Music, worship and a variety of transport were among the memorable moments of the visit to Bangladesh by the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner William Roberts) and Commissioner Nancy Roberts (World Secretary for Women’s Ministries), where they led a congress and commissioning meetings.
The visit began at Dhaka Airport with a welcome from command leaders Lieut-Colonels Alistair and Marieke Venter, General Secretary Lieut-Colonel Priscilla Nanlabi, Dhaka District Officer Captain Stephen Baroi and two junior soldiers who decorated the visitors with garlands.
The Chief and Commissioner Roberts flew on from Dhaka to Jessore, where they received a colourful welcome at Kholadanga Training Centre. As part of the Bengal culture young women performed a welcome dance and flowers were presented. A group of local musicians played 'Onward, Christian Soldiers'.
At Ghurulia, where the leaders visited Ghurulia Corps (church) and Primary School, bull carts were used to bring the leaders into the village. Many school children, corps members and community members gathered to meet the special guests, and the Chief of the Staff encouraged everyone gathered to live in unity and peace. The visitors also spent time in the house of Dino Biswas, a soldier (member) at the corps and the father of one of the current session of officer-cadets.
The congress and commissioning events started with the ordination and commissioning meeting. Eight cadets of the Disciples of the Cross Session strode silently into the beautifully decorated tent that served as a meeting hall, each holding an open Bible in his or her hands. The Chief of the Staff accepted the promises made by the cadets, ordained them one by one as ministers of the gospel and commissioned them as officers of The Salvation Army.
The Chief challenged the new lieutenants – and the congregation – that following Jesus may mean making sacrifices and facing hardships and difficulties, but that those who surrender completely to the Lord find meaning, joy and fulfilment in their lives. Many people knelt at the mercy seat and began their journey of following Jesus.
The Silver Star recognition and celebration meeting began with the newly commissioned lieutenants marching into the tent. Commissioner Nancy Roberts recognised the positive influence of the parents in the lives of the new lieutenants and emphasised the importance of shining like stars in the world.
Lieutenant Tushar Biswas gave his testimony about how God chose and appointed him to go and bear fruit, before Training Principal Major Tracey Palmer introduced the new cadets of the Messengers of Light Session. More than 40 young people responded to the call for full-time service.
At the soldiers rally the congress worship team led the people in powerful praise and worship. The Chief of the Staff enrolled 14 junior soldiers and 40 senior soldiers. It was clear that God is doing new things among the people of Bangladesh!
Back in Dhaka District, the Youth Rally held in Savar was a joyful occasion at which young people displayed their God-given talents in dance and song.
Before leaving Bangladesh, the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Nancy Roberts led morning devotions at command headquarters and bought items at the Sally Ann 'Trade for Hope' shop, before arriving by rickshaw at the leprosy and TB clinic. The visit concluded with a visit to the School for the Hearing Impaired at Mirpur.