“Admit, believe, and confess,” said Cotton Presley.
Equating admission of sin with repentance, he recited from memory many Scriptures supporting the need for a 180–degree turn in one’s spiritual life. “Many of us make the mistake of trying to believe in Christ before we are willing to admit we’ve done anything wrong,” he said.
Recalling 1 John 1:9, Presley said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“I was the worst kind of redneck,” said Presley. “But my confession allowed me to enter into God’s grace.” He had gone from a Christian home to the jungles of Vietnam, to the streets, and then found God through The Salvation Army. Presley seized the moment to compel sinners to come to Christ. “I’ve been praying seven months for this [weekend],” he said. “Let this be the day that you will be saved!”
‘He kept me’
On Sunday morning, the Detroit ARC Singers sang deeply moving renditions of “Welcome Holy Spirit” and “Come in this House,” and Crossfire Brass performed “Take Time to Be Holy.” As the last note sounded, the audience readied themselves to receive God’s blessings through preaching and testimony.
“Where would I be had I not found the Army at age 16?” Captain Pavel Gorbunov asked. The Russian–born Salvationist from Moscow answered his own question: “I would have been drinking with my buddies; or long gone—probably dead.” Now 32 and serving as translator for the OOB Camp Meetings, he had seen and heard five Salvation Army Generals.
Each General represented an era in Gorbunov’s salvation trek. “I’m seeing my whole spiritual journey in one glance.” Pointing to Generals John Larsson and John Gowans, who attended the entire camp meeting series, Gorbunov continued, “That is my whole spiritual life right there! God loves me so much. This is too much for my imagination!”
The Detroit ARC Singers ministered one more time, rendering “I Almost Let Go,” “He Kept Me,” and an exuberant “God Can and He Will!”
Before Presley preached from Ephesians, Christine Stickland sang “There Is a Place.” Her classically trained voice focused the audience’s attention on the Word of God.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received,” recited Presley from chapter 4. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Quoting chapter 5, he said, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.”
Presley was quick to draw a distinction between being an imitation of God and doing an imitation. “Doing addresses your level of skill,” he said. “Being speaks to who you are as a person.”
Presley urged his audience to “order” their conduct with the confidence that God will deliver. He said that there is no defense against the power of kindness and tenderheartedness. “When you are loving, you are winning,” he said.
That day under the Pavilion, many people knelt, seeking the Lord’s help to win in the battle for their souls.