Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Prayer for COURAGE; Eric Ball

Sven is busy reviewing dozens of video cassettes detailing various aspects of his career and transferring many to a more manageable DVD format in preparation for his move to the UK. Included among the tapes are many of a very private nature including a 2 hour video interview with former Salvation Army Officer and world famous composer Eric Ball OBE. As I sat and listened to this man, of whom previously I knew very little, there were two stories he told that I thought would be appropriate to share through this blog. It was clear that Sven knew Eric well, and that Eric felt comfortable sharing some very private information, including why he left and returned to The SA, and that he had regular ‘contact’ with those who have gone before us

The first is an experience Eric Ball shared from the period when he was the Bandmaster of the famous contest band, the Brighouse and Rastrick Band. It was Good Friday and the band had two rehearsals that day. During the break, Eric found himself looking out of the window from the rehearsal room along with the Band Secretary. As they looked a group of local churches processed past their window. The cross was prominent at the front of the march, followed by ministers in their cassocks, choir boys in their long flowing robes and a large crowd of people. The Band Secretary turned to Eric and said: ‘I think there should be more of this, don’t you?’ ‘Yes’ replied Eric, ‘and what is more, I think I should be with them and not here.’‘Don’t say that’ came the response from the Band Secretary, ‘you will never know the influence you have had on these men here.’

In the interview, Eric Ball went on to say: ‘We never know how or where the Holy Spirit chooses to use us, moves through us to influence others.’

How true! And thank God He does use us even when we are least aware!!!

The second story that made me think happened on New Year’s Eve just prior to the commencement of World War Two. At the time, Eric and some of his contemporary colleague Officers were trying to discern if they should be pacifists. That Thursday evening, as was Eric’s habit on a Thursday night, he switched on his radio and listened to the message from one of the local ministers. The speaker questioned: ‘What can I share with you on the even of this New Year? I can’t wish you prosperity … I can’t wish you happiness … I can’t wish you health … but, I can wish you courage.’ On hearing these words Eric went to his desk and began writing his famous ‘Prayer for Courage’

A Prayer For Courage

I pray not for happiness.
How can I laugh in a world racked with madness,
In the midst of sadness that dulls children’s eyes and all goodness defies?
I must share with my Master His anguish and pain;
And seek out the lost, though fearful the cost;
He has opened mine eyes, and my ears remember yet their cries.

I pray not for worldly gain.
How can I live by the toiling of others,
By the pain of mothers, the wastage of health for the mirage of wealth?
I must share with my Master His lowly estate,
His lambs I must feed, though sharing their need;
He has opened mine eyes, and my ears remember yet their cries.

I pray, Lord, for courage:
Courage to fight ‘gainst the evils that now surround me,
And temptations that would confound me.
I’ll bring down mine eyes from the blue of the skies,
Look clear into Hell with its sin and its lies!
And fearlessly challenge so dreadful a foe.
No joy that is loss shall turn my glad heart from the Way of the Cross;
Naught shall turn my glad heart from the Way of the Cross.

Eric Ball

Today, we are not facing the commencement of World War Two … but all of us are facing something … something different for each one of us. The truth is, I could wish you prosperity … I could wish you happiness … I could wish you health … but courage, God given courage seems to be of much, much more worth whether we have all the other things or not. In these coming days may you have God’s courage deep in your heart and life, whatever the future holds.

Glad Thompson
Active officer
Exeter Temple Corps UKT

Friday, July 25, 2008

Be Present at ‘our’ table Lord!

I recall the daily ritual of singing grace whilst training at the William Booth Memorial College in London. Often, the most obscure tune was selected by the duty sergeant of the day as Cadets struggled to fit the words, ‘Be present at our table Lord’ to such melodies as, ‘Fernando's Hideaway’ or the Scottish tune, ‘A Hundred Pipers’.

What followed, would be a debate as to the original ending of the verse. Was it ‘may live to fight and die for thee’ or ‘feast in paradise with thee,”? It was not until years later that the significance of this verse registered a new meaning for me.
With the break-up of my marriage in the early eighties, the loss of ‘job’ and home forced a complete rethink; how do I fulfil my calling now?

By chance I secured a residential post at the Royal School for the Deaf in Exeter, UK and this became the path of my calling for 7 years combining the role of a House Parent with IT Tutor. My ‘table’ was further enlarged as I moved to St Loye’s College for training people with disabilities, as the Welfare and Admissions officer with chaplaincy responsibilities.
During this time, I continued to soldier at Exeter Temple Corps, and became Bandmaster, even taking the band on a 10-day campaign to Poland, one year before the fall of the iron curtain. Again my table expanded to include a growing number of Christian brothers and sisters of many different traditions and cultures.

