Interview with General André Cox

Fifty–nine–year–old Salvation Army General André Cox, who was born in Zimbabwe, spent his childhood there and in the UK before moving to Switzerland. Most recently he served as the Army’s Chief of Staff, and prior to that he held leadership roles in the Army’s international ministry. In this conversation with Editor–in–Chief Major Allen Satterlee while in Texas, General Cox zeroes in on the growing global–wide gap between rich and poor, positive changes inside the Army and the potential for Salvation Army expansion.

War Cry: What is your earliest Salvation Army memory?
André Cox: My earliest memory is as a child in Zimbabwe, where my parents were divisional officers. I was about six or seven years old. We would occasionally go off for weekend gatherings in mostly remote locations. I was bounced around in the back of a single–cab vehicle and I don’t travel too well. Not too good memories about feeling carsick in those early years.

WC: Please share your call to officership.
AC: Because my parents were officers, I grew up in the Army. I’d been a young soldier so I gave my heart to Jesus relatively young. I struggled during my teenage years, wanting to do my own thing. I followed through into senior soldiership, probably without 100% conviction. I went to Switzerland for a year to learn French because my mother is Swiss. It was there that I had a real spiritual experience in a meeting conducted by Commissioner Charles Pean, a retired French officer then living in Switzerland. He’d been involved in closing down the French penal colonies in Guyana. In one of his meetings I recognized the need to respond to the offer of Christ to salvation. But I remember thinking, “I hope that’s all You’ve got in mind for me.” I really didn’t like the idea of becoming an officer.

I went to see a James Bond movie with a friend. Just as we were about to enter the cinema I had a brief fleeting vision. I saw myself in a Salvation Army officer uniform preaching the gospel in Africa. In those seconds I knew God was calling me to be a Salvation Army officer and my service would take me to Africa. Both things happened.

WC: Who influenced you the most?
AC: My parents had a huge influence on my life. Part of my reluctance to become an officer was that I realized their life wasn’t easy, particularly in the years when we were growing up. The work was demanding, but I never saw my parents unhappy and I never heard them complain. That was something we’ve tried to emulate ourselves. We never asked to go anywhere, never refused appointments.

I think of people in my teen years like General John Gowans and General John Larsson, who were both corps officers where I was a young person. In later years, General Eva Burrows, whom I found to be an extraordinary person to work with. She could move from youth meetings to meeting the state president so effortlessly, whatever the environment.

WC: How did your life in Africa affect your worldview?
AC: I was born of an English father and a Swiss mother in Africa. I’ve lived a total of 23 years in Africa. There’s a lot of Africa in me. One of the greatest things Africa has taught me is that even when everything seems hopeless there remains so much hope. People strive, believing and working for a better future. These people have great trust, and they don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. They face tragedy that we can’t even imagine and yet there is a thankfulness to God for His provision, His protection, and it’s very real to them.

WC: What have you learned since being at International Headquarters?
AC: I was only Chief of the Staff for six months and I’ve only been General a couple of months, so it’s not been a long process. The privilege of working at IHQ is to begin to get a much broader perspective. In the past months we’ve traveled to four different countries, completely different expressions of the Army and yet they’re all the Army. To see aspects of other cultures is a privilege.

WC: What is the most significant development occurring in The Salvation Army?
AC: We’ve been through a tough time in European countries in recent years with lack of vocations for officership, dwindling memberships. But we’re beginning to see an extremely encouraging thing—that in some places a lot of our corps are suddenly finding themselves in the front-line of ministry. There are people in the communities around them that are in need, and corps are beginning to engage them in areas where we aren’t anymore, with significant results. It’s not world headlines, but I’m beginning to sense that when we get back to being what we should be we are making some progress.

A more spectacular development is that more young people than we have seen in recent days are responding to the call for officership. In the four congresses that we have led we’ve been overwhelmed by the number of young people who are standing up and saying, “I’m called.” God is not finished with the Army—not by any means.

WC: What concerns you?
AC: In the Western world it is the encroachment of materialism and secularism that seems to have dented our courage, our conviction about the divine inspiration of Scripture. We need to rediscover that courage and that faith. The Word of God hasn’t changed. God’s promises haven’t changed. God Himself hasn’t changed.

