von THQ

New territorial leaders - Interview

1. You have held various positions in the Salvation Army around the world and have seen many countries. Despite all the differences, what is it that makes The Salvation Army so unique?

It has been a wonderful privilege to experience The Salvation Army in many countries and across many continents. The cultural differences between small, rural settings in Africa or Asia and urban settings in developed Europe or America are stark and pronounced. However, there is a SA culture, rooted in shared mission, that seems to cross these cultural divides. The simply stated 3-fold mission of saving souls, growing saints and serving suffering humanity, unites Salvationists wherever they are found, and this international mission identity creates a unique Salvation Army. It has been a joy for us to see that unity firsthand.

2. You have just come from Indonesia and led the territory as Commissioner. What were your strongest impressions there / what do you particularly like to remember?

We were privileged to support the Territorial Leaders (we were CS and TSWM) and share in the responsibilities of the Leadership team. Indonesia is a fascinating country, with thousands of islands and hundreds of languages. It is the largest Muslim country in the world, but with a legal constitution that recognises and honours many different faiths. The SA is not legally permitted to convert believers from other faiths, but that has not hindered growth.

Salvationists are joyful, enthusiastic and commmitted. They trust God for even the simplest matters of life and they believe that God wants His church to grow. We witnessed that growth even during the 3 short years that we served there, and were pleased to open many new corps. New divisions and enhanced THQ structures had to be created to support this growing Army! We will remember their exuberance, their practical faith and their optimism.

3. What expectations do you associate with your new task as Territorial Leaders for Germany, Lithuania and Poland?

The recent history of the church in much of Europe is quite different to Indonesia. During the 36 years that we have served as officers, statistically the Christian church in Europe has been getting smaller. This is true in Germany as well as our home territy (UK). In such situations it is easy for beleivers to lose heart. Aside from the many management tasks that come with being Territorial Leaders, our hope is that we might encourage our local leaders – officers, centre leaders, soldiers and employees. We are looking forward to visiting the ministry around the whole territory and building relationships. The real work happens at the front line and we are so grateful for those are actively looking for relevant ways to minister the Gospel. If we can support, develop and encourage our people, we trust, believe – and expect - that we will see God doing special things in people’s lives.

4. The previous Territory Leaders have just left the position you took at the beginning of the month. What is your vision?

Having lived in Germany for five years (1992-1997), the country and surroundings are not strange to us. We felt very much ‘at home’ very soon after arriving. But our previous ministry was in a very different context – working with British military families – so we must embrace our new context and learn a new culture. This will take time, and our personal vision will be shaped by the experience of learning and immersing. Of course, some things may change during our leadership period, but we do not believe that the territory is served well by radically changing direction with every leadership change. One blessing of Salvation Army structure is that we are surrounded by a team and we will be working closely with them to build upon the foundation laid by our predecessors, whilst constantly exploring new opportunities for mission and ministry.

5. Do you have any other ideas for the German Salvation Army and what do you want to base them on?

Your question is interesing, because we are appointed as Leaders of the Germany, Lithuania and Poland territory – and one of our key priorities will be to emphasise that we ar one territory of 3 countries. Having served as Regional Leaders in Estonia, we know the challenges of working in a country with limited SA presence, and also of the blessings that come from being part of a larger SA family. We have much to learn from each other, and our territorial family is richer when we are one.

Across our territory we are seeing opportunities and challenges that come during times of emergency. The current Ukranian crisis has opened up many new possibilties for mission, especially in our Regions. We do not know how long refugees will stay, whether their present situation will become a permanent home or a temporary refuge. As a SA, our 3-fold mission is very clear. Serving suffering humanity has been part of our DNA from our formation. Demonstrating God’s love in practical service is an essential calling for us – but it is not the only part of the story. Saving souls and growing saints often flows out of this practical Christianity.

6. William Booth said in his prophecy that in the twentieth century there will be a religion without the Holy Spirit - Christians without Christ. How do you see this when you see The Salvation Army today?

