 September at the International College for Officers and Centre for Spiritual Life Development (ICO/CSLD) in London, United Kingdom. Twenty-five young adult delegates from across the worldwide Salvation Army gathered for an intensive two weeks of study, worship, evangelism, and fun. The curriculum followed the framework of Knowing, Being and Doing.

Delegates increased their biblical, theological and historical knowledge through lectures from ICS staff and guests. Salvationist Dr Roger Green (USA Eastern) was the main guest lecturer, having been the visionary for this event. He was recently awarded the Order of the Founder and is Professor and Chair of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. He taught on the Kingdom of God from the New Testament and also on the theology of Salvation Army co-founder Catherine Booth.

Other lecturers included Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President of Women's Ministries), who led the delegates in a Bible study focused on David and Saul, and Colonel Richard Munn (ICO/CSLD), who lectured on the Army's holiness doctrine. Lieut-Colonel Eddie Hobgood (International Headquarters) presented a one-man show on Salvation Army pioneer Joe the Turk; Commissioner Lalkiamlova (IHQ) spoke to delegates about his ground-breaking work for The Salvation Army in his home state of Mizoram, India, and Salvationist Phil Wall (UK Territory with the Republic of Ireland) challenged delegates in their roles as soldier-leaders.

A significant time was spent with General Linda Bond, who spoke with clarity and conviction about her vision for a Spirit-filled Army. The General reminded delegates to be Jesus-centred, biblically informed and to be on their knees as part of an Army at prayer.

Delegates learned about personal holiness and put into practice spiritual disciplines and new methods of prayer. Each day began with morning prayers, guided by the ICS staff. Delegates and staff also took part in the Worldwide Prayer Meeting on both Thursdays, led by Colonel Janet Munn in praying through The Salvation Army's International Vision Plan. New 'rhythms' of prayer were taught throughout the week, including Praying the Bible, Circles of Influence and Listening Prayer.

Delegates partcipated in small groups to discuss Dr Green's Bible Study on the Kingdom of God, allowing for deeper understanding of the material and the opportunity to reflect on the daily experiences of the ICS.

On Sunday delegates turned the college venue – The Cedars, Sydenham – into a house of prayer, centred on the Kingdom of God and the International Vision Plan. The group participated in a half-night of individual and corporate prayer. For many, this was a spiritual highlight of the gathering. Delegates were challenged to share their 'I'll fight…' promises and prayers flowing out of their shared Soldiers' Covenant.

Delegates implemented their knowledge of social holiness with missional opportunities in Salvation Army centres and on the streets of London, led by Major Hannelise Tvedt (UK Territory with the Republic of Ireland). She was also responsible for organising a day of 'outreach on the streets', in which delegates were split into three groups and visited the Stepney, Clapton, and Notting Hill Corps, where each group had unique opportunities of evangelism.

The ICS was also given the opportunity to visit and tour International Headquarters, where delegates met and shared in dialogue with the Chief of Staff, Commissioner Barry C. Swanson. The final Sunday morning was spent in worship at Regent Hall Corps. Delegates joined in a march of witness followed by a short open-air meeting.

The two weeks were demanding but eternally rewarding. The International College for Soldiers resulted in life-changing experiences for the delegates, who were empowered by the Word of God and fostered wonderful relationships with fellow soldiers from around the world.

Report by Colonel Janet Munn and Annie Carter
Centre for Spiritual Life Development