(Above) The ordination and commissioning service of the Reflectors of Holiness Session in Bratislava, Slovakia
The visit of international leaders General Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World President of Women’s Ministries) to the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Slovakia Territory, was a time of blessing and encouragement, specially marked by the award of two Orders of the Founder.
Focusing on the Czech Republic and Slovakia regions of the territory, the General and Commissioner Peddle were given an informative and inspiring overview of the significant growth and pioneering work in these two countries.
Highlights included the General opening the first "wet" hostel* in Plzen, Czech Republic, after a 75-year absence in the city; positive and collaborative meetings with various state and local government officials; and inspirational conversations with Salvation Army officers, staff, volunteers and clients, including a meeting in which the General shared an encouraging message from the life of Elijah.
The Light, Love and Hope of Jesus
Another moving experience was a visit to a number of Roma settlements where the General and Commissioner Rosalie were visibly moved by the difficult and desperate situations that can be found in central Europe.
Raising the question, "How can we bring the light, love and hope of Jesus into such places?", The Salvation Army in Slovakia has focused on working with Roma children by establishing three kindergartens which, in turn, brings positive change into the families of those children who attend. The international leaders were impressed by the excellent kindergarten facilities and the extraordinary heart, perseverance and expertise of the teaching staff.
In Bratislava, District Officer Major Josef Knoflíček shared further about the challenging work commencing in the east of Slovakia amongst a Roma settlement of more than 7,000 people. Being made aware of these overwhelming needs, the General responded with the assurance that "we serve a God of the impossible!"
The visit culminated with the covenant service, Silver Star meeting and the ordination and commissioning of eight lieutenants of the Reflectors of Holiness Session.
The Order of the Founder
A special moment was when Envoys Koos and Henny Tinga were each admitted to the Order of the Founder—the Salvation Army’s highest honour—for "outstanding dedication and selfless service to the most marginalised and vulnerable." The official citation continued: "For exceptional perseverance, commitment and significant contribution to the pioneering work within the Red Light district of Amsterdam and the Czech Republic."
Envoy Koos Tinga gave a clear, humble testimony that God is good and all the honour and glory belong to the Lord.
The movement of the Holy Spirit was evident as many people responded to the General’s Bible message about the Prodigal Son: "The father sees the son coming and there is a warm embrace," he said. "God still welcomes prodigals home. God knows your name." More room was created in the hall to allow people to kneel and pray.
The Joy of a New Song
The visit ended with a concert with a worship group from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, together with the Amsterdam Staff Songsters. Children danced and a beautiful solo was sung as the room was alive with joy and celebration. Commissioner Rosalie Peddle gave an encouraging message about God giving the joy of a new song when your heart has stopped singing due to pain and sorrow.
At the conclusion of the visit, the General acknowledged his gratitude for what God is doing in the Czech Republic and Slovakia regions. "We are grateful for the privilege to see, learn and understand this good work," he said, "and we are grateful for the support that the Netherlands gives."
*A "wet" hostel is a shelter that does not require residents to stop drinking, offering safe accommodation to those who can't or won't stop.
Photos and report: IHQ Communications