Recently, our territorial commander, Commissioner Floyd Tidd, asked the soldiers, officers and employees of the Canada and Bermuda Territory, “What one word describes your aspiration (hope) for our territory in the next five years?” There were many good responses: vision, resources, youth, faith, candidates, relevance, etc. As I pondered my own response, I settled on this word: confidence. That is my personal aspiration (hope) for the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

Confidence is necessary for just about every endeavour in life. Rarely will individuals or teams experience victory on the athletic field without confidence. Confidence is also crucial to the musician, public speaker or prospective employee during a job interview.

Confidence is typically driven by natural ability, giftedness and tireless preparation, all of which are potentially positive attributes and assets. However, the confidence I aspire to for The Salvation Army will not emanate from ability or capacity—although our territory is loaded with talented and gifted people—but rather through faith that embraces the truth declared by Jesus: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). This verse is a good reminder that when we are in step with God’s will, there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome.

As I travel the territory, I occasionally come across officers and soldiers who seem to be in a near state of mourning over the loss of what “used to be” in many of our corps. I understand that feeling. We have all seen the rise and fall of healthy congregations. For those worshipping and serving in communities where the Army’s footprint is smaller than in the past, that reality can be discouraging or, worse yet, naturally lead to pessimism and inertia. However, we must not think for a moment that the decline among our ranks is inevitable. There are plenty of reasons for optimism going forward. Many of our corps are growing, most often when confidence is at work and faith exists that “with God all things are possible.”

Some months ago, I visited a congregation in the British Columbia Division. The Salvation Army had been inactive in the community for four years. Indeed, it was deader than a doornail, but the newly appointed officers began initiatives to connect with the changing demographics of the community—young people, families, new immigrants—and meet practical needs. Within a year, the congregation had grown to 100 people. The Sunday night meeting I attended could best be described as chaotic. There were kids everywhere, chatter throughout the meeting, people coming and going out of the sanctuary. It was not perfectly aligned with my preferences for worship, but the good news is that even in a messy gathering of believers, worship took place. There was prayer, singing, special music, an offering, testimony, a sermon and seekers at the altar. The Lord was present.

After the service, we headed downstairs for a lovely meal, where I met attendees who now live in Canada, but were recently transplanted from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. It was a congregation that reflected the community in which the Army was located. While there may have been a sense in the past that the Army would not rise again in that location, it has. People are finding the Lord, growing in their faith and finding opportunities for worship and service in our movement.

In days of transition, Salvationists must rediscover confidence in the Lord’s power and plan, lived out by the founding officers and soldiers of the territory, as well as biblical figures such as Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Paul, Peter and countless others. From the beginning of Scripture to the present age, people have boldly faced and overcome what must have seemed impossible odds. Indeed, we might even say that countless saints of the past were blessed with a “holy swagger,” something we need to recover in the 21st century. If God is for us, who can be against us? That is reason for a righteous confidence in God, most of all, but also in ourselves and others.

My aspiration for the territory? I’ll pray for confidence that comes from the belief that “with God all things are possible.” What is stifling your spiritual growth? What is holding back your corps from making an impact in your community? It could be a lot of things, I suppose, but nothing that can’t be overcome by a fresh dose of confidence in God’s infinite power.

Colonel Edward Hill is the chief secretary in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

Photo: PeopleImages/E+ via Getty Images


On Friday, March 13, 2020, Concerned said:

Well, full measure to the Colonel for optimism. But I am afraid what he may have witnessed could sadly be described best as a "flash in the pan". If in 10 years this experience becomes a vibrant Salvation Army corps, full of uniformed, involved committed Christians and Salvationists I will be the first to acknowledge I was wrong. But experience tells us that many of the these "congregations", so tied to ethnic togetherness or the result of the work of a particular set of officers wither and die away very quickly. Remember Edmonton's and Calgary's "Spanish corps"? Long gone now.


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