08 May 2015

INDIA was the first country in Asia to have a Salvation Army presence when, in 1882, a small group made the arduous sea crossing to the port of Bombay (now Mumbai). Now, in the church and charity’s 150th anniversary year, a small group from the International Headquarters (IHQ) communications team is retracing the steps of those early pioneers and investigating how The Salvation Army remains relevant in 21st century India.

Leaving this weekend, Major John Murray (IHQ Communications Secretary), David Giles (Web Manager) and Gary Rose (Multimedia Producer) will travel the length and breadth of the subcontinent in order to document the diverse ministry in a variety of ways. From Mumbai in the west to Kolkata in the east, from Nagercoil in the far south to Amritsar in the north, and from the searing heat of the bustling capital New Delhi to the cooler Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling, the team will be blogging about its experiences at www.salvationarmy.org/indiablog.

The team will explore Salvation Army hospitals, schools, training programmes and anti-human trafficking initiatives along the way, with one key output being a documentary to be premièred in July at the Boundless Film Festival, part of The Salvation Army's 150th anniversary International Congress, Boundless – The Whole Whole World Redeeming. Photo essays and feature articles will also be produced for Salvation Army publications and websites around the globe.

Following the devastating earthquake of 25 April, plans are also being finalised for the team to report first-hand from Nepal on The Salvation Army’s continuing relief and rehabilitation efforts in and around Kathmandu. (Check the India blog for more details.)

Major Murray, who is leading the team, says: ‘This is an extraordinary opportunity to highlight the important work of The Salvation Army across India and to see first-hand the recovery work in Nepal. We invite Salvationists and friends to follow our journey and see India through our eyes.’

David is also enthusiastic about the visit. ‘India is a country of contrasts – high-tech industries coexist with subsistence farmers; vulnerable children eke out a living alongside the very railways that contributed so dramatically to India’s economic growth. The Salvation Army has always advocated for those who have no voice – it’s a privilege to be able to see and hear the stories of the “voiceless” in person.’

And Gary concurs. ‘I’m looking forward to documenting the work of our oldest mission field on film,' he explains. 'Seeing the beauty of the country while grappling with the emotions that will be invoked when witnessing the inevitable deprivation – it will be a memorable experience.’

Today there are six territories covering the country. There are nearly half a million Salvationists and young people who choose to worship and serve God through The Salvation Army in India. In order to meet human needs in this diverse and populous country, the social care programmes offered are varied and extensive.

 

Feature by IHQ Communications
International Headquarters

Tags: South Asia, 150th anniversary