The end is near – and still there is hope (Toronto 7)

It is the fifth day of the conference and although it is a day with the same schedule as all the other days (apart from the outing to the Niagara Falls) we are feeling the vibrations of departure.

We have got our respective times for transport pick up to the airport tomorrow and a bit more coffee and tea is needed to keep us alert in the afternoon.

And even though we have all the comforts here that we possibly can ask for – air condition, plenty of food, fruits, coffee, tea and cakes, a comfortable room and amazing fellowship – we are reminded in various ways that this is a privilege enjoyed by a minority in the world.

When a person from Africa has been the officer of the day, which includes saying a prayer before meals, they have always included praying for those who have no food. And I seem to hear that they have plenty of faces that comes to their mind.

In the morning Bible study the theme One Army – In Hope also brought up examples of how different peoples’ circumstances are. There are all the people without hope in the affluent world because they see no meaning in life. There are the students in India who commit suicide because they fail their exams and dare not come home because no exam means no income to pay back the loan the family took to pay for university fees.

And here we are, experiencing the foundation of all hope – that God’s promises are true and that hope is guaranteed in the atonement and resurrection of Christ.

This serious, but also hopeful, theme continued with the first paper about the marginalized. It is people that society generally do not bother with, who can not just pull themselves together or who just suffer silently. But we were reminded about God’s passion for justice and redemption for all. I felt renewed in my conviction that it is God’s idea to have a Salvation Army to reach these individuals with his love.

The afternoon session about Integrated Mission connected to this. I was interested to hear that they have practised this for some time in Argentina. And there was no need for employing extra people or having more halls. For example, the officer and some soldiers went from door to door in a poor village. They asked what the people saw as the biggest problem in the community. The most common answer was that none collected their garbage. They gathered the people in someone’s home and the officer just facilitated the discussion and the local people came up with a solution to their problem. Of coursed they shared encouragement and prayers and came regularly to follow up on things. A few years later there is an outpost in the village.

I am quite sure we can adapt that way of thinking and building relationships, also called Faith Based Facilitation, to the situation in Sweden.

Ending the day with a walk in the little nearby park, I enjoyed the local wildlife – rabbits, squirrels (black ones!), birds, a butterfly and something rattling in the grass that I did not see what it was.

Soon it is Saturday, which will my big day here.

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