The General of The Salvation Army Pays Tribute to Nelson Mandela

nelson mandela

Salvation Army General André Cox pays tribute to Nelson Mandela in a letter to the family of the former South African President. He explained that his years spent in Africa had given him ‘a sense of the measure of Madiba’s life and influence’.

So many have already spoken eloquently or written lucidly,’ wrote the General. ‘I would simply wish to salute a great man – one whose character was nourished by hope, expressed through forgiveness, and testified to through reconciliation.’

He concluded: ‘I pray that you would each know the Father of compassion and God of all comfort drawing so very near to you. During this Advent season, may you each experience fully the peace of the Christ child.’

The General and Commissioner Silvia Cox spent four years as leaders of The Salvation Army’s Southern Africa Territory. As The Salvation Army’s first Africa-born world leader it is appropriate that he should pay tribute to the man who has been called the greatest-ever African.

Commissioner William Langa (Territorial Commander, Southern Africa Territory) said in a statement: ‘Mr Mandela’s immeasurable contribution to South Africa cannot be overstated. His commitment to helping the poor and vulnerable, and his pursuit of reconciliation in our divided society was a shining example to those of us who serve the Lord Jesus Christ through The Salvation Army. Salvationists throughout the world have recognised his statesmanship and moral leadership. May his soul rest in peace in the everlasting arms of Christ.’

The General’s letter can be seen in full at


The Before and After Picture of Transformational Love


A woman in Zambia waits at her makeshift stand at the edge of the road hoping someone will buy from her meager store of charcoal and sweet potatoes.  Between the infrequent customers, she entertains simple dreams of owning a grocery store and using the earnings to feed her family and send her children to school.

She tries everything she knows to make her dream come true.  But her efforts to get a loan from the bank for the capital to grow her business are repeatedly denied because she lacks collateral.

And it is in this time, when even simple dreams seem out of reach, that transformational love appears.

The woman, Maureen Chibuye, joined her friends in a Saving and Internal Lending Community (SILC) in Walera, in the Chipata district of Zambia.  Her group, operated by The Salvation Army, is called Chikondi, which means “love”.  SILCs like Chikondi were introduced in the Chipata district in 2011 as part of an economic empowerment strategy.

She said, “Before Chikondi, I couldn’t even manage to save, as everything I made went to meet the needs of my family – and it was indeed a nightmare.”

She gave part of her first loan of $97 to her husband to invest in seed for their garden to grow cabbage and other vegetables. She put the remaining amount toward her dream.  After eight months of hard work and additional cycles of receiving and repaying loans from the group, her dream came true and her business blossomed.

She finally moved to a bigger, better shop where she is currently running her grocery store.

Maureen continues to increase her available stock, and enjoys excellent credit with her Chikondi group, her last loan being for $386.  With the profits from her business, she is able to easily repay her loans, sponsor her children to go to school and provide her family three meals per day.

Now that her dream has at last been achieved, it is now time for transformation in others’ lives.
The woman in Zambia now waits in her successful groceries business and welcomes the frequent visitors who buy from her wide variety of goods, including charcoal and sweet potatoes for those who need them.  She encourages them to join the SILC group to realize their own simple dreams, and to use the earning to feed their own families and send their own children to school.

That is the true power of transformational love – what was once the dream of one person is transfigured and passed on – and now ever afterward becomes realized dreams for the entire community.


 Lieutenant Colonel Joan Canning is the Executive Director of The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO). SAWSO’s vision is to “create a world where people live in safe and sustainable communities in which differences are respected, basic needs are met, and all enjoy opportunities to learn, work, and worship in freedom.” Learn more at


A Woman of Substance

Posted by Megan on Monday, July 1, 2013 · Leave a Comment 

Chemka (left) running her new small business in Kenya. Photo Credit: Captain Beatrice Ayabagabo, Empowerment Coordinator, The Salvation Army, Kenya West Territorial Headquarters.

Hope is a powerful virtue.  Opportunity to engender hope in the lives of others is transformational.  A Kenyan woman named Chemka, from the village of Sabatia Gurugwa, is the definition of hope.  I recently read her story in a field update from a women’s empowerment project that The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) has been supporting in Kenya to teach literacy and record-keeping skills to underprivileged women.  Chemka joined other women in the program to make effective use of these skills by forming a savings and lending group to give members the opportunity to start small income-generating businesses.

A single mother, 46-years-old and struggling, Chemka happily recounted that after joining her local empowerment group and buying shares, she was able to secure a small loan to start a business selling fruit, onions and tomatoes.  She proudly reports that her enterprise is doing well, and from it, she is able to save money and provide food for her child. She is also now feeling a powerful confidence in her ability to one day expand her business, and open a shop.

What jumped out at me most of Chemka’s account is her new view of herself:  “Surely now, I can be called a woman of substance.”

And I was reminded that with just a mustard seed of encouragement and training, we can change lives, we can engender hope…not only in a financial sense, but in a sense of personal accomplishment.  And once that journey has begun, for many we help, there is momentum – the impetus to continue reaching beyond perceived limitations.

We know of many, like Chemka, who rejoice in their newfound ability to provide healthier meals to their children, to finally send children to school, and to share in the financial responsibility for their families.  These fundamental abilities are often taken for granted in America, but not for women like Chemka.

We have heard from women, like Everlyne Gibendi, who said, “I had nothing to do, but wait for my husband to buy and cater for the family.  I thought I was not important in the family.” Everlyne has since parlayed a small business selling vegetables and fish into enough money to buy a motorcycle that she and her husband rent for additional income.

Stories of empowerment like these are told in SAWSO’s Annual Report, available at The report celebrates people everywhere who are taking the opportunities that God presents to lift up their spirits and change their lives.  One of the gifts of serving God in SAWSO is helping a woman like Chemka come to realize that God always intended for her to be and see, that she is truly a woman of substance.

Lt-Colonel-Joan-Canning-215x3001[1]Lieutenant Colonel Joan Canning is the Executive Director of The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO). SAWSO’s vision is to “create a world where people live in safe and sustainable communities in which differences are respected, basic needs are met, and all enjoy opportunities to learn, work, and worship in freedom.” Learn more at