The eternal rich/poor divide is getting worse in the developed as in the developing world. That brings challenges, brings opportunities, and gives us more work than we can cope with. But that’s an opportunity for us and the gospel message. We must bring the gospel message into those situations because with this divide growing ever wider there is potential for sowing seeds of revolution. We have an important role to play.

WC: What plans are in the works for expanding The Salvation Army in the world?
AC: We are still exploring in a number of places. My main concern is that we have to think, we have to pray, we have to listen to what the Spirit is saying. Expanding evermore without increasing resources is a dangerous thing. We will continue to explore, to listen. But we have to sit down and think whether we’ve got what we need to build the tower before we start building it. We will be prudent, but it’s almost impossible to contain it. Salvationists go and they open it up and away it goes. That’s the exciting part, but it’s trying to keep the balance. We need faith, but we also need to do our homework.

WC: What would you like to say to Salvationists in the United States?
AC: We’ve been blown away the past few days. We feel very much a part of the family and it’s great. We are looking forward to coming back and meeting as many people as we can. I have great admiration for the many programs that go on here. The spirit of “yes we can do it” and faith and drive. The faith aspect is evident in every corps and social program, and tremendous results come because of that. People are converted and start new lives. That’s what makes me feel like getting up in the morning and doing what I have to do to keep this thing going.

WC: Is there anything else you would like to add?
AC: While I feel a sense of privilege for being elected as General, I never felt that rank or position is what you hang your hat on. God created me as I am. God knows who He wants me to be. He’s called me to be a Salvation Army officer, regardless of what rank I hold. That’s what I am and that’s what I must be.

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By Major Allen Satterlee

Under Spririt’s Prompting

“Our words are weapons of immense power. How we develop and deploy our gifts may have eternal consequences for you and those who will read them. Renew your sense of God’s call to seek and write the truth.”

Literary luminaries Lt. Colonel Chase, Dr. Green, Commissioner Kay Rader, Dr. Raymond, General Rader (retd.)So charged General Paul Rader (ret.) to delegates during the concluding worship service at the Salvation Army Writers Conference in St. Louis this fall. It proved a fitting climax to the six–day conference at the Sheraton Civic Center. The 100 participants from the USA Territories, the Canada and Bermuda Territory and editorial offices at International Headquarters and in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and South America gathered under the theme of “A Word Fitly Spoken” for workshops, special sessions and activities designed to train, equip and inspire them to better deploy their gifts and their craft.

Over the six days conferees shared their vision with one another, fulfilling a conference goal of “giving you a new vision for proclaiming His word in print and via electronic media.”

Veterans of the Army’s literary and publishing tradition were heartened by the presence of a good number of younger delegates, including cadets from the Army’s four officer training schools in the USA who were sponsored by National Headquarters.

Major Allen Satterlee, Editor–in–Chief and National Literary Secretary and conference leader, opened the event by relating just how powerful the written word can be. During a discouraging period in his life, he picked up a book about John Paul Jones, a U.S. naval commander during the Revolutionary War, who famously declared “I have not yet begun to fight” despite insurmountable odds during a battle with the British Navy. The story led the young Allen Satterlee to resolve not to give up, no matter how bleak the circumstances.

Special sessions and 35 intensive workshops offered content for writers of all skill levels. Topics ranged from Writing 101 to Devotional Writing, Engaging Cultures, Interviewing, News Writing, Writing for Millenials and Youth, Writing for the Non–religious, Relevant Writing, Writing for New Media and So You Want to Write a Book. Novelist and poet Lt. Colonel Marlene Chase presented popular workshops on writing short fiction. Editorial staff members from the USA territories, International Headquarters (IHQ) and Canada and Bermuda drew on their expertise to cover the practical aspects of writing and the publishing process. Presenters included Mr. Kevin Sims of IHQ, Lt. Colonel Jim Champ, Geoff Moulton and Ken Ramstead of Canada and Bermuda, the Central’s Beth Kinzie, the South’s Dan Childs, Robert Docter and Christin Davis from the West and Linda Johnson and Warren Maye of the East, as well as members of the host National Publications Department.

Dr. Jonathan Raymond and Dr. Roger Green presented a workshop on writing for Word & Deed, the theological journal of The Salvation Army.

