We are all enjoying the rich fellowship of the ICO. Christian fellowship is a strange thing. No matter where we come from in the world, there is a connection, a common holy ground which forms the foundation of unity, before we have even met! Sometimes we take this for granted. That a group of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds can gel so quickly is truly amazing.
We have had so much fun together. The Zonal nights are opportunities to share the quirks of our cultures, and a little about the Army in our countries. The Europe night was a bit of a challenge because everyone knows the history of the Army in the UK, we have had lectures on it, are they are enjoying the culture of England. So we needed a different angle. We dressed up in old Army uniforms and led an open air meeting to depict how the Army started and spread to Europe. The ‘script’ (in the loosest sense of the word) included various references to things that had happened in the Session so far. British culture was introduced by Morecambe and Wise making breakfast, Anna-Lena (Sweden) was introduced using the Swedish chef from the Muppets, and Debbie (Switzerland) included a yodelling karaoke. I think we made it different. This week was the Americas and they represented the diversity of North and South America and the Caribbean very well, with colourful dress, Samba and Line Dancing.
The fun side of fellowship is balanced with a trust to share things close to our hearts. Many of the delegates have been involved in ministry during defining moments in history, including 911, the Asian Tsunami and recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Haiti. To listen to stories of Officers who were there, who lost friends and yet were still able to minister powerfully in God’s name are conversations that remain for a long time. There have been some great times of prayer together, and with my prayer partner Jessie, from Zambia. She is such an inspirational person, and has a huge role as Divisional Director for Women’s Ministries, along with husband Joseph, who is the Divisional Commander. She co-ordinates programmes that help to combat social evils like HIV/AIDS and human trafficking. One challenge is to bring this, and the message of the Gospel to isolated villages.