Rader Challenges Youth to Seize the Opportunity
Youth Forum Concludes with Action Plans
Text and photos by John Docter –
In his final message to the International Youth Forum, General Paul A. Rader challenged the 500 young men and women, who represented every territory and command in the Army world, to seize the opportunities for ministry and action that God has provided and walk through the open door of courageous obedience to God’s will.
“I want you to reach out and take the nail-scarred hand of Jesus and walk boldly and believingly into the future he has planned for you,” the General said during the final meeting and commissioning on Friday morning. Beyond that door, he said, lies the true potential for you to become the Breakthrough Generation. “It’s time to move…for that door is our commissioning.”
Throughout the final three days of the forum, both the General and Mrs. General Rader delivered inspiring challenges from the pulpit during periods of worship, and engaged in lively dialogue with the delegates during the more than ten hours of open-forum sessions.
At Thursday evening’s farewell celebration, Mrs. General Rader spoke of the Mizpah blessing found in Genesis: “The Lord watch between you and me while we are absent one from another.” She said that when the delegates left the forum, they would never be without the blessing of a God who strengthens us and watches over us wherever we are. “This allows us to face whatever lies ahead with confidence. Confidence not in ourselves, but in God,” she said.
The delegates felt a deep commitment to God and the mission of The Salvation Army. This commitment rang clearly throughout the week’s workshops, debates and worship services and cut across geographical and cultural boundaries. Delegates also felt that while the Army will certainly benefit from the recommendations generated this week, the Kingdom of God also will benefit from the renewed sense of passion they took home with them.
“The forum has empowered people and really fired them up as far as their own Christian experience is concerned and what they’re going to be doing in the Army for the Lord’s sake,” said Brian Abbott, a delegate from the Southern Africa Territory. “New life will spurt from it not so much because of the recommendations but because of the way people have been fueled up and ready to go.”
The General also spoke of his vision that each of the 500 delegates would have the opportunity, at some point, to minister to people outside their own country through the Army. More than100 delegates, including nine from the Western Territory, put that challenge into action immediately after the forum as they took to the streets of Johannesburg in four mission teams led by Phil Wall, U.K. Territory Mission Team leader.
Delegates also expressed their commitment to evangelistic outreach in terms of financial support. More than $4800 was generated from an offering held during the Thursday evening farewell to help offset some unexpected costs of the week-long mission program.
As delegates arrived for Friday’s final meeting and commissioning service they were each given a stone. The stones represented something different for each person, from unconfessed sin to a new sense of calling God has placed on their lives. As the meeting–and the forum–came to a close, one-by-one the delegates built an altar on the platform steps out of the stones in an act of private commitment and obedience to God. And then, as a few delicate sprinkles of a summer rain fell, they walked through the open door.