Pakistan: Army marks 125 years

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General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton lead anniversary celebrations.

A drama is performed showing Frederick Booth-Tucker and the early days of the Army in Pakistan [Photo courtesy of International Headquarters].

General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton visited Lahore, Pakistan, for the main celebration of the 125th year of The Salvation Army’s work in the country. The Cliftons previously served in Pakistan as territorial leaders from 1997-2002.

Part of the traditional Pakistani welcome involved the scattering of rose petals and presentation of garlands by Salvationists from Jaranwala Division. The welcome included songs by a vocal group from Karachi Division, drama from Jhang Division, a youth vocal offering from Islamabad Division and a cultural dance presented by young people from Sahiwal.

Territorial Commander Colonel Robert Ward, accompanied by junior soldiers from Faisalabad Division, officially welcomed the special guests. Ward commented that it was a unique honor to welcome the first general to have served in Pakistan.

In her response, Commissioner Helen Clifton spoke fondly of Pakistan, and gave a message of encouragement from Isaiah 46:4, reminding listeners of the sustaining grace of God into old age.

Lahore Division presented a drama depicting The Salvation Army in Pakistan—past, present and future—with “visitors” from the early days, including Lieutenant Victoria Roberts who, in 1883, was commissioned with the task of opening the work in Lahore by Commissioner Frederick Booth-Tucker. The drama then looked at some visionary possibilities for the future—including having a Balochistan Division and the dream of some day opening the work of the Army in Afghanistan and Iran.

Students from the Army’s school in Shantinagar gave a Scripture reading from Revelation 2:1-11. The school, which has more than 300 students, recently received full accreditation from the government. The “125 Choir” from Sheikhupura Division provided music.

In his Bible message the General reminded Pakistan Salvationists that they are not alone, but belong to the great family of God. He said that since the tragedy of last year, when Territorial Commander Colonel Bo Brekke was killed, Salvationists around the world had surrounded the territory with prayers and love. With simplicity and power General Clifton urged all Salvationists to be faithful to the end and to claim the promises in God’s Word. A steady flow of people moved forward to make commitments in response to the clear leading of God’s Spirit through the General’s message.

While in Pakistan, the Cliftons participated in a spiritual day at the training college. This was especially nostalgic for them since the General—when territorial commander—purchased the land for the new college and saw the building project through to completion.

From a report by Captain Raja Azeem Zia.


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