OOB Camp Meetings 19 | Daily Wrap-up
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Seeking His Glory
General and Commissioner Peddle kick off OOB Camp Meetings
General Brian Peddle, international leader of The Salvation Army, challenged delegates Saturday evening at the annual Old Orchard Beach (OOB) Camp Meetings in Maine to embrace “the significance of the glory of God in every aspect of life and liberty as we know it.” He said definitively that “we cannot, we must not diminish the glory of God and the sense of awe and wonder.”
Nestled in the Salvation Army’s spacious Pavilion on Union Avenue, the General and Commissioner Peddle kicked off the week of meetings by offering powerful words of praise to God. Referring to his travels throughout the Salvation Army world, he said, “I have seen the Glory of God!”
The General also expressed great hope for the Army’s ability to succeed where work still needs to be accomplished. “Where appropriate, we need to restore that glory where it has been lost. As we live, we are ultimately charged with the responsibility of declaring that glory through our living.”
With passion and intentionality, he restated his and the Salvation Army’s deep and abiding commitment to serve the territory and the world for Christ. “We share in the glory of God!”
The General’s pearlescent smile radiated from the OOB Pavilion platform as he spoke to an audience filled with Salvation Army officers, soldiers, relatives, and friends. His message for the evening, based on 1 Chronicles 16:7–25, pinnacled an evening filled with outstanding performances.
Redeemed by the blood!
The meeting began with a heartfelt welcome by Colonel Kenneth O. Johnson, Jr., chief secretary for the USA Eastern Territory, who said “We are glad that you are here this evening. We are confident that prayers are going to be answered and lives are going to be changed!”
When Colonel Johnson asked, “Is the Adult Rehabilitation Center in the house tonight?” Many people in the Pavilion’s left wing stood and shouted, “redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!” Then more people in the right wing also stood and shouted the same words, “redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!” To everyone’s surprise, other groups also stood and shouted those words.
The New York Staff Band’s (NYSB) musical selection “All–Powerful” (M. Venables) and the audience’s singing of “My Redeemer’s Praise” lifted the wings of the Pavilion like the cool evening breeze.
Commissioner William A. Bamford III, Territorial Commander, introduced the international leaders to the audience as they received flowers.
In response, Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, World President of Women’s Ministries, said, “We have heard of OOB for many years, but this is our first visit. It’s incredible and we are grateful for this opportunity. You have come to see the General and we have come to see you. We pray God will touch us this week.” She also prayed God would continue to give her and the General opportunity to stay in touch with their family who, because of their Army appointments, are spread far and wide. Then she joined the ARC voices in repeating the mantra, “we’re redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!”
“I have come here with an open heart to hear from God,” she said, “to hear the power, the presence, and the glory of God. Be ready for the wave of the Holy Spirit. May something happen that you never expected!”
Commissioner G. Lorraine Bamford, Territorial President of Women’s Ministries, prayed for the General and Commissioner Peddle. Among many other things, Bamford said, “Father, we give you praise, the Maker of all things. You know so well what is on our hearts and minds. Be their guard, shield, vision, and the ruler of their hearts for such a time as this.”
The Territorial Arts Ministries Team (TAM) performed a thoughtful drama entitled, “Be still, for the GLORY of the Lord…” UNBOUND led praise & worship by performing an inspiring rendition of “What a Beautiful Name,” and “Light of the World.” The Eastern Territory Staff Songsters sensitively performed “I Have Seen the Glory” (C. Brindley).
The Eastern Territorial Staff Songsters concluded the meeting with “The Majesty and the Glory” (T. Fettke).
Tomorrow, the Sunday morning holiness meeting at the Pavilion will begin promptly at 10 a.m., led by Commissioner William A. Bamford III, territorial commander, and will include the music of the NYSB Chorus, the ARC Chorus, and the ETSS. A host of musicians, singers, soloists, and sacred dancers will also minister.
General Peddle will speak again, this time under the theme, “His Presence.”
Since the founding of the town in 1883, Old Orchard Beach continues to be a popular summer destination for thousands of beach goers who enjoy the seafood, the amusements, the ocean view, and the warm sands and water. For 131 of those years, The Salvation Army has ministered to the residents and summer vacationers there. Each succeeding year, the Army’s presence and footprint grows at the camp grounds and at the Pier.
by Warren L. Maye
Standing in His Presence
Ask God, ‘what’s next?’
