‘To Seize This Day of Salvation’

Rader_ToSeizeThisDayBy Robert Docter, Dr. – 

General Paul Rader (Retired) and Commissioner Kay Rader urge The Salvation Army to immediate action with their “carpe diem” call To Seize This Day of Salvation (Salvation Books, 2015). Together, they have never played a waiting game. Their message means now—today—and pushes us to do so.

Upon assuming command of the USA Western Territory in 1992, Paul Rader wrote a framework of faith within which he was called to work and to define his mission. How wonderful it was for officers and soldiers to hear the factors of his own accountability. Under the title “This I Believe,” he articulated the belief system that guided his life and, thus, laid out criteria for individuals to use in examining their own. What a way to begin. This framework of faith appears first in the book.

The first of 16 points in the credo states: “I believe that in winning souls, the service of people and the building of the Army, our ultimate concern must be for the glorification of God. More important than doing the work of God is doing the will of God.”

Second, he wrote: “I believe that our primary task is to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ, to glorify him, to proclaim him as our risen Lord and present, powerful Saviour. Christ is Head of his Church and Captain of his Army.”

In reading his credo, I pondered what the factors might be in my own belief system. I have strong beliefs, but have never written them. I suspect I reveal much in my writing for New Frontier Publications. Perhaps, you will wonder as well.

Each of his points began with “I believe…” Some of his points concern the authority of Scripture, the centrality of the cross, the nature of salvation, the power of the Spirit, world evangelisation, growth, the value of persons, and integrity of the family.

The Raders have always encouraged active participation in the planning process for the accomplishment of the mission, and the book explains why this word takes on important meaning for them both. They continue to pursue the achievement of the Army’s reason for being. Paul Rader writes: “I am not a mindless proponent of expansionism…I am committed to strategic advance. We need a new birth of evangelistic innovation and daring.”

I worked under the Raders leadership during the planning of “Mission 2000” in the West. Its boldness frightened some traditionalists, however it achieved great success in expanding the number of corps and modifying worship style to the 21st century.

In section three, the reader finds important information relating to our Wesleyan heritage and a chapter titled “Lest we Lose Our Legacy – the Place of Women in Salvation Army Ministry.”

Two inspiring and informative speeches to the High Council bookend this volume. The first, delivered in 1993, carries the identical title to this book: “To Seize This Day of Salvation.” Beginning with quotes from 2Corinthians 6:2 concerning a forward push now, Paul Rader details the daunting challenges and exciting opportunities the Army faced during that time. He deftly revealed his knowledge of the terrors and triumphs of every region of the world. He said then: “I am committed to the intentional invasion of the King of Darkness,” and urged his listeners to “hear anew the call of the streets and slums, the barrios and favelas, the highway and the hedges and the haunts of sin and shame.” Then, I imagine with power, he stated: “Our unity is our strength.”

The book closes with “A call to Prayer from Lazarus’s Tomb” wherein Rader reports on his final visit with his father Lieut-Colonel Lyle Rader prior to his promotion to Glory. A fantastic evangelist, Lyle Rader gave his son his orders and identified subject for prayer: “We need to pray for the purity of our movement. Then we can pray for renewal and revival in our corps and among our people.”

This book is a valuable read for all people interested in the development of this Army of salvation, of a world for God, of our commitment to the forgotten.

‘Telling Our Stories’

TSA_TellingOurStoriesV1By R. Gordon Moyles, Dr. – 

“If history were taught in the form of stories,” Rudyard Kipling claimed, “it would never be forgotten.” That statement could very well serve as the masthead for this exciting new bi-annual publication of the Western Territory’s Frontier Press—”Telling Our Stories, Volume I.” For, as its editor, Major Kevin Jackson, so cogently argues, “Our history weaves a tapestry of thousands upon thousands of stories of individuals and groups of people who together have lived out the mission of The Salvation Army over 150 years.” And it is these stories which have “the power to transform the lives of others and the power to encourage, inspire and illuminate those who call The Salvation Army their own.”

The first volume of “Telling Our Stories” admirably fulfills that purpose, mainly because the four stories included not only recall events but, more importantly, focus on the people who initiated them and whose lives were changed by them. General Paul Rader in “Remembering Mission 2000,” Lt. Col. Check Yee in “For My Kinsmen’s Sake,” Commissioners Bill and Gwen Luttrell in “The Manhattan Project,” and Lt. Col. Stephen Smith in “The Training College at 801 Silver Avenue” all (perhaps intuitively) share the belief that the essence of history is biography. They know that The Salvation Army owes its success to the enterprise and dedication of its officers and measures that success mainly by the lives that have been changed by its mission.

The four stories, therefore, are largely people stories. We meet the Salvationists who contributed to the success of Rader’s Mission 2000 initiative. With Yee, we see the faces and hear of the voices of the men and women who brought the Army’s message to San Francisco’s Chinatown, who struggled to sustain it and who still claim it as their legacy. And, though the stories told by the Luttrells and Smith reveal ultimate disappointments—the Manhattan Project was eventually shut down and the Training College sold during the Depression—the legacy of both “lives on in the hearts and lives of hundreds of men and women” who either saw them into or benefited by their existence.

This volume is an excellent beginning, and will, if continued in the same vein, prove to be a valuable contribution to our understanding of Salvation Army history. For, one thing is certain, there are so many stories worth telling—and so many worth re-telling—that the end is nowhere in sight. As an encouragement to all Salvationists to support it, I would say, with Michael Crichton, “If you don’t know history…you are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”