Support, thoughts and prayers in France

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The Salvation Army in France grieves along with the country’s citizens after the Nov. 13 terror attacks across Paris.

The shooting at a bar in Rue de Charonne, which claimed the lives of 19 people, took place opposite the Palais de la Femme, a Salvation Army-managed facility for 280 women. Two bullets hit the Salvation Army building but no one inside was injured.

The psychologist employed by the Palais de la Femme attended the center on Saturday to provide reassurance and offer counseling to residents. Senior Salvation Army leaders visited the center Nov. 16 to speak to residents and participate with them in the time of remembrance that was marked across Europe.

“Messages of sympathy, through phone calls, emails, fax and letters, have come to us from Salvationists, Salvation Army leaders and friends, showing great support, thoughts and prayers,” said Colonel Daniel Naud, commander of The Salvation Army France and Belgium Territory.  “Since Friday night, people in Paris and its nearest suburbs where attacks and shootings took place are shocked and scared, especially when hearing ambulance and police sirens throughout the day and night…People are speechless in the face of such reckless cruelty.”

Chief Secretary Lt. Colonel Sylvie Arnal observed the time of remembrance at territorial headquarters (THQ) as some THQ employees have relatives who were killed or injured during the attacks.

The state of emergency declared by French President François Hollande remains in place, discouraging gatherings of people. For The Salvation Army, this means that opportunities for outreach or practical ministry are extremely limited.

Yet, Salvation Army centers and corps in Paris are available to listen and offer love to hurting, scared people.

Arnal said, “We are not shielded from other onslaughts, but we trust God with all our hearts, knowing that he is all-powerful.”

In a letter to The Salvation Army, General André Cox called on Salvationists to pray for political and national leaders across the world.

“These men and women need the faithful and continual prayers of the Church, regardless of our personal political persuasions,” Cox wrote in a call to prayer. “And I exhort you today to pray, deeply, for the grace of God and the personal ministry of the Holy Spirit, to be felt and experienced, in some manner, by the hundreds of family members personally devastated by the senseless loss of life in these hours. Death comes to all, but how it comes and in what circumstances, can add layers of added grief and pain. These circumstances, wherein people were simply enjoying life and friendship on a Friday night, would have seemed the most unlikely for the terrible carnage which took place.”

Finally, Cox called Salvationists to pray for the Church: “That we will have the courage and the wisdom to fulfill our mission in these times, a mission given by Christ to be both proclaimers of his gospel and also ministers of his grace and love to all. To all… regardless of their culture, race or creed. We are brothers and sisters of one humanity. One humanity created, and loved, by God.”

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