God’s glorious sun shone through the Seaside Pavilion Sunday morning as camp meeting delegates eagerly took their seats throughout the massive open–air auditorium. Speakers, sacred dancers, musicians, and singers gathered separately and in groups. They joined hands and prayed earnestly to God for the ministry that was about to unfold.
On the momentum of Saturday night’s stirring meeting, General Brian Peddle, leader of the international Salvation Army, delivered another contemplative message, this time based on Exodus 33:12–18 where the Lord tells Moses, “My Presence will go with you.” General Peddle then gave an account of God’s presence around the Salvation Army world, naming nations and continents. “If I could, I’d take you to the continents of Africa and Europe; to East Asia, South Asia, Indonesia, and the Caribbean!” More than any time in history, The Salvation Army is enjoying the highest number of active commissioned officers, access to resources, and is present in 131 countries. “We are living in the days of plenty,” he said.
The General then challenged his audience with the question, “what are we going to do and how are we going to be accountable during the days God has given to us?” He said, according to Worldwatch, a research institute, there are 50 countries where being a Christian is extremely difficult. “The Salvation Army serves in 23 of those countries,” he said. “Seven territories are in the top 10. Do you realize you have the responsibility of praying for almost half of your soldier colleagues who do not find it as easy to stand and give their testimony as you do?”
However, the General assured everyone of God’s commitment to Salvationists everywhere. “God shouts into the face of the evil one, ‘do not touch the anointed of God!’” Peddle then challenged his audience to be bold enough to ask God, “What’s next?”
Seekers responded to the message by coming forward and kneeling in prayer. Arms wrapped around shoulders, heads bowed, hands clasped, tears streamed from partially closed eyes, voices broke, and in some cases, only the moans uttered from trembling lips could be heard.
Their actions seemed to culminate all of the worship, all of the music, all of the drama, all of the sacred dance, and all of the praise to God that had set the stage for this significantly spiritual moment. Indeed, God’s presence was manifest in the actions and words of people who had carefully listened to the General’s powerful message and had taken it to heart.
March of witness at the Pier
At 3 p.m., a parade of uniformed Salvationists marched boldly and with much fanfare to the Old Orchard Beach Pier. The New York Staff Band (NYSB) played, tourists took photos, children waved, and young people clapped to the beat. Some residents sat on roofs to get a bird’s eye view. Some motorcyclists also joined the parade.
Business owners stepped out of their shops. Antique and souvenir store workers paused at their cash registers, ice cream parlor workers held scoops in midair, and even tattoo parlor artists halted the flow of ink to catch a glimpse of the spectacle.
At the Pier, a concert intertwined with video testimonies from young Salvationists captivated onlookers. The Eastern Territory Staff Songsters (ETSS) braved 80–degree temperatures to perform on stage. The New York Staff Band offered the crowd traditional Army hymns, as well as cultural favorites such as “New York, New York” and “The Sound of Music’s” “Climb Every Mountain.”
“When the Army is on the streets instead of inside a room, God moves in ways that we may not see right away, but is certainly happening,” said Lieutenant Donald Spencer. “This is also the best weather I’ve seen here in a very long time.”
Major Kathy Wadman, a retired officer who has been coming to Old Orchard Beach for 40 years, said it was one of the best parade days she had ever seen. She had waited for the march to reach her at the Pier. “At 71, I just don’t march as much as I used to,” Wadman said, smiling.
Seeking God’s power
On Sunday evening, Commissioner Rosalie Peddle delivered a message that spoke to the divine power of God. Using Acts 4:1–13, 18, 23–31, as dramatically recited by Major Inger M. Furman,
Peddle cited the examples of Peter and John who went before the Sanhedrin and boldly proclaimed the power of Christ after healing a lame man.
Commissioner Peddle pointed out the sheer courage of these men who spoke God’s truth in the face of intimidating powers. Her voice carried a tone of admiration as she carefully described the way in which these disciples of Jesus remained steadfast, even after being jailed for their faith.
The commitment of Peter and John on that day became the catalyst for a movement that grew to as many as 5,000. When they acknowledged from whom they had received such power to heal, they boldly proclaimed, “Jesus of Nazareth—the stone you builders rejected!”
