Friday, September 1, 2017

RETURN TO BATTLE IN RUSSIA VOLUME TWO


TO BE RELEASED








Leadership In The SA


Look for intelligence and judgment and,
 most critically, a capacity to anticipate,
to see around corners.
Also look for loyalty,
integrity, a high energy drive,
a balanced ego
and the drive to get things done.[1]

And so it was when pioneering the return to battle in Russia. No Salvation Army, no Salvationists, no corps, no social work or institutions existed on soviet soil. However, the two pioneer officers commanded to re-plant the Army’s colors in Moscow, and their growing band of recruits (pioneers) who stepped forward in the early 1990s were, as far as they were concerned, sui generis, needing no external ecclesiastical validation or referencing.[2] (See chapter ???)
         They returned to battle in Russia in a spirit of enterprise. They prayed that gains would outnumber errors and failures. Bramwell Booth described his several decades experience this way: We had no precedent to go on, very little experience to guide us… We had to build the ship while we were at sea, and not only build the ship, but master the laws of navigation, and not only master the laws of navigation but hammer sense into a strangely assorted crew! …The character of the work was so new in religious history that many decisions, even though they seemed at the time to involve only minor points of policy and method, proved to be of great importance.[3]
         Like William Booth, one hundred and forty years ago, the Salvation Army might admit that it did not know where it was going, but that would not matter. The institutional Church always seems to be bound by the answers to the previous age’s questions. It might be better, David Pawson’s words, to “find out what the Holy Spirit is doing and join in”.[4]
         The founders set out to do just whatever appeared the most practical thing to do next. Rather than intentionally taking the historic pattern of the church as a model they positively eschewed any such intention. They fought against it as repugnant to their view of the ministerial role of Christians in general. For all that, they could not avoid bringing with them from their church background ways of thinking about how the church should be organised. The irony is that they ended up with a similar model of clergy and laity and an episcopal system of government under different names. And the Army chose for practical reasons to stake out legal grounds for having its officers recognised as clergy in the UK.
         We made no such efforts or claims in Russia. In fact our early inroads, once settled in Moscow, November 1991, just five months following the initial plant in Leningrad required that we avoid all contact with the public or government offices. We lacked all necessary Russian government authorization. Two advance missions by the IHQ Legal Dep't and the THQ Norway appointed leader for Russia to register the Army officially in Moscow had failed. Our presence was illegitimate and there was no hope of credibility or public validation without seeking official government registration. A handful of SA leaders knew the peril under which we functioned.
         From my years of visiting the SU on business through the years, I knew well the oft repreated request; Dokumenya Pashaltsa – Documents please. The demand for one’s passport with the duly required Russian visa could come at any time; when stopped at a traffic light, entering the Metro (subway), standing in a queue outside MacDonalds or Pizza Hut, and always when entering a government building.
         We were flying under the radar; we were an unregistered foreign organization operating illegally, and the two SA officers were subject to arrest and expulsion if ‘caught’! And that non-status standing took us well beyond our several months of illegal activities including the official public opening by the General!
         General Eva Burrows commented that one of her proudest achievements was the reestablishment of The Salvation Army in Moscow on March 23, 1992. More than eighty SA recruits were enrolled as soldiers, all resplendent in new tailor made uniforms. The General said; “These uniformed Moscow SA Soldiers are a model for the whole Army world. Don’t they look wonderful!” The General and all those present were assembled illegally – the consequences of a mass arrest are impossible to fathom.




[1] Harari Oren The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell Paperback – 16 Aug 2003
[2] Hill, Harold  Leadership In The SA
10. Booth, W. Bramwell Echoes, pp. 22-23.
[4] David Pawson, freelance British house-church leader, speaking in Queenstown, New Zealand, 9 January 1986.

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