Dubai, UAE — More than 260 delegates from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Kuwait gathered in Dubai on 18 March to celebrate the growth of The Salvation Army in the Middle East. Unfortunately, delegates from Bahrain were denied travel visas due to current unrest in that country. The Salvation Army has officially been in operation in the region for three years in Kuwait and one year in the UAE.
Middle Eastern delegates were joined in their celebrations at the Deira City Centre Hotel, Dubai, by Texas Brass Band from the USA Southern Territory, members of the newly formed Middle East Advisory Board and Colonel Ross Gower (Under Secretary for South Asia, International Headquarters). The event was hosted by regional leaders Majors Mike and Teresa Hawley.
The Middle East countries – officially designated as a Salvation Army region from 1 April – contain vibrant and devoted soldiers whose excited faces revealed the joy they felt at being able to worship together. A worship service led by delegates from Kuwait, Sharjah (UAE) and Abu Dhabi (UAE) brought much delight, as did contributions from Texas Brass Band.
The region’s young people were seen to be a source of particular strength. A service for young people, led by members of Texas Brass Band, demonstrated their passion for their church.
The event served not only as a celebration of the Army’s past but also as a consecration of its future. Major Mike Hawley made clear the purpose of The Salvation Army in the Middle East – to be light and salt for a uniquely available group of international people.
At the end of the gathering the visiting band travelled to Kuwait for further performance and worship opportunities. Guided by Kuwait Regional Officers Majors Stewart and Heather Grinsted, in partnership with The Lighthouse Church, the band participated in multiple services and conducted a well-attended concert.
This was the first known visit of a Salvation Army band to these countries and was a great encouragement to friends and soldiers of The Salvation Army living and working in the Middle East. There is every indication that there are real and extensive opportunities for growth in this new and exciting region of The Salvation Army. To God be the glory!