THE visit of General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) to Nigeria provided opportunities for Salvationists to reorder their priorities and to ensure their motives are in line with God’s will for their lives. Highlights included the enrolment of more than 500 junior soldiers and almost 800 senior soldiers.
On arrival in Abuja, the General made a courtesy visit to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, where he met with the Permanent Secretary. He also had a short meeting with the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
Officers councils were held in two sessions. Commissioner Silvia, speaking in the first session, reminded the officers gathered to recognise that they are thirsty and that Jesus, the Living Water, can give them the grace and power they need to succeed in life and in their ministries. Speaking in the second session, the General made a passionate appeal to officers to remain focused in their call to holiness and in the simplicity of life exemplified and taught by Jesus. He instructed officers to know what the will of God for them is in every situation.
On Saturday the General attended a men’s rally at Uyo Central Corps (church) where he explained that God wants his people to be rooted in his Word. While the General was at the men's rally Commissioner Cox was leading a women’s rally, where she reminded the women of the assurance that God loves them and that he has a plan for each one of them. At both meetings the international leaders were warmly received by Salvationists who greeted them in local languages and dressed them in clothes that are worn by people from southern Nigeria.
In a later youth rally the General enrolled 515 junior soldiers amid scenes of great joy. The officers' children of the territory were particularly glad to receive the General, who is himself an officer’s child. Through a humorous and insightful drama item they played out the history of The Salvation Army from the time of William Booth to the present, narrowing it down to a Nigerian context.
After the General's Bible message more than 200 seekers moved to the mercy seat.
On Sunday morning the streets of Uyo played host to the amazing sight of more than 5,000 uniformed Salvationists marching with trumpets, timbrels and bands – with the international and territorial leaders taking the salute at the end of the route. The territorial flag was carried on the march, along with flags from every corps, centre and division.
The highlight of the holiness meeting was the enrolment of 785 senior soldiers by the General. He did not mince his words in telling the newly enrolled soldiers that their motive in joining the Army should be to serve God and humanity and not for any personal gain. When he told the congregation: 'It is time to stop pretending; it is time to live out God’s will for our lives,' more than 400 people hurried to the mercy seat to declare their willingness to be true ambassadors of God wherever they find themselves.
Later in the meeting, the General presented Territorial Commander Commissioner Mfon Jaktor Akpan with his 45-year long service award. He also presented The Salvation Army’s Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service to Governor Chief (Dr) Godswill Akpabio, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, for his tireless service to his state and support to The Salvation Army. Later in the day the family of Governor Akpabio organised a dinner at their estate in honour of the General.
The following morning the visit concluded with the General dedicating to God a new 2,000-seater hall at Ejigbo Corps and a newly built accommodation block at territorial headquarters.
Report by Captain Ifesinachi Ijioma