by Jeff Curnow –
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA—Energizing the local corps through short-term missions was the focus of the first-ever Western Territorial Missions Conference. Held at Crestmont College, the conference drew 133 delegates and guests; many had prior exposure to missions while some came hoping to learn where to begin.
The range of speakers at the conference amazed A/Captains Marty and Linda Cooper, delegates from Corona, Calif. Said Marty, “I’ve been to many national missions conferences and this is by far the best I’ve attended.” The Coopers have been on several short-term missions trips and want to share that experience with those in the Army. Said Linda, “When you leave, you are sure that you are being sent to minister to someone. Within a day of arriving, you are so blessed by those you have met, you realize that a missions trip really blesses in both directions.”
It is this two-way, cross-cultural blessing that Captain Ted Horwood, territorial secretary for world missions, wants Salvation Army soldiers to experience. According to Horwood, who with Captain Debbie Horwood, his wife, has spent more than a decade doing missions work in Guam and Africa, “these mission trips will help strengthen corps life here…. This is as important as any impact that you may have overseas.”
Guest speaker Larry Walker, of Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment, spoke about the human need for purpose in life, “We are the only species for whom food and shelter are not enough—we must have a purpose. By sending others on missions trips, you are helping define their lives by giving them purpose.”
Other notable speakers included Dr. Luis Bush, author of The 10/40 Window, Commissioner Bill Luttrell, Rev. Greg Parsons of the US Center for World Mission and Pastor Byron MacDonald of the Rolling Hills Covenant Church, Rolling Hills, Calif., who combined to encourage those present to face the challenges of short-term missions trips with the assurance that God would bless their efforts.
Horwood noted that, in addition to strengthening corps life, those who participate in missions also give more generously to missions—helping to send others. “When it comes to missions, you are either a sender or a go-er, you are not a sitter—I just don’t see that in the scriptures.”
Horwood then stated that his office can help facilitate short-term missions at the corps level, “We will help you, but the process is so important—we won’t do it all for you.” To further equip those who desire to send a missions team, the World Missions Department will sponsor a Mission Team Leaders’ Workshop at Crestmont College on March 11-12, 2005.