Lashed to the Mast

It’s such a religious word! Covenant. Not likely to be dropped into a conversation over coffee or in a social media post. And yet, we instinctively know it has heft, something deep and unshakeable, and we’re mysteriously drawn to that.

General John Gowans seems to hit the nail on the head when he writes: “In a world of shifting values, there are standards that remain.”

We might cynically say that we live in a day when social contracts are not honored. People break doctor’s appointments and employers plan their businesses around a schedule that expects people not to show up.

A covenant is decidedly not a contract. Covenant is so much more substantive. Unlike a doctor’s appointment, a covenant is more like the ties of a parent to a child. That’s a huge difference.

Eugene Peterson uses the image of being “lashed to the mast” to describe covenant—the picture in Greek mythology of sailors strapping themselves to their ship to counter the tempting siren voices that lead to treacherous rocks. Dramatic stuff.

So, how does all this apply to The Salvation Army’s Soldier’s Covenant that you may have signed, or the blank one in your hand ready for signature?

COVENANT = INITIATED BY GOD

A couple of things. First, the initiative for covenant always comes from God. He is a covenant-keeping God. And we’re glad for that; He’s not up and down, hot and cold, off and on. He is reliable and trustworthy. We like that in a friend. In our best selves, we also want to be like that.

So, Salvation Army soldiers often talk about being “called by God.” Many are surprised. It wasn’t their idea. It’s often rewarding and challenging, all at the same time.

COVENANT = HARD-CORE

Secondly, soldiership is not a membership. Nor is it a contract where you can join for a while and leave when you get bored, or when it’s become rather inconvenient. This is the glory and the guts of covenant—it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a reminder we are in an army, not just a congregation. It’s not for everyone—but, when God hollers out that calling, unmistakably so, then nothing else quite substitutes. It’s hard-core.

COVENANT = FREEDOM

One final insight—covenant is definitely not intended to be a burdensome thing. There’s a paradox to the Kingdom of God that when we die to self, we find life. When we humble ourselves, we are exalted. When we lose our life for the Gospel, we actually find it.

We might say in lashing ourselves to covenant we are set free. It’s sweet, glorious, intoxicating freedom. Covenanted people may be the freest people on the earth.

Tony Campolo says that youth was “made for heroism.” Candidly, how many ice cream socials and pizza parties can we have? On its best days, the Army calls covenanted soldiers upward and onward to a great cause.

So, heroic young Salvationist, hear the loud call of the Mighty to save. Show up, step up, sign up.

THE ARTICLES OF WAR

The Articles of War [later known as the Soldier’s Covenant] is an historic document, and has a significant place in The Salvation Army as the statement of the faith and practice of all soldiers.

The Articles of War was written and brought into use some time between 1878 and 1882 and therefore dates from the very beginnings of The Salvation Army as such. The wording of the earliest version did not contain any reference to doctrine, but a selective summary of the Army’s doctrines was added soon afterwards. In the 1950s the full 11 articles of faith were added, and in the 1970s the ban on smoking. Apart from these changes only small verbal adjustments had been made over the years and the Articles of War remained substantially as when first written.

The Articles of War was meant to be, and remains, a working document, a practical tool for the corps officer in the preparation of and swearing-in of new soldiers. As well as being a statement of personal commitment, it is a summary of what it means to be a soldier of The Salvation Army, and in that sense constitutes the syllabus for recruits’ classes.” –The Officer, June 1989

Though the term “Soldier’s Covenant” was included in revisions of the Articles of War in 1988, several Salvation Army publications still used the term “Articles of War” throughout the 1990s, with a final reference in 2008. The term Soldier’s Covenant appeared exclusively beginning in 2010.

Colonel Richard Munn, Territorial Secretary for Theology & Christian Ethics, Eastern Territory

A Promise for Life

In the 21st century, “family” and “marriage” can mean vastly different things to different people. Wedding ceremonies now sometimes join two brides or two grooms together. Families aren’t as predictable as the used to be. My own family is multi-racial, and not all of our five children are blood-related to each other, or even to my husband and myself.

ARTICLE 5 — I WILL UPHOLD THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE AND OF FAMILY LIFE.

What does it mean to uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life? It matters that we understand where we stand. The very word “sanctity” means that we regard these things as holy, committed reverently to the Lord. So we need to get it right.

MARRIAGE

The sanctity of marriage involves several things: gender issues, sex, the preservation of marriage (that is, staying married), and sacrificial love for one another. Society has changed a great deal. Has The Salvation Army changed its position on these matters? What do you agree to when you sign a Soldier’s Covenant?

The Salvation Army has not changed its definition of marriage. Though we have an open heart for those who are not drawn to the opposite sex, we maintain our interpretation that the Bible teaches us that marriage is between a male and a female, and that such is the only appropriate type of marriage for a Salvation Army soldier. People who feel and even practice otherwise are still welcome to worship as part of our congregation, receive services from us, etc.