Peddle said, “God’s resurrection power is the only power we need. He allowed the cross but had the last word in the resurrection.” She spoke of Peter and John’s “holy boldness,” which made them “convincing and convicting.” She said, “Because they had been with Jesus, they were filled with the Spirit and confident in the truth and the power of the gospel. They preached the power of the resurrection.”
Powerful singing from the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command (ARCC) beneficiaries and administrators had set the tone for worship. Following a heart–touching video testimony, as many as 100 diverse voices, both men and women, ministered to the audience by singing and reciting the lyrics of “Power in the Blood,” “Jesus Paid It All,” and “Be Still.”
Tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m., the NYSB will be in concert at the Pavilion, hosted by Lt. Colonel James LaBossiere, Secretary for Program.
by Warren L. Maye and Hugo Bravo
Walk, run, LEAD
and the music of ministry
The Freedom 5K Run/Walk
Runners and walkers arrived early at the Old Orchard Beach High School to kick off the Salvation Army’s Freedom 5K Run/Walk. The event will help raise money for the Well, the Army’s anti-human trafficking program.
“We have a good turnout, with a lot of people doing some last–minute registering, and it’s a run that helps benefits the Well,” said Jenny Clark, the anti–trafficking ministries coordinator for The Salvation Army in Maine. “Sex trafficking happens in all towns and in all states. The Well does everything it can to help the victims.”
Many of the runners wore navy blue t–shirts designed by The Salvation Army Trade store. Images on the shirts promoted the numerous sponsors of this year’s race.
“We have had shirts for the runners before, but this is the first year that Trade has printed them. That has helped encourage people to wear them for the race,” said Clarke.
At the start line, Major Ronda Ferreira welcomed the runners and reminded them that every dollar raised will support women at the Well and help them escape their life of exploitation.
“Over this past year, the Salvation Army in Portland has provided financial assistance, spiritual care, and a network of support to survivors who want to rebuild their lives,” said Major Ferreira. “Many have gone from homelessness to safe and stable homes, and we have even accompanied women to court to face and testify against their traffickers.”
“On behalf of the Portland staff and volunteers, we say ‘thank you’ to all of you,” said Major Ferreira to the runners. “Today, we ask God to bless our efforts to help those who need it the most.”
General pumps up LEAD delegates
General Brian Peddle’s personable nature immediately won over the 75 delegates attending the opening day of the LEAD Leadership Summit. LEAD is a weeklong corps leadership event held at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine in conjunction with the Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings.
Most of the delegates are local officers and the chance to meet and hear the General in such an intimate setting was a treat. General Peddle, who said he rarely gets to meet lay leaders, took the opportunity to thank them.
“I’m standing here saying grateful thanks to God for people who have jobs and responsibilities and still find that sensitivity of heart to be able to say ‘yes’ to the Lord Jesus in helping us with the Kingdom,” Peddle said.
Accompanying the General and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle were Commissioners William A. and G. Lorraine Bamford, the USA East’s territorial leaders, who had just finished the Freedom 5-K Run/Walk.
General Peddle said laypeople have played an important role in upholding the Church from its beginning in the book of Acts. While commissioned officers come and go, Peddle noted that local officers stay put and continue in their particular calling. When he and Commissioner Rosalie were appointed to a new corps, he always wanted to learn about the local officers.
“How grateful we were for mature, committed, called people,” the General said. “My appreciation for local officers and leaders comes from a very practical experience. We’ve been corps officers and we’ve been divisional leaders and I’ll put forward to you this morning that without the resource of people like yourselves, the goals that I’ve just referred to would have been very difficult.
“You would be amazed how many of you exist around the world and how important that is to The Salvation Army,” he continued. “What a great picture of God’s Church.”
Peddle left the delegates with the words of Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
The General also took a few questions from delegates. When asked about goals, he replied, “To win the world for Jesus!”
‘That was God’
Commissioner William Bamford told LEAD delegates the true story of a man, a wife, and their son who wandered into the Pavilion on Sunday night from the surrounding neighborhood. As a musical family, they were attracted to the sounds of the New York Staff Band (NYSB) and other musicians emanating from the meeting.
Commissioner Lorraine Bamford sought the family, told them about The Salvation Army’s rich history, and invited them to tonight’s NYSB concert as well as to the Pier Ministry.
“That wasn’t just a happenstance,” Commissioner Bill said. “That was God!”
