East Greets West
Colonels Dave and Sharron Hudson visit the India South Eastern Territory.
They shall come from the east,
they shall come from the west,
And sit down in the Kingdom of God.
These words, penned by General John Gowans (Ret.), took on new meaning for Colonels Dave and Sharron Hudson, Western territorial chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries, during a visit to the India South Eastern Territory, where Territorial Leaders Commissioners M.C. and Susamma James greeted them warmly and the Indian people blessed them with their generosity and hospitality.
The Hudsons traveled to India to participate in a four-day congress at the Booth-Tucker Memorial Church in Nagercoil, focusing on mission, leadership and service.
The first day 2,500 young people, ages 15-30, attended a youth rally and cultural program, prepared to both learn and have fun.
The next day, 1,500 soldiers participated in separate men’s and women’s rallies. “Greetings from the soldiers, with their three rousing ‘Hallelujahs,’ demonstrated our commonality as fellow soldiers in this great Salvation Army,” said Sharron Hudson.
The Hudsons spent the final two days with 500 Salvation Army officers at officers’ councils. “It was a humbling experience to hear the testimonies of these dedicated officers,” said Hudson, “some from very small villages…. That evening we were blessed by the sense of family that is so particular of Salvationists around the world—a unique fellowship of believers that brings us together no matter our status in life or color of our skin. We are brothers and sisters together as we ‘sit down in the Kingdom of God.’”
Following the congress and officers’ councils, the Hudsons visited the boys’ and girls’ homes and Catherine Booth Hospital, where they encountered songs, drums, fruit, rose petals and smiling faces. The young nursing students at the hospital, “particularly beautiful in their uniforms, are proud of the vocation they have chosen and are grateful for the opportunity The Salvation Army affords them for training,” said Hudson.
On Sunday morning, Dave Hudson was guest leader at a corps about an hour’s drive from Nagercoil. The small corps building was filled beyond capacity. “There were memorable moments that I will never forget,” Hudson said. “The people have absolutely nothing, but gave so freely from what they had.”
At the end of the service the people lined up to bring their tithe in both money and rice. Upon asking about the large pot of rice, Hudson learned that the people have rice two times a day, seven days a week. At each of those meals, they put one serving into a container that they bring to the corps each week. The corps sells the rice and uses it for its programs.
As James thanked Hudson for his participation at the end of the service, an elderly woman walked onto the platform, took Hudson’s hands into her own, kissed them, placed two small oranges in his hands and said something to him. “I didn’t understand a word she said, but I knew she was giving me a gift out of her poverty,” Hudson said. “I could only nod my head, because my emotions would not allow me to speak. My only thought was that I was unworthy of her gratitude. I will never forget her.”
Memories of India’s people and places will live forever in the hearts and minds of the Hudsons. God bless the officers and soldiers of the India South Eastern Territory!