ETS touched down on their first international trip at Crantley Adams International Airport in Christ Church, Barbados, at midday on Thursday, March 1. ETS was invited to visit Barbados as part of a year long celebration of 120 years of the Salvation Army in Barbados and St. Lucia. Barbados, in the Barbados & St. Lucia Division of the Caribbean Territory, is a tropical island about 900 miles north of the equator. During the winter months air and water temperatures are similarly around 80 degrees with a 70% humidity; quite a contrast to the USA Eastern Territory. After checking in at the Blue Horizon Hotel in the Rockley section of Christ Church and a quick dinner at the local Chefette restaurant, it was off to the Solidarity House in Bridgetown for participation in the Barbados youth councils.
The Barbados divisional and corps commands in this division are gifted with talented teens, young adults and leadership. ETS shared in ministry at the youth councils with the divisional Praise Team, divisional Youth Chorale, divisional Timbrel Brigade and divisional Brass Band. Special thanks to the team of Divisional Leaders Major Darrell and Joan Wilkinson and Divisional Youth and Candidates Secretary Major Marie Davis.
Thursday evening opened with a resounding “good night”; good night being the formal Barbados evening greeting. The youth councils theme was “Empowering Youth Through Our Legacy”. As the Barbados youth gathered in their opening session, ETS brought the greetings of the Eastern Territory through several selections which provided an appropriate setting for weekend guest, the Home Officer of The Salvation Army Caribbean Territory, Lt. Sharon Evans. Lt. Evans is a dynamic advocate for youth that are equipped by Christ to stand together in grace and against the evil of the world that conspires to entrap them. She set the tone for the youth councils as a rallying of youth with an understanding of the Salvation Army’s history in being key to the present need of standing with Christ and being available to a miracle working God. The night then gave way to the opening rounds of the “Mr. and Miss. Salvationist 2018” competition.
The Mr. and Miss. Salvationist contest demonstrated knowledge of the SA as well as built interest at the YP home corps’ in the activities at the divivsion’s youth councils. Youth demonstrated historic uniform design; knowledge of Bible, doctrine & history; presentation of talent and poise. Through some tense and light-hearted moments the contestants braved a thorough grilling by the quick thinking and skillful emcee as witnessed by a critical and supportive team of hand selected guest judges.
At the arrival of an appropriate intermission, the evening concluded with song and prayer as the delegates traveled home to resume the councils on the next evening.
Friday marked an ETS service project in the burrough of Carlton, St. James. Among the singers many gifts, it was apparent that included are the gift of siding and painting. Carlton officer Major Edmona Sylvestre and a number of corps soldiers greeted ETS as work began on the corps building and the quarters. The tropical sun, humidity and nearby road oils are difficult on the shiplap siding of wooden buildings in Barbados. The task of the day was wipe down siding, scrape old paint, repaint and, at the corps building, remove and replace some damaged siding. Splitting into two work teams and headed by team leaders Dennis Muir (corps) and Mark Ferreira (quarters), the choir transformed into an efficient and ready work crew. The six hour work day concluded with both buildings being completed with a fresh coat of paint and trim. The highlight of the event was the cheerful reception by Major Sylvestre and the corps quartermaster and the home cooked meal prepared by the corps women’s ministry team. After clean-up and change of clothes, it was time to return to the divisional youth councils.
This evening began with a timbrel display by the divisional group, followed by a challenge by ETS executive officer Lt. Col. Renee Lance. Citing the example of the boy David, Lt. Col. Lance challenged the Barbados’ youth to listen to, follow and go out boldly when God calls where we are. Completing the meditation section of the meeting the songsters presented two John Gowans texts beautifully scored to new melodies,Mark Hayes “You Can’t Stop God” and Andrew Maycock’s “Everywhere” (as high as the sky). Then came the time to conclude the Mr. and Miss. Salvationist contest. Two young people from the Long Bay corps were crowned but all the young people who participated and the audience that cheered them on were the winners of the night. More information and highlights can be found at facebook site ‘The Salvation Army Barbados Division Youth Department’. The night was completed with the songsters singing (ETS Songster Leader) Gavin Whitehouse’ upbeat “No other Name” and a lyrical vocal benediction of Heather Sorenson’s “This I Pray” sung by alto Joan Pierce.
Saturday took ETS to the Sheraton Shopping Mall in Christ Church. Performing a concert in the middle of the food court area at a busy noontime, ETS proclaimed the 120 years of Salvation Army service by the Barbados and St. Lucia division to their Virgin Island neighborhood. The concert was hosted by Majors Wilkinson and the divisional staff and provided a fantastic opportunity to witness about the local Salvation Army and God’s continued blessing on their work. The balance of the day was lightly scheduled to provide the visiting ETS with a much appreciated chance to sight-see, shop or visit the scenic Barbados Rockley beach.
Sunday came as truly a day of victory. The morning worship brought soldiers and friends from throughout the Barbados area to Solidarity House to celebrate and worship a faithful God. Lt. Sharon Evans called to the listeners to be steadfast and faithful and furthermore to commit themselves to minister where they are, again focusing on the boy David whom God called to be king. The morning challenge and time of response was framed by ETS presenting “Holy Spirit” and “Lest I Forget Your Love”, later by the benediction “Strength for Tommorrow, Grace for Today”. The songsters then retired for an afternoon meal under a canopy in the brilliant Barbados sun. ETS was grateful for a beautiful multicourse buffet prepared by a local soldier who professionally ministers as a resort chef. Refreshed and full, all the days participents regathered in Solidarity House for the afternoon praise and farewell meeting.
The final meeting of the youth councils and the Eastern Territorial Songsters time in Barbados was a time of praise, testimony and thanksgiving. It featured presentations by all of the weekends diverse musical participants, testimonies and reflections by the divisional youth and a roundtable discussion by three preselected youth, moderated by Lt. Evans about how they feel empowered and what direction their christian walk is taking them in the future. ETS’ participation was a consecration anthem by Gavin Whitehouse, “Adoration, Thanksgiving and Praise” and a challenge by Michael Barrett, “You Shall Go Out in Joy”. With that the all-too-short weekend came to a close and the participants departed.
ETS is grateful to the Barbados and St. Lucia Division staff for their gracious welcome, prayerful preparation and loving care during our visit. Thank you Majors Darrell and Joan Wilkinson (Divisional Commanders), Lt. Sharon Evans (THQ), Major Marie Davis (Divisional Youth and Candidates Secretary), Major Denzill Walcott (Divisional Community Relations Director), Mrs. Sherma Evelyn (Divisional Business Manager), Major Edmona Sylvestre (Commanding Officer, Carlton, St. James) and their people with which we came in contact. Continued blessings in the celebration of The Salvation Army 120 years of service in Barbados and St. Lucia.