I can’t remember what kind of Google search or hyperlink that first led me to the website of Jesus Army almost seven years ago, but I remember how thrilled I was to finally encounter an evangelical, charismatic church that has complete community of goods. The closest resemblance to such an apostolic church that I had previously discovered was in a dusty, old book in my father’s home library called In His Footsteps. I was so excited as I earnestly turned the pages and read about this amazing church in the middle of nowhere which took Jesus seriously, had everything in common and led countless people to the Lord. Then I came to the last page which revealed that it was all fiction.
But the Jesus Army was real! I sent them an email, asking to come and visit them in Northamptonshire for a few days in April 2010. I was interested in the Training Year they offer and wanted to get a feeling about what New Creation community life was like. It was amazing; as I’ve previously shared I was baptised in the Holy Spirit during that trip, and I was so encouraged to see that community of goods is not just possible in the western world today – it’s very effective!
Without giving any convinced promises I told the Jesus saints that I wanted to do a training year (or rather, six months) in 2011. But after some time I told them I wasn’t going. I was feeling too young, insecure and inexperienced to take such a step. God was good and let me experience some amazing things in Sweden during that time. But I now know that of course I would have enjoyed and benefited a lot from a Jesus Army training year back then. I’m not luring myself into believing that whatever my life ends up like is what God wanted all along. He wants me and everybody else to share our possessions from the day we are saved. But even as we fail God can lead us onward, never forsaking us but faithfully caring for us.
So several years pass by and some half-hearted attempts of mine to start a community of goods in Sweden fail. But I never give up my vision of restoring the apostolic church of Acts and to combine miracles, evangelism and economic equality. In 2014, I started to long back to the Jesus Army. They’re already doing it! They’re not trying to restore Jerusalem as a project of the future, but preserve it as a present reality.
As you who have followed this blog for a while know, I went back to the UK together with my friend Frida in 2014. My love for the JA rooted even deeper and I knew that I had to take that training year. But that would be in 2016 when I had finished my theology studies. Meanwhile I tried to organise a group trip in August 2015 for others who were fascinated by this type of church. It wasn’t a success though; among 30 interested Swedes only two actually joined me.
But when we were there God spoke to me about commitment. Commitment is the reason the Jesus Army has been able to live this life for over 40 years, in contrast to the Swedish Jesus movement which faded quite quickly after the hippie days were over. Commitment is what my “millennial” generation desperately need as we are so insecure concerning life choices in these consumerist and individualistic societies. And so I there and then committed to the training year, signed the forms and told my beloved friends in Kettering to save a bed for me in 2016.
Of course, commitment comes with a price of saying no to other life options. A girl named Sarah joined my church in Uppsala late 2015, it turned out that she shared my vision of charismactivism and community of goods. We were fascinated by how similar we were, how God had independently trained us for the same mission. And we fell in love. And now it’s really, really painful to leave her in Sweden as she is committed to studies and I am committed to the Training Year. But we both know that this is right.
See, I have got to know a God who can raise the dead and transform nations. When we put Him and His Kingdom first everything else will sort itself out. Not always as we plan, but as He plans. And I feel secure knowing that He for so many years have planned this training year for me.