Thursday, August 28, 2008

NEVER GIVE UP; Come Before Winter ! (part two)

To my mind one of the saddest portions of the New Testament is the 4th chapter of 2 Timothy. In re-reading it this last week Paul’s very last words ever written leaves us asking, did Timothy make an effort to “come before winter” and see his mentor? Did he risk traveling on the autumn seas to one last time see Paul before he was led outside the gates of Rome and beheaded as the sun rose over the Roman hillside? We don’t know the answer, however, it’s a challenge we’ve all faced, and it's repeated again each year. In our case it’s the personal investments we are asked to make as we sow seeds each autumn in accordance with what the Lord requests of us. For us it’s the resource of time and talent to be planted for eventual harvesting some months later; the type of investment made by others that brought and kept you and me in the fold. Perhaps young Timothy said to himself, ‘Paul should know that I have my hands full… how can he assume I can drop it all and run errands for him?! I’m already busy tending to the many requests and expectations he’s placed on me!” Do you remember the unfulfilled promises made last autumn or the year before? I'm certain we all can...

Aren’t we all very much the same? How can my corps officer, Pastor or church leader possibly expect more from me? I’m carrying a full load and doing more than most!

Some things must be done “before winter” or they will not and cannot be done at all. There are doors of witness and ministry that open before us, individually and as a Christian body, and if we do not act on them, will be forever shut by springtime. Sometimes we must respond and act now. As this new worship season of service begins, in what area of your life is God calling you and me to act…to come before winter?

The story is told of the famous conductor George Solti rehearsing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the 1812 Overture. He was asking repeatedly, as they rehearsed the Finale, to ‘play it as loud as you can!’ But it wasn’t enough and he asked again, ‘play it as loud as you can – please, play it as loud as you can!’ When they finally reached the top of an incredibly loud crescendo he said, ‘now play it louder still!!’

Never give up!



Yes, I know- I’ve been there often in life and have said in my mind, please don’t add any more to my plate, only to reevaluate both the need and the resources and in the process recalling that great truth that we have His eternal presence.

Thomas Merton said: “A true encounter with Christ liberates something in us. A power we did not know we had, a hope, a capacity for life; a resilience, an ability to bounce back when we thought we were completely defeated, a capacity to grow and change, a power of creative transformation.”

Do you recall that holy moment when you were sworn in as a SA soldier? Chances are that the scripture read was the end of Paul’s masterful and edifying letter to the Ephesians where he concludes with this most important exhortation: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power." It is this instruction that precedes his famous words about the whole armour of God.

The SA used to be immersed in the language of warfare. We can garner much by studying and learning from our roots; to fit ourselves for battle! Paul told the Ephesians that, as believers in Christ, they were engaged in a cosmic battle. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. The battle can’t be put on hold…

For the clock of life is wound but once.

And no one has the power,

To tell just when the hand will stop,

At late or early hour.

Now is the time we have.

Live, love, toil, work with a will,

Do not wait for tomorrow,

For the clock may then be still.

Pray, asking for His eternal presence to guide you as you deliberate where you will give more time and support this season…

Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Never give up, and for the sake of our gospel, come before winter!
Sven Ljungholm
Former USA/Sweden/Russia/Ukraine
Active soldier, Exeter, UK

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NEVER GIVE UP ! (part one)


A few weeks ago I transferred a videotaped interview I conducted with Eric Ball to a DVD format and many of his treasured composition were mentioned; his double quartette, Never Give Up and his wife Olive's favourite, Eternal Presence (in preparation for my move to the UK I am practicing British spelling)

It's now a full four months since I suffered a massive stroke. I'm sharing this update simply because some of you have asked me to do so, and on the theme Never Give Up as we have His Eternal Presence.

I'm still limited physically but am heartened by what I have learned about stroke sufferers generally, and some uniquely. In both the UK and the USA where I have now spent an equal amount of time in rehab programs I have learned that a large percentage of stroke sufferers "give up" on all past or future hopes and plans, and in short time become 'victims' settling for being cared for rather than attempting to rebuild strength and resolve. Doctors and physical therapists alike suggest it's a matter of age (how old one feels) and unfulfilled/unresolved ambitions (mission). Can a committed Christian assume their mission is ever completed this side of heaven? Not in my view ! Consequently, my commitment to see this blog ministry go forward one more year and more, with your support, and seeking ministry opportunities in my continued online teaching, and in whatever role my corps’ officer deems my service helpful at Exeter Temple Corps.

WITH MY CO










There is an old SA song often used in Sweden when a soldier is Promoted to Glory, and it speaks of a Salvationist never laying down one’s colours until reaching the Golden Strand... An active officer who sent me this e-mail last week reminded me of such commitment;

Subject: Nurse from Swedish Covenant Hospital- Chicago

"I had a medical test today, and the nurse asked where I worked. When I mentioned the SA, she said she remembered a man from SA who everyone knew. She couldn't remember his last name, but she did remember his first name - Sven. When I added Ljungholm, she said, "That's right." Your dad made quite an impression on her (and others) which she has remembered these many years. She wasn't sure, but thought it was 20 or 25 years ago.

I thought you'd be interested in hearing this story from the past about your dad.

Major (name withheld) THQ, USA Central Territory



My father's confinement was in fact at the final stage of his life, 26 years ago this month. He spent several weeks in the hospital witnessing daily to his faith right up to the day he laid down the colours... I was in Sydney, Australia with the New York Staff Band when the call came from Chicago stating, "your father's gone home.... to the Father."

