Monday, 8 December 2014

All-Scotland Youth Councils

I'll follow, I'll not turn back.

We always say ‘time flies when you are having fun...’

Time certainly did fly at the All-Scotland Youth Councils; it’s happened and now we are over a week since the Scottish youth of The Salvation Army gathered in one place. So where to begin...

Well the easiest place to start is by saying that it was, as expected to be, an amazing weekend! God never fails to deliver and so I thank God for that! But I also say thanks for the time and effort put in from the Divisional Youth Officers and the forum of young people who helped plan the weekend. And finally a special thank you must go to our host Kathryn from Alove and guest speaker Lt. Mark Cotterill.

The Saturday night theme was, #throwback, a children's party, so as the youth descended upon Perth they came dressed as childhood TV characters or as person/job which they aspired to be when they were older. The costumes didn’t disappoint and there many excellent efforts! The night was fun-filled with the evening split between a Ceilidh and party games. The Ceilidh band, ‘Flung aboot’, were on top form and provided excellent music. The childrens party games were a real treat, nothing like a good round of pass the parcel!

And so, as quick as a flash, Sunday was here. The main reason for the weekend was to spend time with God. The day was filled with worship to our amazing God and we were helped by the worship group put together especially for that day. We were also treated to some drama items which were helpful in tying in with the day’s theme – I will follow.

One particular highlight for me was the time given for testimony. A group of the youth, from all divisions and ages spoke about what God was doing in their lives. It was encouraging and inspiring to hear young Christians testifying to the work of God in their life. It was a blessing to hear about difficult circumstances but learning to trust in the Lord, knowing that he doesn’t give up on you. And hearing how things are going great just now and being able to ‘delight in the Lord’.

Another excellent focus on the day was time spent praying, so we were able to pray for those who gave their testimony, praying for ourselves and for our Divisional Youth Officers. It was a beautiful scene as the youth gathered around their Divisional Youth Officers and surrounded them in prayer, asking God to bless them and equip them in their ministry.

It was also great to have the Candidates Unit with us over the weekend, and time was given for us to hear from two, Scottish, first-year cadets. We were encouraged to think about how we could be hero’s.

After fitting all this in to our two meetings, twice we were blessed and challenged by the opening of God’s word. Our guest speaker, Lt. Mark Cotterill, spoke with great passion about following Jesus and discipleship. In the Morning we looked at Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 9, at the account of Jesus calling the tax collector Matthew. We were challenged that God invites every single person imaginable to follow him. God is constantly inviting us on to the stage of life.

In the afternoon we looked at the question ‘What should a follower look like?’ Mark brought to our attention some thoughts about compassion, humility, patience and living gracefully. We were also challenged that we are to be good news to people. He urged us to consider the words of John Wallis that there has to be a consistency between the message and the messenger.

Time was then given, aptly, in both sessions to respond to the word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to do its work. Whilst time was given to respond, my thoughts and response turned towards the songs that we had been singing as part of our worship. The song ‘I’ll Not Turn Back’ was used and also a song called ‘Christ is enough’. These songs, for me, helped to affirm what God was saying to me, and also inspire me on further in my walk.

Christ is enough for me, Christ is enough for me

Everything I need is in you, everything I need

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back, no turning back!

I thank God that I have decided to follow Jesus and by His grace I have all that I need, so for me…there is no turning back! I’ll not turn back whatever it may cost.

These events normally end in worship to our God, lifting the roof with His praise, but the Spirit was still working as our time came to an end. And so we left the Councils in an attitude of response and prayer.

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit continues to do the work that needs to be done in the lives of those who gathered for Youth Councils and in particular those who were still kneeling before God.

And Father God I pray that you would raise up this generation to make a difference for you! May they take a stand as they follow you and not turn back!

Christ is enough for me.

Andrew Howe

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