Passing by

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by Major Terry CamseyI was thumbing through one of the local cheap advertisement papers the other day when one particular ad caught my eye. This is what it said:

“WE BUY, SELL & CONSIGN… 40,000 cars a day go by our sales lot.”

Not a very inspiring statement… “40,000 cars a day go by”! It’s strange how the brain tends to make obtuse connections sometimes, but even as I read this I am reminded of the slogans that emerged during the general election a few years ago. Gore, as I recall, stated “I am a bridge to the past.” Clinton responded with a statement to the effect “we are a bridge to the future.” The rest, as they say, is history.

I guess the connection between “cars going by” and “bridges” was stimulated by recent heavy reporting on the Republican National Convention. Certainly Dole’s “car went by” as the voting public decided they’d rather go forward into the future than back to the past. Maybe that is why Bush is shouting so much about forgetting the voting record of his running mate and wanting to focus on the present and the future, hoping that the voting power of the public electoral “car” will not pass him by either!

But, back to the ad. Not very inspiring is it? Bad enough being ignored, but by 40,000 cars a day! One has to wonder how many actually stop to look at the advertiser’s product and, more importantly, how many actually buy.

When it comes to religion, the issue of people passing by and being totally disinterested takes on a special significance, since what we offer is the only way they will get out of this world alive! Those around the cross were as close to realizing that truth as any before or since. Yet there, too, were the passers by:

Mark 15:29 And the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You can destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days, can you?”

It used to be that people would pass us by in the street when we held open air meetings, although we seemed then to have a much better chance of catching their attention long enough to share the hope of the Gospel. But in most places we have taken ourselves off the streets (and have the gall to complain that “they”–the public–don’t now know we are a church!).

To our shame, it may also be that many come through our doors for help with their physical needs and pass out again without having the Bread of Life shared with them.

Imagine the number of cars that pass by the doors of our corps. Maybe, like the advertiser in that cheap paper, it is 40,000 a day or more. And yet, we find some Army buildings so poorly marked that even Salvationists looking for them have difficulty locating them.

And others where all the external notice board gives is a list of events, days and times.

I was challenged by going into a major supermarket where, clearly posted, was a list of benefits that every customer might rely on. A promise of respect and of a level of service that every store goes out of its way to provide.

Imagine the impact of such a list on a sign outside each corps building. ‘WE GUARANTEE that every person visiting this place will receive the following benefits…”

Who knows? Well placed, colorful, readable by corps going in either direction, in a large enough print size and with a brief message promising eternal as well as instant benefits, some may even read it as they pass by. That could be as large as 40,000 or more messages sent and received a day!

How does that compare with what the corps is presently doing to get the message out? Remember the Scripture, you have to sow a lot to get a lot. If you don’t sow, don’t expect a harvest and what we sow will determine the harvest we get.

There is no way around the law of the harvest. It is one of the principles God has established and one that needs to be respected if we truly want to harvest souls.

Passing by.

Ever wondered how many people pass by your corps by each day? What about the number who pass through each day? It’s a few years since I counted, but at that time the unduplicated count was 1.8 million. That’s not people passing through the neighborhood (i.e. transients) but residents, many of whom live close enough to the corps to receive social services help needed.

Is this not an opportunity that many other denominations would, righteously, envy.

Remember that old poem “The Master is Coming”?

Jefferey Burke: “Today the joy grows”

Jefferey Burke: “Today the joy grows”

IN PROCESS He has a calming presence about him–this tall, slim,

Vol 18 No 17

Vol 18 No 17

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