THE Holy Spirit brought new life throughout the South America West Territorial Congress, which took place in the Chilean city of Arica – known as 'the city of eternal spring'. Blessings were showered down through the ministry of special guests General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries), both of whom approached those present with warmth and compassion.
Some of the 1,600 Salvationists who gathered for three days of celebration and revival had travelled great distances – from the centre of the Americas, Ecuador, to the southernmost city of the continent, Punta Arenas in Chile; from the plateau of Bolivia to the city of Potosi, more than 3,900 metres above sea level; from the Peruvian jungle to the Andes mountains.
Mention was made of the challenge that had been presented to the territory by Territorial Commander Commissioner Jorge Ferreira, for Salvationists to read the entire Bible in one year. More than 270 soldiers and officers were acknowledged as having risen to the challenge and reached their goal, while others were encouraged to accept the same challenge in the coming year.
On the second day of the congress, Salvationists from Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador made a strong impact on the local community with a Salvationist Fair, held in the centre of Arica. The fair consisted of exhibitions representing many of the handicrafts created by women’s ministries group members. Folklore dances attracted passers-by, who had opportunity to look through evangelistic materials and receive spiritual support.
During the afternoon simultaneous Men’s and Women’s Rallies brought spiritual challenge and praise. Young people took part in a ‘batucada’, a street ministry involving a parade of percussion, juggling, dance and music.
The evening ‘Celebration of Mission’ focused on the beginnings of The Salvation Army in the countries that make up the territory. The event was full of nostalgia, commemoration and challenge, including the General's message that 'it is good to be together and celebrate, but let’s not forget that out there, there is a world that needs us'.
During the Sunday holiness meeting, God's Spirit moved among his people, touching the heart of each delegate, no matter which country or culture they came from, or which language they spoke (across the territory the Word is preached in Spanish, Quechua, Aymara and Quichua). Many people reaffirmed their faith, while others were encouraged to continue onward in the salvation war.
Personal testimonies brought great blessing, demonstrating how the Lord has worked in the lives of soldiers and officers, showing his faithfulness and help in times of need.
At the end of the celebration the General called all those present to be 'full-time servants'. The Salvation Army must continue on, he said, but it needs servant soldiers and servant officers to continue the proclamation of the Word.
Young people, adults, individuals and couples accepted this challenge, with many answering the call to full-time ministry. The congregation was left in no doubt that God has even greater things in store for the South America West Territory!
Report by Major Eduardo Almendras
Territorial Literature Secretary and Editor of 'The War Cry'
South America West Territory