William Booth’s prophecy is a stark warning, not just to Salvationists but to the whole Christian church. I am sure we have all met individuals who appear to be going through the motions; officers struggling to maintain the energy and passion they once had, or soldiers and corps members who see church as a Sunday activity that has little bearing on their daily lives. But, thank God, we don’t see The Salvation Army (as a church and a movement) in this way. All around the world there are wonderful things happening as the Spirit is moving. Remember, our current General leads the largest Salvation Army ever! In our own territory, we have already seen innovative and relevant mission, with lives being changed by the caring ministry of God’s people and the transforming power of the Gospel. Long may this continue and long may we be a Spirit led, Christ honouring people.

A verse that was used in our installation meeting was John 6v29. When asked what we should do to fulfil the works of God, Jesus replied, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.  Our busyness and activity finds meaning and purpose only when built on the foundation of a relationship with Jesus.

7. What do you say to the German cities where the flags of the Salvation Army "BLOOD & FIRE" are not yet flying?

In the last decade, our territory has opened work in a number of new cities, especially in Lithuania and Poland, and we praise God for these new opportunities. Realistically, we also know that we must carefully consider the viability of maintaining ministry in some places, too. Closing a work is sad, especially for those who have invested time, energy and resources over many years. But utilising resources effectively whilst faithfully exploring new mission opportunities go hand in hand. We pray that God will open all of our eyes to new possibilities, whether that be in new cities or to innovative and creative activities in places where we already serve.

8. The first 100 days are said to be dedicated to orientation and planning for the future, before everyday life affects how you see things. What are your plans for the next few weeks?

Alongside completing some of our personal legal and practical matters which will allow us to remain and work here (post Brexit!) and to finalise the transportation of our beliongings (which haven’t left Indonesia yet!) we have already started visiting the territory. Our welcome weekend in Berlin allowed us to see the work in that city. As new Leaders, we have come into appointment just in time to participate in the International Conference of Leaders in Canada. This will be a great opportunity to hear what God is doing around His world and for us to better understand the current International areas of focus.

After we return from Canada, we have visits planned throughout the south west of the country and are planning a tour of Poland during early November.

9. We live in troubled times. What encouragement would you like to give to the members and employees here?

Troubled times are nothing new! Much of our Officership has been impacted by Emergency ministry. For Ced, actively responding to disasters around the world, and for Lyn, maintaining ministry at home and caring for the family. It is during such troubled times that we have seen God work in amazing ways.

It is said that the Chinese symbol for emergency is made up of two different characters, the ones used for disaster and opportunity. That is a fascinating thought, and personally, we can testify to the truth of that. We are grateful that, during testing times, our own faith has grown, and our evidence of God’s providential – and sometimes miraculous – interventions has demonstrated His care in amazing ways.

To our members and employees we simply say, look to God. Be open to His leading and trust Him. God is able!

Interview questions for territorial president for women's ministry

1. You were already responsible for women's work in Indonesia. What did you particularly like about this work?

In Indonesia Womens Ministry was the powerhouse of the Territory.  Women loved to get together to pray, sing, and dance.

The women had daily challenges – in many parts of the Territory having few resources and dealing regularly with disasters such as floods or landslides, yet there was a joy and energy that came from their trust in God.

2. What potential do you see in women's work in Germany, Lithuania and Poland?

As World President of Womens Ministry, Commissioner Rosalie Peddle called us to re-imagine what that looks like, to keep hold of those things that were valuable and working well but to also look for new ways to connect, encourage and support women on their journey of faith. With the call to reimagine a new logo was launched showing women of all ages standing on the word of God.  I am looking forward to meeting women around the territory, to see what is working well, and through working together to reimagine new ways to connect with women of all ages.

We thank you both very much for your time also on behalf of the members of The Salvation Army in the Territory and wish you a successful and blessed start for your new tasks.

Medien & Öffentlichkeitsarbeit / Felicite M`Boulou