|8 October 2002 11:21 AM GDT|
THE GENERAL AND COMMISSIONER GOWANS MAKE LONG-AWAITED VISIT TO CONGO (KINSHASA) AND ANGOLA TERRITORY
Author: International News
ALMOST 4,000 white-uniformed Salvationists welcomed General John Gowans and Commissioner Gisèle Gowans as they arrived in Kinshasa for a long-awaited visit.
The gathered Salvationists, including territorial leaders Colonels Jean and Véronique Ludiazo, came from across the territory – from Angola, and from the Congolese provinces of Katanga (2,000 kilometres south-west of Kinshasa), Kasaï Occidental, Bandundu, Bas-Congo and Kinshasa itself.
After answering questions from the local media, the General's party left to prepare for a busy but rewarding few days.
The next day, Sunday, was the busiest day of the visit and also the most important. At 8.40 am the General and Commissioner Gowans took the salute at the march of witness. Evangelism, education, administration, projects and training were all represented and, by 10 am, more than 13,500 people had marched past the international leaders.
After the march, nearly 8,000 Salvationists and friends of the Army, including the Governor of Kinshasa, Dr David Nku, and some of the mayors of the communes, joined together for the holiness meeting at the People's Palace. As Territorial Commander Colonel Jean Ludiazo welcomed the General and Commissioner Gowans, cries of joy were heard in the hall to express the happiness of the Congolese and Angolan Salvationists.
In his Bible message, the General encouraged his listeners to take their faith seriously. Almost 1,700 people responded to his message.
The afternoon Extravaganza, organised by the young people of the territory, featured music presentations from the National Songsters, National Band, National Timbrelists, the young soldiers, and some men’s choirs.
The General spoke about the will of God. He told the young people that they must use their talents and gifts well and promised that, if they did, God would do great things in the territory.
After hearing the General's words, more than 1,200 young people sought the Lord.
Monday was spent in officers councils at the Salle Centrale (Central Corps).
On Tuesday, the international leaders visited the William Booth University, the only Salvationist University in Africa. It is situated in the commune of Barumbu, next to the Salvation Army’s Central Corps.
The General opened a new lecture room for students, in the presence of the Vice Minister for National Education, Mr Mandangu Madragule. Mr Mpiutu ne Bodi, Rector of the William Booth University, said that the visit of General John Gowans would be written in gold in the records of the institution.
Later, the General was given an honorary doctorate by the university.
After the visit to the William Booth University, the General, accompanied by the territorial commander and Lieut-Colonel Stuart Mungate (Chief Secretary) attended an audience with the country's head of state, President Joseph Kabila.
During the 40-minute meeting, the General was able to ask the President how The Salvation Army could work with his government. President Kabila revealed that his two priorities are health and education. He also spoke about the issue of poverty.
After the interview, General Gowans spoke to waiting journalists of the President's concerns. He also acknowledged that peace was necessary for the development of the country. The General went on to talk about his admiration for the Congolese people, and he called on them to support The Salvation Army in its mission in their country.
The General and Commissioner Gowans concluded their visit with a tour of the different departments and services of territorial headquarters, before sharing a meal with the territorial commander, chief secretary and all department heads.
The international leaders then headed back to London, leaving behind a well-lit flame in the hearts of Congolese and Angolan Salvationists.
Report by Captain Denis Mafuta