Evangelism is our top priority
by Philip Swyers, Commissioner –
It is a joy to greet the readers of New Frontier with appreciation from both my wife and myself for the warm welcome we have received from the soldiers and officers of this great territory. We regret that it was not possible for each of you to be present to enjoy the wonderful ministry of General John Larsson and Commissioner Freda Larsson who conducted our installation at the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps. We look forward to our travels throughout the territory to visit with you in your corps settings, as well as at divisional and territorial events.
We are well aware of the rich heritage of the Western Territory in Kingdom building and advancing the work of this great Army. When one advances the Kingdom, it is not without problems, and we look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with you in the days ahead. We give a full salute to Commissioners Bill and Gwen Luttrell for their excellent leadership—we are privileged to follow in their footsteps.
There are many issues that we could discuss in this first communication with you, but I think the top priority should be evangelism. Recently, while in Philadelphia for the National Leadership Conference, we were pleasantly surprised to read in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the evangelistic nature of Mayor John F. Street.
In a day when government and Christianity seem to be at odds, this mayor visited the city jails and said: “You do not have to drown in the sea of problems that surround you.” Street spoke before more than 200 inmates, sweating in his suit inside a gymnasium at the Philadelphia House of Correction, which at that moment could be a church, with the mayor its preacher.
A microphone in his right hand, his left cutting through the thick prison air, his words were greeted with cheers and applause. “If you get connected to a living God,” he shouted, “there is nothing that is outside of your reach. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe there is a God that saved me.” My wife and I were thrilled and refreshed to read these words, while praying that every officer, soldier and friend of the Army would have this same passion to preach Christ.
While waiting in an airport on this same trip, a gentleman approached me with the comment: “I love The Salvation Army.” Later he returned and said, “I need to tell you why I love The Salvation Army. My brother lived for the devil for over 70 years and hurt many people along the way.” One day his brother found himself in a Salvation Army corps where the Holy Spirit through the message of a faithful officer convicted his heart and he knelt, giving his life to Christ. This officer encouraged him to contact his loved ones. He called his brother and said: “I have joined the King’s Army!” His brother had no idea what he meant and asked for an explanation, whereupon he witnessed to what Christ had done for him and stated that he was now a member of The Salvation Army. This gentleman added that his brother sought forgiveness for those he had hurt and lived for Christ as a Salvationist until his promotion to Glory!
Because we were wearing our uniforms, this man blessed us with his story!
Not only is our message verbal, like that of Mayor Street, but sometimes it comes as a silent witness through something as simple as wearing our uniforms. Through whatever means, may we always be an instrument through which Christ can work.