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JAC Interview with Captain Peter Brookshaw


Captain Peter Brookshaw is a magnetic Australia Southern officer.  Among other things… “how do you not only mobilize the army, but mobilize it, so that in fact you witness global transformation?” 


JAC: Who are you?


This is where I tell you about my upbringing. Let me keep it short for you. I grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne, Australia (born 1982) and had an Anglican church background in my Sunday school years. Funnily enough an Anglican priest used to punch me in the arm and say, 'You're going to be a minister one day!'

I was privileged to be top of my class when finishing school and then went on and completed a Bachelor of Business. I married the amazing Jo Brookshaw in December 2004, and we became officers in The Salvation Army with the Witnesses for Christ session (2007-2008). Since then we've spent four years up in the northern parts of Australia (Palmerston Corps), and now are leading an awesome church (Craigieburn Corps) in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. We have three little gorgeous children; Shekinah (6), Elijah (3), Hosanna (15 months).


JAC: Tell us about your salvation and sanctification.


When I was 18, I met a girl. I liked the girl. The girl knew Jesus. I followed the girl. I met Jesus. I followed Jesus. The girl and the boy became a couple. The boy and girl grew up and got married. That's the short version of the story. Something amazing happened within me during the course of the year 2000. Every second week I was bawling my eyes out at the mercy seat. Jesus had come into my life and a new journey had begun. It was now all for God.


The next couple of years, I continued to desire to know God better. Every night I laid down in bed and lifted my hands to the sky. Every night, I did this. I remember an internal holy discontent inside of me, that what I was reading about in the book of Acts, was not happening in my life. Literally, every night, I lifted my hands and prayed to receive the same Holy Ghost power that ignited a dynamic ministry amongst the first apostles. Well, one night, the Holy Spirit fell upon me and my hands tingled and I knew God was very close. The baptism of the Holy Spirit went from some antiquated 20th century phrase, to a real, powerful, life-changing experience.


I still pray regularly that the Holy Spirit would come upon me, and do two things: Sanctify my life and empower me for ministry. I want the kind of character that is a good representation of who Jesus is. I want the kind of power that is a good representation of what Jesus can do.


JAC: What is your mission/calling?


It was April 25th, 2013, and as I was driving along the road in the Corps 12-seater bus when I felt words from left-field hit me. The words were: "I want you to mobilize an army to transform the world." Wow! What a word from God! 


I have thought about this lots in recent days. What does it mean to mobilize? I know, by definition, to mobilize is to get people ready for war, but how do you do that? How do mobilize the 'army'? Lastly, how do you not only mobilize the army, but mobilize it, so that in fact you witness global transformation? 


Personally, this is my life's calling. I haven't got many of the answers. I'm learning some along the way.


JAC: How does the Army support your war fighting?


The Salvation Army have blessed me beyond what I can begin to appropriately express. In a sense, I have all the practical aspects of life taken care of, and I can focus on what matters. I continue to be blessed with opportunities to engage in leadership development and theological study that the Army invest financially in, so as to personally equip me as a follower of Jesus in a 21st century context.


JAC: How do you influence people?


Big question. I am excited in my own journey of ministry, to have had opportunity of late, to be consistently and intentionally encouraging 'the next generation'. That is beginning to evolve for me, as God is taking me to a place of being able to coach and support others in ministry. I have a lot to learn, but that which I have learnt, I want to pass on to others.


The last couple of years I have began to realise God gave me a sense of humour, and that can be an amazing weapon in the toolkit, for building relationships, engaging people in preaching and breaking awkward moments (like that time my mother-in-law...... nevermind).


I have been blogging since 2006, and I'd hope to think some are being encouraged by that! (www.petebrookshaw.com).


JAC: Who influences you?


I have had amazing mentors over the years; corps officers, divisional staff and other denominational leaders who always seem to speak a word in season. I have a couple of mentors at the moment; one who is speaking into my life on a personal level and how that plays out in ministry, and also a coach who is helping me to ask the right questions about our Corps' mission and strategic direction. See, I need people who remind me of God's perspective about me. That's not being egocentric, that's saying, that in the midst of the challenges of ministry, family life, administrative expectations, pastoral concerns, financial pressures and the like, I personally need people who affirm the call of God upon my own life and who speak encouragement into the ministry journey.


I'm trying to read lots of books. I'm a slow reader. I am attempting to read a few different books this year (along with the Boundless material for getting through the NT), from each of the following topics:

- Missiology

- Salvation Army

- Theological/Biblical

- Leadership


Let me suggest one book from each of these topics that are worth grappling with.


Missiology - 'The Forgotten Ways' - Alan Hirsch. A book that speaks of organic multiplication of discipleship, and of creating movements (not institutions). It places Jesus squarely at the centre.