The following morning we boarded a New Zealand bound flight. The band disembarked in Auckland and I remained onboard to Los Angeles and there connected to Chicago to join my mother and family for the funeral, conducted by Commissioner Andrew Miller who spoke on the theme 'in him there was no guile'. I flew westward two days later to join the NYSB in Hawaii and it was on that flight that God said, "your father was a faithful servant (his Training College session: FAITHFUL) and I am calling you to take up his colours and become a SA officer. I was 39 years old, Executive VP of a successful and expanding airline, large home in the suburbs, my own private plane, 4 children in lovely suburban schools and with their own horses in the local equestrian centre. A few months later, with our Mercedes, Volvo, house and horses sold we moved into the quarters of the NY Central Citadel Corps, on the corps' building in bustling, noisy mid-town Manhattan.

A couple of years later my wife and I were invited to 'special' in the UK, and our home in London was the Foreign Missions Club in Islington. It's a warm-hearted home for Christians from around the world and where at mealtimes stories are shared of commitment to Christ. It's a place of refreshment where many who have served in far distant missions regain strength from long and tiring international flights prior to the final leg home in the UK...

The Club has a novel system to insure 'international sharing of experiences and blessings". Breakfast is a fellowship meal. One's room number is painted in small letter on the table napkin rings and placed in advance on a different table each morning. It's a forced 'ice breaker', and one I wasn't too crazy about! On our 2nd morning I was seated next to an elderly lady with a very distinct Scottish accent. I picked up on the fact that she'd served as a C of E missionary for several decades in remote areas of India, and that she was in her late 80s. I decided to be sociable and added my two cents; "it must be wonderful for you to now be close to home and retirement? Where do you live and when will you traveling there?"

Her response surprised each person at the table... "I live in Ayr and just spent three weeks holiday there. But my home is in India and I leave later today for Calcutta to resume what God has appointed me to do there, at home...."

Never give up indeed !

Sven Ljungholm
Former USA
Exeter UK

Saturday, August 23, 2008

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston and walked timidly without an appointment into the Harvard University President's outer office.

The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn't even deserve to be in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of the famous university.

'We'd like to see the president,' the man said softly. 'He'll be busy all day,' the secretary snapped. 'We'll wait,' the lady replied.

For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn't, and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always regretted.

'Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they'll leave,' she said to him.

He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn't have the time to spend with them, and he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office.

The president, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple. The lady told him, 'We had a son who attended Harvard for one year.

He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus.'

The president wasn't touched. He was shocked. 'Madam,' he said, gruffly, 'we can't put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.'

'Oh, no,' the lady explained quickly. 'We don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard.'

The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, 'A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical buildings here at Harvard.'

For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he could get rid of them now.

The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, 'Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don't we just start our own?'
STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA

Her husband nodded. The president's face wilted in confusion and bewilderment. Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California, where they established the university that bears their name, Stanford University, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.

You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them.

A TRUE STORY By Malcolm Forbes

People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did.
But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Practical Christianity...

Johann Bussing was Chief Secretary of the Germany Territory at the outbreak of war. The Territorial Commander, Franz Stankuweit, had been in poor health for some years. The SA had been experiencing severe hindrances to its work throughout the 1930’s – For instance, when YP work was seriously hindered as all children and YP were expected to join the Hitler Youth Movement, and take part in all meetings and activities, which included Sundays. The TC was becoming increasingly worn down by the persistent vexatious complaints made about the SA by the Nazi Regime, and by having frequently to present himself to the Gestapo to answer these charges. Eventually he suffered a fatal heart attack while leading Meetings at his home town of Tilsin, in Estonia.

As an aside, this is one of the many places which was part of the large Germany Territory, and which was lost to the SA for many years after WW2. How wonderful to see that the SA has now revived in that area, and is at work in Estonia again, with HQ in Tallinn.

Johann Bussing was the natural successor to the TC, yet how easily he could have pleaded advancing age as a reason not to take over Leadership in such difficult times. He was born in Essen, one of the places where the German Cadets now train, in 1878. He was a tailor, who after serving his apprenticeship obtained employment, and comfortable accommodation with his employer, in Switzerland. Here he met the SA. He had been brought up as a Catholic, but had not been a practising Catholic for many years, so his curiosity led him to visit the SA Meetings. They were a strange novelty back then, but he was impressed by their enthusiasm, sincere devotion to God, and practical Christianity, helping the disadvantaged of the town. He found a personal experience of Christ, and joined the SA. He left his comfortable situation with its good pay and prospects, and became an Officer, because the thought which had been in his mind was confirmed by the Corps Officer placing his hand on his shoulder and telling him that he should become a Salvation Army Officer.

In Switzerland, Johann met the fellow-Officer whom he would marry, and they had 2 sons. They served together in Switzerland until Johann, as a German citizen, was called up for his “National Service” in the Kaiser’s Army. After this, he returned to Switzerland, where they served God together until the outbreak of WW1. Then Johann, as a German Citizen, was obliged to serve in the German Army. He earned the Iron Cross & other awards, for such things as bravery under fire, including rescuing wounded comrades and helping to bury comrades who had been killed. He himself was wounded during WW1. All this was to stand him in good stead when he, like the previous TC, had to appear frequently before the Gestapo to answer up for the SA’s perceived misdemeanours.