Furthermore, Salvationists believe that sex is a wonderful, intimate gift that is meant for husband and wife only. Ask any happily-married couple with a healthy sex relationship (if you dare!) and they will tell you: sex is not only enjoyable; it creates a bond like no other physical act can. If used the way God created it, it intertwines body and soul. That’s why it is so special, and that’s why we don’t want to share it with anyone other than our life partner in marriage.

Not every marriage succeeds, of course. That’s real life. Since husband and wife are as two people who’ve become one flesh, divorce is extremely painful for all concerned—even if the marriage was bad to begin with. A senior soldier understands that marriage is a sacred vow and that one should do everything possible to see that vow isn’t broken. To that end, it is impossible to overstate the importance of choosing a life partner who shares your values. Husband and wife can—and should be—a force for Christ in this world together. If the Kingdom of God is your highest value, but not a value at all for your girlfriend or boyfriend, could you really have a happy and purposeful existence together for the rest of your life?

The Bible has much to say about Christian love. We are taught to regard one another as better than ourselves and to put others first. If we uphold the sanctity of marriage, our marriages should be a wellspring of Christian love. They should exemplify sacrificial giving and deep commitment. Both the husband and wife should feel valued. A Salvationist should encourage his or her marriage partner to grow in Christ, and to grow and flourish in every other way, too. A spouse should be honored, cherished, and seen through the eyes of Christ.

FAMILY LIFE

Biblical families were complicated. A lot of Old Testament men even had multiple wives, so you know it couldn’t have been easy! It sometimes helps to keep this in mind before we start placing judgment on the situations of other people, or even our own situations. If by upholding the sanctity of family life we mean that we only respect a family of husband, wife, two kids, and a dog, we are living in a fantasy world.

As Christians it is our duty to respect and love the family we find ourselves in, as long as this does not involve putting ourselves in dangerous or abusive situations. You may have a stepparent and stepsiblings, adopted family members, in-laws, etc. Harmonious, nurturing, and loving relationships should be our goal. Romans 12:18 (NIV) says: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

When it is your turn to build your own family, you are called upon to make it as Christ-centered and loving and healthy as you possibly can. This should be regarded as our holy duty.

ARTICLE 6 — I WILL BE A FAITHFUL STEWARD OF MY TIME AND GIFTS, MY BODY, MY MIND AND MY SPIRIT, KNOWING THAT I AM ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD.

Becoming a Salvation Army soldier is a serious, covenantal undertaking. And frankly, it isn’t just a covenant between you and God. When you become a soldier you agree to accountability for who you are. The Army gets in your face, so to speak, and tells you that you need to be faithful in these very private arenas. Your corps officer or other people may challenge you on these issues. If they are your Christian leaders, it is not out of line for them to do so.

TIME AND GIFTS

Each person in the body of Christ has spiritual gifts, as well as natural ability. These are the property of God, not of ourselves. As people concerned with the Kingdom of God, it is our responsibility to engage our gifts and our time toward the growth of that Kingdom. Some people feel insecure and so they hide their gifts. It is very important to get past any hang-ups so that God can make use of us. As the song says, “I surrender my everything to You.”

MONEY AND POSSESSIONS

We learn in Matthew 6 that we are either all about earthly gain for ourselves, or we are all about serving God. We cannot prioritize both. If we are all about serving God, then we understand that He has lordship over our finances. In the book of Exodus God demanded the first born of all the animals be sacrificed to Him. Not the second, the first. Not because He needed a steak dinner, but because His people needed to give Him their best to honor Him and to remind themselves of their own place. An animal was like cash money to the ancient people—and the best went to God. Do we really think it should be any different for us? Especially in a world of suffering and need, when giving not only humbles us, but provides for others?

BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT

We are a church that believes in holiness, which means we believe in living a life that is pure in thought, word, and deed. Song 591 in the songbook, Showers of Blessing, says, “I would be Thy holy temple, sacred and indwelt by Thee.” If we invite Christ to live within us, shall we ask Him to live in a mind that is entertained by filth, a body that is lazy or engaged in sin, or a spirit that is weak and selfish? Or shall we open ourselves up and say, “I’m yours. Clean me out. Make me pure. Make Yourself at home in me”?

SOLDIERS FOR CHRIST

2 Timothy 2:4 (NIV) says, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” We are soldiers of Christ. He is the true commanding officer. We must live holy lives that please Him because that is our only true and proper worship (Romans 12:1). When we live according to the Soldier’s Covenant, we live worshipful lives.

A PROMISE FOR LIFE
What You Never Knew About Christian Couples

How many years were William and Catherine Booth engaged?

  • A. One
  • B. Two
  • C. Three

Susanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles Wesley) was one of how many children?

  • A. 25
  • B. 18
  • C. 11

Jonathan and Sarah Edwards were married in 1727. What color did Sarah wear for the wedding, because Jonathan believed it was God’s favorite color?

  • A. White
  • B. Green
  • C. Red

Sarah was 99 years old when God told her husband, Abraham she would conceive a son. How old was Sarah when she died?

