Phoenix Central brings African flavor to The Salvation Army
New ministry reaches out to the growing African population in Phoenix.
By Vivian Gatica
The Phoenix Central Corps, led by Majors Gil and Elvia Roman, made history in March by launching a unique African International ministry. Its goal is to introduce African immigrants to The Salvation Army, and to bridge the gaps in community.
Approximately 12,000 Africans live in Phoenix, according to the latest American Community Survey of the United States Census Bureau.
“We feel blessed to have the opportunity to be part of [African International Ministry], and I believe this is an opportunity to show all the Africans that we can grow together through the Lord,” Gil Roman said. “This is history, and it’s nice to be part of it.”
Commissioners Jean and Véronique Ludiazo, who previously led the then Congo (Kinshasa) and Angola Territory, direct the ministry, and have been working on its development for the past two years. Jean Ludiazo said they first reached out to one person; from there the ministry grew by word of mouth.
The Ludiazos partnered with local African churches to strengthen the ministry through the growing African community in the region.
“Many Africans do not know about The Salvation Army,” Jean Ludiazo said. “The African International ministry brings them together so they can know what it is all about.”
The ministry has a diverse membership ranging from Nigeria to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and many participants are refugees. Since the members speak various languages, most communicate with each other in English.
“These people came from war, trauma and challenges, and don’t know where to go,” Ludiazo said. “They need someone who has gone through the same obstacles, and when they see an African talking to them, it encourages them.”
Each week, the ministry provides participants with various physical and spiritual resources. On Wednesdays, the corps hosts computer lab skills classes. On Saturdays, a Bible study offers spiritual preparation for those interested in becoming Salvationists. The Sunday service is a time for evangelism and spiritual growth for all, regardless of nationality.
The launch of the ministry united 54 Africans, and has since seen an average of 20 to 25 attendees each week.
“The ministry brings the African flavor to the American style of worship,” Ludiazo said. “The Salvation Army is fulfilling its mission in this way by reaching the whole world.”