In 1844 at the age of 15, William Booth gave his heart to God. We’re here tonight – thousands of us – because one young man, one teenager just like me, gave his heart to God.’
This statement by 15-year-old Sean Voeller, a Salvationist from the USA Central Territory who accepted God at the age of five, marked the beginning of session six, 'A Youthful Army'. She continued: 'We are the testimony of what God can do when one person says “Yes!” to him.’
A performance of ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’ by soloist Charlie Green followed. Additional performers throughout the session included Ontario Central-East Divisional Youth Chorus, Phil Cobb, Judith Lalremruati, Pasadena Tabernacle Youth Chorus, India Central Youth Singers, New Generation Brass, Second Mile and Chicago Staff Band.
The session consisted of various testimonies reflecting different youth perspectives: Major Janet Robson, International Youth and Children’s Secretary at International Headquarters; young Salvationist Mercy Gabriel Christian; Commissioner William H. Roberts (via video), his son the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner William A. Roberts), grandson Bill Roberts and great-grandson Noah Roberts; Major Stephen Yoder; and Desmond Thom from Zimbabwe, whose testimony was given by a friend as he was unable to obtain a visa.
Each person spoke with a torch in hand, talking about how the Army influenced them in their youth and their future. After each testimony, the torches were handed off to individuals who ‘flew’ to the top of The Salvation Army crest on stage to light the five stars on the crown.
Speaker Captain Marion Platt presented delegates with a global challenge to ‘arise and shine’.
‘The light of Jesus shines even in the darkness. Vibrant youth are our solution to the darkness of our time,’ Marion said. ‘God is pouring out his Spirit on old and young so the whole world will witness the light of Jesus Christ. I once was blind and now I can see a light dawning. I can see a youthful Army marching on in the light of God.’
General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox gave their testimonies. ‘Young people are extremely precious,’ the General said. ‘I don’t believe they are the future of the Army – they are the Army of today.’
He challenged those who did not have existing development programmes for youth to fix that in a year.
‘These young people want to be mobilised,’ he said. ‘I pray they won’t just be here for the fun and laughter, but that they will truly open their hearts to God so that the future of The Salvation Army will be brighter.’
A musical finale of ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’ followed and Rebecca Barton, alongside her grandparents, the General and Commissioner Cox, concluded with a benediction.
‘God, thank you for always being there for us,’ she said. ‘Help us to live each day for you. Help us to grow up to be the people you want us to be.’