April 2009 - Vol. 29 > Español

To Faithful Warriors Commeth Rest

It is now time for the next generation to answer the call 
of advancing the bulwark built by the first pioneers

by Miguel Vargas Arroyo

The song For All the Saints is an anthem which inspires me in a very special way. Although I had always related it to the servants of God throughout the centuries, lately this song makes me think of the founders of the Sword of the Spirit. I must say as a twenty-one year old that I deeply admire the men and women of the “first generation” in community, who have served since the late 1960s. That is why I want to write a little about their life, their sacrifice, and their answer to God’s call. I have taken the title of this article from a line in the song I mentioned.

Whoever encounters my community today – the Tree of Life community – finds a well-formed structure. Our gatherings are on Saturdays in the afternoon in a hall built by the community. We have eight main leaders (we call them coordinators) and five more are in training; there are several senior women’s leaders, three districts and some three hundred adult members. We have some established policies about the way we want to live as a community. There are many outreaches. We have community courses on Thursday night, a community conference once every year, day trips, youth camps, celebrations of the Christian seasons, and many other things. My community is well formed, and whoever encounters it today could think that is has always been like this.

It’s the same when you enter a big building. You find huge windows through which the sunlight enters into the wide hallways that lead from one room to another. There might be a fountain in a lobby, you could see elevators in different places, emergency exits, innovating architecture and all kinds of details. The modest size of the building could deceive us, and make us believe it was easy to build. But the truth is that behind that great structure there are hours and hours of the work of hundreds of people. Architects, engineers, masons, plumbers, electricians, designers. That building was built with the sweat of many people, their weariness and sometimes even their exhaustion. Some risked their life to place the highest windows, some gave hours of their sleep to design the plans, some oversaw each step of the building, others supplied just a minor a detail. But in the end, the building would not have been finished without the effort of so many people.

It was also like this in the Sword of the Spirit. Each element that characterizes the way of life of our “community of communities” has behind it the effort of our founders. Hours in airplanes, long phone conversations, email messages, tiring debates.

Those who came before us, the Sword of the Spirit saints of the past, responded to a call from God and gave themselves to the building of the bulwark that God had in mind. Through the veins of the Sword of the Spirit flows the blood of these men and women who layed the foundation for the community. They are the stones that carry upon themselves the whole weight of the bulwark. They are the pioneers, those who conquered the land, those who crossed the Red Sea dry shod. For more than 30 years our founders have walked like Abraham, leaving their land behind and pursuing God’s promise.

My generation came to a community that was already built; some of us were born in it, others were attracted to it by God’s leading. It would be easy for us to behold the building and think it was simple to build. But it is not like that. We who were born in community easily forget the effort of our parents. We have grown up under the protection of the bulwark, and now the Lord calls us to take our place and continue to strengthen it.

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors cometh rest…1
The times are changing, the first generation has fought the good fight and it is time for us in the next generation to move to the front of battle.

It is time for us to take our places as leaders and servants in the mission of our communities. It is time for us to make our own the call of being a bulwark for protection of those who are weak or unprepared. It is time to give our lives, our professions, our jobs, our time and our strength to serve the Lord. It is time to leave our fears behind and trust the Lord, for he will be with us. It is our turn to leave the world behind and walk towards God, to put our hands in the plow and stop looking back. It is time to be different from the young people around us. It is time to reflect Christ’s light and pass it on to others who still live in darkness.

As our founders, we must not trust in our own strength or abilities, we must abandon ourselves to the Lord. We need a firm conviction that this is God’s will for us, and  then make firm decisions. We have received much, we should give much to the cause of God’s kingdom. We must leave our comfort behind and go to battle as gappers, as mission leaders, as members of a consecrated people - with holy marriages, or with holy single lives for the Lord.

When Moses died, Joshua had to replace an impressive leader. All his admiration for Moses might have made him feel unfit to the task, but the people’s march had to continue. Today, as our founding leaders, the faithful warriors who are coming into their rest as Moses did, it is time for us, the relief forces, to take our places. One truth shall comfort us:

“The Father has chosen the little and the weak, to advance his Kingdom, and to defeat the enemy.” 2

1 For All the Saints, by William W. How.
2 Adelante, by John Keating. Verse translated by Miguel Vargas for the article.

[Miguel Vargas is an underway member of the Tree of Life Community in San Jose, Costa Rica. He has been actively involved in youth ministry and is currently an affiliate of the Servants of the Word. He majored in classical philology and graduated from the University of Costa Rica in December 2008.]

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