10 April 2015

ANTICIPATION and excitement filled the air at The Salvation Army’s Singapore Central Corps (church) on Good Friday, as Salvationists and friends from across the city-state gathered for a congress. International leaders General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women’s Ministries) presided over the event and the joyful occasion of commissioning new Salvation Army officers. 

Speaking fervently on the overarching theme 'Momentum – Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future', the General focused on the Easter message: ‘We need to be the servant God wants us to be. We contemplate on the Cross and we rejoice that our salvation is free … but it is a gift that came with a cost. The events of that day and on the Cross changed the course of history. They change the course, focus and goals of our lives.’

The General underscored the importance of witnessing for Christ. ‘It was – and is – the mission of Jesus to bear the sin, the pain and penalty of sin of each one of us. It’s the mission of Jesus to transform our character. People need to see the difference in us. We are in the world but not of the world. Do people see it?’ he asked.

During a weekend that marked 80 years of Salvation Army ministry in Singapore, there were great celebrations. But the General cautioned ‘it is more important we celebrate Easter. Without Easter, there would be no celebrations. The world needs credible witnesses, who talk less and live more. The world needs to see Christians live dedicated lives. The Cross reminds us of God’s strength and his grace.’ The General emphasised that Salvationists are to be Spirit-filled, God-empowered witnesses for Christ.

A SAY! (Salvation Army Youth) meeting on Good Friday at Singapore Central Corps included a series of questions put to the General on behalf of Singapore's young people. He gave clear answers on subjects including his travels, challenges as a General, the soldiership covenant, abstinence from alcohol and freewill. Commissioner Cox gave the Bible message, and the meeting ended with upbeat songs that re-enforced the message that nothing should stop people from declaring the love of Christ to the world. 

On Easter Saturday, the General commissioned six new Salvation Army officers. Picking up on their sessional name, ‘Heralds of Grace’, Commissioner Cox encouraged the new lieutenants and the congregation with words from Acts chapter 1.

This was followed by an evening of vibrant and lively celebration: sounds of high praises, tooting horns and poppers filled the hall. As 80 years of steadfast ministry and mission to the people of Singapore were recalled, officers who had served for long periods were recognised amid applause and shouts of joy. In particular, Major Ruth Pascoe was honoured for 45 years of dedicated service, while Major Kamala was acknowledged for 35 years of ministry. 

Recognising vast potential, Territorial Commander Colonel Lyndon Buckingham took time to set out the direction of missional priorities in Singapore. Encouraging Singaporean Salvationists to ‘keep the spirit of the pioneers’, the colonel urged the congregation to offer their gifts and talents to God and ‘surrender to the great promise-giver’.

Easter morning dawned with songs of triumph at a United Easter Service, observing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The General declared that ‘the power of the Holy Spirit needs to come upon us’ and many came forward to the mercy seat seeking God’s transformation.

With awe-inspiring worship and jubilant waving of the flag, the General and Commissioner Cox led a ‘hallelujah march’. This was the culmination of a weekend that Singapore’s Salvationists will never forget as they seek to keep building spiritual momentum.

Report by Major Chee Kwee Lim

Tags: South Pacific and East Asia, The General