God is Working – In Our Lives!

by Warren L. Maye

The second day of OOB Camp meetings 2023 began as a sunlit Sunday morning service. As Salvationists, who were dressed in Army blue and pristine white uniforms, took their seats, expectation filled the air. Powerful music from the New York Staff Band (NYSB) and the Canadian Staff Songsters (CSS) combined to produce exciting melodies. All of this mirrored the hopes and dreams of the people who had packed the Seaside Pavilion to hear an important word from the Lord.

Revealing and heartfelt testimonies from Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) program beneficiaries lit up large flatscreens. Their amplified voices and heart–rending messages resonated with the audience. “My first love was alcohol,” said Mike Jameson, one of those who shared his testimony. “It helped fill a painful void. But eventually, I realized that God had to come first before my life could change. I could never have stayed this sober this long without God being first.”

The ARC Chorus aligned themselves front and center on the platform. Composed of as many as 80 singers, they included beneficiaries, staff, administrators, and ARC leaders Lt. Colonels James W. III and Sue–Ellen Betts. They sang from their hearts while rendering such songs as “God Is Working Even Now,” and “Walking Free.”

Friends and relatives in the audience encouraged the singers by standing, cheering, clapping, and even dancing in rhythm with the music. Eventually, the entire audience rose to their feet and applauded them. Loud and exuberant praise continued until each singer returned to his or her seat. The process took several minutes and evoked such emotion, that many singers and audience members lifted their tear–stained eyes toward the rafters in praise to God.

Other forms of worship such as the MOVE dance troupe and UNBOUND also help set the tone for spontaneous worship. When the CSS returned to the platform, they and the NYSB beautifully rendered “Bless The Lord Oh My Soul” with serenity and harmony.

Commissioner G. Lorraine Bamford, Territorial President of Women’s Ministries, read Scripture from Luke 5: 12–16. Then the NYSB offered another sacred expression of God’s love through their rendition of “Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord.”

Commissioner William A. Bamford III, Territorial Commander, called everyone to pray. “Commissioner Floyd Tidd is in need of a miracle to heal him from a severe health challenge,” Bamford said with trembling voice. “We are a praying people who trust in God as the Miracle Worker.” Commissioner William W. Francis then prayed, “We boldly ask You for healing, oh Lord!”

Remembering a transformed life

Bamford said he was particularly moved by the ARC Chorus and their many testimonies. He said they reminded him of  his own experience with Benji Sawyer, a local man who after many years of struggling with alcohol, came to Christ. But after surviving a blood clot in his leg, which was amputated, Benji then contracted COVID–19. Due to other pre-existing conditions, he passed away. “But I believe he is in heaven,” said Bamford, who had prayed with Benji many times.

During his focus on how God is working in our lives, Bamford cited several instances in the Bible where people turned to Jesus with great anticipation of being healed or gaining a deeper understanding of biblical truth: the man who was covered with leprosy (Matthew 8: 2); Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector (Luke 19); Nicodemus the curious but respectful Pharisee who wanted to know how to be born again (John 3).

“In each case,” said Bamford, they were probably thinking. ‘I have a new outlook on life.’ There was enthusiasm. There was excitement. There was Jubilee. There was a joy in their heart.”

Bamford expressed the idea that each one of us suffers from a form of spiritual “leprosy” that keeps us from contacting Jesus, yet He is continuing to reach out to touch us. “This morning, it would be wonderful for each of us to say, ‘Jesus, reach out Your hand and touch me.”

That afternoon, Salvationists conducted a “March of Witness” down Old Orchard Beach Street to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and to touch others for Him.

Meetings will continue at the Seaside Pavilion, the Pier, on the beach, and at the OOB Chapel. See saconnects.org for details.