Greek Salvationists welcome first visit by a Salvation Army world leader
Arriving in Thessaloniki for the first official visit to Greece by a General in office, General André Cox—with Commissioner Silvia Cox, World President of Women’s Ministries—declared that he was highly conscious of following in the footsteps of the apostle Paul. He light-heartedly expressed the hope that he would be treated more kindly than Paul had been (as recorded in Acts 17).
Officers and Salvationists of the newly instituted Thessaloniki Corps (church) had been eagerly anticipating the visit of the Army’s international leaders, and feverishly working to ensure that the newly rented hall was ready for their visitors’ arrival. The refurbished kitchen was completed on the morning of the visit after an all-night shift by Lt. Neofytos Totsios and volunteers. At one point there was even a concern that the new mercy seat would not be completed in time for the appeal on Sunday morning.
The weekend’s events opened with an evening dinner hosted at the hall, giving the international leaders opportunity to meet with newly enrolled soldiers, recruits and their families and close friends. Recognizing that many people in Greece are hard hit by the economic crisis, the General encouraged those present to remember that “the One who has called us is faithful,” while Commissioner Cox spoke of her delight in seeing such a lovely hall and a lovely crowd of people, inviting them to put on the full spiritual armor of God to be truly “One Army with One Mission and One Message.”
The hall was again packed the following morning for the Sunday holiness meeting, which included participation from the corps worship team and an energetic contribution from the Sunday school children, as well as prayers and testimonies from soldiers.
Following the General’s Bible message, which reminded the congregation that the Christmas story “is all about God wanting to be in relationship with us,” the lined mercy seat evidenced a desire to grow in faith and spiritual maturity. Lieutenants Neofytos and Anastasia Totsios have even suggested that multiple meetings or a larger hall might be necessary.
The very presence of The Salvation Army in Greece is an answer to persistent prayers. One man who was in the congregation had prayed for 20 years that O Stratos Tis Sotirias (The Salvation Army) would come to Greece. It is the ongoing prayer of many people that O Stratos Tis Sotirias will move from strength to strength in both Thessaloniki and Athens, as the officers and soldiers tell the story of Jesus, grow together in love and faith, and serve the local community in Christ’s name.
Report by Major David Cavanagh
General Secretary, Italy and Greece Command