Sunday, July 12, 2015

Personal Reflections on Boundless: Part Two Elizabeth Hogan-Hayduk (Canada)

Boundless: The Whole World Redeeming  2015 : The Salvation Army’s Celebration of 150 Years of  World-Wide Service

Soup, Soap, Salvation…and Selfies?!

It is obvious that the many hours given to the organization of this International Salvation Army Congress were a labour of love, commitment, and thoughtfulness. These qualities are reflected in the names of the sessions: A Joyful Army; A United Army; A Serving Army; A Caring Army; An All Embracing Army; A Youthful Army; and An Army of Integrity. The challenge of putting together such a global event is difficult to contemplate; for example, in a ‘behind the scenes chat’ it was revealed that there were 200 timbrelists, including 3 males, from so many different countries. Yet, when they performed in the meetings, they all used the same movements when playing their timbrels. How was this accomplished? The timbrel routine was posted on Youtube, where it was available to all the participating timbrelists. Then, on the Friday before the Boundless Congress began, the 200 timbrelists assembled at the O2 arena for a mass practice. That’s amazing! Being a former timbrel leader, I know how challenging it can be to work with a group of approximately 20-25 timbrelists. Imagine having a group of 200!!

Great use was made of the performing arts. The great skills and talents of the participants were an effective means of presenting historical information, Scriptures, and heart-and-mind challenges to those assembled and to those of us viewing the Congress sessions online. The use of drama throughout the sessions was a poignant, interesting, and captive way of not only presenting some of The Salvation Army’s historical roots and background, but it also made it very clear that the Army’s mission—past, present, and future--is totally based on Scriptures via presentations of Old and New Testament accounts. Dance—both modern and traditional—was another performing art that was successfully employed to evoke strong emotional response from the viewers, and to, hopefully, draw us nearer to God and stir us to action in His name.

The musical diversity drew me back to my musical roots in The Salvation Army, where I learned to play trumpet and a tambourine/timbrel, and I participated in vocal groups. These gifted musicians have dedicated their time and skills to honour God and to tell the Gospel message through music. Music is a universal language, and many lives have been greatly affected via hearing this message of God’s love through sacred music—whether it’s up tempo and lively or slow and solemn. Music is definitely a great channel for lifting up the name of Jesus and for bringing glory and honour to Him.

The abundant use of technology and theatrical effects were stunning:  lighting and props, sound effects, and the use of aerial harnesses (e.g., Moses and the burning bush, the plagues in Exodus, and a participant being air-lifted to light the Crown of The Salvation Army Crest). Furthermore, the slide presentations and panoramic screens and scenes in the back of the stage were valuable in presenting historical Salvation Army pictures and events, pictures to enhance the presentation of Scriptures, and to display the words for congregational songs.

One thing that stands out for me is the question that I have heard many times over the years, “What would William Booth think of The Salvation Army today?” Some of the responses seem to reflect sentimental value regarding, “the good old days.” But as I have participated virtually in this amazing Boundless Congress, I have a different conclusion. I remember the accounts that Booth used saloon music so that it was familiar tunes for the people to sing along with, but using Christian ideas and teaching. I recall the accounts of how the Army spread via a few folks here and there starting up the work wherever they found themselves as pilgrims in the New World or on the European continent.
I believe that if Booth was alive today, he would still be using all the means necessary to win souls for the Kingdom. So, we would be able to be friends with him on Face Book and other social media, send him emails, Skype with him, and so forth.  Just as Booth stated, "Why should the devil have all the good music?" I believe that he would say, "Why should the devil have all the technology?" He would be excited to be able to use the media we have available to further Christ's cause, and he would continue to say, “While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight-I’ll fight to the very end,” (William Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army, May 1912). Moreover, he would be admonishing us to do the same.
I think there would be another change. The motto, “Soup, soap, and salvation” might be altered to, “Soup, Soap, Salvation,…and Selfies”!  The excitement of this Boundless Congress was so apparent. People, from civilians to Salvationists to Officers, and even to the General, were engaged in snapping selfies on their camera phones.  Now that’s one difference between Booth’s day and ours to which I have no idea how he would respond. In any case, the future of The Salvation Army’s ministry and mission continues to be a bright one! May God continue to bless the Army!

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Officer

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