Christianity gets aggressive

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Young adults from the Northwest Division and British Columbia attend councils for training in evangelism and spiritual disciplines.

by Lisa R. Smith, Captain – 

In 1880 Catherine Booth preached a fiery sermon on the revolutionary evangelistic lifestyle of followers of Christ entitled “Aggressive Christianity.” Over 125 years later, Salvationists gathered in Canada’s poorest postal code, downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, for a weekend of worship, instruction and training in evangelistic mission at the West Coast’s first ever “Aggressive Christianity Councils.”

The Salvation Army 614 Vancouver hosted the event under the leadership of Captains Steven Court and Danielle Strickland, supported by the Northwest and British Columbia divisions. The weekend featured an outstanding lineup of speakers and teachers designed to equip and transform warrior Salvationists for millennium-three warfare.

Michael Collins, associate pastor of Cariboo Hill Temple, BC preached to the delegates on the dangers of “aggression” without training and self-discipline. He challenged delegates to first get “aggressive” with themselves to make sure they were “fit for the fight,” being careful to avoid arrogance as they move into new areas of ministry.

A highlight for many on Saturday was the opportunity to hear General Eva Burrows (Rtd) teach on intimacy with God via the practice of spiritual disciplines.

Saturday afternoon delegates divided into groups and went to the streets. One group formed to evangelize in the open-air at a downtown gathering place known to locals as “Needle Park.” Another went around to nearby slum hotels, knocking on doors and offering to pray for whoever answered. Another group walked the streets of the same neighborhood, evangelizing and praying in alleyways with the severely drug-addicted. This experience opened the eyes of delegates, many of whom had been sheltered from the harsh realities they confronted that afternoon.

“Walking the streets and taking time to talk about Jesus Christ was thrilling,” stated Lt. Colonel Harold Brodin, Divisional Commander of the Northwest Division. “That afternoon challenged us all to continue to put into action our words about winning the world for Christ.”

On Saturday evening featured more outstanding teaching, but in a different format as Major Eddie Hobgood, Territorial Youth Secretary of the USA South, transformed himself into “Joe the Turk.” Through monologue, video, song and dance, Hobgood eloquently portrayed this early day Army hero, renowned for his outrageous, uniforms and great zeal in evangelism. His antics were amusing, but his stories of commitment and sacrifice, even through imprisonment, suffering and persecution, challenged everyone.

In conclusion, “Joe” wondered aloud if Salvationists coming behind him would still be willing to suffer hardship and persecution for the cause of Christ. Over half of the audience responded to the appeal to live out that zealous Joe-the-Turk-style commitment in their own lives.

Sunday morning Hobgood preached on William Booth’s vision of an Army of soldiers aggressively reaching out to save the millions drowning in sin. Captain Danielle Strickland taught from the biblical account of Samson on “How to pick a fight with the Enemy,” urging those present to open their eyes to see and feel the injustice in our world, the needs of the poor and suffering and to get angry, get ready, and get busy in the battle.

Finally, soldiers from the area joined in a Sunday afternoon united session of worship where General Eva Burrows (R) preached on the work of the Holy Spirit. “It’s no good to admit the existence of the Holy Spirit if you have no experience of Him!” she shared. “Every Christian has the Holy Spirit. The real question is does the Holy Spirit have you?”

The impact of the Aggressive Christianity Council is summed up in War College student Linsey New’s observation: “The Holy Spirit was definitely stirring people’s hearts back to primitive Salvationism, to hard-core, in-your-face evangelism.” Delegate Captain Matt Madsen, corps officer in Puyallup,Wash. agrees: “The ACC has demonstrated the raw Blood and Fire DNA that made the Army what it was in the past, and will hopefully propel it toward the future.”

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