Uganda welcomes Chief of Staff
New headquarters building opened during Easter week.
More than 200 Salvationists joined Uganda’s Officer Commanding Lt. Colonel Moses Wandulu at Entebbe Airport to greet the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Robin Dunster, and Lt. Colonel Edna Williams (International Headquarters) as they arrived to lead the command’s Easter congress. The visitors received an enthusiastic welcome including baskets of flowers, drummers, traditional dancers and timbrelists.
On Maundy Thursday, Dunster opened the new three-story Uganda Command Headquarters. The celebration included singing by orphans from a Salvation Army free education project and gospel dance presented by young people from Jinja Corps. The officer thanked the USA Western and Southern Territories for their individual donations of $200,000 for the building’s construction. The Chief planted a tree and toured the building.
Mr. Mahmed Matovu, local council chairman, reflected the respect held for the Army, referring to its “beauty and permanence.” Dunster confirmed the Army is not a non-governmental organization passing through, but a permanent part of Ugandan society. She emphasized the work and people represented by the new building, drawing attention to the colors of the compound railings—red, yellow and blue—the colors of the Salvation Army flag.
The Honorable Minister for Presidency Dr Beatrice Wabudeya—standing in front of the Ugandan and Salvation Army flags—spoke about the Ugandan constitution, which gives freedom of worship, and its motto: “For God and our country.”
On Good Friday, Salvationists from Western Division and Central District gathered in Kampala to remember Christ’s death on the cross. Dunster asked children from the Home of Joy (Kampala) who knew sign language to sign “Jesus” and they pointed to their hands to indicate the nail scars. The young people also performed a poem about Christ’s death. The Kampala Corps provided music, a choir and a worship dance.
The following day, children from the Home of Joy and Tororo Children’s Home welcomed the Chief and took her on a tour of their bedrooms. Each child spoke English.
At the Home of Joy, the commissioner received a welcome in sign language. Although only one boy at the home is deaf, many children have learned to sign so they can communicate with him. They sang and danced; those with physical disabilities demonstrated that their challenges did not limit them.
At the Tororo home, children sang, recited and danced. Dunster and Williams received gifts and Williams told a story requiring the children’s participation.
During the women’s meeting at the Buwambingwa Corps, the Bumbo Corps was recognized for raising the most money for Helping Hand, their self denial project. The corps raised 100,000 Ugandan shillings (around $45.00), a significant amount of money for such a poor country. Along with the Chief’s message, the meeting featured 33 timbrelists from Bumbo Corps, a gospel dance from Bukhayagi Corps (ages 6 to adult) and a Baganda dance from Mulimani District.
Rain and mud on Easter Sunday morning did not deter Ugandans at Bumbo Corps from celebrating. Muddy roads delayed some and many were wet when they arrived, but they celebrated in the mud—singing and dancing.
The presence of local and national government representatives showed the growing respect for The Salvation Army in Uganda. Ambi Walimbwa Charles MP acknowledged the Army’s work in Manafwa District through helping orphans, constructing schools and preaching the word of God. The Honorable Welikhe Kafwabusa Michael, minister for housing, welcomed the Chief on behalf of Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni. He said: “The government will always stand by The Salvation Army. The government will always work with The Salvation Army in the service of our people and the service of our Lord.”
The climax of the celebration came in the Easter message by the Chief. “We are not like God,” she said, explaining that God keeps his promises, God forgives and God gave his son. Her words drew many up for prayer.