As part of the Hong Kong and Macau Command’s celebration of 100 years of ministry to Chinese people, General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries) spent six significant days in mainland China. This is believed to be the first visit to the mainland by a serving Salvation Army General.
At the invitation of the China National Christian Council, the international leaders – supported by command leaders Lieut-Colonels Ian and Wendy Swan – held meetings with Shanghai Christian Council, Beijing Christian Council and the State Administration for Religious Affairs of the People’s Republic of China (SARA). Each council affirmed The Salvation Army’s historic and present contributions and roles within the Body of Christ in China, with particular appreciation for its practical expressions of Christian faith within communities.
These meetings were followed by an official visit to the building which used to serve as the headquarters of The Salvation Army's Northern China Territory, which the government has given to the Beijing Christian Council for the purposes of worship. The General and his party were given a tour of the now extensively renovated building ahead of its official opening and dedication later this year. Historic narratives of Salvation Army meetings held in this particular building made this chapter of Salvation Army mission come alive for the visitors and local representatives.
At the invitation of Senior Pastor Liu Cuimin, from the Chong Wen Men Church of Beijing, the General preached holiness messages in two separate services – each attended by more than 1,000 people. Hymns sung by those present were well known to the Salvationists that gathered, including long-time Beijing residents. Many people gathered for prayer at the altar at the conclusion of the service.
The significance of the historic celebrations was brought home for the General when he and Commissioner Cox visited the last surviving officer to have been commissioned in mainland China. Lieutenant Li Yao Wen, now 97 years old, spoke passionately of his love for the Army and proudly showed the General a photo of himself in full uniform at his commissioning. Those gathered left the visit knowing they had been in the presence of a faithful soldier of Jesus Christ.