“God With Us” in Southwest

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by Heather Melvoin – 

COMMISSIONER LINDA BOND ADDRESSES newly enrolled junior soldiers during the Southwest Division’s camp meeting.

“God with us.” That was the theme of the Southwest Division’s Deeper Life meetings, held under the leadership of Divisional Leaders Lt. Colonels Don and Jan Mowery.

Through the weekend, God showed himself to all through music, cultural dance, video, workshops, and the words of the territorial commander.

“[The Army in the Southwest] is an exciting Army, with wonderful cultural diversity… The blending of the traditional and contemporary worship styles should make the Army more effective in reaching different age groups. The spirit seems positive and the potential is great,” Bond said.

The weekend was kicked off with a celebration of diversity. Delegates were blessed by the Chandler Dance Troupe, who performed cultural dance to a collection of Spanish songs, clothed in traditional costume. The Las Vegas Korean Songsters offered their praises in both English and their native tongue. And Korina Acosta, accepted candidate from the El Paso Temple Corps, displayed her talent of mime to the song “I Can Only Imagine.”

Commissioner Bond challenged delegates to be serious about their relationship with God. She pointed out that we have a Savior who seeks us out, and that is what makes Christianity different from any other religion.

Following Bond’s challenging words, the evening was turned over to the youth of the division. “Christ Fest 2003” was an exciting and thought provoking time for the young people. Leading the evening were Jared Arnold, the “man on the mike” and Acosta. This event boasted such highlights as a live DJ and performances by some very talented teens, including Joshua Weldy from the Hobbs corps.

Saturday morning was a celebration of youth. Commissioner Bond enrolled 14 junior soldiers. She said junior soldiers are special to her because the world in which we live shows very little loyalty and long term commitment, especially to Christianity. Junior soldiers prove this wrong. Bond spoke individually to each child, encouraging them to be the very best junior soldiers they could be.

Saturday morning was also the official farewell for the accepted candidates. Christian and Rebecca Sibaja, and Luis and Korina Acosta will be attending the College for Officers’ Training.

Perhaps the highlight of the weekend was the musical presentation of “God With Us,” a worship experience in brass, song and testimony. Sunday morning was more than a holiness meeting. The theme was “God with Us…Into the World.” Following two songs by the children who participated in VBS activities throughout the weekend, Lt. Col. Jan Mowery presented a slideshow and told about her recent weeks in Iraq. She told of the many people she met, how each touched her life, and even presented the Commissioner with what is probably the very first
Salvation Army shield printed in Arabic.

Bond enrolled 16 senior soldiers on Sunday morning as well. “The enrollment of junior and senior soldiers was a wonderful statement to make to a world that is reluctant to make commitments,” she said. “The Southwest needs to continue to make soul saving and soldier making a priority.”

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