Focus – A transforming message of peace

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by Ted Horwood, Captain – 

We in The Salvation Army experience a unique tension during the holiday season: it is a time for us not only to raise desperately-needed funds, but to meet critical human needs as well. It is a season that compels us to live up to the public’s expectation of us—to be a Christian organization visible at the red kettle and doing great things in the community. But, I hope we can further take advantage of the season.

Christmas is also a time of the year when the Christian message seems to have its greatest clarity. We once again polish that familiar Advent narrative, and search for a new facet, a different angle, that illuminates the truth about our salvation message—a transforming message that the Kingdom of God is now and within us and therefore, despite the tragedy around us, there can be peace.

For many around the world, peace is a long way off. At any one time there are about 110 violent political conflicts taking place. The terrible humanitarian crisis in the western Darfur region of Sudan scattered 1.2 million people. The on-going conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine create such instability that any semblance of a normal life is incomprehensible. And HIV/AIDS continues to ravage whole populations at an apocalyptic rate. In addition to Africa, India and China are reaching a critical mass of infection to the degree that the category of epidemic is not too distant.

In the recently concluded Lausanne Committee For World Evangelism Congress, an international movement that brings together evangelistic organizations and churches from 140 countries (including 31 Salvationists from 18 territories), it was stated that,

“There is no point in talking about world evangelization without Lausanne taking seriously the enormity of the global AIDS pandemic and its impact on the church and the world.” Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist, said: “If the church of Jesus Christ rises to the challenge of HIV/AIDS, it will be the greatest apologetic the world has ever seen.”

I wonder how much peace Joseph and Mary sensed when they were told that Herod was trying to kill their son. Matthew 2:13 tells us that Joseph was instructed to escape (literally to run away) to Egypt, seventy-five miles away. They became refugees. Today they would join the ranks of over 14 million people who flee to a different country because of fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or armed conflict. What message would they have heard? Who would they have seen that could remind them that they were carrying Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace in their arms?

In many parts of the disrupted world, the Army is well represented. Through the confusion of geo-politics, disaster and religious conflict, we walk alongside people participating with them in their difficulties, just as we are present in almost 1,500 communities around America. We may look a little different, but the message of peace in Christ is seen and heard among those who need it the most.

That may be the essence of our ministry: relationally pointing to a Savior who dampens the chaos of our lives so that we can seek his transformational power. A power that delivers us from a desperate desire for the world’s peace, to an acknowledgement that we can carry Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace, in our hearts.

Thousands of people will see and hear of our ministry this holiday season. Let us pray that God’s transforming power will be clearly heard in those whom he puts in our path. And that they will see that, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself though love.” (Gal. 5:6)

A general returns to San Francisco

A general returns to San Francisco

In a memorable and historic visit to the West’s Del Oro and Golden State

Silver Stars presented at Parents’ Banquet

Silver Stars presented at Parents’ Banquet

Commissioning activities overflow with excitement At the annual Parents’

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