THE Prime Minister of Jamaica joined thousands of Salvationists from the Caribbean Territory, under the leadership of General Linda Bond, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Salvation Army work starting in the Caribbean. The Army 'opened fire' in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1887 and over the years its ministry has spread to a further 15 countries that, together, comprise the territory.
Celebrations began with the arrival of the General. She was greeted at the airport by pulsating music from the Caribbean Territorial Band, with flag-waving officers, cadets and soldiers singing 'Joy in The Salvation Army'.
The following morning the General was greeted with an honour guard at the Training College. She received the salute as staff and cadets entered the chapel. The cadets performed a 'dubstyle' recital of the doctrines and Cadet Adeline Francois led a special prayer for the General.
On Saturday morning, downtown Kingston came alive to the sights and sounds of the New York Staff Band and the Caribbean Territorial Band leading hundreds of Salvationists in a grand march of witness. The event was a tremendous time of witnessing to the saving grace of Jesus.
The General took the salute and also spent time with children from The Salvation Army's School for the Blind.
The Saturday evening extravaganza was a tribute to the talents of Salvationists. The irresistible sweet sound of the steel pan was joined by music from the New York Staff Band and the powerful presentation of the musical Spirit! II: Empire.
The General told the congregation that the message of Jesus can be powerfully communicated through music because there are times when words are not adequate.
On Sunday morning the Jamaica College Auditorium was transformed into hallowed ground as nearly 2,000 Salvationists and friends gathered to worship God. The presence of the Holy Spirit was felt as the New York Staff Band set the tone for the meeting.
Territorial Commander Colonel Onal Castor led the opening song, 'O Christ of Burning, Cleansing Flame', as the fire of the Holy Spirit swept through the congregation.
The General encouraged her listeners to cultivate a healthy appetite for the deep things of God, assuring them that it is possible to live holy lives in the 21st century. The mercy seat was visited by God's people seeking holiness and salvation. The youth chorus fittingly sang 'Let the Church Say Amen'.
Salvationists danced in true celebratory style in the closing meeting, which was attended by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller. She praised the Army for its significant contribution to the people of Jamaica.
Thanking the Prime Minister for her government's generous support of the Army's work, the General promised an ongoing commitment to serve suffering humanity.
The international leader challenged the territory's young people to serve God despite the severity of the temptations they face. She used three powerful stories to illustrate the point that Jesus is both deliverer and bondage breaker. 'The ground is level at the foot of the Cross,' she said, emphasising that all people are equal, irrespective of who they are and what they have done.
The congress climaxed with a joyful and majestic singing of the Founder's song, 'O Boundless Salvation!', before the General led the congregation in the benediction 'Praise God, I'm Saved!'
Report by Lieut-Colonel Vevene Jonas