Madagascar became the 128th country in which the Salvation Army is currently serving, as work was officially inaugurated in the African island nation on October 23, 2016. Commissioner Joash Malabi, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army’s Zimbabwe Territory – which is overseeing the new work – conducted the opening ceremony in the town of Alakamisy.
The official opening was supported by the International Headquarters Under Secretary for East & Southern Africa, Major Isaac Siundu, and Assistant Under Secretary for Africa, Major Judith Nkounkou, and Salvationists from Zimbabwe. The event was witnessed and supported by local government officials represented by the Mayor of Alakamisy, councillors, leaders of other Christian denominations as well as Madagascan Salvationists and new recruits. The hall was filled to capacity, with nearly 500 people gathering.
Prior to the official opening, a Saturday praise meeting was held in which Major Isaac Siundu encouraged the congregation from the book of Psalms. In his sermon he exhorted attendees to have a desire to dwell in the house of God, as did the psalmist David.
On the Sunday, a large banner proclaiming the official opening of The Salvation Army in the Malagasy language was erected (‘Un Fanokafana Ofisialy Esperience Nyasan’ Ny Pour Levie Tafika Famonjena Eto Madagasikara’). In a special meeting, Commissioner Malabi read from Isaiah before unveiling a ceremonial plaque. As this happened, the congregation enthusiastically sang How great thou art. The Commissioner went on to cut a ribbon as he officially announced the opening of The Salvation Army in Madagascar. The doors to the hall were opened for the people to enter freely for worship.
During the meeting, Territorial President for Women’s Ministries Commissioner Florence Malabi reiterated that The Salvation Army was not bringing Jesus to Madagascar but rather it was Jesus who had brought the Army to Madagascar. “Today, Madagascar joins the rest of the Salvation Army world where women are preaching this gospel of peace,” she asserted, emphasizing the ongoing ministry of Salvationists “doing their best to bring the love of God to different communities.”
A colourful presentation of the new Salvation Army Madagascar flag saw the pioneer officers, Majors Kiala receiving the flag from Commissioner Joash Malabi. The congregation expressed their joy amid ululation and celebration. The mayor thanked The Salvation Army and affirmed his support to the new church in his community.
After the ceremony, Mr Andriamananomy Rasahoby – the pioneer Salvationist who brought the Army from Russia to Madagascar – gave a touching testimony in which he thanked God. He could not hide his joy as his dream of The Salvation Army ministering in his homeland was realized. During the meeting eight senior soldiers and six junior soldiers were enrolled. A Salvation Army vehicle for Madagascar was also dedicated to God.