NYSB in concert
Even before the NYSB played a single note or the chorus uttered a song, a rousing applause from the audience filled the Seaside Pavilion. People shouted, clapped hands, and pierced the air with whistles of approval. The enthusiasm expressed as each band member mounted the platform and took his or her seat was both a precursor for what was to come, and a reflection of that which has gone on at this historic venue.
Since 1887, the NYSB has maintained the highest standards of musical practice and Christian ministry. As one of the nation’s oldest, continuous musical ensembles, it has rightfully been heralded as ‘America’s Foremost Brass Band.’
Lt. Colonel James LaBossiere, Secretary for Program, welcomed everyone to the concert. “To say it’s a joy to come together is an understatement.” Referring to Psalm 103, he said, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul!”
Bandmaster Derek Lance offered a word of thanks to former band members in the audience.
Commissioner William Bamford introduced the General and presented a gift to him and Commissioner Rosalie. The territory also reserved seat J-50 in the Pavilion in case he ever wants to return.
“These have been great days and they have a few more days with us,” Bamford said. “We want you to know, most of all, we will be praying for you.”
Beach Bible Study will commence tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at the end of Union Avenue under the leadership of Colonel Janet Munn. The Corps Bible Study in the Chapel will begin at 10:30 a.m., led by Dr. Roger Green. The day will culminate in an exciting and fun Camp Meeting Family Night at the Pavilion starting at 5 p.m. The Pier Ministry Festival will start at 7 p.m.
by Hugo Bravo, Robert Mitchell, and Warren L. Maye
Bible study and family night at OOB
Chapel Bible Study
Dr. Roger J. Green, a Salvationist and Professor Emeritus of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College, led the Bible study in the Old Orchard Beach Corps Chapel on Union Avenue. The theme of his thoughtful study was “Jesus and the Kingdom of God.”
“The central message of Jesus was the announcement that the Kingdom of God is at hand. That is His Good News,” said Dr. Green to a room full of Salvationists. They sat with pen and pad in hand, carefully following Dr. Green’s study plan. “The Kingdom of God appeared in Jesus’ parables, in His miracles, in His understanding of the law, and finally, in His eschatology—His final days,” explained Green.
“We will also talk about the Kingdom of God in our Salvation Army,” Green continued. “How does our church best reflect the Kingdom of God? And are there areas where we can work harder to better reflect His Kingdom?”
Beach Bible study
At the end of Union Avenue, Colonel Dr. Janet Munn, co–director of the International Social Justice Commission in New York, delved into the theme of “Jesus and Justice” for her beach Bible study.
“Jesus taught about justice in parables such as the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. Other times, he demonstrated justice, restoring it to others who have been marginalized or oppressed,” said Munn.
“Justice is part of the foundation of God’s throne, and as Jesus was God in human form, He demonstrated what the Father had been saying throughout the Hebrew Scriptures,” said Colonel Munn.
Lieutenant Kathryn Alban Guerrero, from the Seaford, Delaware Corps, had come to volunteer at the Old Orchard Beach Pier, but also made time for Bible study along with her Pier schedule.
“Bible study like this one is valuable to anyone who walks by and listens. But also, for us who already know Christ,” says Lieutenant Guerrero. “As we are on the beach, we are not wearing our uniforms. We are in regular clothing, happily standing up and discussing what we believe.”
Youth ‘Power Up’ the Pavilion on Family Fun Night
“God’s power has given us everything we need to live a godly life.”—2 Peter 1:3.
Young people brought the energy on Tuesday night at the Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings.
It was billed as “Family Fun Night” and the show this year got started two hours before the usual 7 p.m. start time with children and their parents enjoying a climbing wall, bungee trampoline, pony rides, balloon animals, face painting, a petting zoo, bounce houses, mini-basketball, and an inflatable slide among other attractions.
Families strolled throughout the Pavilion grounds, where a gentle breeze comforted the crowd and Christian music wafted through the air. Salvationists have gathered for their annual camp meetings here since 1885.
The program in the Pavilion got started at 7 p.m. with a performance by Summer Brass, a T-shirt launch, congregational singing, and songs from the Camp Meeting Kids’ Chorus. The youth are learning about God’s love through the Vacation Bible School (VBS) program “Power Up.”
