Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Sue Swanson Celebrate 90 Years of Salvation Army Ministry in Kenya
Salvationist from around Kenya and beyond gathered in Nairobi to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Salvation Army work and worship in the east African country. The Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry C. Swanson) and Commissioner Sue Swanson (World President of Women’s Ministries) led Salvationists and friends in giving thanks to God for what he has done in Kenya through The Salvation Army.
The Saturday morning meeting, held in Nyayo National Stadium, focused on ‘Looking Back with Gratitude’, in contrast to the afternoon celebration festival which took as its theme ‘Looking Forward with Confidence’. The Holy Spirit’s presence was felt throughout the weekend, with more than 100 people kneeling at the mercy seat in each meeting.
The Vice-President of Kenya, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, commended the Army’s efforts to improve educational standards in Kenya through its early childhood centres, primary and secondary schools and vocational training centres. He told the congregation of more than 6,000 people: ‘Nothing liberates the mind and whole societies as much as education. Add Christian values to that and you have the best recipe for wholesome education.’
He also said, ‘I can declare unreservedly that you have done good work in your 90 years of existence in Kenya and that you deserve recognition for it. We know that the good Lord himself does recognise that and we are truly grateful. Happy 90th birthday!’
The Chief of the Staff acknowledged that it was a ‘great honour to be joined by the Vice-President of Kenya, and the Mayor of the city of Nairobi, as we come before the Lord to celebrate his goodness’. He prayed for God to pour a blessing upon his people, while reminding his listeners that ‘thanksgiving, enriched with prayer … should be our foundation as Christians.’
Commissioner Sue Swanson said that her prayer for Kenya is: ‘Lord Jesus, make Kenya filled with the spirit of Caleb [see Numbers 14] for the honour of God. Give us this land!’
As the commissioner began to speak about the river flowing from the Temple – as recorded in Ezekiel 47 – the heavens opened and there was a downpour of rain. The well-timed cloudburst added to the understanding of the passage.
Heavy rain continued in Nairobi over Saturday night into Sunday morning, jeopardising the commissioning meeting which was also scheduled to take place in the open air in Nyayo Stadium. However, about 90 minutes before the commencement of the ceremonies for the 51 cadets of the Friends of Christ Session, the rains stopped and there were hints of heavenly sunshine.
After the Bible message, 70 people responded to the challenge to make themselves available for officership.
The four-day celebrations began with a grand welcome to the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Sue Swanson at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Kenya East territorial leaders, officers from divisions in Nairobi, territorial headquarters staff, Salvationists and the territorial band braved rain and the chill of night to receive the international visitors.
The Chief and Commissioner Sue Swanson also led territorial officers councils on Friday morning and then men’s and women’s rallies in the afternoon. New flags for the men’s fellowship and women’s ministries were unveiled in these special meetings.
Various presentations throughout the weekend from songster brigades, Army-sponsored special schools, children’s, youth, men’s and women’s groups had one resonating message: thanksgiving to God and prayers for a future fully focused on the Holy Spirit.
Report by Marion Ndeta