  • A. 156
  • B. 144
  • C. 127

Priscilla and Aquilla worked alongside one another in ministry and were instrumental in helping establish the early church. They worked together as______________.

  • A. builders
  • B. tent makers
  • C. farmers

How many years did Jacob work to marry his love, Rachel, after being tricked into marrying her sister, Leah?

  • A. Four
  • B. Seven
  • C. Fourteen

Widowed Ruth marries Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. What does that mean?

  • A. A male relative who delivers or rescues
  • B. kind friend
  • C. personal bodyguard

 

ANSWER KEY: C, A, B, C, B, C, A

Major Amy Reardon, Seattle Temple Corps Officer, Western Territory

A Promise of Holiness

ARTICLE 7 — I WILL OBSTAIN FROM ALCOHOLIC DRINK, TOBACCO, THE NON-MEDICAL USE OF ADDICTIVE DRUGS, GAMBLING, PORNOGRAPHY, THE OCCULT AND ALL ELSE THAT COULD ENSLAVE THE BODY OR SPIRIT.

Have you ever thought about the notion that God is a construction worker? The Bible teaches that each of us is the unique and beloved result of God’s creation project in His eternal plan for salvation. Since God formed the body, the vessel that carries soul and spirit, He has never stopped working in our lives to build us into the people He wants us to be, “using the mold of His Son, Jesus Christ” (Be Mature, 1978). The crucial matter for us in this process of completion relies upon our willful participation (Philippians 2:12-13) and obedient faith, as He continues to transform us into the image of His Son.

Having this awareness of who God is and of His unflinching interest in His people, Salvationists firmly stand together with this affirmation of Article 7 of the “I Promise” Covenant. It says: “I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult, and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.” This is a covenantal testimony that boldly demonstrates a sacred commitment to live a life of physical and spiritual purity as God’s special building project, responsible followers of Christ, and the example of hope and holy living.

THE DISEASE

The specific issues Article 7 points out remind us that harmful and sinful temptations are real and that no one is immune from them. If we don’t daily guard and protect our hearts and minds from those “diseases,” to keep ourselves holistically healthy in God’s eyes, we will become sick and eventually destroy our whole beings. The disease of sin destroys those who are being built by God and are meant to honor and glorify Him by holy living.

We should not forget the Biblical truth that God does not change His view of us as His beloved children, even with our shameful wrongdoings. His love is boundless and everlastingly patient. However, our Heavenly Father is saddened by the pain we cause when we commit and repeat sinful things. These things cause us to fall into a deep separation, distancing ourselves from Him who formed us in His image. The Bible urgently asks, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV).

THE REMEDY

There are no simple ways to escape from impurity, temptation, or any other fallen condition in this earthly living. Nevertheless, as Salvationists we firmly believe there is a true remedy for, and a response to, curing those conditions and every form of physical, mental, and moral disease (including those mentioned in Article 7). The God-given remedy for those enslaving struggles is the gift of grace through Christ’s blood poured out for us on the cross. Our response to those conditions comes through the power of God’s Word dwelling in our hearts. We urgently need to seek God’s daily will in our lives with the same conviction that the apostle Paul urges: “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from His perspective” (Colossians 3:1-2, The Message).

COME & COMMIT

For those who are enchained with the sickness of secretly veiled diseases now, it’s important to hear the good news of the Gospel. First, come to Christ (Matthew 11:28) who knows your pain and shame, and respond honestly to His calling: “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6b, NIV). Second, confess your sins (1 John 1:9) and trust that change is possible through the power of God’s forgiveness and restoring grace. Third, choose “to build a line of defense” with your eyes, in your mind, and in your heart (1 John 2:15-17; Every Young Man’s Battle, 2002). Finally, commit to follow Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3) and live a life that strives to answer this life-saving question: “How can young people keep their way pure?” (Psalm 119:9, NRSV). You will be a life-saving model for others that the answer can only be found in Christ, the true Hope and Gift for our victorious Life.

Let us anchor our lives to God’s Word as we continue our journey of living in purity in Christ: “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do this” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NRSV).

ARTICLE 8 — LEARN ABOUT PROMISE 8, A MISSIONAL PROMISE, WRITTEN BY MAJOR YOUNG KIM AT YOUNGSALVATIONIST.ORG/PROMISES

A PROMISE FOR LIFE
What You Never Knew About “Samuel Logan Brengle & the Army’s Symbols”

The Salvation Army flag is colored blue for purity, red for Christ’s saving blood, and yellow for _________________.

  • A.  the fiery baptism of the Holy Spirit.
  • B.  the light of the world, Jesus Christ.
  • C. the greatness of God’s commandments (Psalm 119:127).

General William Booth originally viewed Samuel Logan Brengle with skepticism and called him “dangerous” because _________________________ .

  • A. Brengle had been his own boss for a long time.
  • B. Brengle had previously been an atheist.
  • C. Brengle hunted for fun.

