At the heart of this question is my conviction that the Army is at its best when serving and, for this to be the case, all Salvationists have to find their place, through personal engagement and service, so we can really be the Army raised up by God. Imagine what could happen through well-planned initiatives, strong infrastructure and an accepted divine presence, when people like us use these things to accomplish God's mission in the world.
As plans for Territorial Congress 2014 began to take shape, I was asked the inevitable question, “Why a congress and why now?” I wrote down four words that would frame my answer: thanksgiving, renewal, celebration and mobilization.
My wife, Rosalie, and I are so privileged to travel the territory and catch glimpses of the excellent kingdom work taking place. I move through a long prayer list of thanksgiving every morning. As we focus on new initiatives, growth, lives transformed and the assurance of a solid future, a thread of thanksgiving will run throughout the congress. We recognize God's faithfulness to the territory. I believe congress will be a catalyst for the future—for renewal of our mission, for revival in the hearts of soldiers and officers, and for the restoration of joy to such an extent that every ministry unit becomes a transforming influence in its community. Can we even justify coming together without asking God to give us a baptism of love for our lost world?
Earlier this year, I was quoted as saying, “This will not be your grandparent's congress.” I have chuckled at that a few times but I do ask, what will we offer this generation and those who follow? We can't present a stoic Army that has forgotten celebration. Celebration bursts out of obedient faith, engagement in mission and life-changing kingdom work. From beginning to end, the congress must be filled with celebration … of our youth, our cadets, our music and the fact that mission matters most and God is poised to lead us forward.
As I write these words, I find myself challenged by another question: “Where from here?” I get excited about the possibilities for the Army. Imagine if we could mobilize every expression of who we are with only one objective: that God's kingdom would come here on earth. Lives would be saved and transformed, hearts cleansed, relationships healed and communities of faith expanded.
It means getting out of the trenches, outside of our buildings. It means taking back what the devil has stolen and claiming new ground. It means that relevant faith is renewed and those who have pushed faith to the margins of their lives will be brought back. It means that we each find our place of service and, when we do, the Army, God's Salvation Army, will be in the centre of his perfect will.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14). See you at congress!
Commissioner Brian Peddle is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.