Teaching and learning about God extends beyond the walls of the Salvation Army corps. It takes place in homes, families, friendships, around campfires and dinner tables—even on the golf course. The British Columbia Division’s men’s network was created to inspire spiritual leadership in the home and church, and to encourage the embodiment of Christ in everyday life.

Dr. Tom Iwama, a Salvationist and the first president of Promise Keepers Canada, felt called by God to mobilize the men in his congregation at The Willows in Langley, B.C., and in his community. In May 2019, Major Les Marshall, then area commander, British Columbia Division, Major David Macpherson, area commander, British Columbia Division, and Lieutenant David McFadden, corps officer at The Willows, met with Iwama at his home where he shared his vision. They joined together in prayer and the planning of a greater men’s network in British Columbia that would call and equip every man to be a transforming influence in their family, church and community.

The men’s network operates on four pillars: to encourage, embrace, equip and engage men as champions of God’s work.

“The idea is not to leave all the men’s ministry to the officers, but rather have it driven by lay leadership within each corps, connected to the whole division through men’s camps, newsletters and gathering events,” explains Major Macpherson.

The men’s network strives to embrace the men in each corps and community by engaging them in fellowship that inspires friendship, connection and discipleship. Local events like monthly men’s breakfasts, sporting events, area and divisional gatherings, and men’s camps connect men to one another in non-threatening environments that invite everyone equally, whether they are a Salvationist, friend, family member, colleague or client.

Prior to COVID-19, the men’s network hosted gatherings across British Columbia, as well as men’s camps at Camp Sunrise in Gibsons, B.C., and Camp Mountainview in Houston, B.C. When the pandemic began, in-person gatherings halted and, instead, a quarterly Men’s Network Newsletter was launched in the fall of 2020.

“The purpose of the newsletter is to continue to promote the network’s mission and be a means of connection for men to engage with their faith and each other,” explains Cristina Lee, editor of the Men’s Network Newsletter. Men from across the province contribute to the newsletter with their own stories, articles and personal testimonies. Major Macpherson, current chair of the men’s network committee, which consists of both officers and lay leaders from the British Columbia Division, looks forward to resuming network events this year and men’s camp in September.

God of Creation

by Mannix Leung

I first attended men’s camp at Camp Sunrise in 2010. I was a new client at The Salvation Army’s Harbour Light rehabilitation program in Vancouver. During morning reflections in the chapel, my mind was still in a fog when I heard the pastor announce that Camp Sunrise was coming up and that we should speak with our counsellor about registering. Since I was only in my first week in the program, I felt I was unable to go. With approval from my temporary counsellor, I was able to attend for the weekend. As I reflect on that day, I believe it was meant to be.

Arriving at camp, it was a peaceful moment, meeting people from various Salvation Army corps throughout British Columbia. Through sharing our stories, I realized we were all on our own journey.

The three-day weekend was filled with highlights and activities, spiritual sessions and worship. I felt the Holy Spirit enter my heart. When night came, sitting at the fire, all I could hear were waves coming on to shore and the crackling of the fire. It was a different sound from city life. I remember thinking, “This is the God of creation.”

There were lots of friendships made and fellow Harbour Light clients encouraged me to stay at Harbour Light for treatment. After the weekend camp, I decided to continue my treatment plan.

Since my first time at Camp Sunrise 10 years ago, I have gone every year as a client and now as staff. Each year, my experience at Camp Sunrise has been more in-depth with God. I feel I can now mentor new clients in their journey toward a new life.

Adapted from the Men’s Network Newsletter, Summer 2021

Knowing God

by Captain Kevin Elsasser

One of my passions is to see men grow in their faith.

I presently live in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. I have been married for 23 years and have two teenage children. I love to study God’s Word and to pass it on to others.

I remember what it was like when I first found Jesus, or perhaps I should say when Jesus found me. John Wesley, a leader of a revival movement within the Church of England, said, “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” Like Wesley, I experienced a warming of my heart and an assurance of my salvation.

Knowing Jesus led me to study the entire Bible. I needed to understand what the Bible teaches about redemption, faith, sin, repentance, salvation and the gospel. The gospel means “good news.” It tells the story of redemption and how God takes a person like me, who was an enemy of God, and adds me to his kingdom. The Apostle Paul said, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

The most important decision that anyone can make is to know Jesus and to grow in their faith. I am challenging each person who reads this article to ask themselves how knowledgeable they are about the Bible. Perhaps this is the year to recommit to reading or listening to the Bible. I promise that if you read the Bible and put it into practice, God will begin to transform your life.

Adapted from the Men’s Network Newsletter, Winter 2022.

Be the Church

by Captain Josh Downer

Cpt Josh Downer, DYS, and Cpt Joyce Downer, DYS and divisional secretary for candidates, B.C. Div
Cpt Josh Downer, DYS, and Cpt Joyce Downer, DYS and divisional secretary for candidates, B.C. Div

I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ont., and God called me to ministry while at National Music Camp as a teen. Now, years later, I am entering my 10th year as an officer.

When I look back on my life, I realize that what has encouraged, challenged and strengthened my faith has been my mentors and Christ-centred friendships in the corps and the broader community.

In this time of change and struggle for many, I feel the need to encourage everyone, specifically men, to remember the important role you have in the lives of people you interact with in your family, church setting and community. As a teenager, I had mentors, officers and youth leaders in my life that I could trust, call and chat with. That is what made me who I am today. Can you take a minute and think about a time you were supported by someone else and it made a lasting impact on your life?

And so, as we begin to meet in person again, I encourage you not only to pray more, but to get involved even more intentionally in your corps. When I look at the youth and young adults, I see a desire for deeper relationships with others their age and with people who have experience and wisdom. Don’t think for a second that God cannot use your life story to support others.

I leave you with a few questions to ask yourself in the coming days and to respond as the Lord leads: Are you praying enough? Are you connecting with God in your own life, in your family, in your leadership? Are you mentoring anyone right now?

I am grateful for my mentors and could not imagine how my life would be without their kind and sometimes challenging words for me. I hope that we, as the church, “be the church” in the coming months to connect with each other and build relationships that show Jesus and build one another up.

Adapted from the Men’s Network Newsletter, Fall 2021.

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