One of Brengle’s first duties at The Salvation Army Training Barracks in London was to shine the ___________  of his fellow cadets, a job considered lowly. He was okay with this since Jesus didn’t consider it below Himself to wash His disciples’ feet.

  • A. badges
  • B. boots
  • C. hat rims

The first Brengle Institute on holiness was held in Chicago of which year?

  • A. 1928
  • B. 1947
  • C. 1967

Brengle taught that talking evil about others “destroys all generous and kindly thoughts in us, and quenches  ________________.

  • A. love
  • B. humility
  • C. unity

Fill in the blank. “Do not waste your time trying to fix up a ________________ holiness. Just be holy because the Lord God is holy. Seek to please Him without regard to the likes or dislikes of men, and those who are disposed to be saved will soon see ‘Christ in you.’”— Samuel Logan Brengle

  • A. personal
  • B. unique
  • C. popular

* Samuel Logan Brengle was one of the Army’s foremost teachers of holiness.

ANSWER KEY: A, A, B, B, A, C

Major Young Sung Kim, Territorial Ambassador for Holiness, Eastern Territory

Game Time — Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
4.5/5 stars

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe follows the recent trend of “complete editions,” games that are less than five-or-so years old, re-released for the latest console, with all of the game’s content unlocked from the get-go, along with a few brand new features tossed in.

It’s hard not to feel like buying a game you already own but for a new system isn’t a colossal waste of money. It’s a flat fact that my wife and I could continue playing the regular version of Mario Kart 8 we already own for our last generation Wii U and get an extremely similar experience to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch. So the question that needs to be asked is simple: does this deluxe version justify its existence? Is it a different enough or improved enough experience on the Switch to justify $60 of your hard-earned dollars?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: If you have a Nintendo Console, Mario Kart 8 (either regular or deluxe) is as essential of a video game as video games get.

First, the most basic analysis. If, like myself, you are privileged enough to own a Switch, it’s worth owning MK8 Deluxe. The Switch is a unique console in that it comes packaged with two (albeit tiny) controllers. With it, you’re able to play the best version of MK8 with a friend while sitting on a plane or in a waiting room—that’s a rather wild experience. My wife and I will be taking a cross-country flight for an upcoming wedding, and we eagerly anticipate whittling away those hours in the air playing one of our favorite games propped up on a little airplane tray table.

MK8 Deluxe fixes a few technical issues from the vanilla MK8—most notably smoother performance and frame-rate when playing multiplayer. It also includes a few new racers, such as the Inkling kids from Splatoon, but the heavy lifter in MK8 Deluxe is the widely fleshed-out battle mode. The new collection of game modes adds countless hours of fun while challenging the player to experiment with new strategies and playstyles. If you owned the original MK8, the portability, playability fixes, and improved battle mode justify this purchase. If you’ve never played or don’t already own MK8 but have a Switch, there is no doubt that this game is a tent pole to this system, and Nintendo games as a whole. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best and most complete version of the best Mario Kart game Nintendo has made so far.

But here’s the thing that I kept thinking about while playing: you will be hard-pressed to find someone who has never enjoyed playing some version of Mario Kart. In terms of video games, it is a solid home-run for family entertainment. It’s almost a textbook example of the easy-to-learn, hard-to-master, and the deluxe version even comes with a series of settings that make the game easier for individual players instead of effecting the entire group. Mom can play at the highest difficulty, and at the same time, a child can have their controller set so that they never fall off the track and only have to worry about steering and using items. The balancing in these games is tuned to a perfect note; racers in first place are given a challenging handicap as an easy target for other items, and racers in last place are boosted with the most effective and devastating items on the track.

It’s got conflict without violence, challenge without exclusion, color and vibrancy without being annoying or overbearing. You are almost guaranteed to enjoy your time with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, as well as any friend you invite to join you. MK8 Deluxe is, in a way, joyful. You have to work hard at walking away from this game unsatisfied.

Kyle Reardon | Southern Territory

Listen Up! — May 2017

Artist: Hollyn
Album: One-Way Conversations
2/5 Stars

Holly Marie Miller, better known as Hollyn, is from Waverly, Ohio and began her career with a 2015 EP on Gotee Records. She primarily sings pop and R&B, and could be likened to Britt Nicole. One-Way Conversations has several good tracks, such as “Can’t Live Without” which deals with our relationship with God and how we long to feel His presence and love in our lives. “In Awe,” which is by far my favorite track, asks how God could lavish us with such undeserved and unlimited love. It could easily be used in a worship service and provides contrast with the predominant dance feel of the album. Despite having a few gems, the album falls pretty flat. Many songs sound like just another pop song, while “The Hills” pretty much only features her and feels juvenile. Hollyn should have a bright future, but this album is lackluster at best.

