01 Dec A vital ministry
“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Isaiah 61:4 (NIV)
As I have reflected on the unifying and momentous weekend past – the commissioning and sending out the newest Officers of The Salvation Army in Australia – my sense and understanding of the vitality of our ministry here in Australia is becoming clearer and clearer.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of the visibility of Salvos in our communities. And yes, we need to be a visible presence. But we also have the responsibility to deliver a vital mission to the millions of Australians who every year depend on us to experience the hope of a brighter future.
Sending the Messengers of the Gospel out in their first appointments to live, love and fight alongside others in communities they’ve never experienced or lived will see them quickly become vital partners of ministry and mission in their community. They will be the ‘go to’ leaders for nurturing the spiritual health of their congregations and problem solvers of complex community issues. At this moment I encourage you to keep them in your prayers.
Their sending out is also a metaphor for the journey our entire movement is going on at present: striving to transform, focus, pioneer and be accountable, with an undoubted sense of charting the waters of the great unknown. But God’s promise to us all through the Prophet Isaiah is that he will be with us as we seek to restore, and renew, gradually transforming Australia, one life at a time. We are not alone; God is with us and inspiring us every day.
Another vital part of our transition into the new is the introduction of a new operating model. On Monday just past, newly appointed and currently serving Area Officers gathered in Sydney for an orientation workshop to further learn about the model as it currently stands and engage with fellow leaders of our frontline mission force.
Col. Mark Campbell, National Chief Secretary, and Lt. Col. Lyn Edge, National Secretary for Mission, led the workshop, sharing the progress of the Mission Delivery Operating Model to this point with those who will be entrusted with its carriage into our new future.
Lt. Col. Lyn reported that there was a feeling of great expectation and natural curiosity from these Officers who arrived full of questions about what their new role would be and how it would work. Three Area Officers who participated in the proof of concepts for the new model (held in both urban and regional communities) shared their experience of real life scenarios with the group. They talked about their initial doubts and concerns about the model and how it might work, and how they quickly began to see the potential of the model, witnessing the reality of delivering holistic mission outcomes through all expressions of The Salvation Army. This time of sharing culminated in a time of prayer and reflection, seeking the guidance of God for the vital journey ahead.
It is hearing progress reports like this which further confirms the renewing, rebuilding and restoring God is doing in our Army here in Australia. Officers and Salvos who have yet to work together are hearing the good news of the transformation happening in our movement. And it will continue. It will further the vital ministry and mission that will see our Army become a force of good in our nation for many years to come.