(Above) Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd meet with Salvationists in the Bangladesh Cmd

A year ago, my wife, Tracey, and I travelled to Bangladesh, one of Canada and Bermuda’s Partners in Mission territories. We had just packed away the Christmas decorations and playlists, but as we shared with territorial leaders and officers, soldiers and employees of the Bangladesh Command, a Christmas carol emerged as a soundtrack for our time there. The words echoed in my mind and heart: “Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?” My eyes and ears were opened in new ways to the work God was accomplishing in and through The Salvation Army in Bangladesh. I am always amazed to see fellow Salvationists in our partner territories innovating to meet the opportunities of their ever-changing contexts.

As we gathered at the holiness meeting on Friday—the “holy day” in Bangladesh—we shared with officers, soldiers and community members in songs and Scripture. Many curious onlookers were also welcomed and heard the message of the transforming love of Jesus.

The next day, we met with women in a workshop setting as they learned new skills that provided meaningful employment. Goods produced in this workshop are sold around The Salvation Army world under the “Others” brand. Later, we were invited to meet with another group of women who, with the support of the Army, had established their own successful business ventures, changing the trajectory of their families’ lives.

Do you hear what I was hearing? The story can change! For many connecting with The Salvation Army, their story was being dramatically altered as the message of Jesus was heard and lived out alongside one another in community. Community that worshipped together. Community that worked together to build a stronger, healthier future for everyone.

The voices of children filled the air as we stepped out of the car at the Army-operated school, where children from the neighbourhood and resident blind children shared in integrated classrooms. The sighted and the blind, studying together. Together, they were learning much more than just the curriculum contained in the books on their basic wooden desks.

One young boy grabbed our hands and led us to see his room. He had just arrived a few days before our visit. He was now joining his brother, who had been studying for a couple of years as a resident at the school. Together, they shared a room with two other students. As this blind boy led us, he wanted us to see what he could see. Together, they showed me what my seeing eyes failed to recognize.

Do you see what I was seeing? A place of belonging for everyone, learning together and learning from one another. Eyes that could not see were seeing more than they ever had seen before. They saw themselves included not only in the present school setting but in a future lived integrated in the community. At the same time, my eyes that could see were opened to potential and promise fulfilled. Through the message of Jesus and a willingness to build strength and capacity together, communities are being transformed one young life at a time.

We approach this year’s Partners in Mission campaign having recently articulated a new territorial vision statement. Looking at Partners in Mission through that lens, I see the opportunity for us to live out our vision well beyond our territorial boundaries. The Canada and Bermuda Territory is “an innovative partner, sharing hope wherever there is hardship, building communities that are just and know the love of Jesus.”

In Bangladesh, as well as in other Partners in Mission territories around the globe, we share in the opportunity to bring hope in difficult circumstances. With eyes of faith opened wide, let us see what God sees and partner with him and fellow Salvationists. May we see “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” achieved according to God’s power at work in and through his international Army (see Ephesians 3:20).

This year, let each of us strengthen our commitment to support Partners in Mission. Your support is needed now more than ever before. Thank you for your sacrificial giving.

Commissioner Floyd Tidd is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

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