Inspiring presentations by authors Bob Hostetler, Jim Watkins and Patricia Hickman added to the growing sense among participants that the Holy Spirit was using the conference to urge them to be steadfast in proclaiming God’s truth. Mr. Hostetler emboldened writers to “read, write, pray,” because their lives and the lives of those reached depended on it. Mr. Watkins encouraged writers to make plain for today’s world the enduring value of the Wesleyan Holiness tradition. Patricia Hickman enthralled listeners with the personal trials through which God led her to realize that He wants writers fully dedicated to reaching the world for Christ.

The delegates from Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand and The Philippines expressed gratitude for the chance to join with Salvation Army writers and editors, and testified that they would return home better equipped to continue literary efforts in their home territories. Many of these delegates work with meager equipment and resources. A few returned home with laptop computers donated by National Headquarters to use in their work. They also met with conference leaders to discuss their particular needs, so the Army can consider how to continue providing assistance.

Even as thousands of spectators streamed into Busch Stadium to see the St. Louis Cardinals play the Los Angeles Dodgers for baseball’s National League Championship, a hearty band of Salvationists a few blocks away practiced how to create compelling reports, stories, features, interviews and messages so they can bring God glory and respond to Jesus’ call on their lives. How could one not think of what the Master said whenever crowds came to Him? “He had compassion for them because they were so deeply distraught, malaised and heart–broken. They seemed to Him like lost sheep without a shepherd. Jesus understood what an awesome task was before Him, so He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers into His harvest field’” (Matthew 9:36–38).

Writers Contest Award Winners: Ms. Jolane Rolander, Major Randy Kinnamon, Mrs. Melissa Taylor, and Dr. Michele Baker.With General Rader basing his message at the closing meeting on 1 Corinthians 2:12–13, delegates departed with a renewed commitment to honoring the Creator of all, the One who spoke creation into existence and who calls us to recreate reality according to His Words, Words that never fail and never fade away.

“What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit–taught words.”

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By Jeff McDonald

I Can Testify

David HermanI have found my path — I walk with the Lord. I only have one goal: to be with Him. But for now, I have a job. I am a soldier in The Salvation Army. We are in a fight against hopelessness. As Major Claire Grainger instructs, “We are to reach out to the helpless, always keeping Jesus in our minds.”

I came to The Salvation Army as one who was helpless. I had joined the ranks of the unemployed, withdrew from all social contact and lost all direction in life. Even though I had always believed in a higher power, I only spoke to the Lord in anger. After all, I had worked hard for everything I had. I was never taught to be thankful for the small things like good health, job success, relationships or even a sunny day.

Ultimately, my health failed me. During a protracted attack of gout, I found myself immobilized for two long weeks. No food, little water and a lot of despair. While I was unaware of it at the time, this is when God “finally” entered my life. During those same two weeks He took away my lifelong addiction to alcohol. In fact, I was almost a full month into regaining my mobility when I realized that liquor was no longer a part of my everyday life.

S.A. 101
Unfortunately, during this downturn my shelter “deserted” me, and I resorted to living in my car. I soon abandoned the car and proceeded to the one place everyone I appealed to for direction pointed to—The Salvation Army. I arrived at Harbor House on foot, with barely more than the clothes on my back and was welcomed with a bed, meals and surprisingly, prayer at meals.

Fresh off the streets, I got in the van with a few other residents and headed to church. Next I was invited to attend a Sunday school class, S.A. 101. At first I thought “Sunday school? For adults? What could be the purpose?” But I became entrenched in fellowship and soon yearned for more knowledge, specifically Bible “stuff.” The class was led by an engaging older Soldier, the well–spoken “Miss Betty,” who was generous with her knowledge of the Salvation Army’s history, its purposes and its foundation in the Bible.

Accessorized
David HermanThough a voracious reader, I had never even tried to read the Bible. Suddenly I found myself jealous of those around me who were sporting Scripture like it was an everyday accessory, ready to be quoted and referred to for precious advice. When Miss Betty got to me as she handed out Scripture reading assignments, she realized my dilemma and quickly dispatched someone to secure me a Bible. It was not lost on me that, as the service wound down, Pastor Claire approached me, addressed me by name and presented me with a new Bible. She said nonchalantly that somebody told her I didn’t have one. Then she wrote my name and hers on the dedication page. To this day, I carry it everywhere. This is now one broken–in Bible, and I’ve barely read through a third of it!

