Get Out Your Trumpet– Get Ready to Blow
By Commissioners David and Doreen Edwards –
For the people of Hong Kong, July 1, 1997 will always be a significant date in their history. Living in England for the past two years, we could not help but take notice that after 99 years this former British colony was being returned to China–it seemed as though the story was in the news every day, especially during the last two weeks in June just before our departure for this territory.
Though not on the same level of historic significance as the handing back of Hong Kong to the Chinese, we, too, will always remember July 1, 1997 as a date of tremendous importance for us. That was the date we took up residence in this territory to begin our adventure as your territorial leaders. We feel deeply honored and give our thanks to God for this privilege and opportunity.
What happened in Hong Kong has been described in several ways by various commentators. By and large, however, these opinions could be placed into two groups. There were those who regarded it “as an occasion fraught with apprehension and risk,” and those who spoke of it as “a time of tremendous opportunity and excitement for the Chinese people.”
Over the years that we have been officers, we have seen significant changes occur in The Salvation Army. We have also experienced and taken part in some of those changes, but none were as significant or as challenging as this one.
In every instance of change and challenge we have felt some measure of apprehension, even a bit of fear, that perhaps our leaders were taking a risk in placing too much faith in us. Our concern was that we would fail to come up to their expectations, resulting in embarrassment for them and for ourselves.
It would be fair to say that there is no less apprehension on this occasion, perhaps more so. At the same time, you need to know that we regard this as a time of tremendous opportunity and excitement for us, for the Salvation Army in the USA, and in particular for us here in the Western Territory. We expect that once again the opportunity will be ours to see God at work in a way that we have never before seen and that thought alone fills us with excitement.
The image we have of the Western USA is that of a place where something new and exciting always seems to be happening. Part of the image is that of a people prepared to face the unknown, willing to make sacrifices and take the necessary risks to pursue new opportunities or in search of a new place that they could call home.
While this picture does not tell the whole story, it is one that shows that which is best about the West. It depicts the spirit of the pioneer. That spirit of adventure which wants to see what lies beyond the crest of the hill, to climb new mountains, to establish new frontiers, “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” That spirit which is always expecting God to do something new.
It is obvious from all reports that the spirit of the pioneers is alive and well in the USA Western Territory. Even within the last seven years there has been enough evidence to support this feeling– new openings established, new programs launched, new people introduced to the Lord through the witness and ministry of salvationists. The figures speak for themselves– a 46.5 percent increase in the number of corps, a 203 percent increase in the number of outposts, a 20 percent increase in the number of senior soldiers, and a more than 12 percent increase in the number of Junior soldiers, etcetera! etcetera! etcetera!
We salute our predecessors, Commissioners Peter and Grace Chang, for the outstanding leadership they have given to this territory. It is obvious that under their leadership, God has abundantly blessed this territory. They have faithfully fulfilled the demands of their stewardship, and we thank God for them.
Now it is our turn, and this is where some of you might be a bit apprehensive. That is understandable. Unfortunately, there is not much we can tell you about ourselves that you do not already know– where we have come from, where we have been, and what we have done. We are afraid, however, that there is not much in that information that, if you are apprehensive, would allay your fears. We hope that in time we will get to meet some of you and you will discover that you had nothing to worry about.
In the meantime, we want you to join us and the hundreds of other officers and soldiers around this territory in regarding this as an opportunity for God to work in a way that has never been seen before in this territory. Pray for that to happen. This is God’s work. We are only his stewards.
Read what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. You might find it worth noting: “Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life.
“I don’t see many of ‘the brightest and the best’ among you. Not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have – right thinking and right living, clean slate and a fresh start – comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, ‘if you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God’.”( 1 Corinthians 1:26 – 31-The Message)
So get out your trumpet. Get ready to blow. Our God is about to do something new and exciting !