Salvationists find “New Zeal”
New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Salvationists bring heaven to earth.
Fifteen hundred Salvationists from the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory met in Wellington in late March for “New Zeal 09,” a weekend encounter themed “Bringing Heaven to Earth.” Guests included Dr. Tony Campolo, sociologist and author, Captain Danielle Strickland, a passionate exponent of social justice, and Major Ivan Bezzant, a popular discipleship campaigner within The Salvation Army in New Zealand. Leaders of the New Zealand Territory are the U.S. Western Territory’s own Commissioners Don and Debi Bell.
For most, New Zeal provided an encounter with the truth of the gospel: that taking God’s love into communities is the only way to bring heaven to earth. The weekend’s overriding challenge was the call to a daily, “persevering consecration” to God.
Intimacy with God
Campolo emphasized the need for Christians to enjoy intimacy with God. “You can’t have a kingdom without people, but it starts with ‘Our Father’—becoming intimate with God.” This was a radical concept in Jesus’ day, he explained, because God was thought of as distant, and people’s relationship with him was primarily one of awe. But in today’s world that relationship had shifted to one of demands, with people presenting endless requests to God. One could redress this by developing a habit of waiting on the Lord, waking each morning to ask God, “What can you do through me?”
In a world where 30,000 people died every day in quiet desperation from diseases related to poverty and malnutrition, things had to change. “You believe in Jesus,” challenged Campolo, “but have you reached the point of saying, ‘Spirit of the Living God, take me and use me—I want to be an instrument through which you can change the world’?”
Bezzant underscored that the re-establishment of God’s rule in the lives of his followers was essential for the prayer “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” to be answered. People in the church, including those in The Salvation Army, were becoming like sponges, he said, looking for just enough of the Holy Spirit to get them to the next Sunday. But God wanted them to “engage a lost world with courage.”
Finishing the race
Strickland called on the youth to finish what they start: “The real guts of it, the real fight, is not to start the race but to finish it.” Salvation Army founder William Booth had “picked a fight with the devil”—and with injustice, poverty and slavery—when he started The Salvation Army, and it was up to present-day Salvationists to finish that fight. “I think that you’re called to be a finishing generation,” Strickland encouraged her audience.
The secret to finishing, she continued, was “total consecration—radical discipleship.” She invited the young people forward to “death stations” where they could symbolize dying to themselves, to the world and to sin, to live again in the power of Christ’s Spirit. “You lay [your life] down, you get a power greater that your own—you do it with his power.”
Introduced during the weekend was White Cloud Soaring, by Major Judith Bennett, which recounts The Salvation Army’s involvement in 18 months of 24/7 Prayer, leading to the first New Zeal event in 2006. Prayer is key in bringing heaven to earth.
For more information on White Cloud Soaring, visit https://salvationarmy.org.nz.