We belong together

“Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (MSG)

Firstly, New Year greetings! I trust you had a restful Christmas period with family and friends, renewed to continue the mission of The Salvation Army Australia in 2018; now only 12 months from becoming a fully united national territory.

Throughout my ministry as a Salvation Army Officer over 31 years, it has always been my pleasure to listen to the aspirations and dreams of young people. I’ve counted this a privilege on each occasion.

Tracey and I were invited last week to attend Summer Carnival, the five-day camp for youth at Phillip Island on Victoria’s Bass Coast. I take this opportunity to congratulate the youth team on an outstanding event that brought the Holy Spirit closer to the lives of all present. It was a blessing to witness young people worship, lift each other up, be inspired by our gifted speakers and challenged in responding to the call to mission; I even felt a renewed call to be a youth leader again!

As the national leader of a command of an international Christian movement, I am acutely aware that as well as fun and fellowship, we must present Christ and his values to our children and youth at every opportunity. In the Gospels, Jesus’ teachings and attitudes demonstrate how children matter. He included children, he blessed them and he listened to them – think of the young boy who was the catalyst for the feeding of the multitudes. Our Army here in Australia is blessed with many gifted leaders who invest, equip and nurture the leaders of our future. I admire the incredible energy God equips our current youth leaders, of all ages, to compete with our young people’s zest for life.

Like Jesus did, we must listen to the words and prophesy young people bring into our lives. The theme of this year’s Summer Carnival was particularly pertinent to this point and it got me thinking. The theme was: ‘We belong together’. Not only is this a metaphor for the national transition we are currently undertaking, but a reminder from our young people that we must all come together to learn and hold on to God’s perfect plan for each of us, and a further reminder that God has chosen to demonstrate that ‘we belong together with Him’.

As we move into 2018, my prayer is that we are united in our approach to aligning a nation of Salvos, as we are better together. I also pray for the energy and enthusiasm – like that exhibited by our youth – to fully embrace God’s vision to be together as one Army, belonging to Him for his purpose.

God bless you in 2018. May it be yours and our Army’s best year yet.

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