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Jan12ThuNew program to help Salvationists move the Army's mission forward. January 12, 2017
As a symbolic act, the launch of The Whole World Mobilising – the international Salvation Army initiative to encourage and enable Salvationists and friends to engage more closely with their communities – could not have sent a clearer message. The event was not a gathering in, it was a sending out – a time of vibrant worship that spilled out from International Headquarters (IHQ) onto the streets of central London, where passersby were swept along by a wave of joy and praise.
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Interviewed by IHQ employee Andrew Yates (a soldier at Bromley Temple Corps), General André Cox explained that The Whole World Mobilising follows in the footsteps of the international prayer and Bible reading programs that were linked to the Boundless international congress in 2015. In a way, he said, the Mobilising initiative is the legacy of the congress, which emphasized the urgency of being mobilized.
"We need to get out and rediscover our mission," said the General, addressing not only the congregation at IHQ but also a worldwide audience that was following the event online through a live stream. He emphasized the importance of The Salvation Army's two-fold mission to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination. "Where the Army is growing," he said, talking about what he witnesses during his international travels, "is in the places where we remember the two-fold mission."
The General spoke about The Salvation Army's potential that is yet to be fulfilled. "The Army is in 128 countries," he said, but – importantly – "in so many grass-roots communities. Jesus turned the world upside down with 12 people. We have 1.2 million soldiers! It's incredible to think what we can achieve, powered by the Holy Spirit."
Describing his vision of a Salvation Army that is a force for "good, change and positive transformation," he laid down the challenge to Salvation Army centres around the world: "God has placed us in a community ... We can't wait for people to come to us, we need to get out and reach them."
This emphasis on reaching out was a key part of the launch activities. IHQ staff distributed hot chocolate throughout the morning and spoke to some of the many people who passed by. A brass band made up from IHQ staff members played outside before and after the meeting, causing many people to stop and listen.
The meeting also included a number of video items with an international twist, including a multilingual reading of the Lord's Prayer and Bible passages linked to the song "Shine from the Inside Out" – one of three led by a worship group formed by IHQ staff members. Ester Ellen Nelson, project manager for The Whole World Mobilising, prayed for God to "move us from complacency to commitment" and the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Brian Peddle) encouraged everyone watching to "do as our Founder encouraged ... to 'Do Something.'"
The launch meeting concluded in a lively fashion, with the General and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) dancing with African officers from IHQ to the song "We Are Marching," led by the IHQ worship group. Still dancing, they led the whole congregation out onto the streets where the tune was taken up by the IHQ staff band.
A passing group of young people from Belgium was excited by what they saw, and some of them even joined IHQ staff in the café for refreshments, gaining a new and clearer understanding of The Salvation Army and its international mission.
Initial figures show that the live stream was watched in 25 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Argentina and the USA. Officers and employees at territorial headquarters in Zimbabwe and Germany gathered to watch as a corporate act of worship and unity. Thousands of people have also watched the Facebook Live sessions that showed what was happening during the set-up on Wednesday and then before and after the launch event itself.
The Whole World Mobilising is for every person linked with The Salvation Army. For more information go to mobilising.salvationarmy.org. The site also has resources, prayer materials, a Mobilising blog and daily Bible readings. A mobile phone app will be launched later in the year.
Watch the launch event: