Salvation Army Ministry in Ukraine Spotlighted by Westmorelands
By: Major Frank Duracher
Majors Bobby and Anne Westmoreland brought insights into their ministry in Ukraine, just one of several countries the couple has served in thus far over their storied career. The Westmorelands were this year’s featured speakers at the International Service Fellowship Breakfast, now completing its eighth year held during The Salvation Army’s Southern Bible Conference.
This year’s theme was “The Field Is The World,” conducted by Lt. Colonel Karol Seiler, Territorial Director of International Personnel Services, and supported by Majors Larry and Evelyn Repass.
“Over the years the Southern Territory has sent personnel appointed to all five zones of the Salvation Army world,” explained Major Evelyn Repass, “with 34 different countries represented by personnel present this morning. The total number of personnel sent overseas over the years by the Southern Territory easily doubles that number.”
The International Fellowship Service Breakfast annual event is unique to the Southern Territory in that not only are past missionaries lauded for their service overseas, but anyone expressing an interest in possible future service is welcome to share in the fellowship.
“In fact,” Major Repass reported, “about 25 are here this morning for the first time and that’s 20 more than we had at this event last year.”
She also said that the Fellowship’s rolls have 125 who have expressed an interest—some of which are officers who’ve served in years past who are considering a return to the worldwide field.
Majors Westmoreland presented a moving report of the Army’s mission and ministry in Ukraine—a land very much in the world’s headlines these days.
“Make no mistake,” Major Anne declared, with a tinge of emotion, “the war in Ukraine did not start last year with the Russian invasion—it began back in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea, and the Ukrainian people have suffered ever since!”
They commented repeatedly how resilient and strong the Ukrainian people are, despite the destruction and death of late. This is borne out by Salvationists of the Kiev Lighthouse corps.
“They remain a people of hope,” Major Bobby exclaimed, going on to explain that bread and salt are tenets of “Ukrainian Welcome,” which is a customary practice that we remain together in unity.
Bread signifies peace, friendship, and unity. Salt symbolizes how we can remain constant and steadfast.
In a touching finish to their presentation, the Westmorelands shared a Ukrainian welcome by offering broken bread (which they baked in strands of three, reminiscent of the Trinity) that was then dipped in salt. While this is a cultural tradition rather than a religious practice, for many present the act brought to mind a form of communion.
“It is striking to remember Jesus calling Himself ‘the Bread of Life,’ and calling us ‘the Salt of the Earth,’” Major Anne said.