Doing the most good…for our officers: Some exciting days

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From the desk of…

by Ralph Hood, Major –

Delegates to the International Conference for Personnel Secretaries

Recently, I had the privilege to represent our territory at the International Conference for Personnel Secretaries. How exciting it was to join with delegates from almost all of the territories of the world! Each person seemed to have a burning desire to do their very best for the officers of their territory.
I got to know Major Gabriel Kathuri of the Kenya Territory, which has more officers and soldiers than any other territory in the world. He told me of the great love and appreciation they have for Lt. Colonels Ken and Jolene Hodder. His heart was breaking when he told me how hard it is to stay in touch with all of their officers (722 active and 263 retired) and their families. The territory has two large sections that are separated by about 800 km (500 miles) and there are no super interstate highways to get from one side to the other. If they split into two territories, they would still be the two largest territories in the world by numbers of soldiers. Almost every month they open new corps and outposts. This was exciting since we had just been discussing at THQ how we might be able to assist this wonderful territory—and a gift was received that will make it possible to help them accomplish the structuring of two territories. How good God is when we do his work his way.
I shared the podium with Major William Langa from South Africa as we each spoke about our territorial mentoring programs. He is a highly respected and revered leader with a wonderful sense of humor. Being from totally different cultures and yet having a basic desire to help our officers grow, we had a united front, and as we each communicated with the other delegates, there was a gleaning of ideas to take back home and put to use. It was inspiring to be part of a session with a man who had so much to offer and who was so visibly respected by the other African delegates.
Major Brad Bailey, commander and secretary for personnel for Spain, was a pleasure to meet. Our daughter Jennifer has been on a mission assignment to the La Caruna, Spain corps this past year and Majors Brad and Heidi Bailey have been especially kind to her. After he told me what a great job Jennifer has been doing, I had to sew some of the buttons back on my shirt! He was in my prayer group and we got to know one another even more. His command was opened in 1971 and has struggled to grow the Army. They now have 10 corps and six outposts with over 400 soldiers. I pledged prayer support, as I was excited to hear what they are doing to win people for God.
Major Marianne Meyner from the Switzerland, Austria and Hungry Territory told me about the work in the territory that Lt. Colonels (soon to be commissioners) Kurt and Alicia Burger will soon lead. She spoke about the diversity of their people with the major languages of German and French within their corps operations. While Italian is spoken in southern Switzerland, they have no corps in that area. She showed pictures of some of their people up in the Alps conducting Sunday afternoon meetings in a village. How thrilling it was to see these vibrant people! She also told me about Kurt’s twin brother showing up in front of the officers’ quarters to take pictures. Thinking it was their new commissioner, she went out to greet him and let him know they were not expecting him until September. Kurt will have to tell you the rest of the story.
In the lecture hall, Major Pakianathan Jayaratnasingham (“Jaya” for short) of the Sri Lanka Territory sat on my right. He told me over and over again how thankful they were for the great support given by the U.S. Western Territory in the relief work after the tsunami. He particularly thanked me for the work done by Captain Ted Horwood. Since the tsunami, the Lord has blessed their efforts with new soldiers and some new corps.
Each evening we had a less formal time of fellowship conducted by the officers of each of the five different zones. We enjoyed hearing about the beautiful fjords of Norway and the magnificent waterfalls of Africa; the wonderful rainforests of South America and the rolling seas of the coasts of India; the splendor of the cathedrals of Spain and the rugged Rocky Mountains of Canada. On the evening our zone was in charge, Major David Alarcon, South America West, said, “When you look at the beautiful gold in the cathedrals of Spain, remember it came from us.”
More important than all of these wonders of our world, were the people. How thrilling to know that the Salvationists from every part of the earth have the same love for Jesus and thankfulness to God for his wonder-working power in their lives. That and the desire on our hearts for “Creating a Climate of Care,” the conference theme, are the two elements that gave us a strong kindred spirit. I thank God for this wonderful experience and for the new ideas I brought back with me.

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