Monday, June 30, 2014

Evangelical Soccer Star Keylor Navas; Gives God the Glory

JULY 1, 2014 Report from the FSAOF Annual Meeting, June 24-27 Hagaberg, Sweden with Commissioner Sven Nilsson (retired) as the keynote speaker

Evangelical Soccer Star Keylor Navas Helps Costa Rica Advance to World Cup Quarterfinals; Gives God the Glory
Jessica Martinez, Christian Post
June 30, 2014

While the goalkeeper for Costa Rica's national soccer team is being revered for leading his team's victory against Greece on Sunday, Keylor Navas is giving glory to God and credits his efforts to his strong Christian faith.

Navas helped Costa Rica secure a spot in the World Cup's quarterfinals for the first time in the team's history after knocking away a penalty kick from Greece in a move that he says was made for God, his family, teammates and country.

"I talk to God and ask Him to help me. I tell Him that everything I say and do in the game is for His glory and I ask Him to put me an angel on each side, in each post, and behind me so that everything can turn out fine," said Navas, according to Spanish news outlet Protestante Digital.

Known to be an unabashed evangelical Christian, Navas kneels on the soccer field's sidelines with arms lifted up before each game without regard for what others may say or think about him.

He also noted that his faith-based outlook derives from his favorite biblical passage found in Galatians 1:10 ("Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."), which he says has helped him become one of the most respected goalkeepers in the world.

"People can oftentimes mock me because of my belief in God and many times they insult me when I kneel to pray in many stadiums," said Navas. "If I cared what people thought of me, I would forget to embrace that passage … What God says about me is the most important thing and that passage has changed my life …"

At just 26 years old, Navas is being sought after by international soccer teams Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Arsenal for his unparalleled skills on the field. However, despite his success, Navas says he never forgets to thank God for being at the current height of his career and says he sees his job as an opportunity that he never wants to take for granted.

"God has given me health and a great job that I shouldn't take advantage of. I'm not going to sit on the couch in my house and expect everything to come, I know that I must continue to work hard …," said Navas.

In addition to playing soccer, Navas who is married with a daughter, spends time volunteering for Christian organizations and notes that it is important for him to create a personal balance among his family, church and career.

Costa Rica will play against The Netherlands in the quarterfinals Saturday, July 5 at 4 p.m. ET.

Friday, June 27, 2014

CANADA AND BERMUDA CONGRESS 2014 An Observation Part CONCLUSION "Three of Three"

Sunday afternoon was the appointment of the officers.  The former TP interviewed a man in his fifties, a marine biologist, the head of the BC ferries, who had become an alcoholic, was saved, and now a candidate for officership.  Everyone was visibly moved by his testimony.  The Commissioner gave each of the officers their appointments and it was apparent that he knew each of them and their backgrounds and where their home Corps had been, some whom he knew as children when an officer in Newfoundland.  There was a Congress Chorus of probably two hundred songsters who had also sung in the Holiness Meeting, who sang under the leadership of Leonard Ballentine.  As could be expected they did a perfect job! 

A newly commissioned married woman officer was the Valedictorian, although the term is no longer used.  Talk about poise and content she had it all.  She was into the new technology as she swept her finger on page after page of her Notebook seldom looking at her notes.  She and her husband have been appointed to Labrador City – not unlike being sent to Siberia! J  I’m sure the two of them will survive and after “suffering hardship” will go on to “greater things”!

Mrs. Cox introduced the pinning of the Silver Stars on their parents, and a father, quite feeble with his cane, was singled out to be pinned as representative of the others.  Then the cadets with bouquets for their mothers headed out into the congregation with the pins and there were emotional moments as parents and officer children hugged each other.  It brought back memories of saying goodbye to my own parents.  Afterward Mrs. Cox gave the final message.  She knows how to reach the hearts of people as she spoke of her own officership, their appointments and disappointments, saying goodbye to their children when leaving Zimbabwe, all very personal and real, followed with the invitation to the mercy seat.

This time the Praise Band redeemed itself in a big way.  They had been chosen to lead the Prayer Meeting music with the TC doing the pleading. He did it with grace and sensitivity.  The Praise Band Leader has a great voice, and the choruses chosen were all new to me, but first rate, none of the poor lyrics often associated with today’s evangelical worship – all sung in a prayerful, gentle way.  No manipulation at this service as people continually came forward.  Then if one was observant one could see the Commissioner walk past the band, nod his head, and one could tell that was the gesture for the Band to move in the direction of bringing the service to a close which they did with finesse.

I hope you can tell that I was impressed, and as Mrs. Cox so boldly said: “it is obvious the Army in Canada is not dying or dead, but being renewed."

Former Officer

Thursday, June 26, 2014

CANADA AND BERMUDA CONGRESS 2014 An Observation Part "Two of Three"

Mrs. Cox spoke with her Argentina—Swiss-French accent and endeared herself to everyone present, particularly when she spoke in French and addressed the officers and soldiers from Quebec.

She became quite emotional as she spoke in her mother tongue and her French listeners all started to wave their blue and white fleur delis!  When she speaks in her simple way I am touched by her smile and the way she projects love to her listeners.
She is a real asset to her husband’s leadership. He spoke as well but didn’t make the same impression as his wife, though his sincerity and humility were both very evident.