On one occasion, his Service record and decorations saved him when he had been arrested by the Gestapo. He was on his way to visit an SA Home, but on arrival at the Railway Station was arrested as a spy because he had befriended some forced labourers whom he met on a train, speaking to them in their native French. Hearing about his War Record helped to convince the Gestapo that he was a brave and reliable man, and persuaded them to allow him to leave unhindered. In fact, they insisted on giving him an escort, although he didn’t want it, as Berlin was so bombed that the lack of landmarks made it very difficult to find your way around. The Officer whom he was visiting had witnessed the whole thing, and was relieved to meet him the next day. She said she wasn’t surprised though, because she had spent the whole night in prayer for him and his situation. He was not concerned about this for his own sake, but for the sake of the SA. It is largely thanks to him that the Army survived at all in Germany during WW2, yet how easy it would have been after such an event to give up, and return to your adopted homeland – Switzerland, a neutral country - and serve the Lord there in a quiet retirement.

After WW1, Johann Bussing returned to his family in Switzerland. He was highly regarded there, for his integrity and his work for the citizens through the SA – his Christianity was practical, and he had a real gift for talking and working with people. He was a real man of God, & of prayer. Influential citizens helped him to obtain Swiss Citizenship, hence the reference above to the fact that he could so easily have left the German SA to try to find another Leader in those difficult times, and live a more comfortable life while still serving God.

He said that during those “interviews” with the Gestapo, he trusted in the words of Jesus that when answering to earthly authorities he needn’t plan what to say, because God Himself would give him the words. He said that he never found God wanting. The Authorities wanted to completely dissolve the SA in Germany. Those difficult times were getting even worse by the time he became TC. Children’s’ work was already restricted, and public collections were forbidden. Officers were faced with impossibly large fines just because someone put some money in their hand while they were holding Open Air Meetings. On one occasion, the TC paid the fine himself to prevent the Officers being sent to prison. By 1941, public Open Air Meetings were prohibited, uniform-wearing was allowed only in the Army Hall or Social Home, military ranks were forbidden, & the War Cry was axed. The Army countered the last 2 by calling Soldiers “Members” and Officers “Fellow-workers”, and issuing a Newsletter to keep people in touch with Events in the SA in Germany, and with each other, as far as was possible.

How many good reasons, rather than excuses, he would have had not to take on the task, or to give it up when things became even more difficult. Yet he persevered at great personal cost – mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and in terms of his health & his family life, because he was God’s man for the hour. This leads me to think what I would do in that situation. I wish I could honestly say that I would do the right thing, as he did, but I think the truth is that I would really have taken the easy option – how about you?

If we don’t do what God wants us to do, His plan won’t be thwarted – he’ll find someone else to do it. But they won’t do it in the same way, and the particular work he wanted you or me personally to do, will remain for ever undone.

Margaret Day
Former Officer
UKT

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pioneer in Female Ministry (Part Two)

Major Christine Parkin is stationed at The Salvation Army's Croydon Citadel Corps in England.
April 1, 1990

Petition that women should be free to preach the gospel forever shaped The Salvation Army's openness to female officers.

Her Powerful Treatise
In the early years of Catherine’s marriage she wrote Female Ministry, which incorporated the thinking and convictions so long set out in her letters. Female Ministry was a short, powerful apology for women’s rights to preach the gospel, written in defense of the American preacher Phoebe Palmer, whose preaching had caused a great stir in the area where the Booths lived. The pamphlet identifies three major principles on which her convictions rested.

First, Catherine saw that women are neither naturally nor morally inferior to men. Second, she believed there was no scriptural reason to deny them a public ministry. Third, she maintained that what the Bible urged, the Holy Spirit had ordained and blessed and so must be justified.

The absolute equality of men and women before God formed the cornerstone of Catherine Booth’s thought. Women were denied the right to preach—as they were denied every other public office—from a mistaken notion of what the Bible taught about women. Eve’s place in the whole tragedy of human depravity had created a profound sense of inferiority where the words subjection and submission had both a social and a religious connotation. Catherine allowed that the Fall had put women into subjection, as a consequence of sin, but to leave them there was to reject the good news of the gospel. The grace of Christ restored what sin had taken away, so that men and women now were one in Christ.

It was inconceivable to Catherine that the Christian church, the vehicle of the gospel that sets men free, should deny to women the right to exercise a public ministry. She argued that such a denial cannot be supported from the Bible, which, far from forbidding it, clearly urges men and women alike to go into the world with the Good News. Isolated texts must not be quoted to build a system of inequality and subjection. “If she have the necessary gifts and feels herself called by the Spirit to preach, there is not a single word in the whole Book of God to restrain her, but many, very many, to urge and encourage her.”

But Catherine’s most powerful argument lay in the area of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church. “If the Word of God forbids female ministry,” she concludes, “we would ask how it happens that so many of the most devoted handmaidens of the Lord have felt constrained by the Holy Ghost to exercise it? … the Word and the Spirit cannot contradict each other.” If God had placed in the heart of Spirit-filled women the desire to preach, if their ministry once begun had been blessed by God, how can the Word of God forbid it? It was unreasonable to believe it possible.

This argument makes the divine call, rather than the sanction of church or bishop, the vital element in ministry. The living God chooses whom he will, and in doing so the authority of church and Scripture is enhanced. All Salvation Army officership, male and female, rests on this premise.

