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Dec12MonGeneral Linda Bond visits France and Belgium Territory and Switzerland, Austria and Hungary Territory December 12, 2011
by Major Emmanuel Westphal
- Filed Under:
- International News
Making her first visit as international leader to the France and Belgium Territory, General Linda Bond left the territory's Salvationists in no doubt as to her strong convictions or her ability to share her message with great simplicity. The visit – in Paris, France – began with the General spending time with officers and the directors of various headquarters services. This was followed by a public meeting.
After a time of praise led by the Give Thanks worship group, Aline Chassagnot, co-ordinator of The Salvation Army's épicerie social(a low-cost food market for families in difficulty) gave her testimony. She spoke about the hopeless situations faced by some of the people she works with but affirmed that her faith in God helps her to discern the light that exists in each person.
Another testimony was given by Emmanuel Dora, who spoke of his confidence in the plans of peace that God has for those who seek his presence in their lives. 'Christ is the centre of my life,' he said, 'giving the right direction for my actions.'
In her Bible address, the General spoke of the expectation people have of Christians living in their communities. She called on the Salvationists present to be sure of their calling, challenging them to forge ahead with love in a lost and desperate world, bearing a transforming message that brings liberty and hope.
She said that today's methods of reaching people with the gospel may have to change from what has worked in previous generations, explaining that people are often more sensitive to a witness based on a lived experience rather than logical arguments. She challenged the congregation to ensure that people see in them a way of living which is coherent with their convictions, built on their trust in God.
The Salvationists of the territory quickly became aware of the strong convictions of their international leader as well as the simplicity with which she expresses her message. The General gave a powerful reminder of The Salvation Army's International Vision: one army which has one mission, to go to people who are suffering, those whose lives are broken and those who have been excluded from society, with one message – of the infinite love of Jesus.
The event included participation by the territorial band, a choir from Boulogne Billancourt Corps and the 'Give Thanks' group from Paris Les Lilas Corps.
The General Urges Swiss Salvationists to Share Christ's Message of Freedom, Hope and Life
General Linda Bond, making her first visit as international leader to The Salvation Army's Switzerland, Austria and Hungary Territory, challenged Salvationists in Switzerland to live a consistent life of faith.
During a meeting of celebration in which music was provided by the Alive Choir and Corps Berne Band, she emphasised that the message to be conveyed is not about The Salvation Army but about the gospel of hope, freedom and life preached by Jesus Christ. She spoke to the Salvationists gathered about the International Vision, reminding them that they are part of One Army with One Mission and One Message.
In a public meeting in Berne that followed national officers councils, she told the congregation of almost 500 people that 'inspired by the Holy Spirit, The Salvation Army must take its mission seriously and go out into the world. Because this world has so many people hurting, broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost, who sorely need Christ's message of freedom, hope and life in order to change their lives.'
Citing freedom, hope and life as cornerstones of the gospel, the General said: 'We have to be The Salvation Army of freedom! It is Jesus Christ who delivers us from bondage – and the world today is crying out for freedom.'
She concluded: 'Do you live in victory? Do you have hope? The world needs our redeemer offering freedom, hope and life!'
Hungarian Salvationists Encouraged by General's Visit
by Captain Andrew Morgan, regional officer, Hungary Region
Many people sought a deeper relationship with Christ during the visit of General Linda Bond to Hungary. The General was joined on her visit by Europe Zone leaders Commissioners Robert and Janet Street (International Headquarters) and Commissioners Franz and Hanny Boschung, leaders of the Switzerland, Austria and Hungary Territory.
Captains Andrew and Darlene Morgan, leaders of the Hungary Region, showed their guests a number of Salvation Army ministry units before they all participated in officers councils and an evening public meeting.
The day began with an early morning visit to the Új Reménység Háza (House of New Hope) Men's Hostel, where The Salvation Army offers accommodation and rehabilitation services to 100 men and a daily feeding programme for 250 individuals. It was noted that this facility was purpose-built by The Salvation Army in 1927 before being taken over by the communist government in 1949 and returned to The Salvation Army in 1991.
Looking round the neighbouring corps (Salvation Army church) the General took special interest in the children attending the daycare facility operated by the corps.
This was followed by a tour of the brand new Fény Háza (House of Light) Safe House for Women and Children. This new state-of-the-art facility was at full capacity, with 14 mothers and their children – a total of 41 people – who have escaped domestic violence and are receiving care from loving and professional staff. A final visit of the morning was to the Válaszút Háza (Crossroads House) Rehabilitation Home for Women. Special note was taken of the therapeutic work carried out among women as they try to move on from lives of addiction, incarceration and prostitution.
During the afternoon officers councils the General challenged Hungary's 10 active officers, three retired officers and two cadets to live holy and Christlike lives.
The day was capped by a celebratory public meeting at Rákoscsaba Corps, attended by more than 150 people. The General was pleased to enrol eight junior soldiers and 10 senior soldiers, representing all four Hungarian corps.
At the conclusion of the meeting, in response to the appeal, the mercy seat was lined time and time again as many people responded to the invitation to make a deeper commitment to the Lord and his ministry through The Salvation Army.
The visit of the General was a great encouragement to the Salvationists of Hungary, who face an uncertain future after new legislation regulating churches was passed by the Hungarian parliament in July 2011.
For 20 years The Salvation Army, together with more than 360 other registered churches, has enjoyed the freedoms and privileges of church status. The new legislation which comes into effect on 1 January 2012, grants only 14 churches official status. The Salvation Army, which is not one of the 14, is working with lawyers and politicians to reach a satisfactory resolution to the issue. The regional officer is appealing for prayerful support for this matter.