Second Mobilize session debuts 'Legacy'
The second main session of the Mobilize 2017 Commissioning weekend featured the premiere of the musical, “Legacy,” June 3 in the Terrace Theater of the Long Beach (California) Convention Center before nearly 3,000 attendees from across the Western Territory.
Written by Karl Larsson with music by Kevin Larsson and lyrics by Commissioner Keith Banks, the musical starred Salvationists from throughout the Southern California Division. It highlighted the real-life story of the Louangamath family, which fled Laos by boat in the height of the Cold War.
“We’ll get safely through / My family’s dreams will come true,” cast members sang.
Three brothers and their families escaped, looking to free themselves from communist persecution. They landed in a refugee camp in Thailand, where they lived in dismal conditions without adequate food, water and shelter.
Eventually, the families received relocation sponsorships, causing them to separate. The youngest brother, Bounmy Louangamath, and his family were sent to the Philippines. There, Bounmy spent his days teaching taekwondo to others at the camp, and he began learning more about Jesus through The Salvation Army’s ministry. The oldest brother, Phon Louangamath, and his family were sent to Santa Rosa, California, where The Salvation Army assisted them with food boxes every Christmas. Eventually the three brothers and their families reunited and became involved with the Army’s ministry at the Santa Rosa Corps. They formed a strong relationship with then Corps Officers Majors Roger and Svea Malmberg.
When the Malmbergs received marching orders to the Seattle Temple Corps, the Louangamath moved there, too, and worked for The Salvation Army. In 1989, the Louangamath became auxiliary captains and established the Army’s first Laotian corps. Thus began a legacy for the Laotian people in The Salvation Army.
In the final number, the full cast and a backup choir that included the cadets of the College for Officer Training sang out: “There is a way through, believe us it’s true / There isn’t a limit to what God can do / But there’s a part that I have to play, too / He will make all things new.”
Territorial leaders Commissioners Kenneth G. and Jolene K. Hodder called forward two members of the cast—Lia Louangamath and Alana Louangamath—and designated each as Commissioner’s Sunbeams. The pair recited the Sunbeam motto: “Do right.”
“It’s all about legacy,” Kenneth G. Hodder said, citing Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
He told the story of his own grandfather, George, who came from an extremely poor family in south London. The family was so poor, George was sent to live with his uncle, a pub keeper in Croydon. He grew up there, cleaning the horse stables and removing drunks from the pub. When he heard The Salvation Army band outside one day, he followed them to the corps and accepted Christ as his savior that day.
Eventually George went to training college and was commissioned as an officer in The Salvation Army.
“The way of storing treasure in heaven and building a legacy upon that—the only way to do it—is through love,” Hodder said. “If you choose to leave legacy of love, you need to be ready to be rejected, ready to fail, ready to be mocked by those who can’t or won’t understand gospel of Christ. Prepare to sacrifice everything you hold most dear.”
If you want to leave a legacy of love, he said, let the world see love.
“When the world sees love motivated by a love for Christ and expressed and overflowing into the world, things change,” Hodder said.
When his grandfather died at age 105, Hodder conducted the funeral service. In George’s simple room, he found very few possessions.
“I stood there in my Salvation Army uniform, knowing that by virtue of the life he’d lived, the love he had for his savior, that hundreds or thousands of others had been and would be impacted for Christ in the days to come,” Hodder said. “And I thought, ‘oh, what a wealthy man he was.’ I knelt and gave thanks, in deep gratitude, for the lavishness of the love to which I had become heir.”
So what is your legacy going to be, Hodder asked attendees.
As for the Louangamath family, The Salvation Army Laotian ministry continues to spread throughout North America, in the Central, Eastern, Southern, Western, and Canada Territories. Fifteen commissioned Laotian officers serve in the Western Territory; another 16 serve in the other four North American territories. Eight Laotian corps minister to over 1,000 members. And two Laotian cadets, Vatthana and Donna Thammavongsa, are being commissioned this June in the USA Central Territory.
“What legacy do you choose to leave in life?” Hodder asked. “If you choose to leave a legacy based upon love, it will begin and end at one place—the cross of Christ.”
He led an altar call, singing “Here at the Cross” and “Come Join Our Army.”