From Salvationist 18 November 2017
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
I ENJOYED history lessons at school. My history teacher was enthusiastic about the subject and some of that enthusiasm rubbed off on the class. It’s not surprising then that I can still recall quite a lot of what he taught about the economic and social history of Britain from 1700 to 1939, which was the O-level curriculum at the time. I remember the fact that in 1764 James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, which was a revolutionary device for weaving cloth, and that in 1801 Richard Trevithick built the first steam-powered road carriage, carrying six passengers. (You may be yawning by now.)
Of course, history is not just about famous individuals and important dates; it’s also about ordinary people’s experiences – how they contributed to society and how they were affected by it. And it involves putting events into a wider context – considering what caused them and what the consequences were. That’s where history can get tricky because it involves not just facts but interpretation – and interpretations can differ. I think it was Winston Churchill who said, ‘History is written by the victors’, which means they give it their own spin. For example, we all know that the Normans embroidered history.
Salvation Army history is also about facts and interpretation. But first it needs to be remembered. That’s what the International Heritage Centre helps us do, and in the feature on pages 12 and 13 Lauren Jeans introduces us to the team there. They take great care to preserve historical documents, photographs and artefacts so that the story of our movement can be told. And it’s not all about the past. There is an up-to-date ministry as well.
Personal histories are revealed on pages 10 and 11 in the testimonies of three officers who have just spent some weeks at the International College for Officers. They look back on God’s work in their lives and through their ministries – and that encourages them for the future.
In the Bible study on pages 16 and 17 Major Cliff Allchin reminds us that Christian history has sometimes taken a wrong turn and that we need to make sure we are faithful to God’s word if we are to keep on the right track.
History is not simply a random series of events. We believe in a sovereign God who is moving history towards a goal. It may not go in a straight line. There may be detours and dead ends along the way, produced by human foolishness and sin; but, in the words of an old hymn, ‘God is working his purpose out, as year succeeds to year’ (Mission Praise 189).
God is busy in our world seeking justice, reconciliation and spiritual renewal. His Kingdom is at work, but sometimes we fail to see it. If that’s the case, then instead of being caught up in his purposes we can end up as bystanders. Or worse, we can get in the way. Mission, it’s been said, is finding out what God is doing and joining in. That’s the way to be a history maker!
From the editor,
LIEUT-COLONEL JONATHAN ROBERTS
Check out our Article of the Week here.
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