Lessons learned on life’s yellow brick road

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Ethan Bradley


It was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz who clicked her ruby shoes and said her mantra, “there’s no place like home” to get back to her Kansas farm. She was transported from a world of flying monkeys and dancing scarecrows to the monochromatic world of home. Her words to Auntie Em in one of the final scenes of the film cannot fully describe her experience in the Land of Oz.

I recently returned from the Salvation Army Russia Command. Now that I am back, I feel like Dorothy. I want to describe Russia to all the ‘Auntie Ems’ but sometimes words cannot suffice for some of my experiences there. The “jet age” makes it as easy as clicking your heels to get from one world to another and somehow this quick change can make your head spin like a Kansas twister.

One moment I was walking on the cobblestones of Moscow’s Red Square and 24 hours later I’m riding smoothly in a big car down Pacific Coast Highway near a Southern California beach. While the “jet age” plays tricks on mind and body, and the crossing of cultures can get you tongue-tied, it has made the world a smaller place. With increasing global travel, however, comes increasing awareness that we all share a similar sickness called sin. Violence and famine beamed by satellite into our living rooms all point to the notion, as Dorothy said it, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Perhaps living in a country outside of the western world opens our eyes to the problems facing the world. What is the Christian’s response to a world which bears the burden of sin and separation from God? Is it simply to proclaim our “citizenship in heaven” while ignoring the fact that for many this life is “hell on earth”? Yes, we must hope for the heaven as Revelation 21:4 (NKJV) describes it where “…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying…” but not hold back Christ’s redemptive power for the here and now. My experiences in Russia reminded me of this mission and the need for me to continue to fight.

As I return to the West I would like to say thanks to those who have kept me in prayer. I realize the rich heritage of the Army here. I also realize we must not rest on our laurels but continue to commit to our God-given mission of salvation. In John’s gospel Jesus promises “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23 NKJV).

Like Dorothy, we realize “there’s no place like home,” but in an increasingly homeless and hopeless world, may Christ be our only true home.

Ed. note: Bradley lived three months in Rostov on Don as a student at The Salvation Army’s Battle School. Following that, he spent two months in Moscow as a corps assistant in the Southwest Moscow Corps.

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Six officers promoted

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Boyds close out active careers

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