Out of breath?


by Terry Camsey, Major –

I am always interested in reading letters to the editor published in The War Cry. In a recent issue, the following caught my attention:

I’ve known about The Salvation Army most of my life and thought it was about helping the poor. I never thought it was a religious organization, serving God.

Don’t you find it incredible that in this day and age and after decades of existence, there are still people who are unaware that we are a branch of the Christian church?

I’ve heard for years now from Salvationists all over the world that the principal reason we have not grown in many places is because “they” don’t know we are church. So—now that open-air meetings have become an endangered species—whose fault is it that people in our community are unaware that we are, indeed, a place of worship and service to which they are welcome.

Is it the territorial commander’s fault? Or the divisional commander’s fault? Or the corps officer’s fault? Or the soldiers’ fault?

How long would it take if a corps adopted and committed to a goal that there would be no single person in the community unaware that we are a place of Christian worship and service to which they are welcome? Over a half-century? That’s how long I have heard the excuse. Thirty years? 15 years? 10 years? 2 years? Six months? With all the means of communication we have today, surely that is possible and we could, once and for all, lay to rest the excuse that keeps us comfortable in relying on God to get the job done.

Can/should we delegate back to God a ministry he has delegated to us?

We are “instruments” in God’s hands and, like any brass or wind instrument, to make fine music it takes a master to breath through it. He can make beautiful music through us if we allow him to breathe into and through our lives. To “play” us…as we were meant to be played.

The older among us will recall the monologue called “The touch of the master’s hand.” It tells of an old violin held up for auction. There were not many starting bids, and they were low…one dollar, two dollars, three dollars…

No one was “biting” until an old man walked from the back of the hall and started to play the violin. Then the bids rose to one thousand, two thousand, three thousand… “What happened? asked some.” The reply came swiftly; it was the touch of the Master’s hand that made the difference.

It can be so with us if we let the Master breathe through us.

The prayer of St. Francis put it well:

“Lord make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where here is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.
O divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
as to console others.
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
And it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

To which we might add that, it is in telling and inviting others that we please God and raise the health and vitality of corps to his glory.

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