Crude Tsunami…so inconvenient…

So, it really is terrible isn’t it? I am sure we will console ourselves by sending a few pounds to the suffering. We really seem these days to have a certain incapacity to really feel for the needs of the poor. They call it the old ‘compassion fatigue’, don’t they?

The picture of a man walking down the street carrying his drowned dead child is a picture I don’t want to see. Why? Because I am supposed to be enjoying myself at this time of the year…so the world tells me. The picture of whole communities engulfed by water and dead bodies is not something I want to see. Why? Because I’d rather be looking at some cute American children singing pretty Christmas songs with a big purple Dinosaur called Barney.

And the ‘God with us’ looks at the global picture and surely his heart weeps at the wealth of some and the poverty of others. Does it not make you angry? Or have you too justified your standard of living?

I hope you will forgive my miserable remarks. No-one likes to listen to an old misery (or a young one). But humanity suffers, can’t you hear the crying? We all liked Gowans’ catchy phrase didn’t we… “to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity.” We like the idea, but when it actually comes to doing it we can be lazy to the bone in every way…spiritually, mentally and physically.

It costs to save souls because it means spending ourselves. It costs to grow saints, because it steals our time and energy. It costs to save sufferning humanity because the poor are everywhere you look.

I was disgusted with an officer last week who quoted, totally out of context, “the poor you have with you always.” Out of context simply becuase he was justifying some sort of rediculous extravagance. I don’t reckon Jesus meant what many people take from that, that.. “ah…whats the point, you just enjoy youself, take care of yourself, because there will always be poor people. ”

I guess Jesus meant “there will be lots and lots of opportunities to serve the poor, and I want you to do it with joy because when you serve them you actually serve me, but while I am here with you, worship me this way, but remember, then go and worship me by serving the poor.” It wasn’t a get out clause for avoiding the plight of the poor.

If anyone wants a 5000 theological paper on that one, I’ll happily oblige…but I am sure that through the medium of blog you know what I am kicking at.

Anyway…Happy Christmas!



Operation Christmas Joy?

Well, I can truly say that our carolling programme has been a resounding success, depending on how you define success. No-one was saved that we know of, so failure there, but, we must have made at least 500-700 positive contacts with people with the good news of the gospel here in our little community. I reckon that is fairly good going. I guess the greater success comes when we start to build on that into the New Year…2005.

We’ve all seen a little tiny glimpse of what greater visibility in the community can mean. I am sure that we’ll be able to translate that experience into different seasons throughout the year. Lots of little ideas floating around that brain…just need to sort out the ones that will be of more significance towards soul saving.

Right now, I’m flat as a pancake, but in a few days my brain will kick in and I’ll come bounding back with all the enthsiasm and drive needed for the great new opportunities that lie ahead. That is, once I get my mind past Christmas.

I confess to having felt sick in the stomach over these last few days with my shocking wealth and affluence. Yeah, I’m a Salvation Army officer and on low income and all the rest, but my wealth still sickens me. This isn’t really just something that is sparked by Christmas mania, trips to Romania or even scenes of devastation in Asia from tidal waves. It is something I struggle with weekly, daily.

And…I struggle with the wealth of others too. Someone once said “If I give bread to the poor I am a saint, but if I ask why the poor are poor, I am a communist.”

I think in that sense, I am a communist. I reckon that the reason people thought communism was a good idea is because at its roots, undefiled by corruption and mankind, sharing of resources is a deeply Christian ideal. Its God’s idea…it works.

I wasn’t brought up wealthy, in fact we were relatively poor in my younger days, so maybe that’s why. But then really I see it is much more than that. In many areas of life I am given to extremes..I can be an extreme person. And I guess if it weren’t for the fact that I drum up the excuse of making my family ‘comfortable’ I’d probably be content to own nothing but a few books and two or three uniforms!! But there we go.

The battle rages in my heart over material wealth, continually asking if I can really serve God and money at the same time. The Word gives the answer, doesn’t it? It quite blatantly states that you cant serve two masters. And of course, that is further developed in the story of the Rich Young Man who went away miserable because he had trouble removing the one thing from His life that would prevent him enjoying a full relationship with God.

Extremism & freedom? Our world shows us how closely these ideals can be related. I’ll think about it.

yours in Jesus

The Romanian Experience

Our Romanian SA Welcome

So, its well over a week since I returned from Romania and I thought I’d give it a week to let it all sink in before I blog it. I went for the 5th Anniversary of the Salvation Army opening in Romania with a retired officer in our corps who has been involved in the Army’s work there for the whole 5 years. All I can say is that it really impacted me in a way nothing has before since my conversion…so its big!

I absolutely love what God has done amongst those people…they have such a passion for Him. And amazingly, it seems that aout 70% of the soldiers in Romania are between 15 and 24! Hallelujah! Not only that, they are very much alive in their faith, passionate in worship and the faces shine love for Jesus. That is no exaggeration.

There are just tooooo many amazing things to share, but I just gotta share a few things that really moved me. The first was just before the first meeting of the congress. We had just finished lunch and A/Captain Muriel had hold of my arm as I walked her over to the main hall. We went in a first set of doors, through a second set and then, there before us lining this huge grand old staircase were about 30 young salvationists, in full uniform (of sorts) smiling and saluting. Not only that, the harsh sound of a brass band from the top of the stairs blasting out “O How good is the Lord” meant that I couldnt hold back tears!

In Worship

Why was I crying? Because God has saved these beautiful young people and they were delighted to be part of God’s Salvation Army. When I got to the top of the stairs I cried all the more…about 30 more young Moldovan salvationists playing the oldest, most tattered instruments yuo have ever seen, in all sorts of bits of uniform, but making the most glorious bright sound, praising God because he was good with all the enthusiasm they could muster.

Moldovan Salvation Army Band

I thank God that he has made warriors of these young people, that they have grasped the essence of salvationism…passion for Jesus.

The second most striking thing for me was a conversation I had with one girl, Roxana Kozlovsky. She said to me “I think I know what God sees about young people in Britain…I think he sees them rich in money but poor in heart.” The prophetic truth of those words hit me so much and my tears this time were tears of grief for the poverty of some of our own young people in The Salvation Army today. How have we let faith get so cold?

Another conversation, another young girl in her late teens I guess…”I just can’t wait to be a Salvation Army officer” she said.

So, just a few little happenings…but what did God say to me at the weekend? Well, lots of things. He laid it on my heart to support four young people in the process of becoming officers. He laid it on my heart to support the two corps there in prayer and financially whenever I can. He laid on my heart a love for Romanian Salvationists in general and I know and feel that Tracy and I must listen to God’s heart and be open to serving there if that is what he wills. Two people gave me a word of prophecy whilst I was there and I must be obedient to test them and seek God’s will.

I hope we will be able to make a couple of trips next year to see exactly in what ways God is calling us to support the Army their. Even if he is not calling us to live and minister there, I sensed a definite call to support the ministry of the two corps. May God’s will be clear and be done!

I have invited my four young Romanian salvationists over to the UK to attend Roots this year. If you’d like to help financially, please send cheque!

yours in Jesus