First Step to the Pulpit
In 1860, the young woman who had written so powerfully the year before had yet to venture into public speech and take her first step to the pulpit. She had probably known for years that such a moment would come, but the actual event, on Whitsunday [Pentecost] 1860, seems to have taken both her and her husband by surprise. In great agitation, Catherine left her pew in Bethesda Chapel in Gateshead as the service was concluding. She indicated to her minister husband, “I want to say a word.” After a tearful moment of confession and commitment from Catherine, William Booth announced that his wife would be preaching at the evening service and her public ministry had begun.

When she began to preach, Catherine cared for a household of six, and the family grew over the next years. The numerous demands to preach had to be balanced against family duties: “I cannot give time to preparation unless I can afford to put my sewing out,” she wrote. “It never seems to occur to anybody that I cannot do two things at once .…” William Booth was often sick in those early years, and later her own illness took its toll on time and energy. Nevertheless, from the first she took her place alongside her husband; as the infant Salvation Army grew into turbulent adolescence her matriarchal role was affectionately expressed in the term “the Army Mother.”

Catherine Bramwell-Booth, her granddaughter and biographer, rightly points out that, effective as Catherine’s written championship of women’s preaching had been, it would have had far less effect had she proven to be a poor preacher. But Catherine’s hearers were immediately taken by her gentle manner, and in the following hour or more caught by her powerful appeal to mind and conscience. Her son Bramwell wrote of her: “She reminded me again and again of counsel pleading with judge and jury for the life of the prisoner. The fixed attention of the court, the mastery of facts, the absolute self-forgetfulness of the advocate, the ebb and flow of feeling, the hush during the vital passages, all were there.” This judicial tone is corroborated in the comment made by the father of Archbishop Davidson after hearing Catherine speak: “If ever I am charged with a crime, don’t bother to get any of the great lawyers to defend me; get that woman.”

The Practical Statement
Small wonder, then, that the “Hallelujah Lasses” like Rose Clapham looked at the Army Mother with pride and were liberated to fulfill their own ministry in the streets and alleys of Victorian England. Ray Strachey, an early historian of the women’s movement, comments upon the influence of such practical sex equality: “While the regular feminist organizations were attending to the politicians … The Salvation Army was carrying through an object lesson that was much more easy to understand. The Hallelujah Lasses were not consciously preaching feminism … but as they went about their business they taught the other lesson, too, in that quiet and practical way which best carries conviction.”

There is almost an air of positive discrimination toward women in the Orders and Regulations drafted by William Booth:

“Women shall have the right to an equal share with men in the work of publishing salvation.

“A woman may hold any position of power and authority within the Army.

“A woman is not to be kept back from any position of power or influence on account of her sex.

“Women must be treated as equal with men in all intellectual and social relationships of life.”

For setting women free to preach the gospel, Catherine Booth deserves a place in the history of nineteenth-century feminism. She also worked alongside others for women’s rights, notably with the saintly Josephine Butler in her crusade against the exploitation of young girls known as the white slave traffic. But Catherine’s reasons for doing so sprang not so much from her feminist convictions as from her all-embracing view of the power of the Christian gospel. “Real Christianity,” she said in her last sermon, “is known for its fruit … for the happiness, deliverance, and emancipation of the slaves of the earth, for the rescue of the downtrodden women of the world, for the care and consideration it instills for the poor and helpless children, for the idea of justice it brings wherever it goes.”

For Catherine Booth, championing the cause of women arose from her understanding of the liberating effects of the gospel. She looked not so much to natural rights as to the overwhelming right of men and women to become, through faith in Christ, children of God and heirs of all the gifts of redeemed humanity. On that ground she stands tall and continues to speak to all who share a common hope.

Copyright © 1990 by the author or Christianity Today International/Christian History magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Christian History.




Monday, August 18, 2008

Pioneer in Female Ministry (Part One)

Major Christine Parkin is stationed at The Salvation Army's Croydon Citadel Corps in England.
April 1, 1990

Petition that women should be free to preach the gospel forever shaped The Salvation Army's openness to female officers.


In the early months of 1878, a young woman of 18 and her colleague arrived at the train station in Barnsley, Yorkshire, embarked on a crusade. She had been sent by William Booth to open a branch of the Christian Mission in this mining town. Here work was tough—when it was available—and people were inured to the frequent changes of fortune that industrialization brings.

The teenager was Rose Clapham, an uneducated factory worker from South London, whose task was to find her own congregation, persuade them into the largest building in town, the local theater, and to preach until they surrendered to Christ.

She reported what happened in the September 1878 edition of Christian Mission magazine:

“On the Monday I went into the open air with my colleague, Jenny Smith, and when they saw us two little things stand there, hundreds of colliers [coal miners] came round us at once. After we had held our meeting, we walked off to our hall … the colliers came after us, and God touched their hearts.… We have had nearly 700 [decisions for Christ] since we went there … we have got 140 members, and they can all preach better than I can.”

Rose Clapham was one of a veritable army of “Hallelujah Lasses”—working class women, poorly educated and often extremely young, who were caught up in the revivalist fervor of William Booth’s Christian Mission. Their activities (along with those of their male counterparts) between 1878 and 1885 transformed an inner-city mission into a nationwide crusade.

Six of the seven women who, with George Scott Railton, pioneered the Army’s official work in the U.S. in 1880. Only one woman was over age 20; their only training was during the voyage from England. Despite that, in under 3 months the women had founded 10 corps, with 200 services each week.

How, or from whom, did this motley group of teenage heroines arise?