Salvation Army - I read recently, 'Inside a High Council' by General John Larsson (Rtd). Interesting. Towards the end of the book he gives snippets of the nominated Commissioners (who subsequently became Generals) and what they communicated to the High Council about their vision for The Salvation Army. Inspiring stuff indeed!


Theological/Biblical - Call me crazy, but I have read quite a few snippets from the Word Biblical Commentary on the gospel writers, primarily Donald Hagner on Matthew's Gospel.


Leadership - 'Good to Great' stands out for me. Jim Collins and his team offer some great insights into leading great organisations. It speaks of creating clarity around what you are seeking to achieve and to work towards that with tenacity and focus. In the early days John C. Maxwell built a foundation for me on which to build from.


JAC: What are your dreams for the next several years?


I want to lead a Corps that significantly impacts the surrounding community, where we witness the transformative power of the gospel at work in the lives of many people.


Personally, I see the character and competence of more seasoned Salvation Army Officers, and I have an internal passion to reflect the kind of life they live. I hope in the next few years and beyond, I can learn from such officers, through their example, their preaching, their compassion, their servanthood, their missional-living, their humility and their leadership capacity. I want to grow to a point where I am investing continually into the lives of those of the next generation.


JAC: What are the keys to successful warfare on your front and the larger salvation war?


We have to learn to pray. Let me be controversial for a little bit. I'm sick and tired of sitting around in prayer meetings, with little passion, little faith and next to no expectation that God is going to hear our prayers. Go home if you don't want to really pray. Let's understand that we are speaking with the God of the universe, that loves us so much, that if we ask for a loaf of bread, God is not going to give us a washing machine. We will be more effective as a Salvation Army, when we stop playing prayer games, and get serious about Jesus and how he wants to use us in changing the world. To pray and to not expect an answer, is to fail to grasp the nature of who God is.


We’re working hard locally, to have local churches praying with each other and supporting each other in ministry. We’re trying to keep the main thing, the main thing, and stopping talks about how many rolls of toilet paper keep the toilets well stocked, in leadership meetings. We’re constantly inviting people to participate in the life of our Corps, through volunteerism, and ultimately to a relationship with Jesus. We have a long way to go, but the seeds are being sown!


JAC: How do you cultivate your relationship with God?


However I can! I find myself taking short moments in the day, to pray. I spend longer times of prayer at night, and lately it has been standing out in the backyard, looking out to the stars and praying for spiritual breakthrough in my local community. I seek to hear from God. Sometimes, all I hear is my tummy rumbling, but other times I hear a scripture reference in my spirit, and it will be pertinent to my current situation. One day, I am convinced Jesus is going to stand next to me face-to-face and give me a word of encouragement. I've been reading through the Scriptures and seeking to hear God speak through his word. At the moment, I'm thinking a lot about entering the rest of God (Hebrew 4), and what they means on a day-to-day basis in ministry.


JAC: What are some of the dangers we have to face in the coming years? (And how?)


We always face the danger of becoming just another social welfare organisation that has thrown its religious ideologies out with the bath water. We must stay focused on Jesus. Apart from him, we can do nothing.


We face the challenge of staying true to the fundamentals of Salvationism, while adapting our methodologies to impact a rapidly changing 21st century context. We can be at the forefront of innovation in our community.


We face the dangers of spending our days fundraising in order to keep our buildings and centres open, in order that we have a place in which we can fundraise to keep our buildings open. The Salvation Army will (and has for many years), had to grapple with finding the funds to fund what it does. I believe this pressure will continue to mount and we will need to rely on 'faith' a little more in the process, while being good stewards of what we have.


We have theological issues related to our day, that The Salvation Army will need to collectively wrestle through.


Lastly, we have the danger of retreating when opposition comes. We must be innovative and creative. We must be evangelical in approach. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. We cannot retreat when societal pressure is heaped upon us, or when the media rip us to shreds, or we lose a governmental grant. Let's be risk-takers. Let's stay full of faith and continue to grow and move forward.  


JAC: What final exhortations have you for this audience?


I believe with all my heart that the best days are still ahead for The Salvation Army. So, stay focused on what matters. Old Salvation Army Corps buildings have historical value but won't necessarily transform the world today. Your fancy, contemporary band with your synthesiser is a means to an end. If something better comes along, move with it. Brass bands that have lost their missional-edge, should be banned. We need to get back to what matters. In the book of Mark, the gospel writer wants his listeners to hear what Jesus was on about. He came into Galilee saying, 'The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.' Let's make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world, the standard for our lives.


Blog: www.petebrookshaw.com

Twitter: @petebrookshaw

Facebook Page: facebook.com/petebrookshaw









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