Captain Leslie Knaggs, associate territorial youth secretary, welcomed the crowd and offered the opening prayer, telling parents that, while they were in the Pavilion listening to the Holy Spirit this past weekend, their children were “hearing from the same Holy Spirit” in the tabernacle.
“We are grateful that we are part of your family,” Knaggs prayed. “We gather here tonight as brothers and sisters and we are ready to receive.”
Magician/illusionists Bryan and Karla Drake, who performed at the Pier all week, were the headliners for the night. The couple spoke in the days leading up to the show about how much they were looking forward to performing for children.
“It can be a tricky crowd sometimes because they’re super into it, but they’ll also call you out on anything, so they’re a fun group,” Bryan said.
While the couple’s act had plenty of miraculous moments, Bryan said the message is always that “the greatest miracle is how God loved us so much that He came and died for us and He rose again. He’s the only answer. We want to share that in such a fun and creative way. That’s what we love to do.
“From 6-year-olds to 60-year-olds, our goal is to have that same impact, no matter how young or how old you are!”
This couple from Mobile, Ala., knows all about youth. Karla was an 8th-grade English teacher and Bryan was a junior–high youth pastor. They started out doing card tricks on college campuses, but their work has now grown into a full–time ministry where they are on the road 180 days a year.
“God called us on the road full time,” Bryan said. “It was pretty much a whirlwind transition.”
The abbreviated program in the Pavilion also featured video testimonies from Summer Brass and the Hands On mission teams that ministered this summer. The evening ended with families enjoying refreshments in a tent adjacent to the Pavilion.
We’re Not done yet
The camp meetings continue tomorrow with the Creative Arts Service Team’s (CAST) performance of “Peter Pan” at 7:30 p.m. in the Pavilion.
Both daily Bible studies will continue at 9 a.m. on the beach at the end of Union Avenue and at 10:30 a.m. in the OOB Chapel.
The popular Pier Ministry, featuring a host of talented musicians, actors, and illusionists, will continue from 7–10 p.m.
—by Warren L. Maye, Robert Mitchell, and Hugo Bravo
PETER PAN AND THE FAMILY OF GOD
Family, a theme of this year’s Old Orchard Beach (OOB) Camp Meetings, again captured the imagination of people attending the Creative Arts Service Team’s (CAST) performance of “Peter Pan” in the Pavilion on Wednesday.
Skyela Bussey, a 3rdyear CAST member who played the lead role, said people familiar with the well–known fairy tale might miss seeing a spiritual connection. But director Kathryn Higgins was able to find one by relating the story to the family of God.
“The general message of the show is about finding a family and being able to choose acceptance into that family or not,” Bussey said.
At the end, Peter has a choice to join the Darling family or go back to Neverland. He chooses Neverland because he wants a life of adventure rather than one of stability with a family.
“What I think a lot of people can get from this is that we have an opportunity to be a part of the family of God, but it is up to us to make the choice.” Bussey said.
“I really hope people find this spiritual aspect of the show and understand how much God loves them and wants them to be a part of His family, just as much as the Darling family wanted Peter to be a part of their family.”
Samuel Laro agreed. He’s a newcomer to CAST who played John Darling.
“Peter chose not to be a part of the Darling family, but I hope people see that there is room for them in the house of God,” he said. “There’s a bed, there’s a table, there’s a place for them.”
Tatiana Saintilus, another first–year performer who played Tigerlily, hoped the audience got the spiritual connection.
“First and foremost, I hope they at least found something they could take away whether it was a feeling of laughter or a peaceful feeling while watching the show,” she said. “Hopefully they see how we connected the show to God and how no one is alone as long as they have the Lord in their heart.”
This year’s CAST team, led by Ian Evans, also included Camryn Kidney, Peter Kochanek, Tabea Ratti, Morgan LeBeau, Latten Williams, Lucas Urbina, Oracia Morris, Joshua Pelletier, and Deangelo Powell.
Making up the production team were Erin Morgan, choreography; Paul Molnar, fight director; Major Hollie Ruthberg and Sarah Denuke, costume design; David Ballantine, set design; Resa Berry, props; Eli Morgan, special effects consultant; Denise Allen and Berry, stage managers; Chuck Goodin, CAST assistant; and Higgins and Berry, producers.
CAST IS A FAMILY
CAST toured the territory performing “Peter Pan” at camps and corps before arriving at OOB.
Traveling and performing together can create lasting bonds and friendships. Bussey said getting to know her castmates was her favorite part.
