After teaching the newly written Soldiership Training Course to our congregations in Moscom and Honiara, it was time to return to Kwai to conduct the final test round of this new material. The timing of this trip was two-fold: To finish the final edit of the Soldiership Training Course for presentation at the Territorial Leaders Conference in PNG and to prepare the next round of recruits for enrollment at the upcoming Salvation Army Convention in North Malaita.
Since our first visit to Kwai in January, we have been delighted to discover that the mission outreach of the North Malaita Fellowship has extended well beyond the Kwai River into the neighbouring villages to further north onto Manao'oba Island and down south into West Kwara'ae. This outreach brought eager recruits into Kwai for the Soldiership Training Course from Lolu, Kolefe, Tabarara, Ona and Manao'oba Island! Praise the Lord for this extraordinary mission growth, which we pray will produce many new congregations in Malaita!!
The beautiful simplicity and deep spirituality of this village provided the perfect atmosphere for our ministry trip with early morning prayer meetings and evening worship services creating a spirit of anticipation among those gathered. Once again, the words of the chorus "You are my God, You are my Father, You are my King and I worship You" in both English and To'obaita languages united our spirits with the Spirit of God and became an anthem for the weekend, just as it did during our ministry trip to Moscom. Another song that added to the tone of the weekend was 'Mighty Man of War', which was introduced by my ministry partner Joshua Henry from Honiara Corps. It somehow seemed very fitting to our purpose to train new Soldiers of The Salvation Army - "Mighty man of War, Lion of Judah. We bow down and worship you. Yahweh Yahweh, come and do what only you can do." Well, we are certainly seeing what only God can do with the rapid expansion of The Salvation Army throughout Malaita!
Our schedule for these trips is always fluid to fit into the rhythms of village life. This weekend was no exception, with our course being moved from Saturday to Sunday morning after the worship service to allow time for those traveling from afar to arrive in time. The resulting four consecutive sessions in one day didn't seem to phase the very enthusiastic recruits who were eager to engage with the new course material. Their eagerness was matched by the enthusiasm of the existing Soldiers from the North Malaita Fellowship whose curiosity about the new material had a number of them stay behind after worship to join in. Of the 22 participants who completed the Soldiership Training Course all 13 of the new recruits signed up to be enrolled at the Convention in July by the Territorial Commander.
Beside the numbers, the feedback from the participants was equally encouraging. To hear consistent comments that the material is easy to understand, well formatted and culturally appropriate (my paraphrase of their comments) affirmed the reasons behind the rewrite. More helpful than the encouraging words were the comments and questions that have contributed to minor edits along the journey. It is our hope that the final draft will provide a resource that will serve The Salvation Army in the Solomon Islands well into the future with a new generation of well-equipped Salvationists rising up in every Province! Joshua's presence was also a real blessing as a translator (when necessary) and an evaluater to assess the effectiveness of the course. It also served as a training opportunity to prepare him as a future facilitator.
We left Kwai with a deep sense of satisfaction that our purpose had been achieved and God was glorified! Our expectations were exceeded and our excitement for the mass enrollment of 10 recruits from Moscom, 5 recruits from Honiara, and now 13 recruits from Kwai is almost akin to the early church who celebrated that "the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47).