The visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) was a time of great excitement and blessing to Salvationists and friends of The Salvation Army's Middle East Region. Even though it was a work day, Salvationists from across the region gathered at Christchurch Jebel Ali in Dubai to greet the General and to share lunch together.
A celebration meeting began with a time of singing, including songs in Shona presented by a contingent from Zimbabwe. The congregation sang with great gusto some traditional 'Army' songs in English and Tamil – all supported by the brass ensemble and singers from Dubai. The General commented that it was a taste of what was to come at the Boundless International Congress!
Congregations at the meetings were made up of expatriate Salvationists from India, The Philippines, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada – a true representation of the worldwide Salvation Army. When the congregation prayed the Lord’s Prayer – each person speaking in his or her own language – it was a clear affirmation of being One Army!
The bright, happy meeting that followed was full of blessings. A regional round-up revealed that the Army's Middle East Region has grown from six corps in 2012 to nine corps in four countries today, with representatives from many of those corps present. There are now four corps in the UAE, three in Oman, and one each in Kuwait and Bahrain. Maggie, the youngest junior soldier from Abu Dhabi Corps (UAE), read the Bible beautifully and Bawla – originally from Myanmar – witnessed in song. A highlight for many was the enrolment of Ephraim, a Filipino, as a senior soldier by the General.
Commissioner Cox, considering the persecution of Christians that has happened in the wider Middle East, brought the timely words of Jesus: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?' (Matthew 16:24-26 New International Version).
The General in his message encouraged congregation members to remember that Christ needs to rule in their hearts, and needs to be the focus of their lives wherever they are in the world and wherever they have come from. The Holy Spirit moved in the congregation and many people knelt at the mercy seat in response.