In the early hours of Wednesday 1 June, about thirty officers, soldiers and friends of The Salvation Army in Georgia gathered at Shota Rustavelli International Airport in Tbilisi to greet General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox.
Their visit to Georgia was planned to last just over twenty four hours, but a great deal was packed into this day. After conducting two Officers’ Councils meetings, visiting a site of significant historical and religious interest and enjoying a Georgian ‘supra’ with officers, a public celebration meeting was held at a Baptist centre in Tbilisi.
A crowd of about two hundred filled the venue in eager anticipation of the international leaders’ arrival. A great evening of celebration then commenced as the regional youth worship band led the congregation with vibrant singing in Georgian and Russian.
The international leaders were greeted with a traditional Georgian welcome as they were invited to take a welcome drink. This was followed by a traditional Georgian dance performed by children from Didi Digomi corps, many of whom are actively involved in the local After School club which takes place in the corps.
Several representatives of the eight corps in Georgia testified to God’s work in their lives and the way in which he is working in their corps and communities.
A very powerful piece of dramatic art drew gasps from the congregation as five young artists from Ponichaladrew the hands, feet and face of Jesus in front of the congregation. As this was completed another member of the corps slashed each painting with a knife and a trail of ‘blood’ was seen flowing from Jesus. This powerful image will live long in the hearts and minds of those present.
After a call to self-denial given by The General a number of people knelt in dedication, indicating their desire to be the change in the often fractured world of Georgian society.
Throughout the meeting a cameraman and interviewer had hovered, taking appropriate video clips. These clips, coupled with an interview with The General featured on the Georgian TV station Tabula, giving KhsnisArmia some good and welcome publicity.
As the congregation were invited to sing the closing song, another moment of history was being made. For the first time ever, The Founder’s Song, ‘O Boundless Salvation’, was sung in the Georgian language. This moving rendition brought the curtain down on a day which will live long in the memory of those who were able to be a part of it.