18 November 2015

COLONEL Daniel Naud, commander of The Salvation Army's France and Belgium Territory, has contacted International Headquarters to voice his appreciation for the prayer support that is being offered from around the world after the terror attacks in Paris on Friday 13 November that left 129 people dead and many more injured. 'Messages of sympathy, through phone calls, emails, fax and letters,' he says, 'have come to us from Salvationists, Salvation Army leaders and friends, showing great support, thoughts and prayers.'

The colonel reveals that police and military personnel are continuing to conduct investigations and raids to bring to justice anyone linked to the attacks. 'Since Friday night,' he explains, 'people in Paris and its nearest suburbs where attacks and shootings took place are shocked and scared, especially when hearing ambulance and police sirens throughout the day and night. Scenes of despair and grief prevailed, and people are speechless in the face of such reckless cruelty.'

Bar, Rue de Charonne (courtesy ADS)The shooting at a bar in Rue de Charonne, which claimed the lives of 19 people, took place opposite the Palais de la Femme, a Salvation Army-managed facility for 280 women. Two bullets even hit the Salvation Army building but no one inside was injured.

The psychologist employed by the Palais de la Femme attended the centre on Saturday to provide reassurance and offer counselling to residents who were – understandably – distressed by what had taken place. Ongoing psychological support is also being offered. On Monday, the territorial commander and other senior Salvation Army leaders visited the centre to speak to residents and participate with them in the time of remembrance that was marked across Europe.

Lieut-Colonel Sylvie Arnal (Chief Secretary) stayed at territorial headquarters (THQ) to observe the minute's silence with staff there. Some THQ employees have relatives who were killed or injured during the attacks.

For now, the state of emergency declared by the French President, François Hollande, remains in place, with gatherings of people being discouraged. For The Salvation Army, this means that opportunities for outreach or practical ministry are extremely limited.

Colonel Naud says that Salvation Army centres and corps (churches) in Paris are providing support through being available to listen and offer love to hurting, scared people. 'We are not shielded from other onslaughts,' he concludes, 'but we trust God with all our hearts, knowing that he is all–powerful.' 

Tags: Europe, Emergencies