24 October 2016

GENERAL André Cox became The Salvation Army’s first serving General to visit the US Territory of Guam when he and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women’s Ministries) travelled to the Micronesian island, which has been part of the USA Western Territory since 1992.

Following officers councils, the international leaders toured some of the island’s historical sites and several Salvation Army facilities. They started with a visit to the Asan Bay Overlook, whose memorial wall lists the names of 1,880 US servicemen who died in the 1941 defence of Guam against Japanese attack and those who died retaking the island in 1944. It also features the names of 1,170 Guamanians who died and 14,721 who suffered atrocities of war from 1941-1944.

The General delivered a short speech before proceeding to the Overlook’s upper level for a wreath-laying ceremony. 'It’s very fitting that as part of our visit to Guam we can be here as a group of Salvationists to stop, pause and remember,' he said. 'The Salvation Army has a great history of service alongside military personnel.'

The General and Commissioner Cox later met with local personnel to gain insight into The Salvation Army’s unique ministry in Guam and pray with those involved. The Salvation Army served more than 12,500 individuals in Guam in 2015. 

Visiting the corps (church), which hosts weekly worship services and an array of other programming, the international visitors were greeted by several children with 'hafa adai' – 'hello' in the Chamorro language spoken by the indigenous people of Guam. A youth band performed several songs, including 'This Little Light of Mine'.

Nearby, The Salvation Army also operates a family services centre, which helps people facing financial crises, eviction or homelessness, and a lighthouse recovery centre (LRC) which hosts a six-month programme to help men transition from homelessness, addiction or incarceration to self-sufficiency. During a tour of the LRC, USA Western Territorial Commander Commissioner James Knaggs prayed with the international leaders and a group of LRC residents.

Later that night, The Salvation Army hosted the 'Hope and Honor' Gala at the Dusit Thani Hotel’s Grand Ballroom to recognise some of the most dedicated supporters of The Salvation Army’s work in Guam. Honourees included: KUAM (Guam’s local television station), University of Guam professor Dr Michael A. Griffin, and Guam Memorial Park. The USA Western Territorial Staff Songsters led worship with the Guam Territorial Band, a local non-Salvation Army band, with whom it was a privilege to share. KUAM and the Guam Daily Post planned to feature the event in their output.

At the end of the event, The General reflected on the visit with words of challenge. He recognised the natural beauty of Guam but acknowledged that 'there are many people in society here who are suffering'. Explaining that Guam is a microcosm for what is happening around the globe, he told his listeners: 'It’s great to lead an Army that really is mobilised to bring change and transformation throughout the world.'

Report by Jared McKiernan

Tags: Americas and Caribbean, The General