Dissatisfaction with the small mindedness and pettiness of internal Army politics that seemed to define an exclusive table, only covered with of yellow, red and blue table-clothes, led me to rethink the context of my calling. Now remarried, we began to explore where we should worship. Where do we go from here, Lord? Looking out from my bedroom window one evening, a faulty flickering light caught my eye. It was the illuminated cross on the local Methodist church. Surely you don’t mean……
The following Sunday we were warmly welcomed into the church and very quickly I found myself involved with the junior church, youth choir and local preaching. It was at one of the Local Preacher’s quarterly meetings that a young circuit minister asked, “Paul, why isn’t your training recognized by the Methodist Church?” In an instant it was as if a lost piece of the jigsaw fell onto my table.

It was 11 years since my SA ministry had concluded, and so I had to candidate all over again. Three years training with the Southwest Ministry Training Course followed, as well as studying for an honours degree in theology at Exeter University.

Methodist Ministers in the UK are ordained at the annual conference, and to my delight and surprise my ordination was to be in Nottingham at the church tracing links back to William Booth. Picture the scene as I entered the church that night with the portraits of Booth and Wesley looking down on me. It was almost like “coming home” and I knew what William must have felt when he said, ‘Kate, I have found my destiny!’

Today I follow a ministry in the Tentmaker tradition. This dual ministry is that of Principal at Oakwood Court College for young people with complex learning disabilities and Minister of three Methodist churches in the Exeter circuit. My table is certainly much larger today than it has ever been.

But what about words that we used to sing at the start of each College meal?

During my studies at Exeter University I discovered that they were written by John Cennick, born into a Quaker family at Reading in 1718. He later became Wesley's first lay preacher and in 1740 became a teacher at Kingswood, Bristol. He also became the first leader of the Methodist Society in Exeter (1741) where he continued to preach in spite of persecution and riots, a fate suffered by Exeter's, and indeed other early day Salvationist.

It was at this time that he wrote the Hymn that we now use as a grace.

The original version from 'Sacred Hymns, for the Children of God in the Days of their Pilgrimage 1741' is: -

Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored.
These mercies bless and grant that we
May live in fellowship with Thee.

This was both a prayer and a polemic statement as gradually Wesley's followers, although of Anglican descent, were excluded from 'table fellowship'; Holy Communion at the Parish churches.

It is worth noting that much of Jesus’ recorded teaching was around a table of fellowship in the homes of followers and sinners alike. The importance of such fellowship has, of course, been recognised through today’s Alpha course.
It was Gustavo Gutierrez, the father of Liberation Theology, who said in his book ‘The Power of the Disciple’. “To be a disciple of Jesus is to make His Messianic practice our own. Our discipleship is our appropriation of His message of life, His love for the poor, His denunciation of injustice, His sharing of bread, His hope for resurrection. The Christian community, the ecclesia, is made up of those who take up that messianic practice of Jesus and use it to create social relationships of a community of brothers and sisters, and thereby accept the gift of being children of the Father.”

O yes! Be present at ‘our’ table Lord. AMEN

Rev’d Paul Collings BTh
Former
Exeter UK

Thursday, July 24, 2008

'General' Vladimir Michaelovich is awarded the OF

GENERAL EVA BURROWS honors the General from Yalta with the ORDER OF THE FOUNDER during the 1st Commissioning of Cadets in more than 70 years; Moscow, Russia. Captains Kathie and Sven Ljungholm join in honoring Vladimir.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

PEACE, PERFECT PEACE....


I read during my daily devotions today some words by the martyred missionary Jim Elliot- eloquent words which expressed his own discovery of peace:-

I walked out on the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself to God – what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him…. If only I may see Him, touch His garments and smile into His eyes.

May the deep peace of our God cool and quiet our overheated souls.
In the midst of the offensive noise of our modern world– the people, the cars, the sounds, the heat, the pressures – there stand those reminders of His deep peace. The running wave, the flowing air, the quiet earth, the shining stars, the gentle night, the healing light… and from each, the blessing of the deep peace of Christ to you, to me.

Do you have such a peace, or it is nothing more than a dream? If you do not profess such peace, I suggest a simple change of scenery? Visit the seashore and hear the running wave. Take a drive out into the country, roll the windows down and feel the air flowing through your hair. Walk out into the night and look up at the stars. Be still and discover anew that He is God. The longing of one’s heart for deep peace is somehow recaptured in such settings.

Maybe hurts and pains of the past are robbing you of that inner peace. Maybe now is the time to let go – and let God fill you with that inner peace which only He can give. He maketh all things new.....Peace perfect peace.

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!
I AM THE LORD THAT HEALETH THEE!
IN THEE O LORD, DO I PUT MY TRUST!


Tracey Oliver
Former
Hull, UKT

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Pilgrimage will soon end and my Soul will be at rest


14 November, 2006

Dear Friends,

How frequently I shall be able to write to you I know not, but will contact you by phone as it is convenient to do so.

