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Enrolment avalanche hits Cairns Corps


Soldiership enrolment at Cairns Corps on 28 May (from left) Major Ben Johnson, Marie Johnson, Philip Warr, Esther Gikundiro, Lofena Korua, Francine Ikireza, Sorange Perusi and Claudine Nantebuka.

By CLIFF WORTHING

A lot of people are wanting to call Cairns Corps home, according to Corps Officer Major Ben Johnson.


Corps membership has recently grown by 21, including 13 senior soldiers and eight adherents, who were enrolled in three separate ceremonies. It started on 19 March when six soldiers were enrolled. The eight adherents were enrolled on Easter Sunday (9 April), and then another seven soldiers joined the ranks on Pentecost Sunday (28 May).

“Seeing fresh, young, smiling faces in crisp new uniforms brings a tear to the eye,” Ben said. “Half our new soldiers are teenagers, and they are so fired up!”


The rush of enrolments is a product of four years of intentional mission strategy by the corps, especially with the local refugee population. About 100 people from refugee backgrounds attend the corps weekly, which is about half the congregation.


Senior soldiership enrolment on 19 March (from left) Major Ben Johnson, Tahlia Johnson (front), Kimazi Heretier (back), Tumayini Munguyiko, Joseph, Odette Nyiramirimo, Patrick Mugisha, Major Ragana Gumuna.

“We have helped our refugees slowly integrate into community and the corps by providing a space for music, culture and food,” Ben said. “They want a place to belong, then a reason to believe, which then eventually leads to change in behaviour. It’s really important for us to get the order and process right.”


The corps’ Just Brass group has about 23 participants, mostly refugees. Most of them have progressed to attending the corps youth group or Kids Zone and worship services.


“Our approach is to invest in the youth and children, and the parents see the value in what we do,” Ben said. “It’s intentional. It’s not rocket science, and it’s something that is working!”


The corps understands they need to incorporate a trauma-informed approach to their engagement with refugees. Many have experienced family violence, sexual assaults, and sometimes physical mutilation through the horrors of war.


Adherents enrolled on 9 April (from left) Jacquline Macomi, Alfonze Nsengiyaremye, Shrahon Gazmer, Abishek Gazmere, Rodha Rasaily, Jupi Biswa.

“There is a whole lot of heartache and lots of trauma in their stories,” Ben said. “Even though they can now enjoy freedom, the scars are still there even though some have experienced miraculous healing.”


Creating an opportunity to worship and serve has certainly paid dividends for the corps. “They have really brought innovation and energy into the Cairns community and into our corps,” Ben said.

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