General André Cox has published a statement in response to the terrorist attack on a concert in Manchester, England, in which at least 22 people were killed. It is thought that many of the victims, at a concert by American singer Ariana Grande, were in their teens.

Three Salvation Army teams provided pastoral and practical assistance to more than 400 people in the hours immediately following the attack. The teams remain ready to provide further assistance should that be necessary.

The General writes:

Commissioner Silvia and I were incredibly saddened to learn of yesterday's terrorist attack at a concert in Manchester. We know that Salvationists and friends will join us in praying for the families of all who were killed, as well as for physical healing for those who were injured and mental healing for those who witnessed horrific scenes.

This is not the time for simplistic statements or feel-good quotes. Like many people, I struggle to see God's plan in the loss of young, innocent lives. Yet I am assured by Scripture that, even in the darkest of times, God is with us. Psalm 46 reminds us: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea" (1-2 NIV). On days like today, as the world appears to be crumbling, I and many others will cling more closely to our "ever-present help."

It seems incomprehensible that innocent young people could head out for a concert never to return. My heart breaks for all who were affected in Manchester and for the many, many people who find their everyday lives blighted by fear because of the acts of a few misguided people who grotesquely misrepresent the faith they claim to follow.

I join many voices in observing that yesterday's tragedy began with the dreadful actions of just one person but that this has been followed by thousands of acts of love and selflessness, with people from Manchester and beyond providing care and compassion. Our own Salvation Army teams were part of this response, supplying practical and pastoral support to the wonderful emergency services. I thank God for them all.

Finally, this is a time to remember the last gift that Jesus gave his disciples before handing himself over to be killed. "Peace I leave with you," he said; "my peace I give you" (John 14:27). In these difficult days, may we receive that peace; and may we seek to share it with friends, family members, colleagues and the wider world.

God bless you.

André Cox

Commissioner Clive Adams (Territorial Commander, United Kingdom Territory with Republic of Ireland) also wrote: "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have died, and our best wishes to the who are injured." He concluded his thoughts with a prayer: "Lord, comfort the bereaved, touch the injured, bring shalom to those who are angry or fearful."

A vigil in Albert Square, central Manchester, is being attended by Salvationists including Major Alan Watters (Divisional Commander, Central North Division) and Lieutenant Kay Blues (Manchester Central).

Major Watters has written and shared a prayer for the injured, for the bereaved and for the leaders of the city and country. He thanks God for the emergency services and for the "humanity and kindness" shown by members of the public. See below for the full text of the major's prayer:

"Almighty and everlasting God, we come before you at this time with heavy hearts for those of our city who, because of man's inhumanity to man, have lost their lives and been injured during these past hours. Words alone cannot express just how we feel about the suffering and heartache that has been caused.

We pray that you will comfort those who have been bereaved, and guide those who come alongside them in their hour of sorrow.

We pray for those who have been injured that your healing touch may be evident. Please guide the hands of the medical profession who will give of themselves and their skills in these crucial hours in the relief of their suffering because of this incident.

We thank you for the work of the police, emergency and ambulance services who responded so efficiently and continue to do so.

Thank you too for the members of the public who so generously came forward to offer help and assistance, thus showing the better side of our humanity and kindness.

Please guide the leaders of our city and nation, may they know your presence and guidance as they make crucial decisions for the safety and well being of our citizens.

We make this prayer in and through the name of Jesus who walks with us and lives among us.


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