As I sit to write this at the beginning of November we have just passed an important milestone in the life of the Protestant church.
On Monday 31 October the church celebrated the 499th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther first wrote to his bishop, Albert of Mainz to complain about the excesses of the church of his day.
This event, which was subsequently marked by the pinning of his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg cathedral set the church on a path which subsequently included The Salvation Army.
The first of Martin Luther’s theses has been something we have thought about in a number of different contexts here in Georgia over the past few months.
Martin Luther wrote, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
Repentance is part of that journey of faith which all Christians are on. We have explored its meaning at the Bible School, heard a sermon on it at the youth praise and worship evening and we have heard a story of someone in Georgia repenting for the first time.
As we reflect on recent days here in Georgia, we recognize the need for us all to repent, to consciously change direction in our lives, to turn away from those things which are wrong and to live according to the values of The Kingdom of God.
Our prayer is that as we look back, we can also look forward to what God is going to do in the next part of the history of The Salvation Army in Georgia.
Due to heavy rain in June, the regional men’s day was postponed until the first Saturday in September.
On this beautiful morning nearly thirty men gathered at Didi Digomi corps for a time of worship. As part of this occasion,the Regional Leader, and newly appointed Principal IfOT, Eastern Europe Territory, spoke about the first verse in Mark’s gospel. The men were asked to consider what the Good News of Jesus Christ meant for them todayremomnding them that Jesus did not come to give good advice, but Good News that changes everything.
Following this the men set off for an afternoon of fellowship and food in a local national park.
Visits to THQ
With the new facilities available at THQ in Moldova, a number of people have had opportunity over the past few months to visit Chisinau for various study times.
These have included a course on leadership attended by Capts Levan Kvernadze and Irma Nebieridze and aweek-long preaching course attendedby Lt Nino Galustian and Capt Beso Nebieridze.
Two Brengle Holiness seminars were held, one for officers attended by Capt Sopo Bakhtadze and one for soldiers attended by Tatiana Troshina from Rustavi and Irma Shiukashvili from Didi Digomi.In addition to this our cadets Vova and Elnura Budaev have been back to Moldova for their third Cadet intensive training seminar.
It is a real blessing for us to have this facility and we look forward to other people being able to visit in the months and years to come.
Visit of Territorial Youth Secretary
In a reverse visit we have also had the pleasure of hosting Captain Galina Burlacu from THQ at the beginning of October.
It was a very busy week for Galina as she took part in a number of different activities across the region.
Firstly she was here to conduct a very important day’s seminar on child protection.
It is good to know that the territory is committed to taking the safety of our children seriously. So, on this day, about forty people gathered at Tbilisi Central to listen to the training.
This is so important that all people who work with children in our various centres will be required to go through this training and to adhere to the policy.
The day following the training Galina was present for the annual regional children’s day. This day was celebrated by about one hundred and twenty children at Rustavi corps hall.
The day concluded with sung worship where the children were reminded of Jesus, the one who is the light and wants us to carry his light into the world.
It was a windy afternoon when once again The Salvation Army was present in Rike Park, Tbilisi for the annual Tbilisoba City Festival.
Representatives from Tbilisi Central, Ponichala and Samgori distributed balloons, some carrying the ‘KhsnisArmia’ Red Shield logo and some shaped into animals.
This was a great opportunity to share with members of the public something of the work which is carried out in Tbilisi by The Salvation Army.
The event also managed to raise some funds for the work of The Salvation Army
Didi Digomi anniversary
One year ago the region was celebrating the twentieth anniversary of our opening in Rustavi. This year the corps in Didi Digomi has marked a similar milestone.
For twenty years this corps has served the people of this district, particularly with the provision of after school clubs.
On a special celebration afternoon some of the children of today shared music and dance and the more mature individuals who use the facilities at Didi Digomi shared some songs with the crowd of about seventy people who had gathered.
The Regional Leader referred to 1 Corinthians 13 and the way of love being the path to growing up. As Didi Digomi Corps moves into the future they were encouraged to put the ways of childhood in the past and to move forward with maturity.
For the second consecutive year The Salvation Army had representation at the Tbilisi marathon. On a cold day, Regional Leader Major Gillian Jackson and Lt TemoGalustian braved the conditions to compete in a half marathon and 10km race respectively.
A small group of supporters were present with the group from Didi Digomi waving a home-made banner in support of our runners.
Following requests from within the region a training day was held at Rustavi corps hall. This day was specifically focused on helping people to develop their listening skills as a means of helping to resolve conflict.
The material used by the regional leaders has been tried and tested in many different contexts and cultures. It is our hope that the twenty five people present will be able to use these skills effectively in their own setting.
After a break for the summer the Bible School recommenced in October. A small, but very interested group met at Tbilisi Central corps hall to consider doctrines seven and eight of The Salvation Army.
The Bible School will now continue with two more sessions before taking another break over the Christmas period.
One Sunday at the end of October saw the launch of a new youth venture for the region.
About seventy five young people gathered for an evening which was designed to be spent in praise and worship of God.
With worship led by the regional youth worship band and the message brought by Regional Leader, Major Gillian Jackson, this was a great evening.
Visit of Chris Green
For the past few years we have been so blessed to be supported by the American charity ‘Vision for the Children International’. This group has supported our after-schools work in Didi Digomi as well providing computers for the corps in Ponichala.
Director of this charity, Chris Green, was visiting Georgia for a few days in late October.
On a packed day he spent time at RHQ and then visited our facilities in Ponichala, Samgori and Didi Digomi.
As the last newsletter was being written we were looking forward to the wedding of VikaDolbnia and Cristian Koslowsky.
The wedding was a great day of celebration. Now, we still wait to hear if Vika’s visa to go and live with her husband in the United Kingdom will be granted.A few weeks later another wedding took place as Alex from Samgori married Mari.
We wish both couples God’s richest blessing on their futures together.
As we come to the end of another very busy few months we look forward to the future.
None of knows what the future holds, even if we have made all our plans. We have hopes and aspirations. We have desires. But, as someone as once said, ‘We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.’
For one of our number at RHQ the future will look different. Eliza Kurshudian will be leaving her post as translator and moving to new employment. We thank Eliza so much for all she has given during the last fourteen months as she has worked at RHQ and we pray for her in the future as she continues to develop herself.
We pray for her successor, that God will lead the right person our way.
As we now look forward to Christmas, we pray that you would each know the blessing of God on all that you do.
Gillian and Steve