The visit of the International Staff Band for the whole weekend was a significant event in corps history.
The ISB with Bandmaster Dr Stephen Cobb
Much nail biting was in evidence on Saturday morning which dawned wet with a forecast for clearing conditions. Unfortunately the clearing didn’t come until too late and the band was not able to hold its planned open-air meeting in the High Street during the afternoon.
A sumptuous tea was provided which helped the band prepare for the evening concert which was given in our small but intimate auditorium, not an ideal venue for such a group but the only one available (and affordable!). The evening included some fine playing and a more detailed synopsis, with more pictures, will be given later in the week, mainly for the benefit of brass band enthusiasts.
The capacity audience seemed to be well satisfied and departed in good spirits with the sound of the music ringing in their ears.
Sunday morning brought another full hall and the meeting was led by Lt. Col. David Hinton, Executive Officer of the ISB. Songs chosen were 17, 383 and 726 from the Salvation Army Song Book supported by 895 and 755 from Songs of Fellowship. Home corps contributions were made by the Young People’s Band (Sandon) and the Singing Company (God is my refuge) whilst the ISB brought a real sense of worship with ‘Wonderful Healer’.
Stuart Hall testified saying that he has experienced times of identity crisis in his life including one occasion when he was confused with the TV sports presenter of the same name. Identity in the work situation, his ‘army’ service and family life have sometimes posed the question ‘who is Stuart Hal?l’. He said things are constantly changing but I know that if I keep following the Lord’s leadership with faith he will lead me through any possible crisis, of identity or otherwise.
Using scripture from Matthew 14:22-34 Lt. Col. Hinton, in his address, said:
Do you suffer from the ‘Alice’ syndrome. If you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter how you travel. It is important that we know our Christian pathway so that we can follow it. We must not get stuck in a rut and we need to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s purpose and direction for us. Let’s think about the plan of God in our own lives. The disciples alternated between confusion and euphoria. One day we can be up, the next down. The way can be difficult at times and on these occasions Christ is a tremendous example to follow. We must not resist him or rebel. He is a beacon light to direct us and in this we have great hope. The perspective of Christ in our lives is important. Obstacles beset us but God knows about them all and his knowledge is complete and absolute. Is that scary? Yes, sometimes it is but we must remember that he always has us in his mind, every moment of the day. The presence of Christ is revealed in our lives. We often ask why God doesn’t seem to be present in our personal situation, or delays in answering our prayers. It is because he knows all about us and what is best for us, even if we don’t understand. He wants to reveal his character in us and his purpose is always for our growth. God gives us his greatest thing, his peace. He gave his life to save us. Why should we doubt him? Why can’t we trust him? We need to let go and put our faith in him. Listen to God and what he is saying, because he is with you and will guide you.
A witness in the High Street was planned following the meeting. Marching from the hall in Church Street the band echoed between the tall buildings and created much interest.
Local Salvationists were also in attendance so that it was possible to make contact with members of the public on a ‘one to one’ basis. Good contacts were made and the evangelistic opportunities were maximised.
The final meeting of the day included more magnificent music from the ISB together with a contribution from our own Songsters (With wings as eagles). Look out for our feature during the week ahead. Brad Turnbull gave a personal testimony in which he advanced the thought that God wants us to believe, not to know. ‘I love many things but above all I love my God’.
In a short message based on Isaiah 53:4-7 Lt. Col. David Hinton said:
This scripture is not just a great literary work but an account of the most horrific event of all time. The final hours of Jesus were brutal. And it was for us, each of us. But why did it have to be? It was because we have all turned from God. But he has carried our sin for us, all of us, so that we can be free to come to God.
This was a great weekend and one which will be remembered for a long time.
We learned with great joy that Mark Scoulding passed his assessment conference last weekend and is being recommended to enter William Booth College in September 2011. We offer Mark our congratulations and will prayerfully support him as much as we can.
We have also received comment from New Zealand regarding the Christchurch earthquake. Scroll down the welcome page to ‘News from New Zealand’ and click on ‘comments’.
Next Sunday the focus will be on Self Denial and opportunity will be given to contribute to The Salvation Army’s worldwide mission to those in need. The meetings will be led by Majors Drew and Beverley McCombe and we look forward to another great day of worship and praise.
Majors Drew & Beverley McCombe