On the occasion of his recognition as an Adherent Member of The Salvation Army Mike gave the following testimony:
The Methodist covenant, which would have been known to William Booth as a Methodist Minister, begins with the words ‘ I am no longer my own but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me too doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things , let me have nothing.
I am sure that many of you can relate to the fact that when we choose to walk the Christian path we never know were those journeys will take us. Sometimes we find ourselves in places where we would rather not be, but on other occasions we find ourselves in places we could only dream of. For me standing here on this platform this Easter morning has just got to be one of those only dream of occasions. This place has always been important to me. I knelt at this mercy seat to seek God’s blessing on my ministry as a pastoral assistant within the Church of England, and I signed my covenant here as that ministry was coming to an end. I have never ceased to be amazed by the love, care and support shown to me by my Christian brothers and sisters here over the years, always accepting me without question as one of your own. It may seem ironic but the word ecumenical, which roughly translates as of the whole world universal , so aptly describes that unconditional Christian love and acceptance shown to me here in so many ways.
With my United Church background I have always had an ecumenical heart, and over time it s become engrained as part of my DNA. I am especially proud of my own Methodist inheritance, much of which, as you will know, is strongly bound up in Army tradition, thus making the acceptance of Army doctrine an easy process for me. So why now am I being led to become a Salvationist? Not an easy one to explain, It s a bit like having dual nationality but only one passport, fine until you want to fully belong, and belonging has always been very important to me. For some time now God has been leading me reluctantly to revisit an old road which has, up until recently, carried a no entry sign. We so often deem it strange that when we get to a point of happy acceptance, God then out of the blue makes it clear beyond all doubt that He has other plans for our Christian ministry and service. We shouldn t be surprised, as that is often the way He works, shrouding the future in mystery until He deems it right to reveal it, an experience which I am sure is familiar to many of you !
Being a fully integrated part of two church families has been a very special privilege for Sheena and I, so much so that it tends now to be taken for granted as an aspect of our everyday married life. In fact it was with our marriage some 29 years ago on an Easter Saturday that it all began. We very much wanted to recognize God’s influence within our relationship, and to that end were able to rewrite the Articles of Marriage to suit our own ecumenical situation. I would like to share some of them with you.
We do solemnly promise that we will not allow our marriage in any way to lessen our devotion to God and our service together to Him.
We promise that we will use all our influence with each other to promote our constant self sacrifice for the salvation of the world under the guidance of his Holy Spirit.
We promise never to allow the cause of God to be injured or hindered in any way without doing our up most to prevent it.
I firmly believe that when we make promises such as these, God never forgets, and we enter a time frame that is not of our making. It is for that reason I believe, that it has taken many years for God to open the door which enables me to now become an Adherent Member of the Salvation Army without loosing my other church family. I truly believe that this is a God given opportunity which will open up further pathways of ministry through which I can serve Him who never ceases to amaze.
I would like to close with a word of warning. When we make promises to God, we place ourselves totally in his hands and the nature, length, form and direction of our faith journey will remain a mystery to us until that journey ends. Trust is all we have, trust in a God who loves us with infinite grace at all times, despite our faults and weaknesses, trust in a God who seeks to challenge and direct us in ways we can never begin to comprehend, and trust in a God who raised his Son from death in order that we can experience eternal life. How could we want for more?
May our Lord bless you in all you do in his name.