‘Choosing life’ at OOB!
People who responded affirmatively were indeed glad to have arrived in Maine safely amidst severe weather conditions in the area that had spawned a tornado that touched down in Boston, causing widespread damage, and on Monday, the cancellation of Point of Grace (a singing group) left stranded at an airport.
Thankfully at the camp, fair weather prevailed most of the weekend as people descended on the resort town from the United States and from Canada to enjoy powerful preaching, thoughtful Bible studies, amazing Pier ministries, and some “fun in the sun.”
Maynor acknowledged the presence of Commissioners Barry C. and E. Sue Swanson, territorial leaders; Commissioners Eva D. and Israel L. Gaither; Commissioners Carol A. and W. Todd Bassett; and Commissioner Nancy A. Moretz, all seated in the audience.
Special guests for the weekend, Commissioners Dick and Vibeke Krommenhoek, who are the territorial leaders of the Norway, Iceland, & the Faroes Territory, stood and offered an enthusiastic salute. They had just arrived following a 31–hour flight from Singapore.
Also on hand were the Eastern Territorial Songsters, the Montclair Citadel Band, the Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) Choir, and the M–Band. Their passionate singing and instrumental music set the tone for inspiring praise & worship as well as for a stimulating evening message, delivered by Major Kevin Stoops, Montclair Citadel corps officer.
“Choose life!” was the essence of his carefully and strategically delivered message. Stoops mentioned the words alive, live, and life 72 times during his presentation to the opening–night audience.
“He is the way, the truth, and the life,” said Stoops with great passion. “He is the bread of life. He came to give us abundant life ….”
However, Stoops warned of the “enemy,” whose primary purpose is to destroy life and our precious relationship with the Lord and with people. He said that choosing life over death is a daily decision we all must make.
To illustrate his point, Stoops told the story of the man who fell 60 feet onto hard ground. Although paramedics encouraged him during his ride to a hospital, upon his arrival doctors offered a grim prognosis.
“At that point, the man knew he had to do something to turn the situation around,” said Stoops. While responding to a barrage of questions directed to the man by the nurses, one asked, “Are you allergic to anything?” To which the man said, “Yes—gravity!” The obvious joke communicated loud and clear to the medical team to get busy. This man was determined to laugh his way through a dire situation—and to live.
Stoops said that Christ is the source of all happiness, joy, and life and cautioned the audience that, while at Old Orchard Beach, they should resist the temptation to substitute “fun in the sun” for a true relationship with the Son of God.
In conclusion, Stoops made a special request of everyone. “I want you to turn to the person next to you or behind you and ask him or her one simple question,” he said. “‘What do you want God to do for you—right now?’” Answers to that question caused a buzz as enthusiastic conversations erupted, followed by audible prayers that filled the room and rose to the rafters.
On Sunday morning, Commissioner Vibeke Krommenhoek, took her text from Matthew 10:28 and made it clear in her thoughtful sermon that God wants us all to know that we matter greatly to Him.
To illustrate how the world makes people feel insignificant, Krommenhoek explained that during the Holocaust, the Nazis tattooed numbers on the arms of their Jewish captives. Referencing them by number rather than by name dehumanized those people.
Krommenhoek also said that Red Square in Moscow and Tiananmen Square in China were designed so large that it would be impossible to recognize the face of a person on the other side of the square, again lowering the significance of anyone who would step into those great spaces.
“But we all matter to God,” Krommenhoek said, “no matter how insignificant we might seem.” Reading Matthew 10:29–31 she said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Krommenhoek encouraged her audience to “have their antennas out” to detect people around them who might be feeling left out and insignificant. As an example, she pointed out how at the Willow Creek Church, pastored by Rev. Bill Hybels, such antennas are always up. “People will ask you, ‘Where do you come from? Who are you?’ We were visitors among 10,000 people, yet we never felt left out.” Krommenhoek said that if such a feeling of significance can be achieved in such a large church, surely it could also be realized in a typical Salvation Army corps.
She closed her presentation with a soloist from the M–Band singing General John Gowan’s song, “Someone Cares.” The audience joined in as Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, territorial commander, took the lead.
by Warren L. Maye