On Saturday afternoon the Cadets were commissioned and ordained.  The Mississauga Temple Band was on duty and in their orchestral sound, once provided by the Earlscourt Band, lent a more solemn air to the proceedings. It was great to see eighteen cadets become officers.  They recited the words of the Covenant they had signed and also the eleven cardinal doctrines. The General gave the charge and it was excellent.  He laid it all on the line, their lives would no longer be theirs, all personal ambitions were to be surrendered; obedience and compliance were required. The Commissioner was most pastoral and personal as he commissioned each of them.  A call was given for those in the congregation who were candidates or who were willing to serve as officers and at least a hundred people filled the platform.  It was an impressive sight, knowing that for years in Canada the laborers have been few.

At every Army meeting there is an invitation to the mercy seat, in this case a large illuminated cross situated in the centre of the building.  The leader of the Prayer Meeting had no sooner given the invitation when two officers, husband and wife, the wife having taken part in the meeting earlier headed for the penitent form and fell on their knees.  Rightly or wrongly stories of “decoys” came to mind. When not enough people were coming forward the leader then asked the cadets to make their way to the mercy seat to swell the numbers.  I found myself resisting. For me such tactics are pure manipulation.  The cadets had already surrendered “their all on the altar” what more was required?  I realize others have no problem with these matters, but I have a real aversion.  Another tactic is “We will sing this chorus one more time” and then go on for another half an hour.

On Saturday night the emphasis was on Mission and the North York Temple Band was on duty.  Wow, talk about musical pyrotechnics.  They are really brassy and made a big hit with the congregation.  No doubt the leadership knew what they were doing when they chose each of the bands.  I was only able to take in part of the service because I head for bed early because I’m up early on Sunday mornings getting myself prepared to lead worship.  The Commissioner was on duty and was excellent, sharing some creative things that the Army was doing in the country.  I was quite impressed with what was happening in the Kentville, Nova Scotia Corps where THQ money had been provided for a “music training program”.  Students from the Baptist Acadian University in the Music Department were enlisted to help and children were being schooled at the Corps to sing and play music with the result that they and their parents becoming attached to the whole Corps program. Bravo!

Unfortunately I missed the live streaming of the Holiness Meeting, but saw it later on You Tube. I was perturbed that the service was prefaced by the Commissioner pledging the Territories allegiance to the General and whatever directives would be passed down from IHQ, to which the General assented with a Thank you or an Amen. Whatever prompted that introduction I have no idea. The highlight of the meeting for me was the testimony of a young woman from Quebec, who spoke in French, and told of her call to officership.  It was spell-binding.  Also was the response at the Mercy Seat following the General’s call to commitment and asking the congregation to sign the commitment cards they had been given before the service. Hundreds upon hundreds of people responded to the call, and if they couldn’t kneel stood around the cross.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

CANADA AND BERMUDA CONGRESS 2014 An Observation Part One of Three

The Territorial Congress 2014 was held just outside Toronto in the Hershey Centre, a hockey arena capable of housing three thousand people.  Surprisingly the acoustics for speaking were excellent, but a disaster for congregational singing, the one big drawback for the weekend.

One of the organizers with an eye for the visual, had designed the rug spread across the platform with a blue background and the red and yellow star of the flag sewed into the whole.  It was spectacular, but received some negative criticism from those for whom the flag is a holy relic, and from others counting the cost.  I thought it was great; mindful though, that a rug on a platform soaks up the sound and kills acoustics, at least musical ones.

I was able to watch four of the five services live, filling the whole screen of my computer monitor. On Friday evening there was a Welcome meeting with the Army culture in full sway with all the leaders marching in with their divisional flags and the General and his wife preceded by two red coated Mounties.  To me all of this is strange, but then I don’t serve in a hierarchical church setting. Salvationists put more trust in their leaders than we would ever give to our colleagues in ministry. We relish our democratic voting privileges too much.

The Canadian Staff Band was on duty, all the music was glorious, save for the Praise Band.  The cadets were all seated on the platform behind them, and they tried to fire up the congregation to sing the repetitive choruses which some call seven, eleven, named after our Canadian convenience stores which stay open from 7 am to 11 pm!  It was humorous to hear people singing “What - can – wash – away – my – sin – nothing – but – the blood – of Jeeeesus”, dwelling twice as long on each note.  The wonderful thing about the computer is that one can see the faces of the people when the camera sweeps by, and one could not miss watching the faces of the hierarchy in the front rows and looking a little bemused when it came to Jeeeeeesus each time.

It was only the second time I have been able to watch the TC; the first time at a funeral. This time I saw a totally different person.  To begin with he is a handsome man with a good voice whose diction is perfect.  He exudes confidence and warmth and enthusiasm.  He is articulate and obviously a leader, it was easy to see why he has been chosen to head up the Americas.  In spite of the poor handling of the Howard debacle and the public relations disaster that ensued.  I came to the conclusion that he was caught as the middle man in dealing with IHQ’s change of policy with regards to their medical services and their political policy with regard to Zimbabwe.  I am sure some of my Canadian Salvationists friends would not agree, but even the TC has to march to the orders of those above him or her.

End Part One

Former Officer
Canada & Bermuda