Fortified with snacks, coffee and new friends, we entered a worship service filled with music, prayer and even quite a bit of humor. And love. You could feel it in this place. These people loved what they were doing. So this is what worship is, I thought. I always knew what the word meant, but now I could feel what it implied—you could hear it in the clapping and harmony of a congregation filled with love and expressing it in song—songs of The Salvation Army, some more than 100 years old, thick with meaning for today’s world.

I was astonished to find out that God loved me and walked with me each and every day. And with the gentle prodding and generosity of Senior Soldier Paula Reams, I attended Men’s Camp at Camp Mihaska with the corps officer, Major Norman Grainger, and soon–to–be Soldier Louis Ahart. I came to experience firsthand the “Blood and Fire” Salvation Army amid a weekend filled with fellowship, games, lessons and music.

I came to The Salvation Army after I had hit rock–bottom. All Harbor House asked me in return was to follow a few simple hospitality rules and to volunteer where I thought I could be most useful. They operate on a simple point system, and guess what? You get points for going to church. What?

A Great Job
I gravitated to where my own experience counted—the food pantry and the kitchen. What could be a better job? Stocking shelves in the food pantry, organizing donated necessities of life and then putting them in the hands of those in need in the community—touching lives. Or preparing and serving meals to the homeless (yes, others like me), knowing I am making a difference in the life of every face I meet. When I was blessed with the opportunity to serve at Christmas, the two–week hullabaloo that is “The Toy Shoppe,” I discovered why people invented caroling. This is what Christmas is all about—not the flashing lights, spending on extravagance or rushing to fight over that last gift available, but making sure that every one of us, no matter who we are, is gifted with love and caring, and yes, something in the little ones’ stockings and stomachs.

I am graced every day with the knowledge that I have joined a church that is filled with love, fellowship and purpose. And I can testify how, after 30 years of drinking every single day, and 15 years of living with debilitating gout, God took them both away in the same two–week period.

Looking back, I realize all of the things I once valued are of little worth compared to a life of service, learning God’s Word and striving every day to become a better Christian. We can never be perfect, but as Salvation Army soldiers we work every day to come closer to it. As payment for my new life in Christ, I will always bring God’s Word to others, share how the Lord saved me and how He is there—for everyone. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9, 10).

I can testify.

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By David Herman

You Can’t Outdistance God

Accusations. What crime show could exist without them? What mystery plots could go beyond the first page if none existed? Court systems worldwide are tasked to ferret them out, to sift facts against innuendos, to determine if the accused committed the crime. But while accusations serve fiction writers well and real life courts weigh the evidence everyday, to have a pointed finger aimed at us is quite another thing. If guilty, we have been found out. If innocent, we feel we must immediately leap to our own defense. Either way, being accused is alarming.

False accusation prompted this psalm from David. He implores God, saying, “You have searched me, Lord, and You know me… Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:1, 23–24). Although we do not know the exact circumstances for this psalm being written, something had gone wrong. His intentions were totally misunderstood and he wanted someone to understand his heart. Turning to God, he pled for God to search him, using a term that means to bore down or dig deeply into the earth as if mining for precious metal. He was asking God to mine the depths of his heart, asking God to show him what He found. Was he guilty of some secret sin? Did he have a wrong attitude? Had he masked even from himself the true intention for his action? If he was wrong, he wanted God to show him. If he was right, He sought God’s assurance. Most of all, he wanted it proven that he was seeking to live as God wanted. His prayer could have been, “I want what You want, dear Lord. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.”

David ponders the allness of God. He is all knowing, all powerful, everywhere, unbound by time or distance.

Verses 2–6 outline only partially what God knows about him. God knows where David is, what his thoughts are, every way he takes and the ones he has thought about but not taken. God has hemmed him in, not to restrict him but to protect him. He concludes, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (vs. 6).

God’s unrestricted nature then causes David to wonder, “Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast” (vs. 7–10).

These are wonderful words of assurance to the child of God, but can be misunderstood by those outside the Spirit’s control. Eastern religions speak of God being in everyone and everything so that someone might say, “The God in me loves the God in you.” This is the false teaching of pantheism. While God is indeed everywhere, everything is not God. God is not the equivalent of the Force in Star Wars. He does not animate the idol. He is not the driving force behind sin. While this teaching sounds accepting, it fails to acknowledge God as holy and powerful above all else. His power is not channeled by mind tricks, harnessed like another form of magic.

