I have had some wonderfully encouraging emails and more importantly news of other prophetic words from around the world all agreeing with this and with each other.
One of the concerns registered by some on the SA IHQ forum (and in comments here) has been the validity of prophecy within the modern church and how we discern what is from God and what is merely personal opinion dressed up as prophecy.
The following definition comes from the wonderful wikipedia.org (the amateur theologian’s best friend!) BTW the links are Wikipedia’s not mine.
“In the Bible prophecy is often referred as one of the fivefold ministries or spiritual gifts that accompany the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The five ministries being; Apostles; Prophets; Evangelists; Teachers and Pastors.(Eph. 4:11) The focus of prophecy is not just future events though, this is only part of the prophetic gifting. Prophets often brought words of comfort, exhortation or general upliftment to the Church. Paul teaches in Corinthians that it is for the benefit of the whole body. It is not meant in Christianity for believers to know the future. But it is important for God to speak to believers as he does through his prophets.”
Far too often prophetic words are see as missives of doom and gloom where as most prophetic words are (if read in context) positive.
If you went to see a Doctor and he told you that you had a particularly invasive form of cancer which threatened to kill you in 6 months you might understandably see that as negative news. However if he went on to tell you that with treatment, diet and exercise you could expect a complete cure his message (in context) would be far from hopeless.
In his first interview as General (almost a year ago to the day) Shaw Clifton said in response to the following question:
Do you have a sense of where that breaking and moulding needs to happen? What strategies do you want to use?”
Some might see the fact that God is withholding victory and blessing back as negative but take the General’s message in context and it becomes full of hope.
"It is too early to be specific, but this High Council has mandated the next General to find appropriate, loving ways of asking The Salvation Army some fairly awkward, difficult questions. We are all exercised by the Army’s inability to grow numerically in certain parts of the world. We rejoice that in many places the Army is rapidly expanding. Globally we are bigger than ever before and getting bigger. This High Council has mandated me to ask: If God is withholding numerical growth from parts of the Army, why is that blessing withheld?Rather than discussing strategy, method, ceremony or even identity, I have a deep sense in my heart that God wants us to follow the example of the Old Testament prophets when they sensed God’s blessing was withheld. The prophets went to God’s people asking: Is there sin in the camp? Now that is a very difficult and pointed question. One has to be very tender and sensitive before even raising it but perhaps God is saying, ever so gently and ever so lovingly: I love you, Salvation Army, but would you please look within and see if there is sin in the camp, and if there is anything that causes the blessing to be withheld we must deal with it.Some issues will be personal to individual Salvationists, others will be corporate. I would like to find a way as General of being a catalyst and put that biblical question to Salvationists. We may find that as we draw nearer to him, closer to him in purity and righteousness, the blessings begin to flow where at present they sometimes appear to be withheld.”
Let me reinforce what I said earlier - There is ‘sin in the camp’ (see Joshua 7 if you don’t know what this means) and this sin is holding back the growth and development of The Salvation Army. This sin (as the General states is both ‘personal’ and ‘corporate’. Failure to deal with it will result in death but earnest and sincere repentance with fasting accompanied by holiness, faith and obedience (prefect love) will result in global revival – what is negative about that?
God bless the Army!