Many of you I have known for many years, others amongst you, more recently. Training centre days for some and college days for many others. Many of you that serve in the work-a-day world. With each and everyone, we have laughed – thought seriously – and discussed many things.

For each of you it has been in various settings but I think of you all with gladness as having known you and as I write to you all, my mind is filled with much joy. Whether it be of service to the handicapped; lecturing on aspects of training; or in general conversation from time to time; I trust my life and character has had some influence on each of you, especially when speaking of the things that reach far beyond the mundane affairs of life and have given to you a new dimension in your thinking.

My life has been a hectic one – full of thrills and spills. I write therefore with the prime purpose to remind you and exhort you, to live, as I myself do, ever seeking the blessing of God, in all you do or say and with all those who you meet and share friendship.

I have not attended a place of worship for over a year, for many reasons. I question much, the practice and beliefs of the various religions – some of which are very confusing. My personal desire is to love God with ALL my heart, mind and soul and love my neighbour as myself.

I have put my heart into all that I have ever done, hence my deep satisfaction in my advancing years.

How does one explain about the affairs of the heart???

I will try!!!

A new born baby arrives into your home. A miracle indeed. You are the parents or the grandparents. ‘This is the most beautiful child in the world.’ Of course it is so very special.

You are ‘over the moon’ – can’t get to hold it quick enough! It is your own flesh and blood. Your heart goes out to the Mother. Your heart is filled to overflowing and maybe you shed a tear for the joy and happiness this birth has caused for all of you.

Do I make sense of how the heart responds to love and wonder at the miracle of a new born babe???

He says,
‘If you seek Me with all your heart – you will surely find Me’

One of my friends was distressed by not having offered prayer to God for several days, due to the pressures of domestic life. I tried to be reassuring by saying that we have an understanding God, who is aware of our situations. He doesn’t want obligations, piety and other forms of ritual – but to offer our hearts – which He can read and know if they are sincere. The heart will always reveal the truth.

I pray for all of you daily, that you may from time to time, glimpse things pertaining to the eternal.

We live in a very turbulent world. A Strange and Dangerous place. There is great falling away from goodness and purity.

But to those who endure and retain a simple faith …

Will …
In the world to come …
Win the approval of God Himself.

As life moves on, I rest my Soul in those simple beliefs and experiences through which I have passed. It has been a rich and wonderful ‘Pilgrimage’ and I close with words from a poet (hoping that I haven’t wearied or offended you).

‘Let nothing draw me back,
Or turn my heart from Thee.
But by the Calvary track,
Bring me at last to see,
The Courts of God – that city fair,
And find my name is written there.’

May God richly bless you and your families.
I remain your faithful and trusted friend.

Name on file
former Officer UK (octogenarian and almost deaf)

Friday, July 4, 2008

WHEN CADET ZELIGMAN WAS ARRESTED Diary of Adjutant Otto Ljungholm


Acts 5:40. His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

During our initial period of service in Russia we enjoyed enormous freedom to conduct our religious services in city squares, on street corners and in fact, wherever we wanted. And, we took advantage of each opportunity. In each instance we met bewilderment as well as empathy and interest. Every meeting was conducted without specific expectations and with some trepidation.

One day when I was on the streets of Petrograd (Leningrad) with Cadets to conduct open-air meetings, as we set up our circle we were suddenly surrounded by a large number of armed soldiers. They ordered us to halt our activities immediately. That command was followed by yet another; “One of you must return with us to the Commissar!” Brother (Cadet) Zeligman immediately stepped forward – “a brave and wonderful man…”

A passing horse-drawn carriage was commandeered and the soldiers with Zeligman securely tied up set off bound for??? We feared for the worst1

One thought immediately entered my mind; How will Mrs. Cadet Zeligman take the news when I break it to her. I was preparing in my mind what I might say as I approached the gates to the compound when I heard the Cadets’ voices cry loudly “Zeligman’s been arrested! Zeligman’s been taken captive…” And then the little wife comes out and approaches me… how will she take the crushing news? I sense she is about to faint in a heap, or at the least to cry out, “what will happen to me and my little ones? Maybe I’m aleady a widow, and the children without a father”?!

No one could have predicted what happened next…

Mrs. Zeligman shouted, with her arms raised toward the heavens, “SLAVA BOGA, SLAVA BOGA! PRAISE BE TO GOD – PRAISE BE TO GOD – THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME WORTHY TO SUFFER FOR JESUS’ SAKE!!

Here is one example of the willingness to serve and the courage displayed, indeed the willingness to suffer- so readily offered and witnessed in serving these poor Russians.
(Part One)

Petrograd, Russia 1923
Personal Diary
Otto Ljungholm

(translated from Swedish by Sven Ljungholm)