First Burundian citizens commissioned as Salvation Army officers in joyful meeting
A SPECIAL weekend for The Salvation Army’s Rwanda and Burundi Command saw eight new Salvation Army officers take up their appointments, including the first two commissioned from Burundi. A series of events took place in the presence of Commissioner Clive T. Adams (Territorial Commander, United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland), deputising for Chief of the Staff Commissioner William Roberts.
Celebrations began with a Silver Star presentation, honouring the parents of the cadets. On behalf of all the officers-in-training, Cadet Yvonne Nyiamahoro thanked the parents for their support, education and help – enabling the cadets to become ready for the commitment of Salvation Army officership and to proclaim the Word of God. The parents and relatives enjoyed and were deeply moved by the events of the commissioning weekend, with some deciding to start attending Salvation Army corps (churches) themselves as they returned home.
Commissioning day began with a march-past and salute in the Rwandan capital Kigali, featuring music from Kenya’s Nairobi Central Band. This public witness created considerable excitement and interest in the community close to the Batsinda Hall where the meetings were held.
The eight cadets of the Heralds of Grace Session marched into the first meeting – encouraged by a packed hall with more than 500 people present – carrying signs explaining and proclaiming God’s grace. Rwanda and Burundi’s Officer Commanding, Lieut-Colonel Seth Appeateng, led the meeting which included further musical support from the Nairobi Central Band.
As the cadets were commissioned, Salvation Army history was made. Two of the cadets were the very first Burundian citizens to be commissioned as officers of The Salvation Army. In addition six Rwandan cadets were commissioned, increasing the total number of officers in the command to 37. There was a palpable sense of joy and blessing throughout the meeting.
In his Bible message, Commissioner Adams emphasised the need for God’s grace in a suffering world and encouraged the congregation – not only the new lieutenants – to be real heralds of grace wherever they were to go. Many accepted the invitation to come forward to the mercy seat, where cadets and officers prayed with and counselled people as they responded to God’s call.
Following the commissioning, Rwanda and Burundi Command General Secretary, Major Jean Laurore Clénat, led a celebration meeting. Numerous groups from the command contributed in this time of prayer, thanksgiving, praise and worship. Commissioner Adams spoke directly to the new lieutenants and charged them to be ‘ever ready to preach the gospel’, not only by their words, but also through their lives and actions in the communities where they are sent.
As the new lieutenants received their appointments at the end of the meeting, they – and the people of the corps to which they were appointed – expressed great gladness, reflecting the praise and blessing of the whole weekend.
Report by Major Bente S. Gundersen
Photos courtesy of DVC Studio, Kigali