Abundant blessings were in evidence at The Salvation Army’s Japan Territorial Congress led by General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President for Women’s Ministries) in Tokyo recently.
Prior to the Congress, the international leaders were honoured to have an audience with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace. (Photographs and details of this important meeting will be the subject of a subsequent news release.)
The General and Commissioner Cox also took the opportunity to visit Salvation Army funded projects in the towns of Minami-Sanriku and Onagawa. These communities were badly affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The Salvation Army has helped to rebuild the two town centres, assisting families, businesses and livelihoods. Community based projects such as after-school programmes and elderly care initiatives have also been developed. The international leaders discussed the ongoing ministry with local mayors and were met with smiles and expressions of hope from residents.
The visit coincided with a fresh magnitude-6.2 earthquake which affected western provinces of Japan on 21 October. The Western Division is assessing the level of assistance needed, including the potential of providing canteens to serve people who have been forced from their homes or lost power or gas due to the damaged infrastructure. As the General observed, ‘The Salvation Army is here for both physical and spiritual reconstruction.’
Using the territorial theme ‘Catch the Vision’, the congress weekend began with a charity concert. Generously supported by a long-standing friend of The Salvation Army, Mr Haruo Miki, a capacity audience at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall enjoyed the overwhelming sounds of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra – Japan’s oldest – conducted by Mr Kazuyoshi Akiyama. Attendees included Salvation Army donors, as well as church leaders and representatives of tsunami-hit communities. The General addressed supporters at a special reception, thanking them for their partnership and re-emphasising the mission and ministry of The Salvation Army.
A public meeting on Saturday – under the theme ‘Connect’ – was presented by the USA Western Territorial Staff Songsters, partnering with the Japan Territory’s Youth Worship Team and Timbrelist Dance Unit. Two new soldiers gave testimonies – Mrs Shigeko Nomura explained how she was led to Jesus through a copy of The War Cry and Mr Masaki Kasugaya told of how he had found God’s help. Commissioner Silvia Cox challenged the congregation to listen to the voice of God and begin a new life with him. Many attendees, including young people, responded to the call to the mercy seat. The meeting was followed by a march of witness by 180 Salvationists, with the General and Commissioner Cox taking the salute at the conclusion of the parade. In the evening, a youth rally with the General and a women’s night with Commissioner Silvia Cox were held simultaneously, with Bible presentations and joyful fellowship.
Sunday morning’s holiness meeting was packed with Salvationists from across Japan. The General and Commissioner Silvia marched in to the strains of the Japan Staff Band and 40 timbrelists. One hundred voices united to sing ‘God, we will give you glory’, followed by inspirational vocal items by the USA Western Territorial Staff Songsters.
Commissioner Cox prayed a prayer of blessing for the children present, before the General presided over the swearing-in of seven new senior soldiers. In his address, the General challenged the congregation to ‘be prepared to go into the world, with renewed passion as in the early days’. He encouraged Salvationists and friends to ‘grow in spiritual maturity, pursue personal holiness and to pray hard’.
Many individuals gathered at the mercy seat and groups prayed spontaneously for their corps and communities. The moving of the Holy Spirit was clearly felt as six soldiers responded to the call to officership, ahead of concluding encouragement from the General.