June/July 2019 - Vol. 104
Christians praying together 
Promoting Christian Unity in the North American
Region of the Sword of the Spirit
A report by by Joe Donovan

On the night before he gave up his life, Jesus prayed to his Father, “may they all be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” [John 17:21] His dying wish is that all who believe in him would be drawn together in that unity of love which is the essence of the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So that, “the world would know that you sent the Son.”

Indeed, the saving mission of the Son is impeded when his disciples are divided. Doctrinal and structural differences among Christian communions notwithstanding, there is a fundamental call here which is to love one another. Jesus’ desire for unity among his followers is founded upon
relationships of mutual love, understanding and respect. It is a mutuality which reflects the life of the Trinity.

This desire to foster Christian love and unity is central to the self understanding and mission of the Sword of the Spirit. As it says in Our Call:
“We believe that the Lord desires to overcome the divisions among the Christian people (John 17:22-23). We therefore join ourselves to one another as brothers and sisters both as a response to the way God has worked among us and in the belief that it furthers the Lord’s work of unity and contributes to the life of the churches and the Christian people as a whole. We do so humbly, recognizing that our efforts are only a small part of what God is doing in the world today.”
In order to assist the leadership of the Sword of the Spirit to more effectively develop this aspect of our call, an Ecumenical Commission of the Sword of the Spirit has recently been formed. It consists of brothers from various regions around the world who work directly with the leaders of the communities in their region. The goal of this commission is to raise the level of awareness about our call to ecumenism, to strengthen ownership of it and to offer ways this can be realized. For instance, monthly intercessions are sent out to members from Sword of the Spirit communities around the world. These are offered for the needs of Christian communities internationally.

“Unity begins with understanding each other and appreciating the distinctive gifts God has distributed in the broader body of Christ.”

Also, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the commission has promoted a booklet of prayer and reflection to be used throughout the Sword of the Spirit. By highlighting the unique gifts of various Christian communions, the booklet this year emphasized understanding and respect as key to unity. “Unity begins with understanding each other and appreciating the distinctive gifts God has distributed in the broader body of Christ.”

In addition to international efforts, the Commission encourages all the members to “act locally.” Here in New Jersey we have found ways to connect with several Christian communities and churches, especially those involved with university outreach. For instance, at Rutgers University where I serve, we have monthly chaplains meetings for shared prayer; annual nights of praise and intercession with a variety of on-campus Christian student groups and one-on-one meetings
among the chaplains. This year I was asked to give the Chi Alpha, a Pentecostal student group, a talk on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. We regularly experience a fruitful exchange of gifts.

In the summer of 2016 Dave Hughes asked me to consider participating in the Commission. Since then it has been an honor for me to serve the North American Region both sharing what God is doing locally and encouraging the brothers and sisters keep this work of healing the Body of Christ at the forefront of our common mission. May the Lord Jesus be glorified in all these efforts and make us one.

This article was first published in the North American Newsletter of the Sword of the Spirit, April 2019..

Brother Joe Donovan is a life-long member of the Brotherhood of Hope..

illustration above from bigstock.com

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