Band: Less Than Jake
Song: “Whatever the Weather”
5/5 Stars

Less Than Jake formed in Gainesville, Florida in 1992 and has been a staple of the ska-punk scene for decades. “Whatever the Weather” from their Sound the Alarm EP showcases their lighter side, both sonically and lyrically, as well as some versatility. The track’s mix is near perfect, allowing for the horns to cut through the instrumentation and blend with both of the vocalists. The chorus begins with “It’s out of my hands, these too heavy times” and ends with “No matter the weather, I’ll never waver.” This reminds me of Hebrews 10:23 which says “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.” If we hold on to Jesus and trust God with everything, it doesn’t matter what comes our way. If you’re not familiar with ska, this is a good song to get your foot in the door.

Caleb Trimmer

Living the Promise — Commissioners David & Barbara Jeffrey

Commissioned as officers on May 26, 1966 (Commissioner Barbara) and June 10, 1973 (Commissioner David), the Jeffrey’s approach their retirement on August 31, 2017 after decades of faithful service in The Salvation Army. Committed to the service of God and humanity, they exemplify integrity and an extravagant love for God. If your path crossed with theirs, you would undoubtedly be blessed by their witness. YS asked the Commissioners about their covenant of marriage and officership. Here’s what they had to say.

Young Salvationist: What was the date of your wedding?

August 23, 1969.

YS: What was your color scheme?

Red, yellow, and blue—a Salvation Army wedding.

YS: How many bridesmaids and groomsmen did you have?

Three each.

YS: Where were each of you born?

Waynesburg, Pennsylvania (Commissioner David) and Marion, North Carolina (Commissioner Barbara).

YS: When did you first meet Jesus?

David: I accepted Jesus as a child in the Pleasant Valley Methodist Church. I was a member of Grandma Reese’s Sunday School class. She was not a relative, but everyone called her Grandma Reese. She asked if any of us wanted to accept Jesus as our Savior, and I did! My parents were Christians. I later rededicated my life to Christ as a teenager at the Morgantown, West Virginia Corps. My first corps officer (the then Captain, later Major, Omer McKinney) had a great impact on my life through his preaching, his example, and the interest he took in me.

Barbara:  I came into contact with The Salvation Army when I was 11 years of age. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior on a beautiful Easter Sunday morning in my home corps in Gastonia, North Carolina. The corps officer, Major Preston Leonard was preaching and it was as if he was speaking only to me! I was led to the Lord by the Young People’s Sergeant-Major, Jerry Shultz. I was reminded that Jesus went to the cross and suffered for me. Hallelujah! He rose and now lives in my heart.

YS: When did you first meet your spouse?

David: I first laid eyes on Lieutenant Barbara Garris at a regional Corps Cadet Rally held at my corps. I heard the sweetest voice singing directly behind me, and when I turned around, I saw this beautiful young woman in officer’s uniform. I thought I was seeing an angel. She was the cutest and sweetest young woman I had ever met. I loved her personality, her dedication to Jesus, and her compassion for others.

About a year later she was transferred to be the youth officer in my corps. I was the YPSM at the time and we worked closely together on various youth programs. At some point we fell in love, which has lasted these past 49 years.

Barbara: I met David when I was transferred to the Morgantown Corps. I was dating someone at that time, but later I realized that David was the one I wanted to be with. I thought he was the best looking guy I had ever laid eyes upon and so much of a gentleman—most importantly, a wonderful Christian.

YS: What did you do on your first date?

David: Believe it or not, we conducted a series of two dozen open-air meetings in various neighborhoods and towns.

Barbara: On our first date we spent a day conducting a series of open-air meetings throughout the Morgantown, West Virginia area and surrounding communities. The number of open-air meetings were down and my corps officer said something needed to be done, so David and I got some people together and we conducted the open-airs.

YS: How did you know God chose you for each other?

David: I’m not sure I can identify just one moment. I do recall after a day of conducting open-air meetings as a group of young people, that evening we sensed our love for each other. I can still recall the exact place of our very first kiss. Every now and then when I visit my parents’ home we will stop at that spot and ask each other, “Do you remember?” And then we would kiss again.

I knew she was the wife for me as she was already a Salvation Army officer, which I had already committed to be, both to God as well as to my corps officer and Divisional Youth Secretary (then Captain, later Lt. Colonel, James Jay).

Barbara: I knew David was the one God had placed in my life. After serving in his home corps as assistant officer and sharing his love for Jesus, a few months later we started dating. He was preparing himself for officership, which affirmed that we could spend our lives together as officers in The Salvation Army. We were married soon after he entered the training college.

YS: What is your favorite memory of your wedding day?

David: Seeing my bride walk down the aisle.

Barbara: My favorite memory of our wedding day was sharing time with my maid of honor and bridesmaids who were a big part of my life.

YS: What do you love about your spouse?

David: Everything. She is the most caring and giving person I know.

Barbara: I love everything about David. I was attracted to him because I saw in him his love of God and a kindness that he always showed to others.

YS: What is your secret to marriage?

David: Accepting the other person as she is. Marriage is not 50/50—it is giving 100% to each other.

Barbara: I think the secret to our marriage has been that we have always served alongside of each other in our appointments and we have communicated on the issues that come our way.

