Mass youth ‘Stand Strong’
Imagine: A soldier’s silver armor gleams brilliantly as it deflects the enemy’s fiery darts. Emblazoned below this compelling image is the command “Stand Strong.”
Delegates who attended Youth Councils at Camp Wonderland in Sharon, Mass., from May 16–18 were 275 strong and encouraged to put on the full armor of God in order to stand against the devil’s schemes.
Major Philip A. Lloyd, territorial youth secretary, told how, during his first day of high school, an upperclassman who had bullied him in the cafeteria later asked, “Are you ‘Little’ Lloyd?” That’s when young Philip realized that he was under the protection of his older brother, Leo, a senior—whom no one dared cross. “We try to act strong in our own strength,” Lloyd said to the delegates, “but God stands at the ready to protect us, to ‘get our back.’ We just have to turn to Him.”
Commissioner E. Sue Swanson, territorial president of women’s ministries, shared from her heart how The Salvation Army shielded her mother as she grew up in a desperate situation. “Praise God that corps was open every day, because it truly was my mom’s safe place when no other place was safe.”
On Saturday afternoon, delegates tested their strength in the “Armor Run,” a paint ball battle. They revealed multicolored “scars” on white Stand Strong “T” shirts made by the pigment, which flew all over an obstacle–covered field. Participants hurled pigment–filled tennis balls and balloons and barely escaped colliding with one another in the “Belly Bumper Arena.”
Saturday evening at the Boston Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center, “Holy Hip Hop” from Beyond Muzik and Major Jodi Lloyd, associate youth secretary, and a black light timbrel drill had the delegates jumping. After surprising them with her rap skills on the LL Cool J classic, “I Need Love,” Major Lloyd encouraged delegates to surrender to God and to watch how He surprises them with His love, grace, and provision.
On Sunday morning, the Holy Spirit’s presence was powerful as Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, territorial commander, spoke. “I just want you to know how much I love you,” he said. Then Swanson displayed a shield from antiquity. “The shield is an interesting thing. Yes, it could be used for an individual’s protection—and many armies had the technology to link each shield together. Those united shields formed a wall of protection that allowed the army to advance.”
In response, delegates committed to standing strong lined the altar as the congregation sang “How Great Is Our God” led by Major David Kelly, divisional commander. More than a dozen young people made a public declaration of God’s call on their lives to become Salvation Army officers.
by Captain Jason Knaggs