It’s finally summer! The last time I experienced summer was in January 2014. That’s right—January. I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the seasons are opposite to those of the northern hemisphere. In August, as winter was coming to a close and the promise of spring was all around us, I moved to Canada, where fall was menacing and winter came hard on its heels. I haven’t felt warm since.
But summer is here at last and no one is more content about it than I am. The world is bursting into colour as flowers and trees thrive in the sunshine and lap up moisture from sudden summer thunderstorms. All this new life makes me feel so incredibly alive and content.
In Shakespeare’s Richard III, Richard, the future king, speaks these well-known words: “Now is the winter of our discontent/made glorious summer by this son of York; And all the clouds that low’r’d upon our house/In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.” Richard is rejoicing in his family’s victory over the house of Lancaster and celebrating that his brother, Edward IV, has become king.
As I look to this summer, I also want to celebrate. Not that we had a winter of discontent—absolutely not! But I want to rejoice that our Salvation Army family has seen many victories across the territory. I have spent much of this past winter becoming re-acquainted with the Canada and Bermuda Territory and have been encouraged by what God is doing in our midst. Here are just a few examples of things worth celebrating:
- Montreal Citadel welcoming new people into fellowship, with more enrolments than any other corps
- Toronto’s Cedarbrae Community Church celebrating the artistic talents of children and young people from their community in an amazing Christmas musical
- Calgary’s Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre bursting at the seams with people of all ages coming together for worship and fun at Messy Church
- Vancouver’s business community joining with The Salvation Army for the largest Hope in the City breakfast in the territory
- Young Salvationists gathering in St. Thomas, Ont., to deepen their knowledge and experience of the doctrine of holiness (a snowstorm kept me away, but we communicated by e-mail)
- A small group of corps sergeant-majors meeting with me by Skype to give me and my leadership team greater insight into grassroots Salvationism in our territory
- Officers and staff in social and community services in St. John’s, N.L., serving under difficult circumstances
- Florence Booth Home in Toronto, a welcoming shelter for so many women who have no options for affordable housing. The physical limitations of the building are no match for the love extended to the women by the staff
- The officership information weekend, where Salvationists heard and responded to God’s calling to full-time service
- A roundtable discussion with a group of First Nations Salvationists as we trust God to guide us into exciting ministry opportunities
- Celebrating the commissioning and ordination of officers who will fill vital appointments across the territory
And I could go on…. I have been tremendously encouraged to see what God is doing.
All of these victories are, of course, part of a strategy that God has given us as a territory. These strategic priorities have been communicated over the past couple of years by my predecessor, and we continue to build on them.
I thank God for the wisdom of our international leaders, General Linda Bond (Rtd), and now General André Cox, for the international vision of “One Army, One Mission, One Message,” which continues to be the central message of our strategy. And I thank God for inspiring the leaders here in the Canada and Bermuda Territory to establish our seven strategic priorities. A committee made up of officers, soldiers and employees from across the territory is working to develop these priorities into actionable objectives, and we need every Salvationist to do his or her part to make them a reality.
Summer is here! Jesus said: “When you see a fig tree or any other tree putting out leaves, you know that summer will soon come. So, when you see these things happening, you know that God’s kingdom will soon be here” (Luke 21:29-31 CEV). We must take advantage of the time we have to share the good news of the gospel, to grow the kingdom of God and to serve our communities in Jesus’ name.