General Linda Bond’s visit to The Salvation Army’s India South Western Territory was a time of great celebration, spiritual challenge and inspiration. Thousands of Salvationists and friends met together in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to worship God and to see and hear their international leader.
The General, accompanied by Captain Elizabeth Nelson (International Headquarters), was greeted at Trivandrum International Airport by a large crowd of Salvationists including territorial leaders Colonels Samuel and Bimla Charan, territorial headquarters officers, divisional leaders, corps officers and soldiers. The General looked happy to see the enthusiastic Salvationists holding Army tricolours and colourful banners to welcome her and she thanked the gathering.
Throughout her visit, the General challenged the Salvationists of India South Western to be a holy people before God and the world. All the teaching in her Bible-based messages expanded on various aspects of the International Vision: One Army, One Mission, One Message.
Officers Councils were held in the Commissioner P. E. George Memorial Church on Friday 3 February. In her Bible message during the first session the General emphasised The Salvation Army’s ‘One Mission’. She told the territory’s 450 active officers and a large number of retired officers that Salvationists should be the people they are called to be and do what they are called to do.
‘One Army’ was the General’s emphasis for her Bible message in the second session. She asked: ‘What kind of officers do we need?’ She challenged the officers present to serve people with a willing heart and to lead them with a gracious Spirit.
After the councils the General met and shook hands with the territory’s officers.
In the soldiers meeting on Saturday afternoon the Rt Rev Dharmaraj Rasalam, Bishop of the Church of South India, South Kerala Diocese, offered a welcome on behalf of the churches in Thiruvananthapuram.
The holiness meeting on Sunday morning was the culmination of the visit and was attended by an unprecedented crowd of almost 12,000 people. In her message the General challenged those listening to ‘hunger for holiness’.
In the appeal that followed the message around 1,000 people knelt at the mercy seat. The General went down from the platform and prayed with some of those who were seeking renewal and rededication.
At the public meeting in the afternoon the Hon V. S. Sivakumar, Minister for Transport, greeted the General on behalf of the Government of Kerala and presented her with a shawl. He spoke of his admiration for the work of The Salvation Army.
In the final message of her visit the General emphasised the ‘One Army’ aspect of the International Vision. She encouraged congregation members to live consistently for God and to freely to proclaim their salvation.
Meetings throughout the visit were Spirit-filled and enriched by contributions from the territorial songsters.
On Monday the General visited the training college and other Salvation Army institutions in Thiruvananthapuram.
Report by Major John Samuel