EDWARDSES LEAD HAITI CONGRESS
COMMISSIONERS DAVID AND DOREEN EDWARDS salute the troops during the congress. Behind them are (l-r) Haiti divisional leaders Lt. Cols. Alfred and Charnie Pierre, and Majs. Rose-Marie and Victor Leslie.
West’s leaders return to Caribbean for
giant 3-way congress
With clouds of political unrest gathering on Haiti’s horizon, the indomitable shining of God’s power broke through all barriers as over 2,000 Salvationists gathered in Fond-des-Negres to celebrate 50 years of ministry and service.
Returning to their home territory to lead their lifelong comrades in this anniversary congress were Commissioners David and Doreen Edwards, who served most of their officership in the Caribbean Territory, including serving as territorial commander and territorial president of Women’s Organizations from 1989 to 1994. They were given a hero’s welcome as the spiritually charged delegates to the congress heralded their return.
This was the second of three such congresses to commemorate The Salvation Army’s golden Jubilee in Haiti in order to accommodate a total of nearly 4,000 Salvationists who will have gathered in three locations. The first congress weekend was led by the territorial leaders from Switzerland and Austria, commissioners Georg and Muriel Mailler, and the third congress will feature Commissioners Joe and Doris Noland, territorial commander and associate territorial leader of the USA Eastern Territory. They will be supported by Territorial Leaders Colonels Dennis and Noella Phillips. Majors Victor and Rose-Marie Leslie represented Caribbean territorial headquarters in support of the Edwards’ ministry in Fond-des Negres.
There were barriers aplenty, but they were little more than inadequate levies against the flood of God’s power and grace. The barrier of “getting there” would have daunted most Americans, for the corps in Haiti do not have motor vehicles. Transportation is by mule, by foot, or by local “tap-taps” (so named as passengers crowd, no, jam in the back of a covered pickup truck, and then they reach their destination, they “tap-tap” on the back window of the driver’s cab for him to stop and let them de-board). But when it comes to congress, Haitian Salvationists are indefatigable in their pursuit to be part of the flood of blessings that await them there.
Then, there was the barrier of “being there.” This congress was held in a rural section of South Haiti. No restaurants. No hotels. Yet, over 2,000 men, women and children arrived for the weekend of congress meetings. They brought their own food and, in many cases, their own bedrolls as they moved in with friends, relatives, other Salvationists, or just curled up under the nearest coconut tree in prayerful anticipation of the next days’ series of meetings. God may have invented the word “undaunted” to describe the spirit of these hearty Sallies.
The barrier of different languages is something commonly dealt with by Haitian Salvationists. While the official languages of their country are French and Creole, English is a required subject in Haiti’s schools. Also, all officers understand and speak English due to their training in Jamaica. Yet, for those to whom English is a difficult language to understand, translations were provided in every meeting. No barrier here.
The Salvation Army in Haiti is a praying Army. Led by Divisional Leaders Lt. Colonels Alfred and Charnie Pierre, a great prayer campaign preceded this series of the tri-congress events. It was the flood of prayers being lifted up from every corner of the country that broke through every levee of resistance the devil tried to put in place. The result was “gridlock at the mercy seat” in every meeting.
Commissioners Edwards were clearly God’s anointed leaders for this occasion. The theme of the congress was “Regardons le passe et contemplons la bonte de Dieu” (“Let’s look back and marvel at the goodness of God”) and while there was healthy reflection upon all that God had done in the past 50 years, the congress actually thrust the Army forward into the new millennium as hundreds of officers and soldiers rededicated themselves to the cause of Christ.
EDWARDS ON HAITI
I have always said that one of my great disappointments as an officer of the Caribbean is that I was never privileged to serve in Haiti. It is not that I felt ‘called,’ like some people, to do so. It is simply that for me, growing up in the Caribbean at a time when the movement for independence of the colonies was very much on the hearts and in the minds Caribbean folk, Haiti was an inspiration. God, however, had other plans. I have since compensated for that in repeated visits to this country over the years.
“This most recent visit for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the work there continued the confirmation that The Salvation Army in Haiti is evidence of God’s faithfulness to his people, that God continues to work his will in the hearts of his people in spite of continuing difficulties.
“It was a joy to be there and participate in the congress celebrations. The power of God was evident. The future potential is tremendous. My prayer for Haiti and The Salvation Army in Haiti is that the next 50 years will see the full realization of that potential.”