An Instrument for Noble Purposes

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Colonel Joy Church

By Colonel Joy Church –

“… An instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”

(2 Timothy 2:21)

During the last few months I have attended four memorial services. It goes without saying that I did this because someone had died. So why did I come out of those four services feeling there was so much LIFE?

The life I sensed at Colonel Milton Agnew’s service was the life he gave to the word!

The life I sensed at Colonel Katherine Agnew’s service was the life she gave to the organ and piano as she placed her fingers on the keys!

Lieutenant Drew Helms was life!–he had an exuberant personality!

Major Bill Pickup came alive when he preached from his pulpit!

It was at Bill’s memorial service that I heard Songster Leader James Black of the Concord Corps refer to The Salvation Army as “a sanctified instrument.” That illustration haunted me for days.

The dictionary’s definition of those two words is, “sacred tool.”

We have in our home a sanctified instrument–a concertina–not used very much in the Army any more. Of itself it is nothing more than a collector’s piece, but when Commissioner Earle Maxwell visited our territory recently, he took that collector’s piece, swung it around, and because he knew how to play it, it came alive again, just as it had in days past when a Salvation Army officer played it for the unemployed miners in Wales during the Depression; in open air meetings on the beaches of the English and Irish coasts; and with the troops of the British Expeditionary Force in France at Dunkirk and St. Nazaire in 1940.

I keep asking myself, “What keeps The Salvation Army a sanctified instrument?” I think I may have part of the answer. I think it could be because of the thousands of “unsung heroes” of the Army. I was in Alaska recently for Youth Councils, and was being shown around the Booth Home in Anchorage by its present director, Major Robert Anderson. We came upon two small rooms at the end of a corridor and suddenly he said, “I give tribute to two Women’s Social officers who lived in these two rooms for several years.” How on earth did they do it?

Similarly, while visiting the Army’s Manoa Campus in Hawaii, I saw the names of Milsaps and McAbee engraved on memorial stones–two more unsung pioneers and heroes. In a recent issue of the New Frontier, I even read of a THQ officer being referred to as an “unsung hero”! Sanctified instruments–unsung heroes, they are, in my view, the secret of the Army’s continued success.

T.S. Eliot, the famous poet and playwright, in the play, “Murder in the Cathedral,” wrote these lines for his hero, Thomas á Becket, “Martyrdom is never the design of man; for a true martyr is he who has become the instrument of God, who has lost his will in the will of God. No. Not lost it, but found it, for he has found freedom in submission to God…so in heaven saints are most high, having made themselves most low, seeing themselves not as we see them, but in the light of the Godhead from which they draw their being.”

These Army Great Hearts of the past, who are legion, continue to inspire and encourage us to carry the torch of the living flame. And we pray for our new Builders of the Kingdom cadets who will be arriving at the CFOT within the next few days, that they too will be indwelt by the Living Flame, and our prayer is that they, and we, as we together carry the torch, may be worthy of being a part of this sanctified instrument–this sacred tool–this Salvation Army.

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