Bible reading and prayer been prioritised for Salvationists and friends around the world during 2015, The Salvation Army’s 150th anniversary year. Tens of thousands of people have been taking part in Boundless – The Whole World Reading, a year-long initiative to study the whole New Testament together, from Matthew to Revelation.
With printed booklets, small discussion groups, children’s activities and a special website and smartphone app, there have rarely been so many ways to engage with the holy texts. Technology has ensured that participation in the Bible-reading challenge has been possible well beyond the 127 countries in which The Salvation Army has a physical presence.
In a personal email to online participants, international leader General André Cox tells of the ‘fascinating and stimulating journey this has been’ and prays that participants have ‘felt renewed, inspired and strengthened’ in their faith.
‘We would like to encourage you to continue reading and meditating on the Word of God,’ he writes, ‘and hope that the discipline and regular rhythm that you have picked up over these past twelve months will remain with you.’
Reflecting on the importance of reading the Bible, the General continues: ‘We need to create space and time to pause, listen and reflect. It is about setting priorities and good time management.’
Discussion on the Bible Challenge website and via the app has been lively, with hundreds of comments received. Many pick up on the eternal relevance of the Scriptures. Regular contributor Gary observed ‘[we have] great troubles around us right now, and it will get worse before the end. What we have here in chapter 7 of Revelation is the greatest answer to these troubled times.’
Fellow participant Helen shared online that ‘as with much of Scripture, that is the living Word of God, these messages hold great relevance for the Church and individuals seeking to live for God today … It's a message that needs to be heard and responded to over and over again and a fellowship that Jesus desires to have continually with all who call themselves Children of God.’
A PDF sample of the January readings from The Salvation Army’s daily devotional Words of Life has been made available to encourage ongoing regular Bible reading into 2016 (download from sar.my/wolbcsample). The complete January-April issue is on sale now through bookshops or as a subscription from sar.my/wolsubu. Meanwhile, for those who have enjoyed the interactive elements of the Challenge, participation in the One Army teaching programme is being bolstered by live online sessions which begin on 13 January (see sar.my/onearmylive).
All who took part in Boundless – The Whole World Reading are invited to share their experiences via the Bible Challenge questionnaire at sar.my/bcq. The feedback from this will help shape future resources and initiatives.