What it does mean is that if I were to board a beam of light, rocket instantly to the far galaxies of the universe, I could bow my head in prayer and God would hear me. I could not outdistance His Spirit. And if that is so with distance, it means that in all circumstances, light or darkness, health or illness, gaining strength or feeling my life ebb away, God is there in that moment, in that place.

If that is so, why is it that there are times when we cannot feel God near? Right where you are reading now there are television and radio signals traveling through the air. They carry music of every kind, voices speaking and dramas playing out. Why can’t we hear and see them? Because we are not tuned in. Not “feeling” them does not make them absent. In the same way, when we are out of tune with God, we cannot sense Him, cannot feel His presence. But when our hearts are right, we experience the wonder of His presence, the safety of being held by Him, the warmth of His arms of love around us.

David realized that God’s knowledge and presence go back beyond his conscious thought, even to his mother’s womb. “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body” (vs. 13–16).

David knew that before his birth, God was at work. That is why we cannot justify abortion, because the unborn baby is the work of God. It is acknowledged that not every baby is conceived under loving circumstances, but it does not mean that the baby being formed is any less a miracle of God than the one born in a palace. Not only that—every child, whether born fully healthy or not, can serve as the platform for God’s grace to be demonstrated, His will for humanity to be further worked out. There is no one born who cannot live a purposeful life by God’s provision.

The psalm leads us to an oasis, lush and peaceful. There is meaning in all of this and it is found in acknowledging and clinging to the God who has been at work since before we drew our first breath. And He is thinking about you right now.

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By Major Allen Satterlee

Why Did God Wait So Long?

Have you read the book of Genesis, specifically chapter 3, verse 15 and pondered its messianic significance? If so, have you, like so many of us, asked, “Why did God wait so long to send the Christ?”

Before long, depending whether one interprets the narrative historically or metaphorically, one quarter of the human race would be murdered by his brother. A moment after which one third of our race was guilty of fratricide and appeared unrepentant.

However — no Deliverer, no Messiah.

A few generations later we read Lamech’s sword–song in which he boasts to his wives of killing a man and dares God to punish him. It worsens: mankind corrupts itself to the extent that God spares but eight, destroying the remainder. But no Messiah.

We might think that things shape up from there on, but not so. The first piece of stationary architecture mentioned in scripture is a tower constructed to assault heaven. About time for the promised Deliverer? No — no Messiah.

However, there are a few points of light in the night. We meet Abraham and later Joseph. And what of Moses and the birth of the Jewish nation, a community raised by God to usher in a national witness of righteousness? God sends priests, prophets and kings to guide and rule this community, but so often it proves an uphill struggle. The night all but obscures these lights. God’s community eventually flees from His presence, seeking the gods of the surrounding nations. They even sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to pagan gods. How dark must the night be, we wonder; however, the heavens appear silent in the midst of oppressive night.

Roman legions march through Jerusalem, planting their symbol of conquest, the Roman eagle, throughout the sacred city. Jewish religious leaders rend their robes, throw dust in their hair, and weep. “The scepter has passed from Judah, and Shiloh has not come,” they wailed, referring to a prophecy from Genesis. Had God forsaken them? How much darker could their night be? And no Messiah – or so they thought.

Unknown to them, just a few miles south in Bethlehem, a virgin had given birth.

For unto us a child was born / to us a son was given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And we call him Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Marvel at this, my Friends. We read of shepherds and Magi visiting the Christ child, but we read of no religious leaders paying their respects to the new King. What other hope had brightened their night that they no longer needed the chosen, anointed one of God? Had they grown accustomed to their night? Had they relinquished their hold on God’s promise? Why did they not risk everything and run to Bethlehem?

And what about us? Have we journeyed to Bethlehem to grasp this only hope that can rescue us from the night? If not, why? What have we discovered that will dispel our fears, our frustrations, rout our many enemies? For just a moment journey back to Jerusalem with me. Listen to the words of this Christ–child after He grew to manhood. Witness His compassion. Stand by the cross on Golgotha and decide if anyone loved us more than this promised Deliverer?

The greatest distance any man ever journeyed was from a manger to a cross. Only a few miles from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, but what a terrible and yet wonderful distance to travel for those who in the darkness of night plead for the realization of hope. Is there a better, surer hope? Is there one who loved us more and traveled a greater distance for us?

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By Gerald Johns