A Rare Phenomenon
Catherine Booth, wife of William and mother of his eight children, was refined and well-educated, in a very different mold from the girl preachers who looked to her for inspiration and support. Eloquent and compelling in speech, articulate and devastatingly logical in writing, she had for over twenty years defended the right of women to preach the gospel on the same terms as men. At first, Catherine and her husband had shared a ministry as traveling evangelists, but now she was in great demand as a preacher in her own right, especially among the well-to-do. A woman preacher was a rare phenomenon in a world where women had few civil rights, no place in the professions, and only rare ventures into the glare of publicity. Catherine Booth was both a woman and a fine preacher, a magnetic combination that attracted large numbers to hear her and made its own statement about the validity of women’s ministry.

A Growing Conviction
Catherine Mumford’s pious, sheltered upbringing in the small market town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, hardly seemed to qualify her for a public role and the rigors that come to an evangelist’s wife. Her mother was a model of Victorian piety, a pillar of the local Methodist church and queen of her home, who taught her only daughter the rudiments of education and the duties of middle-class Victorian womanhood.

But during Catherine’s adolescence a spinal curvature led to years of enforced idleness. In this period Catherine’s mental and spiritual development leapt forward. She began to read voraciously the writings of favorite evangelical authors from both sides of the Atlantic. Charles Finney and James Caughey from the United States, the Wesleys and Adam Clarke from England, helped to bring about first, assurance of her salvation, and then, a growing conviction that in the ideal church women would be free to preach the gospel and share in the Christian ministry alongside men.

The matter burned in her mind for several years. There seems to have been no conscious thought that she herself would preach, but the lack of freedom for women to exercise spiritual gifts infuriated her—as did the casual way in which women and men alike accepted the status quo. Surely a Christian church that preached a liberating gospel to both men and women could not shackle the female sex in its life and practice. Her objections began to spill out onto paper; the writings reveal the strong feelings of this shy, young woman.

In the 1850s, Catherine met William Booth, a young preacher rapidly making a name for himself with the Methodist New Connexion. As their affection grew toward marriage, Catherine shared with him her emerging convictions. With an intellect greater than his, she urged him to consider his position on female ministry. Her husband-to-be was not overly impressed, as evidenced by this letter to her: “I would not stop a woman preaching on any account. I would not encourage one to begin.… I would not stay you if I had the power to do so. Although I should not like it. I am for the world’s salvation; I will quarrel with no means that promises help.”

Copyright © 1990 by the author or Christianity Today International/Christian History magazine.



Sunday, August 17, 2008

Take up thy Cross and follow Me...

Part Three
"The Light of the World" by Holman Hunt

Many things happened during the following months. I started work, began socialising with Christian people, chatting to some Christian brothers and sisters on the internet, and on the whole, my life slowly began to rebuild (stopped being rebellious too!!!). But I still hadn’t made what I would call a ‘ definite step of faith’, I readily accepted that people were praying for me, helped out at the corps in any way possible, and I was even praying on some occasions. But it wasn’t until Maundy Thursday this year that something very tangible happened. I agreed to go to the corps' meditation, because I knew it would be interactive and the Easter Story would be told in a way that I felt would speak to me, because I think at this point I was more than ready for a miracle to occur !!!. So I felt touched by the way the events of Holy Week were told by many different means, and even though I cried at the foot of the cross, that ‘Miracle’ didn’t really happen for me……my faith wasn’t quite restored. I sensed, in fact knew in my heart it would be soon. So off I went home, from the corps, and decided to sit down and answer some emails, and catch up with a few friends on the internet.

My mum had given me a cd of brass band music earlier that day, so I thought I would listen to that whilst using my computer. I skipped a few tracks, because I felt drawn to track 6, a piece of music that I hadn’t heard for years, a Dean Goffin piece called ‘The Light Of The World’. Some of you who read this article might be familiar with this piece of music and Goffin's use of the words; O Jesus Thou art standing outside a fast closed door", inspired by Hunt's painting of Jesus knocking at the door. For me though, the words of the song ‘ O Jesus I Have Promised ‘ came immediately to mind... Well, the miracle happened, the line - ‘ I shall not fear the battle if thou art by my side ‘ stood out in the song that was echoing throughout the whole piece, and I just felt as though God was reassuring me and reminding me that he never failed to keep his promise to me. I had failed to keep my promise to him though, and that had to be remedied quickly!!!….. So in that moment, I promised him again that I would serve Him till the end, my master and my friend, challenged and inspired by the words of the other song in Goffin's selection, "How can I make a lesser sacrifice...".

I felt a peace that I had never ever felt before ( sounds cliché - but that’s how it really felt ). From that moment, a miraculous and amazing change took place, and I cried very different tears, not tears of despair and grief, but tears of relief and deep joy.

Miracles are still happening now, a week later….. I am no longer dependent on antidepressants, and I am having scary conversations with various people about the possibility of future ministry. My future is brighter than ever before, and I have made it through the rain, got absolutely saturated in the process and almost drowned, but I have made it, and my deepest desire and hope is to carry on helping rescue those who feel that they have no hope, because I have been there and I MADE IT THROUGH!!!

I give thanks every day for those who never stopped praying for me, but first and foremost I give thanks to God for seeking and finding a very lost sheep, and turning her very sad and desperate life, to an exciting fulfilling life completely dedicated once again to his service….. Forever !!!

Tina Jones
Former Officer
Mirfield, UK

O Jesus, I have promised

O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my Guide.

Oh, let me feel Thee near me;
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
The tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,
Around me and within;
But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,
And shield my soul from sin.

Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
Oh. speak to reassure me,
To hasten, or control;
Oh, speak, and make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised
To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory
There shall Thy servant be;
And Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Oh, give me grace to follow,
My Master and my Friend.

Oh, let me see Thy footmarks,
And in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
Is in Thy strength alone.
Oh, guide me, call me, draw me,
Uphold me to the end;
And then to rest receive me,
My Savior and my Friend.

I Made It Through !!

Part Two

Music from a very early age has played a big part in my life. Even through very difficult, testing times, music has been my security; my safety net. It helps me express my deepest longings and emotions, and helps me say what I cannot often say with words.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge fan of Barry Manilow…… ( ok, a little pathetic). My favourite of his songs has always been ‘ I made it through the rain’, and I have come back to a particular line of that song, especially when going through recent hard times ( as shared in part 1)
"I made it through the rain, and found myself respected, by the others who, got rained on too, and made it through!!!…… I MADE IT THROUGH!!!.

I think discovering this blog site, quite by accident, has been one of my better mistakes, because I have indeed found others who have been rained on too, and made it through!.

I have to admit though, I never thought that I would make it through; never imagined that I would smile spontaneously again, never thought I would have the courage to rediscover the feisty strong and independent woman that I so clearly am.

So what happened to change my sad into unsad. ( This is when I wish I had a song or piece of music to express my emotions …because telling this is going to be difficult)

I realised when my whole life was turned upside down, I would have to have a support network (especially when my thoughts were suicidal, and I was thinking of my daughter's welfare etc). Unfortunately, that support network didn’t come from the expected places, it came from anonymous letters, from my home corps, came from people who allowed me to scream and shout and hide under tables ( often had an overwhelming want to hide under something !!). My support came from people who I believe were obedient to God, they didn’t pray over me…they didn’t even pray with me, they just prayed for me!!! ( and my beautiful daughter of course). I said in part 1, that I found it amusing that God wanted to use me, even when I had no faith, and this was demonstrated by my corps using my musical gifts even when they knew I struggled to believe in what I was playing or accompanying. Did they know that in time…. I would begin to open up to God again, and music would become the vehicle for that to happen……..I am sure some of them did. But lots of things would happen in my life before that would actually occur. This is when things get a little hazy in my memory, because I struggle with dates and specific events that have eventually brought me to where I am today, some 3 months almost since I wrote part 1.

Maybe the beginning of the change began in November when I opened up my home for a small group gathering of 5 people ( Discussing The Purpose Driven Church). I am very proud of my little house, so I was more than happy for people to use it, just so long as I didn’t have to lead anything or pray etc etc. The weeks went by, and I did find myself contributing to the discussions, but I contributed from a completely different angle - the angle of someone who was on the inside of the church…to someone who was on the outside now…..looking in !!. I think that’s when I realised that if my faith was ever going to return, it was going to be so different to how it was before, because of my experiences and my changed perception of the Church and God Himself. My opinions in that group didn’t feel as though they were putting people off, in fact I think they were doing the opposite because my opinions were raw and honest, something I think is lacking in some Churches.

My confidence began to grow again, and I was feeling used by God ….still felt strange and ironic though, because I didn’t think I had regained or rediscovered my faith at all. I was still being quite rebellious, doing things I knew were very destructive and wrong, but why then did I feel that God hadn’t finished with me, why did I feel in a very strange way that God's calling hadn’t ever been forgotten; that God was going to use my life still to speak to an even wider crowd!!

Part Three will follow in a few days...

Tina Jones
Former Officer
Mirfield, UK

Saturday, August 16, 2008

God ! Why did you forsake me.....

I sometimes stop to laugh, but it really isn’t funny, how God can still continue to call someone who has lost his or her faith. I mean, why does He bother with this angry, bitter person who refuses to believe who or what she really is!!?. I wrestle with that every day…sometimes for hours, and I cry out and hope that someone one day will help me get back to where I once was, happy and fulfilled.

I still read Christian books, still listen to and enjoy playing Christian music, including the piano at home. And even (temporarily) convince myself that I might just believe in what I am reading and singing at the corps. But then the reality of my situation shouts loudly; my bitterness toward God creeps in and I feel like I have taken 20 steps back. People tell me that God never let me down, that certain people and consequently, the organisation (The SA) have let me down….well maybe I know that already, but my whole being just wants to place blame on something… and God’s shoulders are big enough, surely. and it makes me feel better - for a while anyway.

In 2006, my world fell apart!!. My marriage crumbled, I was diagnosed with serious depression, and my whole life seemed pointless. I was suicidal; (despite the fact that I have a beautiful daughter and a wonderful supportive family), I didn’t feel I had any significance anymore…and basically just gave up.

People around me either couldn’t understand, or just couldn’t handle a spiritual leader leaving her husband and daughter and her Church. Frankly, I think some of them couldn’t understand a ‘Christian ‘ actually being depressed! Unfortunately, many didn’t bother to try and understand and just made assumptions, used their imaginations, instead of seeking and asking for the truth. I am sure that many even knew the truth, and were just too frightened to confront it…..(maybe I will never know).

After seeing a psychiatrist in November, 2006, I was diagnosed as having ‘Circumstantial Depression’…. Which, as he informed me, could be helped by medication…but the best cure for it was to change the circumstance, those predominant for making me depressed ( i.e. - my unhealthy, crumbled marriage) That day, the truth was exposed, . I took it hard and fell into an even deeper despair. I knew there was no going back, I knew life would never be the same, and I knew many people would never fully understand.

