My Reflection on the Count Me In Conference

My Reflections on the Count Me In Convention
There was a perfect storm brewing in my mind as we drove to the Count Me In Convention last weekend. I guess I had no idea what to expect. I wondered if the weekend would be only applicable to people in recovery from alcohol and drug addictions. I wondered if my wife and I, and the children would huddle in a corner somewhere feeling out of place. I wondered if we would question why we even went there in the first place. God had a wonderful surprise in store for us.
During the first meeting, that Friday evening, my heart was warmed by the exuberant welcome and responses from the beneficiaries from all over our beautiful territory. As each Adult Rehabilitation Center’s name was called out, the men and women responded in these boisterous chants that would have left many a sports fan stunned. These men and women were excited to be gathered in the presence of God, representing all the work God has done in their lives through their distinct centers. I noticed that I was not an outsider, I am one of them. I have been saved by Grace through faith in our Lord Jesus. I, too, am recovering from many sins that have plagued me over my lifetime. I embraced the warmth of their friendly cheers, and there, stood shoulder to shoulder with my fellow redeemed soldiers.
The speaker that first evening, was the dynamic Dr. Steven Arterburn, . He spoke about his past challenges with sex addiction, and how God redeemed him from it. He testified that when his then girlfriend fell pregnant, he paid for the abortion. As a result, he and his wife could not have children. However, God blessed when they had the privilege of adopting a baby, at birth. Dr Artburn’s testimony resonated with me, and many others. I felt at home, as I knew I was in the company of fellow horrible sinners who were miraculously saved by a magisterial, graceful God!
On the second day, the second guest, Maria Durso shared her powerful testimony. She skillfully took us on a journey dating back to the time when her mother was pregnant with her. Her mother’s passing from a brain tumor, her father’s depression, and eventual death. One could almost hear pin drop, as Maria described the abuse she endured at the hands of the religious people at an orphanage, as well as at the hands of street thugs. The whole convention erupted in applause as she described her salvation moment in a room hotel room in Mexico. At the end of her testimony, Commissioner Knaggs challenged us to respond to the message. Hundreds of men and women rushed to kneel at the altar in humility as they surrendered to God’s power. At the altar, the ceiling shone in a shape of the cross. I will never forget the image of people kneeling in submission to God, as the cross was shining over them. It was as if God’s light was piercing through the flesh to provide light in our dark hearts! Hallelujah!
During meal breaks, I would pass a group of our San Diego A.R.C. beneficiaries who would give me a big teddy bear hug, and tell me how glad they were to be at the Count Me In convention. I was able to connect at a deeper level, with most of the beneficiaries, many of whom attend our corps on Sundays. On Sunday morning, my family and I had the privilege of eating breakfast with the beneficiaries from the San Diego A.R.C. who were going to be enrolled as adherents later in that morning. Two of them said, “Captain, we are ready to become soldiers!” I was privileged to witness God’s transforming power in the lives of many of our delegates.
The Count Me In convention was a great experience. It showed me the necessity of linking our Corps with the A.R.C. I am glad I attended the Count Me In convention.


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