Saturday wrap-up

by Hugo Bravo

HERSHEY, Pa., —The morning after his concert performance for an audience of 1,800, Christian recording artist Danny Gokey took part in a Q&A session on the stage of the Great American Hall with John Copeland of UNBOUND. When he asked Gokey how he focused on the audience, he compared his style to that of an airplane pilot; constantly aware, and fine tuning as he goes along.

“My comfort level on stage comes from pausing and letting God come and make the decision as to where I should take the music. You can rely on your own talent, but musical talent alone has never healed or freed anyone,” said Gokey. He also said that before performing, he sat among the crowd and worshipped with Salvationists.

Gokey also talked about being enamored by Latin culture and having released songs in Spanish.  “I’m a white guy who speaks Spanish. I like who I am and my own culture, but I also know my culture so well that I get tired of it. I love learning about other cultures: Black, Spanish, Asian, all of them,” says Gokey. “Even if I sounded a little off while trying to learn Spanish, it’s okay. No one considers a child foolish when he’s learning to say his first words.”

God’s masterpiece

Senior Soldier Buhle Dlamini, a Salvationist born in South Africa during Apartheid, is today a motivational speaker, author of several books and a global business consultant. He has also met with African leaders such as President Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Dlamini, who is scheduled to bring the message at Sunday’s Ordination service, was interviewed by Lt. Colonels Raphael C. and Sandra J. Jackson, Greater New York divisional leaders.

“Growing up in a country where I was told I was lesser because of the color of my skin did affect me,” said Dlamini. “But it was scripture like Philippians 4:13 that became my foundation, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Those words tell me that it does not matter what is the color of my skin or what the system of my country says about it. I can do all things with God.”

 “Ephesians 2:10 also says that we are God’s workmanship. In some translations, it reads that we are God’s masterpiece. We cannot put a value on who we are as people,” said Dlamini.

 Dlamini says that an open discussion on racism should be encouraged in religious institutions. He admits that the current political climate has made these important discussions difficult, but they are crucial for creating strong bonds rather than merely superficial connections between Christians.  “That is a challenge, but as the Body of Christ, we need to try. When the Church is united, diverse, and inclusive, there is no stopping us on how we can impact the world for God.”

 Giving their all

An exciting 2022 Salvationist Star Search Talent Display inspired young soldiers to share their talents. For the first time, drum and bass guitar performances were added to the list of instruments that the soldiers could showcase.

“There’s a lot of participation for these instruments, and we were excited to do more categories this year,” says Doug Berry, director of contemporary music at Territorial Headquarters and controller for the drums showcase. “We added drums because drummers can practice with the bass players and guitar players in their corps. A worship band can be formed from just those three instruments.”

“The children have been calm and focused for their performances,” says Captain Josue Alarcon, corps officer at The Salvation Army Corps Community Center in Beacon, N.Y. “This can be a difficult time for emotions, and nervousness is normal. But the young people playing today are mature, love Christ, and have been giving their all,” says Alarcon, who also worked as the controller for the bass guitar showcase.

Before handing out the awards to the performers, Commissioner William A. Bamford III, territorial commander, came on stage and thanked the performers and the music teachers for sharing their talents with God.

“We are grateful that you are offering your gift to Jesus, and may you continue to use them to glorify our risen Savior,” said Bamford. “Hershey is still the sweetest place on earth, because we are all gathered here in God’s presence.”

The day concluded with an open invitation to a Food & Music Festival titled, “A Trip Around the Territory,” where visitors were treated to musical performances by various Salvation Army groups and regional food from the USA Eastern Territory.

Tomorrow’s Ordination, Commissioning, and Appointment services will culminate a memorable weekend of events.