Chinatown: “living march of witness”

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Annual event draws hundreds; scores hear promise of everlasting life.

by Jennifer Byrd – 

Dr. Victor Lim, a soldier at the Yerba Buena Asian American Corps, shares his faith at Portsmouth Square. Photo by Ron Toy

Yellow, red, and blue balloons floated through the air and brass instruments sparkled in the sunlight as a group of more than 300 marched briskly through the streets of San Francisco’s congested Chinatown community; onlookers smiled and waved as they proceeded by.

Organized by the San Francisco Chinatown Corps, the soldiers, officers, adherents, friends of the Army, and Christians from various denominations in San Francisco’s Chinatown followed the drumbeats and brass music of the Tustin Ranch Band as they marched from the Chinatown Corps to Portsmouth Square. The band was led by Bandmaster Edward Freeman and Corps Officer Major Lee Lescano.

At the square, in a program led by Chinatown Corps Officer Major Thomas Mui, corps officers from other San Francisco area corps gave words of prayer and testimony. Adult Rehabilitation Command beneficiaries as well as Salvation Army staff and family members testified to the changes God had made in their lives.

Following the open air meeting—which harkened back to the early days of the Army’s Chinatown Corps ministry in 1886—the group marched back in the glorious sunlight to the corps, where a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace” was sung.

“Salvationists and Christian friends do not merely rely on this kind of event to witness for Jesus,” Mui stressed. “Our witness to Christ is a daily duty: in schools, in work places, in our families, and in the community. Our spirit of ‘Heart to God and hand to Man’ and now the brand vision of ‘Doing the Most Good’ never changes. It is our living march of witness.”

The march has been an annual tradition of the Chinatown Corps since 1965. There was a break in the parade from 2001 to 2004 because of safety issues following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, corps renovations, and other logistical issues.

“What a great day. It was wonderful to see so many people participating in the parade and to hear the band’s music ringing through Chinatown,” said Golden State Divisional Commander Major Joe Posillico. “The crowd at Portsmouth Square heard words of prayer and worship—some maybe for the first time. We reached many people that day with the promise of everlasting life from Jesus Christ.”

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