Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Who Was the First Missionary?
Who was the first person Jesus sent to be his witness? The missionary may surprise you…
Shortly after the sermon on the mount we find Jesus and the disciples heading east across the Sea of Galilee. There is the little incident of Jesus calming the storm on the way over.

Jesus and the disciples reach the other side and step out of the boat onto the shore of present-day Golan Heights. As they walk up the rocky shore, a man emerges from the village tombs and staggers over to them. Naked, demon-possessed, wailing, and covered with self-inflicted wounds. He falls at Jesus’ feet, rusty chains dangle from his bloodied wrists and ankles.

A loud conversation with multiple parties commences. But Jesus, with authority and power, heals the man … delivering him from years of torment. He commands the evil spirits into a nearby herd of pigs who then plummet to their death from a brief cliff dive.

The town people rush to the lake at the behest of the distraught pig owner.
They find the village lunatic, clothed and sitting contentedly at the feet of Jesus. The man they had chained and even feared is clearly no longer a threat. The pig farmer and his friends, nonetheless, stir the crowd to plead with Jesus to leave.

Fright of the unknown hovers in the tense air.

Jesus obliges. As Jesus steps back into the boat, the newly-healed man rushes to him and begs to go with him.

You would think …”yes, perfect timing!” Jesus is beginning to call disciples. He does not have the all of the eventual twelve yet.

But Jesus denies his pleas. Instead, he sends the man out to be his witness! “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Go. Tell. Jesus sends the first missionary with these instructions.

How is this missionary qualified? He didn’t even hear the lengthy teaching on the other side of the lake. He wasn’t on the boat to see Jesus calm the storm. The only miracle he has seen…is the one Jesus did for him.
Go. Tell. This man does have a story to share. He is passionate about this Jesus who delivered him from a captive life. He wants to physically follow Jesus but Jesus has other plans for him.

The man obeys. He tells about Jesus throughout the Decapolis, a Greek region. All were amazed to hear about the Jewish rabbi carpenter healer … and Lord.

Interestingly, in about 15 years, Saul would come through this region on his way to Damascus. Might the Christians who minister to him following his own encounter with Jesus be the very people this formerly demon-possessed man witnessed to? Did they come to faith through the obedience of this first missionary??

Sharon Hoover

Sharon is on staff at Centreville (Virginia) Presbyterian Church. As the Director of Missions, she leads initiatives to connect the local church to ministry partners worldwide. Her teams come alongside national and international partners to extend their ministry on the mission field. Sharon brings resources of the church to meet the needs of homeless and impoverished neighbors.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


'Leadership in The Salvation Army' is a review and analysis of Salvation Army history, focused on the process of clericalisation. The Army provides a case study of the way in which renewal movements in the church institutionalise. Their leadership roles, initially merely functional and based on the principle of the 'priesthood of all believers', begin to assume greater status. the adoption of the term 'ordination' for the commissioning of The Salvation Army's officers in 1978, a hundred years after its founding, illustrates this tendency. The Salvation Army's ecclesiology has been essentially pragmatic and has developed in comparative isolation from the wider church, perhaps with a greater role being played by sociological processes than by theological reflection in its development. The Army continues to exhibit a tension between its theology, which supports equality of status, and its military structure, which works against equality, and both schools of thought flourish within its ranks.

From the Founder - 1900: The ex-officer, no matter what was the cause that resulted in his loss to our fighting forces, is still a child of the Army. He entered the sacred circle. He became one of us, sharing our joys and sorrows, losses and crosses. He received the commission of a divinely-appointed authority to proclaim Salvation, build up men and women in their most holy faith, and help to win someone to God. He received the spirit of officership, whereby he mingled amongst us, for a season, as one of us, and go where he likes, and do what he likes, the imprint of the life he lived will remain. Time will not efface it; sin even will not blot it out. So that in a sense which we ought ever to remember, the ex-Officer still belongs to The Salvation Army.[1]

Asked about those who had left the ranks of officership, William Booth claimed that, “We remain in sympathetic and friendly relations with the great bulk of them … a large proportion – in this country nine out of ten – remain with us, engaged in some voluntary effort in our ranks.”[2] The seriousness with which such lapses were viewed is evidenced however by the frequency of cautionary articles in Army publications, usually in the form of letters from ex-officers. In his Servants of All, Bramwell Booth quotes three such letters, one from an officer who was tempted to give up but hadn’t done so, and two from people who had resigned – one to become a soldier again while the other had “become a castaway”.[3] At least nineteen contributions on this subject were printed in The Officer and The Field Officer between 1894 and 1917. These ranged from short letters like the “confession by an ex-officer” which concluded with a call for “life-long endurance”[4] to two-part articles like that by the General on “Conservation of Officers”.[5] Putting one’s hand to the plough and then turning back was considered a serious matter and a cause for great anxiety.
Fortunately some saw the errors of their ways and returned – an editorial writer in 1900 observed that, “it must be gratifying to the General and Field Officers alike that the year now closing has been marked by the return of a larger number of ex-officers to the ranks, in different capacities, than has any previous period of our history.”[6] The actual numbers were not given however.
An earlier issue shared

that Brigadier Miles, after resigning and going to take work in America, has given up that work and come back again to the Army, expressing his deep sorrow for having, in a fit of depression and discouragement, left its ranks. He has been re-accepted, with the rank of Major, and is in charge of a Division. His advice to people who think they can be happier or better off under any other flag is that it is all a lie of the devil, and that they should stick to the Yellow, Red, and Blue. Ex-Commissioner Adams has also returned to the fold. He has acknowledged his sins and unfaithfulness, and confessed, with tears, to have wrongly done and said many things against the Army, its leaders, and his comrades, which he now regrets and acknowledges to have been untrue. He is re-accepted, with the rank of Captain. Pray for him.[7]

Evidently the higher they climbed, the further they fell. Too delightful to omit is the following:

We regret to report the resignation of Colonel Boon. He has left the Army with a view to joining the Independent Labour Party, in the hopes of securing by direct political agitation and law reform the results which we believe can best and indeed only be achieved by salvation. We can only say that we believe our comrade has made a fatal mistake, which he will regret both in time and in eternity… Who can doubt that a drunkard-saving, slum-visiting, people-converting F.O. ranks far higher in the Heavenly scales than any M.P. in the land.[8]

[1] Field Officer (December 1900) pp. 453-4.
[2] William Booth in Friederichs, Romance, p. 13.
[3] W. Bramwell Booth, Servants, pp. 105-8.
[4] Field Officer (November 1905) p. 401.
[5] Officer (March and April 1897).
[6] Field Officer (December 1900) p. 453.
[7] Officer (January 1898) p. 12.
[8] Officer (August 1894) p. 232.