Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Climbing up the golden stair to glory in a uniform!

So uniforms and old style SA worship pose a serious barrier to making friends and winning the lost – at least that seems to be what everyone is telling me at the moment.

This morning I had a half an hour conversation with Neil the station supervisor (I sell the War Cry every Tuesday at the station between 6 and 9). Later in the same day I had an in depth conversation with Tony who owns the sandwich bar at the end of our road and last week I chatted for an hour with Jim who runs a clothes stall opposite my War Cry pitch at the market. I wouldn’t have had any of these conversations without the introduction provided by my uniform. All three of these working class men wanted to know about the Army, what we do and why we do it. They asked about Christ and our motivation.

Just before Christmas a family of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka were referred to us by a local charity – we did the Army thing and gave them a food parcel and toys for the children. They started to come to the meetings. We haven’t seen them for a couple of weeks because they’ve moved house – some distance from the hall. On Sunday they turned up at 10:30 for the holiness meeting – they’d left home at 8:45 and walked with a baby and a toddler for an hour and forty five minutes just to get to the meeting! We sang ‘I’m climbing up the golden stair to glory’ and I preached on ‘living in the light’ – I’m certain they understood very little (if anything) but when we all marched around the hall behind the flag to the strains of ‘We are living in the light of God’ they joined in, smiled and clapped along with everyone else! Next week we’ve arranged to pick them up :-)

What attracts people to the Army is the love that God the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in our hearts. Our problems aren’t external (structure / administration / methodology / tradition) they’re internal. Inconsistencies in doctrine, moral compromise, laziness, apathy, self reliance (or worse still reliance on the latest money spinning church growth model to seep out of Wesley Owen) it is this that makes us ineffective. God’s love transcends tradition and methodology and continues (where we allow it) to make the incomprehensible comprehensible just as it did at Pentecost.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mad Kev went to heaven before me?

'Mad Kev' was part and parcel of Dartford, to the casual onlooker he appeared homeless but he actually had his own flat. His bearded demeanour and matted hair gave the impression that he had no family but he actually has a couple of nieces. To say he liked a drink was an understatement, he lived his life in a constant state of inebriation. You could have a conversation with Kev but no a very coherent one. The last time I saw him was Thursday last week, I was selling The War Cry outside McDonalds and he donated 11p. He told me (as he had done before) that when he was in prison he 'got religion' and that the 'blood of Jesus flowed through his body' . He took a paper and said 'Maybe if I read this it'll spark something off in my mind'. On Saturday morning Kev died in the back of a police car on his way to hospital, apparently he'd been beaten up - by whom and why is a mystery - he had nothing and offended no one.

Where is 'Mad Kev' now - has Jesus judged him to be a victim of the evil one and welcomed him into heaven, was the 'religion' Kev got in prison sufficient to carry him through to the kingdom. Perhaps his faith, though not strong enough to free him from drink, was enough to save him.

As I prayed for Kev and others like him (we have a few in Dartford) I remembered the words of Jesus "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did." I hope that in spite of his bondage to drink that Kev believed and consequently is now enjoying a sober and blessed eternity.