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We Must Go Forward!
General Paul Rader High Council Speech 1994


As together we look toward the year 2000 and beyond, are we not sometimes gripped by the sense that we may well have begun a final march to Armageddon? Sometimes the signs seem starkly evident. If not toward the final confrontation with an evil empire on the Plain of Megiddo, then Armageddon in the streets of our strife-torn cities. In homes rent by bitterness and moral failure. In the clash between moral relativism and biblical morality. In the relentless invasion of our homes and the minds of our young by the godless media. In the battle for decency and justice for the poor, the homeless, the hungry stripped of their dignity. Along the border of Tanzania and Rwanda and now in Zaire a million Rwandans have fled their homes.


These times call for a fighting force – furiously aggressive – a militant Army, disciplined and determined to proclaim Jesus as Lord amid the meanness and misery of our world. These times call for an advancing Army – an Army of aggression. Our field is the world and that world is aflame! Our sinning, suffering planet is exploding in crisis, while also bursting with opportunity. The stranglehold of communist domination has been broken for millions.


Events such as those in North Korea – for 40 years cut off from the whole of the free world, including the South, just minutes away – gives some glimmer of hope for a final breaching of the Bamboo Curtain. And what shall we say of China, and Bramwell’s promise to his dying father to remember China? Africans are turning Christward in unprecedented numbers, and the evangelical church awakening in Latin America desperately needs the balancing emphasis of the Army’s ministries of clear gospel proclamation, social concern and Christly compassion. And what of the challenge of the increasingly secularised societies of Europe and North America? A very different challenge.


Can we believe that this is a day, an hour, for retrenchment? Is this a time for settling down comfortably, for bringing up the drawbridges over the defensive moat and hunkering down against the storm of an unfriendly world in our citadels of safe spirituality and Salvationist camaraderie, isolated and effectively neutralised as an aggressive spiritual force? It was the Army Mother’s greatest fear for the future of the Army. What would the Founder say to us here? I think he would say one word: ‘Forward!’


I am not a proponent of mindless expansionism. I recognise wehave commitments to our existing work, often struggling financially, which we cannot afford to ignore. But I am committed to strategic advance. And I believe resources can be found to meet the challenges before us. We must go forward:


  • forward in finding cost effective, supportable means for entering new areas of ministry;

  • forward in developing more adequate, equitable and strategically responsible patterns of funding – and we must work for understanding and ownership of strategic commitments, within zones, surely, and around the world;

  • forward in compassionate and creative response to the AIDS pandemic. In this regard the IHQ technical assistance team is breaking fresh ground;

  • forward in our efforts to find and enfold the lost and then to enlist them in our great cause;

  • forward in aggressive and innovative approaches to evangelism and corps growth, including the more effective use of the media;

  • forward in our efforts to sensitise and mobilise our people to confront the moral crises in our communities;

  • forward in our commitment as an Army – east and west, north and south – to world evangelisation.


We must ask ourselves, how big is our world and our understanding of the place of the Army in it? How big is the ‘world’ of our people? Is it as big as our Saviour’s? We must move toward understanding our place – the place God envisions for us in the ‘do-able’ task of world evangelisation. It is only as internationalism becomes for us all an experience of joining hands across the world to march forward together in fulfilment of our Lord’s Great Commission that we can continue to generate the resources for global advance in mission.


We must advance in a continuing renewal of faith and spiritual vigour, reflected in the vitality of our response to the word of God and its authority, and our capacity for sacrificial commitment. I believe we should revisit the use of small, task-oriented elite forces within the Army – special forces which, for a limited time, might give themselves to high-risk, sacrificial, innovative evangelistic strategies and services – whatever it takes! It might serve to raise the whole level of our commitment and help to break us out of a defensive and conservative mode, lest, in some places, we die of our own dignity!


We must move forward together in all our rich cultural diversity, women and men, the young and the aging and those in mid-life searching for ministry opportunities which might give their lives new meaning. We have much ground to cover on the issue of women in ministry. But one senses that there is much greater unanimity among us and a rising tide of commitment to finding solutions. Clearly, action is required.


The young continue to be our greatest challenge and our most profitable investment in our future as a Movement. The remarkable thing is that against the tide of the culture and its obsession with things, thrills and getting their own way, young people continue to respond to the call of God and come bearing the reproach of Christ. Not in the numbers we would like. But they come.


I continue to feel that there is great merit in the idea of convening a cost-effective International Youth Forum, perhaps somewhere in the developing world, with less of an emphasis on costly extravaganzas and more on confronting young people with the challenge of the word of God and the world of human need – perhaps along the lines of the student missionary conventions which have been held in different parts of the world. Summer service corps have proved to be a valuable recruiting tool for officers. I would explore the possibility of forming international youth service corps teams, which could bring together teams of Salvationist youth from both supporting and supported territories.


We must share a common strategic vision as we move aggressively toward the 21st century. The All-India Strategy Commission concept should be utilised elsewhere. Much will have been learned from that initial effort at such an approach. An International Conference of Leaders must be convened at the earliest feasible date, hopefully before the autumn of 1996. It should focus on strategic priorities. Sure theological foundations are critical if we are to move with confidence into the future. I would favour the convening of a consultation on the theological foundations of Army identity and mission. Among other things it might well address the issue of our ecclesiastical identity and the extent to which we may wisely identify the local corps with the New Testament concept of the local church. But let us be Army! Were there not one, God would raise up a Salvation Army for just such a time as this. We are only a ‘people of power’ if we are pure, continuously renewing our confidence in the privilege of all believers to experience the cleansing, empowering and en-gracing spirit of holiness, sanctifying our hearts by faith and calling us to a lifelong questing for higher ground.


If we find ourselves where God wants us to be in the year 2000 – ‘should Jesus tarry!’ – in strength and deployment, in understanding and efficiency, in purity and devotion, then we must advance on our knees. I would issue a worldwide call to prayer and intercession, which can be coordinated with established territorial emphases, with a focus on worship, spiritual combat, claiming of new ground in prayer by actual visits and on-site prayer offensives in spiritual oppressive and resistant areas targeted for advance, on concerts of prayer and a renewed emphasis on the soldiers’ disciplines in prayer.


Let the Army in the developing countries of the world and those areas emerging from spiritual and political oppression teach the developed and increasingly secularised nations of the West the secrets of prayer, its discipline and dynamics, which they have learned in the cauldron of suffering!














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