YS: How did you know God called you to be an officer?

David: I always admired the preachers at the little country churches I attended as a child. I wanted to be like them. When I met the Army as a teenager and my first corps officer, Major Omer McKinney, I definitely wanted to be like him. I offered myself to the Army and they took a risk and accepted, trained, and appointed me.

Barbara: I knew that God called me to be an officer at the age of 14 during a Youth Councils in my home division. I knew God had been speaking to me during the weekend and on Sunday morning I went to the altar and made a commitment to officership. Three years later I entered the Training College.

YS: What session were each of you in during Training College?

David: Blood and Fire.

Barbara: My session of training was the Defenders of the Faith.

YS: How many years have each of you been officers?

Barbara: As of April 2017, I have 50 years of service as a Salvation Army officer.

David: 45. Will be 46 in June 2017.

YS: What was your first appointment as a married couple?

David: Barbara’s first appointment was Grafton, West Virginia. We were appointed as Cadet-Lieutenants after my first year of training.

YS: As you approach retirement in 2017, what are some highlights of your ministry together?

David: Seeing people saved and brought closer to the Lord. I love shepherding the flock of God even though most of our appointments have been in administration. To love and care for the flock God has given us has been the highlight.

Barbara: We loved serving together as a couple in all of our appointments.

YS: What advice can you share with readers pursuing God’s will for their lives?

David: Every person should consider themselves called by God. The Army needs officers. Why not offer yourself for service as an officer? Then it is up to the Army to either accept and train you or not. My life has been rich and rewarding. I have not one regret. I would do it all over again if I could.

Barbara: Some people struggle with thinking they need to have some kind of sign from God to let them know what to do in life, but I don’t think God always works that way. What we do in life should be done wholeheartedly. I believe if we seek and do everything as unto the Lord, then we can be sure He will show us the

FYI — May 2017

WHAT’S NEWS?

I have news for you: the devil is lying to you. He is doing everything he possibly can to trip you up, to confuse you, and to get you to believe things that are not from God. And he is crafty! He wraps up his lies with a silver bow, making them sound reasonable, sensible even. Why would Christians say that is wrong when the world has such valid points?

When you are struggling with what is right and wrong, instead of asking the world, we should be talking to our Christian counsels: our pastors, youth leaders, and local leaders. If they don’t know or don’t have biblical references, look to the Bible together. Another great resource is The Salvation Army International’s website (salvationarmy.org). There is a tab under “Our Faith” called “Positional Statements” that goes through why we believe what we believe on a lot of hot topics. Each statement is full of biblical references and explanation. Don’t believe Satan’s lies, uphold Christian integrity in every area of your life.

WHAT NOW?

When I was in college, I made a few hundred bucks a month doing odd campus jobs. It wasn’t a lot, but I was not a good steward of it and I didn’t tithe to my corps. I thought that my little contribution wouldn’t make a difference and I didn’t have a lot of money, so I was hesitant to spend it on other things than myself (especially when my cell phone bill was due).

The Lord commands us to give 10% of our income to the church. Have you ever wondered why? It’s certainly NOT because He is punishing you! He asks us to do it for our good! Not only do we learn selflessness and how to give to others freely, but  we also benefit so much from our corps. My corps has a monthly “family meal” together, they keep the chapel nice and warm during the winter and cool during the summer, they offer after-school programs, young adult nights, and our Bible Bowl team had a night of bonding and quizzing with pizza and yummy treats. The church pays for those things; how are they going to turn on the lights when we won’t support them? Consider your own stewardship habits and ask God to give you the courage to do your part. We can change the culture of giving in the church: it starts with one person willing to do what God calls them to.

Rachael Boynton | Spring Valley Corps | Greater New York

Nothing Better

Lt Colonel Mina Russell  (1903-2002)

“It sounds as though Salvation Army officership has been a happy, satisfying life for you. Is this true?” a War Cry reporter asked Lt. Colonel Mina Russell in 1975.

“There was no hesitation before [her] reply,” the reporter noted. “No careful consideration of implications, and emphasis, and choice of phrase. It was direct and enthusiastic, and fully confirmed by the quick smile and eager tone of voice which accompanied every word.”

“It is true,” said Russell. “And for me it has been verification of the truth found in Matthew 6:33, ‘But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’… I can only witness to everyone I meet that there is nothing better for a life than the will of God because it issues from the living heart of One who plans only the best for those He loves,” she said with full faith.

HOLY SURRENDER

Mina Russell has been hailed as “one of the Army’s foremost exponents of holiness.” How she got to that point follows the very process she mentioned: surrendering to the will of God. The Soldier’s Covenant, explored in this issue of Young Salvationist, encompasses the creed and beliefs of The Salvation Army, and the promises members make when joining. Some of these promises include being responsive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in life, upholding Christian values and integrity, being a faithful steward of your time and gifts, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Russell exemplified these promises to a high degree—often being a Christian witness to society’s “forgotten people,” such as the poor and homeless, the mentally ill, and the elderly.