“I feel like CAST combines two of my favorite things: ministry and acting into one big, beautiful summer,” she said. “I love being a part of something where I can act and do something I really care about, as well as seeing how God really uses acting as ministry to people.”
Bussey, who hopes to someday be a teacher in China, will begin working at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., this month.
Laro, who is studying theater at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., formerly lived in Maine and saw CAST perform. He was anxious to be part of a traveling troupe.
“They teach me theater in school, but I wanted to learn how to apply it to my faith,” he said.
Saintilus, a student at SUNY New Paltz whose family came to the United States from Haiti, said she would see CAST at the Territorial Arts Ministry (TAM) Conservatory every year and was struck by the sense of community.
“The look on their face was just so fulfilling,” she said. “The relationships they had made not only with each other, but with the Lord, was something that I always wanted. A stronger relationship with the Lord was something I’ve really been looking for and to take it to a whole new level.”
LOOKING TO LEAD
The New Bedford, Mass., Corps took advantage of the LEAD Leadership Summit by sending three of its senior soldiers this year.
LEAD is a weeklong corps leadership event held at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine in conjunction with the Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings. This year’s event drew 75 adults and 12 teens with a theme of “Equip the Saints” from Ephesians 4:12, according to LEAD Director Isaiah Allen.
Connie Correia, the administrative assistant at the New Bedford Corps, was joined by Luz Caban and Maria Tavares.
“We’re a really close–knit team and we’re in ministry together,” she said. “We are very excited to be here because we want to learn more effective tools to witness and win souls in our community. Our community really needs the Lord.
“We deal daily with people who struggle with drugs, alcohol, and severe poverty. We want to change lives and the only way we can do that is by introducing them to Christ.”
Tavares, a caseworker and food coordinator at the corps, hoped to learn leadership skills so she can better help the downtrodden.
“I minister to them. I pray for them. I listen to them,” she said. “My dream and my goal is to show compassion and the grace of God to others.”
Tavares, who hails from Cape Verde, hopes to open a Salvation Army church there someday.
Caban, who is from Puerto Rico, teaches Sunday school and leads prayer meetings at the corps.
“We have a lot of people in the community we try to help,” she said. “They come to the church and ask for help and we pray for them and are there for them. That’s our purpose. Having the opportunity to be here and to have this refreshment and receive the Word of God, will help us be better leaders and strong leaders.”
Caban said she was inspired when General Brian Peddle visited LEAD on Monday.
“You feel the reason we are here is God has a plan for each one of us to grow more in Christ and to go back to our community and show the love of God,” she said.
There will be no camp meetings in the Pavilion tomorrow. “Pier Praise,” under the direction of Envoys Steve and Sharon Bussey, starts at 7 p.m. at the Pier. A fireworks show is scheduled for 9:45.
Daily Bible studies will also continue tomorrow on the beach at 9 a.m. and in the OOB Corps at 10:30 a.m.
—by Robert Mitchell
COMING TO LIFE AT THE PIER
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”—John 10:11.
Fireworks lit up the night sky over the Old Orchard Beach (OOB) Pier on Thursday. The spectacle was an appropriate end to another fascinating evening of evangelism by The Salvation Army.
The Pier Ministry is held each night from 7–10 p.m. and coincides roughly with the OOB camp meetings at the Pavilion. However, each year on Thursday night, everything moves up to the Pier as one stupendous evangelistic outreach.
Envoys Steve and Sharon Bussey led the “Pier Ministry Festival,” which included some of the Army’s best entertainers. They spread the gospel message to the crowds of vacationers under the theme “Come to Life.”
“It’s been fantastic this year,” Steve Bussey said. “We’ve had some of the largest crowds as we’ve ever seen. Every night has been exciting. I would dare say tens of thousands of people have heard the gospel this week.”
By Thursday night, Bussey said the evangelism teams at the Pier had seen more than 20 decisions for Christ, prayed with almost 200 people, and engaged in “hundreds of gospel encounters.”
LET THE FESTIVAL BEGIN
The “Pier Ministry Festival” got started with preliminary music from DJ Morph and the MOVE Dance Co. Bussey and Lieutenant Juan Chirinos, the divisional youth secretary from Quebec, were the MCs with Chirinos translating French.
