If you’re here (which, I suppose you are), welcome! Thank you for stopping by to find out what on earth this ‘War College’ business is all about. Let me fill you in…
The War College is a discipleship program in Vancouver’s downtown East side, running for a year, where we wage war with love against the powers of sin and darkness, bringing the light and love of Jesus wherever and whenever we can. We spend time building and maintaining relationships and community, serving and being with those who need it most. We also make ourselves entirely willing to be taught, learning to be humble and listen, practically applying that which we are taught to become more like Christ in our day to day lives.
That’s the official spiel. What that means is we have lots of classes on all things Biblical, we pray and read the Bible, and we are a part of the community around us in the most practical ways. Our normal kind of days are generally split in two: In the morning, we do prayer, Biblical study and classes, and in the afternoons, we generally do some volunteering, street ministry or the like.
Our typical morning starts bright and early with breakfast at 7am, followed by morning prayers in the park at 8am. Depending on how many people come this can take any amount of time, and it is always a beautiful way to begin the day, full of praise and gratitude. Sometimes people around the park who see us there morning after morning will come and ask for prayer or just stand with us, and it’s a powerful way to connect with the community. At 9am we Pray the Bible for half an hour, and then classes begin at 9:30. Here we get to study all aspects of theology and Christian life, taught by incredible teachers who God has called into positions of immense wisdom and blessing in their fields. Thus far we have covered:
- Biblical Interpretation
- Classes at First Nations Bible College
- Kingdom Ethics
- Feminist Theology
- Jesus in Film
- Spiritual Formation
- Salvation Army Worldview
After class, we Read the Bible together and do some prayer walking around our community before lunch. This is always a really practical way for us to give God glory, to be glorifying and petitioning him out amongst the people.
After lunch we have plenty of involvement in the community: Mondays take us to a Salvation Army drop in to serve snacks and connect with those who come to us for respite from the streets; Tuesdays and Thursdays we are involved with a music academy for kids in our neighbourhood; Wednesday evenings see us at ‘Common Grounds’, a relaxed space that we organise and set up for those on the streets, providing an informal environment where they can take it easy and enjoy good company and music. Discipleship and journeying with other Christians also absorbs a major part of our week, with Cells (Bible Study) running on Tuesday night, prayer meeting on Thursday, and youth group on Friday. I am also engaged in ‘Freedom Session’, growing my faith and understanding of myself and Christ through some intense self-reflection and prayer. We also have weekly catch ups with as a group with our leaders to make sure everything is getting on swimmingly.
Building relationships with those who live down here is also pivotal. The old-school Salvation Army term for what we do is League of Mercy, which originated as a relational program where Salvationists would visit people in their homes and tell of the love of Jesus. We aim to continue in the same vein as our forerunners, building intentional, Christ-centred relationships with those around us.
On top of that we have homework, exercise, and spend time as a session, we do our own personal Bible study and prayer and, if we’re lucky, we sometimes get to sleep! We all have different responsibilities at our respective Corps as well, so we’re often scattered all over the place for the weekend, engaging in different expressions of church ministry. At the moment there are some really intense days. Wednesdays are full to the brim at the moment: If we are up for breakfast at 7am and don’t miss any part of our schedule, we are on the go until at least 7:30pm; just your casual 12 hour day. Despite all the craziness, though, it is an absolutely radical journey for Jesus that I would not give up for anything. This is The War College.
Grace and Peace.
P.S. Today is the very last day that you can sign up for RAW 2017! If you want to have a short, three-day glimpse into what the War College can look like, get your application in now!