THE Chief of the Staff (Commissioner André Cox) and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) visited Helsinki, Finland, to participate in the annual 'Day Before the Word' gathering and install the new leaders of the Finland and Estonia Territory. In a way the visit was a homecoming, as the commissioners had themselves been territorial leaders for Finland and Estonia, and this was the first time they had returned since leaving their appointments in 2008.
Since the 1930s a midwinter event – originally called 'Two Days with God' – has been held in Finland. This year's theme was 'Fix Your Eyes on Jesus'. Through the years, the gatherings have provided spiritual inspiration and teaching to thousands of Salvationists. Some participants came all the way from Lapland, more than 700 kilometres from Helsinki.
In her Bible message during the first meeting, Commissioner Silvia Cox reminded her listeners that they can stay faithful to God when they fix their eyes on Jesus. She explained that if people pay too much attention to themselves or their circumstances, they can lose both their direction and their courage.
In the second meeting, on Saturday afternoon, the Chief of the Staff spoke about the joy and peace in the life of one who follows Christ. God is with his people in all circumstances, he reminded the congregation. 'So often,' he said, 'we are caught up with our problems, difficulties and disappointments that we forget all of the blessings and the good things that we already have.'
He went on to emphasise that the world needs credible witnesses of Jesus. 'Our lives,' said the Chief, 'should be lived in an exemplary way so that people can see something different within us.'
On Sunday, Salvationists and friends joined together to welcome the new territorial leaders, Colonels Johnny and Eva Kleman.
The Chief reminded the new leaders of their most important responsibilities of leadership – taking the message of salvation to the people in Finland and Estonia, and teaching them to follow Jesus.
In his response, Territorial Commander Colonel Johnny Kleman told the congregation: 'The Salvation Army has a special God-given mission that we need to accomplish. When people come to The Salvation Army, they all must be able to feel that they are safe and they are loved.'
The celebration weekend concluded with a meeting for officers at which the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Silvia Cox gave words of encouragement.
Report by Major Eija Kornilow