27 February 2006
Salvation Army World Leader In NZ To Challenge Troops
General John Larsson and Commissioner Freda Larsson visit New Zealand this week on their last international tour as The Salvation Army's top leaders. The Larssons steer the mission of The Salvation Army in 111 countries—the most recent of which is Poland.
This is a return visit for the couple who were in charge of Salvation Army work in New Zealand from 1993 to 1996. General Larsson said that while here he will challenge Salvation Army members to retain the warmth and spontaneity 'so characteristic of this part of the world' as well as their love ofnature and all things beautiful.
General John Larsson (68) is Swedish by birth
and has worked for The Salvation Army in the UK, South
America, Sweden and Latvia, as well as New Zealand, Fiji and
Tonga. He was elected The Salvation Army's world leader in
2002 and oversees The Salvation Army's church and social
service activities, as
well as community development and health programmes in developing countries.
Military analogy was useful when describing the role of Salvation Army General, he said. 'Like a general of a military army, the task of the General of The Salvation Army is to lead the Army to win battles in the war against evil. The role is therefore as multi-dimensional as that of a militarygeneral. The role is partly spiritual, inspirational and motivational. The General must seek to ensure that the Army is focused on its mission. But it is also a strategic role. Where and how can the Army's global resources best be deployed?'
In 2005 the General launched a year for children and youth across The Salvation Army world. He has also seen The Salvation Army strengthen its international aid work, with The Salvation Army one of the first non-governmental organisations to take relief aid into southern Iraq in April 2003.
General Larsson authorised a massive international relief effort immediately after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Already a trusted presence, The Salvation Army was first on the scene in many communities and has delivered clothing, food, medical aid, school equipment, housing and even fishing equipment to areas throughout South Asia.
Salvation Army relief and reconstruction work continues in Pakistan and Kashmir after last October's earthquake. Most recently, General Larsson has called for urgent famine relief in Africa, where The Salvation Army is focusing attention on the increasing food crisis in the Sub-Saharan region.
Freda Larsson heads Salvation Army women's work around the world. This has included fighting against the trafficking of women for purposes of prostitution or other forms of sexual slavery.
The Larssons arrive in New Zealand (from Fiji) on
2 March where they will be greeted with a powhiri at
Auckland International Airport. They will speak at public
worship meetings and youth functions in Auckland, Palmerston
North, Wellington and Christchurch under the banner,
'Celebrate Jesus'. While
here the couple will also address Salvation Army officers (ministers) in a series of private 'officers councils'. They will attend a reception with ecumenical and civic leaders in Wellington.
New Zealand and Fiji for our last overseas visit was a very
deliberate choice,' commented General Larsson. 'Freda and I
look back on our years in the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga
Territory with tremendous warmth. We loved living in New
Zealand. During our time there we often said that,
it not for our children, we could easily retire in New Zealand.'
General Larsson's term in office ends at midnight on 1 April. His successor is another past New Zealand leader, Commissioner Shaw Clifton, who was leader of The Salvation Army in New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga from 2002 to 2004.