Russian anniversary celebrated
The Salvation Army celebrates 15th anniversary of its return to Russia.
General Shaw Clifton waves the Eastern Europe Territory’s flag at the 15th anniversary congress.
Recently, in St. Petersburg, The Salvation Army celebrated the 15th anniversary of its return to Russia. General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton led the celebrations, which focused on the theme Hope Starts Here (at the Cross).
Delegates from all across Russia gathered in the city where The Salvation Army began its work again in 1991; the Army previously ministered in Russia from 1913-1923.
The weekend activities began with a concert from delegates who participated in the Russia Division Music Camp “Fresh Wind.” The camp, sponsored by the USA Southern Territory, focused on how God is talking to young people in Russia and what their response to him should be.
The highlight of the evening was the testimony of a young girl who told how God, through The Salvation Army, had transformed her life from one of hopelessness and addiction to drugs and alcohol to one of purpose, hope, and love.
Clifton encouraged delegates to listen to the words and voice of God and to follow his lead with courage and in faith.
Traditional rallies took place the next day, flavored with Russian traditions. In the women’s rally, women in Russian costume sang well-known folk melodies and colorful Russian table napkins were waved joyfully during worship songs.
Commissioner Clifton talked about the need to help women from Eastern Europe who are trafficked in the thousands to all parts of Europe, and beyond, in the illegal sex trade.
“Your women, our women, are weeping, and we need to keep fighting for them,” said Commissioner Clifton.
In the men’s rally Clifton discussed “real men”—and the view that men in Russia, with their emphasis on excellence in sport, are such men. He encouraged the delegates to become saints in the New Testament sense and to live holy lives. Following this call, delegates rededicated their lives to God and the mission of spreading the gospel.
The General appointed Major Alexander Kharkov, secretary for Russia Development, as divisional commander of Russia—which by area is the largest Salvation Army division in the world.
He also presented certificates of appreciation to employees who have served with The Salvation Army for 10 years or more, and to corps and individuals who have completed the territory’s Bible school classes.
Clifton said, “We are celebrating 15 years of being under Jesus in Russia and are looking forward to what God will do in this nation in the years ahead.”
During the meeting Commissioner Barry Pobjie also presented his expansion plan—a plan that will gradually see The Salvation Army go to 41 major cities of the vast Russian territory—comprising more than half a million people.
The flags of three countries – Armenia, Belorussia and Bulgaria—were presented to the General as nations in Eastern Europe where The Salvation Army has no presence but where millions of people do not yet know Christ. The Salvation Army declared that it stands ready to open the work there when God’s timing is right.
At Sunday’s meeting, Clifton invited delegates to be washed in the blood of the Lamb and to rededicate themselves to God. He encouraged people to speak aloud the names of their loved ones who were not saved and to claim them for Christ.
In his concluding comments he spoke to the delegates about Saint Andrew, saying, “I know he holds a special place in the hearts of Russians, and that he is said to have preached in your city of Sevastopol. I encourage you to be like Andrew—to go out into the world and seize micro, everyday opportunities so that in the future they will become macro ones for Christ.
“I encourage you all to be ‘Andrews’ and ‘Andreas’—to introduce others to Christ and to bring the hope of the cross to all those in your nation who do not know him.”
From reports on the Salvation Army international website (www.salvationarmy.org) and on Christian Today’s website (www.christiantoday.com).