27 January 2017

THE visit of General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) to Portugal included an opportunity to meet the country's President, His Excellency Dr Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Accompanied by Spain and Portugal Command leaders, Lieut-Colonels Gordon and Susan Daly, the international leaders were received by the President at Belém Palace. He showed a keen interest in the ministry of The Salvation Army and offered thanks for the work that is being undertaken, especially with homeless people.

The first event of the weekend was an informal meeting with officers and social services staff. The Director of Social Services, Sandra Martins, spoke about The Salvation Army's social work in Portugal before the General presented long-service awards to staff members and Dr António Eva Ferreira, who has been the Army's legal counsel there for almost 35 years. The General reminded those present that The Salvation Army has a twofold mission to preach the gospel and meet human need. It is not either/or he emphasised; both aspects of that calling and mission must be visible in every corps and institution. 

The first public gathering was a well-attended prayer meeting which set the tone for the whole weekend. On Saturday morning, Portuguese officers met in council. Following words of challenge from the General there was a moving time of prayer and recommitment.

On Saturday afternoon the women met for a rally under the leadership of Lieut-Colonel Susan Daly (Command President of Women's Ministries). The rally featured drama, dance and testimonies. Commissioner Cox spoke about transformation. 

The celebration festival on Saturday evening was exciting and vibrant.  It featured timbrel playing,  dance and a combined band and youth chorus. British Salvationists John and Margaret Large presented a number of brass instruments for use in Portugal.

The festival had commenced with the entrance of corps flags and people in traditional Portuguese costumes while a video showed various scenes from around the country. During the meeting long-serving soldiers were presented with a small memento and were thanked by the General for their service. Soldiers who had been enrolled in the past three years, mostly young people, were also acknowledged.

Sunday activities commenced with a holiness meeting which included helpful testimonies and a stirring message from the General, at the conclusion of which a number of people moved forward to pray. At the General's invitation, corps groups joined together for touching moments of prayer with their corps officers.

Over lunch, the General and Commissioner Cox met with a group of young people. Portugal Youth Officer Captain Luis Viriato introduced several of them who had prepared questions for the General on a variety of topics. The General challenged the young people to be mobilised in God's service.

The final meeting of the weekend was a time of praise and testimony,  concluding with words of challenge from Commissioner Cox to be 'saved, sanctified and mobilised'. Officer Commanding Lieut-Colonel Gordon Daly passed on the command's The Whole World Mobilising Salvation Army flag to the Sâo Brás Corps leaders to use for the first two months of the year.

Tags: Europe, The General