I began to question everything. Did God ever call me?…. Was my marriage blessed by God? If so, why didn’t He save it?….Why wasn’t I getting the support that I needed from the people who should be supporting me.???

Why?, Why?, Why?!!!

---------------------------------

It’s now 2008, and I still have the same questions running about in my head. ‘Why’, is still my favourite word!

In 2007 I added some more ‘whys’ - Why did I loose custody of my daughter…. Why did I rebel and completely turn my back on God…..and why - as a consequence, did I have to resign from Officership? I often wonder if those questions will ever be answered this side of heaven, and will my daughter begin to ask questions that I won’t be able to answer, what am I going to do then !!??

Then comes the other question about my ‘ Ministry’; will I ever be able to be content in a ‘normal’ job…maybe not! And, will I ever be sure of my faith again?.

I believe that because my life has changed so dramatically, when ( or if ) my Faith in God is restored, then my Faith therefore will be different, and in a strange way, that’s quite hopeful and exciting for me.

Maybe I will be - as the great writer Henri Nouwen once wrote, ‘ a wounded healer’.

I am determined that my life will have an impact once again on people’s lives, and even the messy parts and the questioning will be used by God, through His strength and for His purpose….to minister once again to His wandering, not all lost, sheep…who not incidentally are all around us; everywhere! -All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?

TJ
Former Officer
UK

Part One

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Privilege of working in a Hospice (August - 2007)

I thank God for the way in which he has guided me on my spiritual journey through life. My life experiences have led me down some very painful paths, and perhaps one day I will feel it is appropriate to share the story in this forum.

For now I want to share the privilege that is mine of working as Spiritual Care Team Leader (Chaplain) in a Hospice. I commenced working here nearly two years ago and it may seem very strange to hear me say, ‘I love it’. Many people ask, ‘Why, when you see so much suffering, what’s so ‘lovable’ about that’? It was very difficult and heartbreaking when I was unable to continue in my calling as a Salvation Army Officer. Reflecting back I think that it can only be described as ‘part of me, dying’. I am so grateful to God that after 7 years, of what I felt was ‘being in the desert’, I found, and reclaimed, through Him, my ministry again!

When one thinks of a hospice it’s immediately a picture of a place where people go to die; a hospice is in fact ‘a place for the living’. I feel the hospice has given me ‘new life’. I have found a place where God can use the skills and gifts He has given me as I serve others going through life-limiting illnesses. We offer holistic care to the patients, and look after their families too. My responsibilities are to support the spiritual needs of all patients, their families, friends, staff, and volunteers. I am here for everyone, regardless of faith, belief or none at all.

I attended a conference recently entitled, ‘Making sense of Spirituality’ and lots of definitions of spirituality were identified. I do not feel one can define it accurately, because spirituality is a personal experience, it’s what gives meaning and value to our lives; we all have our own story, that is what makes each one of us us unique! I have listened to many people, those who have trusted me with their stories, sharing their inner -most thoughts, their hopes, their dreams and acknowledged their fears, fears of dying, leaving family behind, fear of the unknown, unsure of eternity. It is my privilege to listen, to hold their hand, to laugh, to cry, to hug, to acknowledge their anger, emotional turmoil and help them come to terms with and work through their own grief of loosing their life.

During one of the sessions at the conference a visiting speaker spoke about ‘Fluttering on the fences’, showing various pictures of fences and the things that get attached to them, or what people attached to the fences themselves. She reflected this as part of our lives. We go through life leaving bits of ourselves behind, some bits get attached to us and we don’t know where they came from, we also loose bits without realising it, while yet others attached bits of themselves onto us without us being conscious of it.

We each have a story to tell, for we all can identify with this! Even if we only served for a limited period as a Salvation Army Officer, this experience, ‘our calling’ has had a profound effect upon our life and made us into the person we are today. I thank God for ‘my calling’ and for the ‘experiences’, though painful, that I believe has been part of preparing me for my work at the hospice. ‘There are people hurting in the world out there; they need YOU, they need ME, they need CHRIST!”

www.dovehouse.org.uk

Tracey Oliver
'Former'
Hull Citadel Corps
UK Territory

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A SUSTAINING STRENGTH

The author of “Cast Down But Not Destroyed” (SA German History), Major Willi Kothe, tells of two occasions when he was crossing the Border. In 1953, with a party of Cadets returning to the Training home in Herne, he was greeted by the Border Guard singing an SA song. He asked the Guard how on earth he knew that song, and the reply was that “I learnt it many years ago in an SA Sunday School.” The Guard remembered, and drew strength from it. He remembered the SA Uniform, what it stood for, and a time when the SA had been part of his life – all at a time when the people were only too aware that the rule of man on earth will fail, and things go horribly wrong, so they were ready to trust in God.

In 1983 as Major Kothe was returning over the same border, a different young Border Guard asked him whatever kind of uniform it was that he was wearing. The Major asked him if he had never heard of the Salvation Army – he hadn’t. So in the West, in a time of prosperity, people were forgetting about God, and in the East, man had again tried to suppress the work of God and religious organisations. Major Kothe thought of that other Border guard from the east, realising that he would be retired by then, and prayed that he still had some memory of the part that the SA had played in his life, and even more importantly, of the things of God which he had learnt as a child at the Army.

So we never know how far reaching our influence may be, even on the children who just come to Sunday School for a few years. Also, we need to rely on God when times are good and we feel we’re getting on just fine, as well as remembering Him when times are bad. He should be the ruler of our lives at all times, not a last resort when things are bad.