A LIFETIME OF SERVICE

Russell was a New England girl. Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1903, she grew up in a Christian home. Her parents, Edward and Ellen Russell, were pioneer Salvationists from Newfoundland. From them, Mina Russell’s faith took root. “[My parents] made me feel that Christ is essential to a full, effective life,” Russell said in her 1975 War Cry interview.

Throughout the years, Russell’s love of the Lord grew steadily. Always active in her corps (church), she became the corps Young People’s Sergeant Major (YPSM) in her teens. She would leave this position, as well as her job as a store saleswoman, to enter the Record Breakers session at the New York training college.

Since her commissioning in 1923, and even through her retirement, Russell dedicated nearly 70 years of her life to serving others in The Salvation Army. Here are some of her most notable appointments:

1927: Russell became Field Training Secretary and Women’s Intelligence Officer at New York’s training college.

1930: She supervised the New York City women’s canteen, a Depression-era project.

1931: In Columbus, Goodale, and Pontiac, Ohio, Russell served as commanding corps officer.

1936: At Territorial Headquarters, Russell oversaw the candidates and education department.

1943: She then served as Chief Side Officer for women for 19 years.

1962: Russell became the Territorial Social Welfare Secretary.

1965: She then took on the role of Territorial Chaplain for retired officers.

1966: Russell officially retired, but still continued in her chaplaincy role for another five years.

1990: She led a weekly discussion class at the retirement community residence, and was an active soldier at Asbury Park corps.

THE SOURCE OF POWER

In each appointment she held, Russell modeled holiness in her words and actions out of her sheer love of the Lord. She became a trusted counselor to many cadets and officers over the years by living out these Christ-like qualities.

Russell also formally taught holiness practices as one of the original planners of the first Brengle Institute held in Chicago in 1947. Afterwards—as both an active and retired officer—she frequently participated in Brengle Institutes and prayer seminars throughout the Army world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

One of Russell’s primary teachings was on prayer. She believed “The Army’s greatest need is prayer” and that “prayer is the source of spiritual power.” She taught that “the more simply we trust prayer power for guidance in planning, inaugurating, and sustaining our work, the more personally and collectively we will fulfill God’s plan and enjoy His blessing.”

ORDER OF THE FOUNDER

In the words of Commissioner Robert Thomson, Mina Russell was “a dedicated, disciplined, modest, gentle spirit” who “served faithfully and effectively above and beyond the call of duty as a Salvation Army officer.” In recognition of her exemplary service, General Eva Burrows admitted Russell to the Order of the Founder in 1992.

PURE RELIGION

Actions often speak louder than words because they are a true test of what we believe. In the Bible, James directs this notion towards Christianity when he asks: “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (James 2:14)

To put faith into action, to be a genuine follower of Christ and live up to the title of “Christian,” we must constantly act in love. James defines what this looks like. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Similar to the Soldier’s Covenant, James is urging the Church to truly practice what they preach.

 

FINDING THE STRENGTH

But that can often be easier said than done. How does one get to that point of being more and more like Christ every day? Lt. Colonel Mina Russell’s advice was prayer.

In her 1975 War Cry interview, Russell was asked about a common problem people have: getting over the struggle to pray. She replied:

“I think difficulty in praying has its source in disbelief. I’m not sure that we really believe God, or that prayer is contact with Him… If prayer is God’s way of keeping in touch with us, if it is His way of giving needed strength and wisdom, if it is our way of transmitting love to others through God, if it is all this and more—why don’t we pray more?”

GOD IS READY WHEN WE ARE

“Time to pray seems to be a major problem, too,” Russell continued. “It is a sad reflection that as Christians we will often give God our lives, our skills, our talents, our voices and our money—but not our time. We cannot spare the time to listen to God and to talk to Him. We are busy people—too busy! Someone has suggested that we are like players in an orchestra who are so intent on playing that we don’t take time to tune our instruments and consequently play out of tune. Prayer problems are of our own making. God is ready when we are.”

Mariam Aburdeineh, Editoria Assistant

Jon’s Covenant is Preparing Him for Youth Ministry

Two people figure prominently in Jon Blanchard’s life, leading him to a covenant with God that has radically changed his life-direction.

“P.J. Ellis was a football teammate of mine during our junior and senior years in high school,” Jon explains. “I had heard that he was a pretty religious guy and I was a little curious, so I began to stay after practice and just sit in the locker room and talk to him about his beliefs and his church background.”

One day Jon heard the music P.J. was listening to and was shocked to find that it was Christian hip-hop.

“I was blown away!” Jon confesses. “Like, how could a Christian be involved in rap? I was raised in Fundamental Baptist churches and that would have been more than frowned upon! I took those things I learned from P.J. and let them marinate in my mind.”

Turns out, P.J. invited Jon to a barn dance at his church. Jon agreed to go and there he met Betsy Best, who would become Jon’s second major influence.