Among the performers were UNBOUND, a Christian praise band; Summer Brass, under the direction of Brindley Venables; Painting Freedom, an arts ministry featuring Tucker Rodkey and Abby Mannion; Bryan and Karla Drake, gospel magicians and illusionists; CAST, which reprised some scenes from “Peter Pan;” Lieutenant Isabella Porchetti, a sand artist; aerialist Kathryn Higgins; and Crossfire Brass.
“I think all of the performers this year have raised the bar in terms of what they’re doing and the gospel going out,” Bussey said.
Bussey also attributed the ideal summer weather for the swelling crowds.
“God has given us favor, but there’s also been an intentionality to make sure we’re connecting with people in a way that resonates with them,” Bussey said. “I also think people are attracted to the gospel. I think the people are attracted to Jesus.
“When people come here, there aren’t four walls like in church. They’re walking into this space and they’re walking into church. They’re recognizing the deepest thing they have in them is this desire to connect with their Creator. They’re connecting with their Creator and they’re not leaving—even when they have a hundred different options of things to do.
“That’s because this ministry deeply resonates with them on a profound level. They’re coming back. When they’re making a decision about what they do during their vacation, this is their choice. We believe it’s a choice that is changing lives.”
Commissioner William A. Bamford III, territorial commander, and Lt. Colonel James LaBossiere, secretary for program, offered prayers. Bamford said he hoped people would find Christ at the Pier.
Colonel Kenneth O. Johnson, chief secretary, thanked the town of Old Orchard Beach for declaring this “Salvation Army Week” and hosting the 131st installment of the camp meetings.
SOME RETURNEES, SOME NEWBEES
For the return of the Deus Ex Machina musical dance-drama, The Salvation Factory took extra steps to make the show more interactive and help lead people watching the performance to Christ.
Seven–day devotional booklets stylized and based on the Deus Ex Machina performance, in English and French, were given away to anyone who came to watch the Pier performances.
“With them, we have a path ready for those seeking to learn how to pray,” said Bussey.
“We also give away bracelets in red and blue with symbols to illustrate the story of Steambot, the main character in Deus Ex Machina. Red for English, blue for French. Anyone with a bracelet can easily find members of the Army who speaks their language.
“With the whole theme of the Pier already thought of and prepared, we were free to think of new ideas for street–level ministry.”
Lieutenant Isabella Porchetti performed sand art on the OOB stage for the first time. She learned the craft by studying the work of Lt. Colonel Carole Voisey. Porchetti viewed Voisey’s past OOB performances as they were posted on social media.
“I started coming to Old Orchard Beach with members of the Queens Temple Corps even before there was a single stage for The Salvation Army. And now, there are two stages,” Porchetti said. “I remember how happy we all were when we just had speakers that you could hear down to the rail line.”
Another performer making her OOB debut is Abby Robinson, a member of the Painting Freedom ministry in Chester, Pa. Though this was Painting Freedom’s second year at OOB, Robinson shared God’s message of love through the spoken word as artist Tucker Rodkey painted.
“After OOB last year, Tucker talked about the variety of acts that were welcomed here, and how well–organized it all was,” said Robinson. “We’ve also attended events in the past with performers like Bryan Drake and DJ Morph, so I was looking forward to connecting with them again.
“Before every performance, I feel a rush of nervous excitement, because every word I say about God is truth,” said Robinson. “I feel the weight of each word. When I’m on the stage, it feels like I’m carrying those words, and sharing them lifts them off my shoulders. But I always remember that it’s not about me. I’m a small vessel, but the real power comes from the Holy Spirit.”
For his first visit to OOB, Michigan–based Christian rap artist George Moss performed with Pier veteran DJ Morph.
“I knew about The Salvation Army, and I had visited corps and done shows in other parts of the country, but I had no idea that their presence was so strong in Maine,” said Moss, who is also the founder of OXEN apparel, a clothing brand.
“What I love the most about being here is that it’s at the heart of what I do. You need the entertainment value of performing; there’s definitely a place for it in ministry. But the music is not as important as bringing people to God’s Kingdom. Creating disciples for Him is our real mission.”
The 131stOld Orchard Beach Camp Meetings end Friday with Bible studies on the beach at 9 a.m. and in the OOB Corps Chapel at 10:30 a.m. The Pier Ministry will resume from 7-10 p.m.
—by Robert Mitchell and Hugo Bravo.