Margaret Day
Former
UKT

Monday, August 4, 2008

Living life in order to please God

My friend wrote these words a few years ago...

Living in order to please God is my first priority.
Putting behind me all the things, I know should never be. Knowing He loves me, He fills me, with His Holy Spirit's power.
And I find myself falling in love again.


While chatting with a dear friend of mine, I thought afterwards about the conversation we had. Was it objective, inspirational, something I needed and was it thoughtful? This then led me to think about pleasing God and how we must pay close attention to all of these areas in our life and if necessary sort out anything that needs to be dealt with. Each of us should be very careful what we meditate upon and about what considerations lie behind our thoughts, words and actions.

God hates hypocrisy. He despises when we think bad thoughts, while pretending to be good. Psalm 139 says “Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (New living translation). David knew there was no way to escape from God’s knowledge of his thoughts and intentions. We may fool others, but God can never be fooled! In Luke 16: 15 Jesus says “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts.

A songster piece springs to mind:

Lord you know that we love you,
You know our thoughts and intentions,
Know the depth of devotion,
Found in our lives today.

Lord you know that we love you,
Help that love to be true,
Fill our lives with your spirit’s power.
Lord of love, make us strong,
We, who to Christ belong.

If we walk in integrity we have nothing to worry about, but if we don’t: ‘WATCH OUT’. Proverbs 10:9
‘People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.’
Living in order to please God is my first priority!

Many blessings.
Tracey Oliver
UK Territory

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Come home, Ye who are weary come home...!





Re-reading “Shepherd – the Verb” I can empathise with what the person from USA Central said, regarding it being as if you no longer existed after resignation, and how you would hope for better from some of the Leaders of the flock – though we did find that some were more supportive. We also loved the Work, and it certainly helped to form me as a person. I too can say that my life has changed a lot in the past 23 years, but I remember Whom I serve, and I can identify with keeping it bottled up for so long, and not being able to share it. So what a lot we all have in common, even though other details vary.

Reading again the contribution from Andre L. Burton about Lafayette Avenue fits in with what I was reflecting on about Reunions and the passage of time. I’m sure that for many of us, things would be very different if we could have taken what we know now into training with us. Andre says that as soon as he set foot in the grounds he had a sense of that early wonder he experienced years ago, and that many treasured memories came alive. When I read the History of the Germany Territory in the 1st. 50 years, I read of an elderly retired Officer who felt just the same way. She had emigrated to Canada after WWI, but returned to Germany between the Wars to meet a friend. She expressed a wish “just once more before she died to tread again those hallowed corridors and stairs where she and her comrades had trained for their life’s work, and to see the old place once again.” She said that as she stood there, she could feel herself again a young Cadet, and imagine herself there with her comrades, and feel that same spirit and enthusiasm and desire to win the world for Jesus that she had felt when she was in Training. (Sadly, the Berlin Training Home was bombed in WW2.) That’s just how I felt when we had our 25 year Reunion at the ITC.

We had photos taken on the central quad, near what had been small trees on Commissioning morning, when we all gathered to listen to the 1st. Year Cadets’ Band. They tress had grown so tall and broad 25 years on that they took up a lot of the grass – you could really SEE the passage of time! When we sat in the Assembly Hall, someone remarked how it had once been almost full with the 2 Sessions there, but now they don’t even use the Platform except for special occasions – everyone fits into a small space in the main body of the hall. I remembered too sitting in the Assembly Hall at 1st. Year Reunion – 1st. Year Lieutenants’ Refresher Course – with us all so much younger and fitter, and all formal in our Uniforms. During the night, I looked out of the window at the 6 houses round the Quad, and reflected on how in the Sessions of hundreds, it had been full – every room with a Cadet in it! So sad to contrast then with our day, let alone now.

People brought photos from Training days – not that we were all young then, as we were 20 – 47 years old at Commissioning. But comparing them to how we are now, the years haven’t been kind to some of us, even since our 20 year Reunion – there were people on walking sticks, one in a wheelchair, one on oxygen, one with a Guide Dog…. and some had been PTG, others retired or nearing retirement. It was great to sing our Sessional and Dedication Songs again too – one person had never sung the latter before, as she had been commissioned early, in the Assembly Hall, to a Disaster Area. A sobering thought to think, as the Leader of the weekend said, that we should look around, as there were some people there whom we would never meet again this side of Glory….and that there will probably never be enough of us together again to sing our Song until we meet in the Courts of Heaven.

It’s good that our Session is welcoming not only to Officers, but also to Formers, and those who have left the Army. What a wealth of life experiences were there, as people from our Session have served in so many countries of the world, and what different people we all are now to what we were all those years ago in Training. But one who has done so much for the poor and disadvantaged was recently murdered in Pakistan. Who can understand the ways of God, that such a great Leader, and worker for mankind, the Army and God’s Kingdom should have his life cut short in such a way, and that his wife’s world and Service, as she knew it, has also been turned upside down, and the lives of his/their families, too.

Like Andre, and others who have commented on this blog site, I too reflect on my Covenant and those sacred, hallowed moments when I signed it, “in the presence of my Comrade Cadets.” When thinking how I could remember a long Password for my Computer, when we have to change it from time to time, I settled on the Sessional Song….working through it each day is a workday reminder of the Song, the Session, and my calling.

“A Proclaimer of Salvation”
UK

A Tribute to Colonel Bo Brekke, my Sessionmate can be found at;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHIoRxYKUQs&feature=related