“Betsy and I became great friends and when I went away to college we often text-messaged one another,” Jon says.

Jon started college at Siena Heights University on a football scholarship. He played at lineman, and focusing on football, friends, and fun were his only interests. But Jon became very ill and over the span of eight weeks he was mostly bedridden and ended up losing 80 pounds.

“I had to have two surgeries on my throat and I went from a 300-pound lineman who could bench 350+ to a sickly-looking 215-pound student who could barely lift himself out of bed,” Jon says.

Jon was completely depleted; his whole identity was gone because all he was known for was his ability to play football. So he began a desperate search into religions to find answers to his “life questions.”

“I found Christ that winter!” Jon marvels. “I found Him speaking so clearly that all the other religions who wanted me to be good were misleading—but that Jesus knew that I was not good enough and He came down as God in human flesh, with human emotion, and lived a human life to redeem me because I would never be able to.”

This was a truth Jon could make a covenant to—devoting his life in ministry to other youth searching for answers.

Jon transferred to Grand Canyon University as a dual degree major in Communications and Biblical Studies. He was headed back home for break and was seriously considering finding a church/ministry to volunteer his time and get some experience in youth ministry.

“I had contacted some of my family and friends, asking if anyone had any connections or if they knew of a church/ministry that I could pursue.”

This is where God showed His plan for Jon’s life had already been in the works long before Jon could imagine.

“I learned that Betsy’s parents (Majors Tim & Beverly Best) were Salvation Army Officers at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in South Bend, Indiana,” Jon says. “I met with them and to my surprise they had a job lined up for me and I was blessed to see God making a path clear and using The Salvation Army to do so.”

Jon admits that like many people, his knowledge of The Salvation Army before then was limited to thrift stores.

“After four years now I can honestly say that the Army is much, much more than I would have ever imagined. The amount of service and care the Army offers worldwide is amazing and I get to be a part of that!”

Jon loves pastoring teens and young adults at the South Bend Kroc. He also has a heart for global ministry of some sort.

“Working with (teens and young adults) here in South Bend, I see so many obstacles that surround them,” Jon says, “and I am constantly seeking wisdom from God on what I can do to meet a need or solution.”

Jon is sold on the Army’s mission and ministry, and looks forward to keeping the promise he made with God back in the winter of 2012.

“The Salvation Army offers a huge opportunity to serve others and meet the needs of those I encounter on a daily basis. (I am) a young man who is growing in my walk with the Lord; while He offers new challenges daily to help me grow!”

—Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor

Game Time — Mass Effect: Andromeda

Mass Effect: Andromeda — 4/5 Stars

Mass Effect: Andromeda is an action/adventure role-playing game developed by Bioware. The game begins as thousands of human colonists from the Milky Way arrive after traveling 600 years to be pioneers in the Andromeda galaxy. The colonists are greeted by a galaxy ravaged by a mysterious planet-altering Scourge and infested with an aggressive alien threat, the Kett. The Kett’s motives are unknown, but their violent intentions are quickly made clear. You play as a Pathfinder, a person tasked with finding the colonists a peaceful home in Andromeda.

The visual quality of Mass Effect: Andromeda leaves something to be desired. At times, character animations look weirdly bloated, almost cartoonish. The overall quality is inconsistent; some areas of the game feature stunning visuals while others lack polish.

Mass Effect: Andromeda’s gameplay is a mix of combat, storytelling, and exploration. The combat is notably smoother than previous Mass Effect games. Your character is equipped with a “Jump Jet” jetpack, providing drastically increased mobility and allowing you to dodge and jump to tactical vantage points.

The game’s story begins slowly. However, once things get rolling, Andromeda reveals a stunning tale featuring a handful of new alien races, deep mysteries, and a quest for peace over conflict. The Andromeda galaxy comes to life as your Pathfinder character becomes that of a Peacemaker, finding a home to meet the needs of everyone.

One of Mass Effect: Andromeda’s strongest points is the sheer volume of content. The game’s levels are massive and full of interesting nooks and crannies to explore. This recaptures the feeling of epic space exploration that made the original Mass Effect so great. If you’re the type of player who enjoys doing each and every side quest, you will not be disappointed.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is primarily a single-player game. However, it does feature a token cooperative multiplayer mode in which players work together to survive waves of AI enemies. Unfortunately, the multiplayer experience is laggy, buggy, and rather bland.

The game features a smartphone companion app called the Apex HQ. The app allows you to edit your multiplayer characters and send “strike teams” on missions from your phone to earn items for your single-player campaign. I enjoyed sending out teams as I went about my day and coming home to in-game rewards.

Mass Effect: Adromeda is a good game. However, I’ve come to expect great from the Mass Effect franchise, and this offering fell slightly short of my hopes. That said, a subpar Mass Effect game is still a decent video game. Despite its flaws, Mass Effect: Andromeda was an enjoyable experience, and the sheer amount of content and depth makes this a world worth diving into.

Chris Clark | Portland | Northern New England