God’s heart for missions

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by Ted Horwood, Captain – 

Traditionally, World Services In-Gatherings bring Salvationists together each year to highlight the international ministries of the Army and “gather-in” the financial contributions offered by soldiers in support of those international ministries.
In recent years, the territorial strategy to “Cast a Global Vision” has drawn attention to needs of the world beyond the annual in-gathering events, helping us remember that we serve a global God who casts a global vision of redemption and joy toward all nations. Moreover, it prompts us to consider the individual matter of missions.

Many Christians struggle with the relevance of world missions and missions giving. People want to support missionary endeavors, but are not able to articulate the personal significance of the call to missions and how it lies at the very center of who God is. In addition, publicity seeking support for missions tends to use images that manipulate people into giving: Images of dirty faces, dilapidated buildings, emaciated children and broken lives have a tendency to conjure feelings of guilt and sadness for those who are suffering, but not necessarily encourage a genuine and lasting commitment to pray, know, or even understand the people in those images. In-Gatherings should not be an opportunity to manipulate, rather an opportunity to re-affirm relationships in the Body of Christ.

God uses the Church to expand his kingdom. Our model of kingdom expansion is Christ. He is a model of service, love in tangible ways, and holiness. More than just raising funds or passively working for others (in a one-directional way), the call to missions demands we embody and model Christ through relationship. It is the act of entering into the lives of people to share in their experiences, suffering, joy, pain, vision and hope that help us to encounter God’s grace more profoundly in our own lives.

Partners in Mission

In an effort to help build relationships for mutual learning and strengthening of ministries an International Headquarters (IHQ) initiative called Partners in Mission has been developed; its goal is to facilitate soldiers from different territories coming together in true solidarity.

Recently, three teams from the USA Western Territory visited both “partner” and supported territories in an effort to build relationships and learn about the daily struggles many people have around the world. Their experiences varied, but their encounters with the love, grace and hope offered by Christ were the same.

Latin America North

Donna Guerrero (Southern California DHQ), Dick Davenport, (Tustin Ranch Corps), and Pili Martinez (Torrance Corps) spent two weeks in five countries in the Latin America North territory. Guerrero shares that the experience was more than a trip. She sensed the relational opportunity between the territories.

“Our Partners in Mission assessment team was enriched by relationships with our Salvation Army family in Latin America, inspired by their passion, commitment, and vision, saddened by the needs and the burdens they bear on a daily basis, sometimes overwhelmed by the enormity of the mission task, challenged to create partnerships that will support their visions and share their burdens. We were made aware of our need to learn more about God’s mission to the world…and to look for creative ways to walk alongside them.”

Mexico City

Captain Ted Horwood (THQ), Majors Edward and Joyce Loomis (Sierra Del Mar Division), Captain John Bennett (Denver South Valley Corps), and Dana Libby (Pasadena Corps) spent three days living with and getting to know the officers, leaders and people of Mexico City. Major Edward Loomis reflected on the impact of the relationships he developed and how they affected his life.

“From the moment we met the children at Cuerpo (Corps) Number 3 until we said goodbye to the officers at Cuerpo Number 5, we were captivated by the people of Mexico. We were also in awe of the dedication and compassion of the officers we met during our three short days. Every officer made it clear to us that they loved their ministry and, more importantly, the people to whom they minister. There was excitement in their voices when they spoke of the children, and there was clear evidence of their love and concern in the way they treated their people, from youngest to oldest. If the officers were frustrated and discouraged by their circumstances and surroundings you would have a difficult time proving it to anyone. They seemed accepting, no, grateful for what little they had… As for this team member all of my tomorrows will be colored by this overwhelming three-day experience. The sights, sounds, and smells for sure, but more importantly the people of Mexico City.”

Congo Kinshasa and Angola Territory

Lt Colonel Mervyn Morelock (Southwest Division), Michael Freeman, (leader of PraiseWorks!, an outpost of Tustin Ranch) and Captain Ted Horwood (THQ), explored ways in which their ministries could come alongside others in the war-torn country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC—formerly Zaire). Ravaged by civil unrest, poverty and HIV/AIDS, the people of the Congo Kinshasa & Angola Territory taught the team members about hope and grace.

Freeman relates his experience: “In the DRC I was able to witness what it means to be a soldier of Jesus, living on the promise that God will supply all our needs and that he will give us our daily bread. In the DRC people do not have most of the things that I would classify as a need, but two things they do have that I want more of are joy and hope. They have joy that is not dependent on what is going on around them but rather what has already happened in their hearts. Here, the events that surround our life dictate our joy instead of joy from the Lord dictating how we live and how we react to the things that happen around us. They also live with a tremendous amount of hope. When I drove around Kinshasa, the needs are so great that it was easy to feel like the situation was hopeless. I asked the national coordinator for schools if the people have hope. He said the people have nothing but hope. Hope drives them not to give up and to believe that God will provide. I pray that the joy and hope the people of the DRC have will be a characteristic of my journey with Jesus and that God will use me to bring joy and hope to those who are in need.”

Morelock punctuates Freeman’s reflection succinctly, “It is truly a humbling and moving experience to be part of this international partnering of ministries with comrade Salvationists a half a world away! God is going to do a powerful work as we participate in this wonderful opportunity to be partners in the Gospel and in missions!”

These are testimonies of how God works in us, as we participate in his heart for the nations. World Services In-Gatherings are opportunities to be reminded of God’s love for people around the world and his desire to strengthen the Body of Christ. It is also our opportunity to actively, tangibly participate in his mission.

The endeavor of missions is a highly risky undertaking for

the Christian. Once you leave your comfortable and familiar

surroundings, you experience an ever-widening view of God’s

work through the world…work quite often undertaken by God

working through people as ordinary as you and me. We are

profoundly changed by this and can no longer be satisfied by

returning to our former state of being. We must seek to grow

and be further used by our creator to serve his purposes—wherever

and however he calls us.

We may return home in a physical sense, but God has opened our

eyes to the breadth of his work and to the spiritual and physical

needs of our fellow human beings. We can never be the same as we

were before our brush with missions. Long or short term, service in

missions is dangerous: dangerous to our comfort, dangerous to our

complacency and dangerous to our worldview.

—Dana Libby

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