It was to the beating of drums and the rhythms of traditional music that General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox were welcomed to Colombo, Sri Lanka, the host city of The Salvation Army's South Asia Zonal conference 2015. Fifty-five delegates gathered for this important event, including all zonal, territorial, command and regional leaders, together with particular subject experts and facilitation team members.
The South Asia Zone comprises The Salvation Army's six Indian territories (Central, Eastern, Northern, South Eastern, South Western and Western), with the Pakistan Territory, Sri Lanka Territory, Bangladesh Command and Middle East Region
In his keynote address, the General was clear and specific about the purpose of the conference, which had a strong focus on his call for accountability across The Salvation Army. He spoke about the recent setting up of the International Accountability Movement Group, saying that Accountability would be 'the main focus for the weeks and months ahead'. He challenged leaders to 'reflect on what must change' and formulate a clear action plan for their areas of responsibility, telling them: 'We all have to be accountable for the decisions we make and for the way in which we use the assets of the Army. We must never forget that we do not own the Army’s assets personally. We are but the custodians of assets entrusted to The Salvation Army by God.'
He explained further that the Accountability Movement is 'more than finance and property. We are also accountable for people. For many years we have concentrated the focus of our statistics to track how many people receive food, shelter or other services. We have not always been very good at seeing and acknowledging the lasting and positive change or transformation that takes place in the lives of individuals and families because of our service. There will, therefore, be a significant focus on impact measurement within the Accountability Movement.
'It is no longer enough for us to satisfy ourselves with vague numbers that do not give a clear picture of impact or outcomes in people’s lives. God placed us in this world to bring about change and transformation through the Gospel message as we preach it and, more importantly, as we live it.'
The days which followed were filled with discussions on matters of importance, shared information and ideas, as well as vibrant worship and rich fellowship.
There was an opportunity to relax on Wednesday evening when a group of Salvationists and young people from the Sri Lanka Territory presented a cultural programme filled with music, dance, rhythm, colour and even opportunities to sample some Sri Lankan cuisine.
Before the leaders and delegates returned to their appointments, they enjoyed Sunday worship at Colombo Central Corps, where the General gave a challenging Bible message.