The Salvation Army celebrating 10 decades of hope, healing and help for the most vulnerable
Posted by News Express | 3 July 2021 | 79 times
By CHIMA NWAFO
Given the prevailing urge for wealth acquisition by ministers in some African churches despite the spike in poverty rate, it is important to note that The Salvation Army began in Nigeria with the understanding that: “You cannot warm the hearts of people with God’s love if they have an empty stomach and cold feet”; the inspirational philosophy of William Booth, the founding General of the Army.
And as she marks her first 100 years of passionate service and transformative change, caring for the physical and spiritual needs of the people in Nigeria, that pioneering mindset has not altered. They still provide “soup, soap and salvation” to the most vulnerable members of society.
In the words of Colonel Victor A Leslie, the Territorial Commander, who addressed the media last Friday in Lagos on the centenary anniversary: “We see our role as critical and necessary as we speak peace and reconciliation into the daily life of the nation. Our heart burns with passion as we seek to offer holistic, integrated services for the people of Nigeria. Our purpose is to push past the barriers of disbelief and despair to embrace the boundless opportunities for our mission – to feed, to clothe, to comfort, to care, to rebuild broken homes and broken lives – a journey of hope, health, healing and harmony; helping the most vulnerable cope with their lives, with opportunity for the more affluent to add value to their existence”.
Lelsie added: “You will still find us serving without discrimination whenever an emergency or disaster occurs; for where there is need, there is The Salvation Army.”
The Salvation Army, an international humanitarian movement founded in London in 1865, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.
“Our message is based on the Bible. Our ministry is motivated by the love of God. Our mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. Today, The Salvation Army works in 132 countries in six continents of the world,” said the national leader.
Col. Leslie recalled that the Army’s operations in Nigeria began in 1920, starting in Lagos, “and is now present in all the geo-political zones in the country – fully established in 19 States, the Federal Capital Territory and with outreach and humanitarian response in several of the northern states.”
He noted that their centennial logo which was unveiled on Friday stressed the essence of “People. Passion. Purpose,” as the hallmark of their operations in Nigeria.
To expatiate, the Colonel recounted that currently, their work in the country is manifested in many ways, ranging from education to health, evangelism to empowerment and a lot of other human services, including music, drama, dance, training programmes, food and clothing distribution.
He said they were not also left behind during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown as The Salvation Army provided palliatives by way of relief materials to local government areas and IDP camps as well as support for women and family development programmes, and anti-human trafficking prevention and recovery initiatives.
On the significance of their commitment to the development of the country, the Territorial Commander proffered: “In the next few years, we will also expand our education sector. Nelson Mandela says ‘education is the great engine of personal development.’ We believe in development, so, we are adding nursery, primary and secondary schools, and a university.”
He said enhanced education, empowerment of the youth, socially and economically will be a priority through active partnerships with NGOs, businesses and government bodies.
After 10 decades of passionate service to the people, The Salvation Army, Nigeria, has set up 23 Commands and 365 service centres providing charitable outreach through six medical centres, five social centres, 39 schools, three vocational training centres and a long history of rapid response to emergencies and local disasters.
Notwithstanding their commitment to the needs of the society, Leslie said that does not in any way affect their major constituency, stressing: “In the years ahead, you can expect that we will continue to engage in evangelism and discipleship – reaching all 36 states and the FCT. In living and sharing the Christian Gospel, we offer a lasting display of the love behind our beliefs.”
As The Salvation Army counts their blessings of the last 100 years in Nigeria, what should members and the Nigerian society expect?
“We begin this next 100 years by recommitting ourselves to our core values of respect, excellence, spirituality, unity and compassion that define us. We believe that in our society, leaders can work together in unity and faith, for peace and progress in overcoming the challenges facing the nation,” offered the Territorial Commander who concludes with a statement that challenges public office-holders and corporate organisations, including churches:
“You can trust us to prudently manage our resources with integrity, responsibility, accountability and transparency.”
Also present at the press briefing were the Territorial President of Women’s Ministry of the organisation, Colonel Rose – Marie Leslie, the Secretary for Programme, Lieutenant Colonel Ezekiel Akpan and wife, Lieutenant Colonel Enoh Akpan; Secretary for Personnel, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Mbagwu and wife Lieutenant Colonel Ngozi Mbagwu; Co-chairmen of the centenary central planning committee, Territorial Envoy Levi Muonanu and Envoy Nsentip Akpabio, among many others.
Source: News Express
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