Greetings in the strong and sacred name of Jesus Christ!
You will understand me when I say that I write this final and farewell Pastoral Letter with something of a heavy heart. It has been a very great privilege to be free to reach out to you all through these letters in recent years. Many of you have written to me from time to time to express encouragement and appreciation for these simple but heartfelt communications. I have valued deeply your responses.
I want to record my profound sense of holy pride arising from the manner in which my fellow Salvationists remain loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ and faithful to the sacred calling he has placed upon us to grow the Kingdom, to witness, and to serve in his name. By the grace of God we are doing this now in 124 countries. I salute and thank you each one. So too does Commissioner Helen Clifton, who continues to be in need of your prayers.
How gracious God has been in these five demanding years in which he has called me to serve as the General. He has helped and guided unfailingly and in keeping with the holy promises we find in the Scriptures. I know that he will also bless and guard the General-Elect, Commissioner Linda Bond, as she succeeds me. Thank you for your prayers for her at this time.
Let me turn now to the Scriptures.
In the Acts of the Apostles in Chapter 20 we read of the Apostle Paul bidding farewell to the Christian believers in the city of Ephesus. In verse 20 he tells them, 'You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you.' I want to adopt this verse for my own use in this farewell letter. I thank God for the wonderful privilege of being called to preach as an officer of The Salvation Army.
In verse 22 Paul says to them, 'Now I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.' Let me also take this verse for myself. My 'Jerusalem' is in fact my retirement, for I do not know what will happen to me there! In many ways the future appears very uncertain. However, like Paul, we step into the unknown without fear because we know God is there too. He never fails.
Finally, in verse 32 Paul says to his hearers, 'Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among those who are sanctified.' I take these words and offer them to you all on this occasion. I commit you to God. I commit you to God's word of grace and to the One who is the Word, the full incarnate expression of the Godhead, the Lord Jesus Christ. I commit you to the One who alone can sanctify you. You and I are called to be pure for God, to be sacred vessels for him, sanctified and made holy by his blood poured out so freely at Calvary. The One who calls you can do it. He is able.
Thank you again for being my fellow Salvationists and my comrades. Thank you for your trust in Almighty God. Thank you for your holy obedience to Christ. Thank you for the sacred service that you give unstintingly for his cause.
Commissioner Helen and I will not cease to lift you up in prayer. We are bound together with you each one in our shared and sacred callings to witness and to serve in God's great Army of Salvation.
Hallelujah! God bless you all!
Yours in Christ,
General Shaw Clifton is the international leader of The Salvation Army. It is his deep hope that each of his Pastoral Letters will be read wherever Salvationists are to be found, whether in private or in public settings. The chosen themes may prompt discussion, prayer and - as appropriate - action.