In February 2011, years of planning and investigation of the feasibility of The Salvation Army in the Solomon Islands culminated in Major Soddy Maraga from Papua New Guinea conducting an opening service in Honiara, which paved the way for the official launch of Honiara Corps in November the same year. Twenty-one soldiers were enrolled and three local officers commissioned. Ten years later, The Salvation Army now has nine churches and one outpost spread across the Solomon Islands District, including: Honiara Corps and Burns Creek Outpost (Guadalcanal Province), Gateway Corps and Kafomauri New Opening (North Malaita, Malaita Province), Moscom Fellowship (East Areare, Malaita Province), Ramah Fellowship and Rauai Fellowship (West Kwara’ae, Malaita Province), Ngalifalisi New Opening (Fataleka, Malaita Province), Fouele New Opening (South Malaita, Malaita Province), Munda New Opening (New Georgia, Western Province). In addition to these congregations, there are 17 missions, representing villages that have invited The Salvation Army to commence in their communities.
The integral mission of The Salvation Army in the Solomon Islands has seen the establishment and growth of other mission initiatives in response to identified community needs. A coconut oil plant, in partnership with Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands, was established at Gateway Corps in North Malaita, which provides local employment, revenue for coconut farmers and a sustainable source of income for the Solomon Islands District through the production and sale of organic virgin coconut oil. An Emergency Services team is active in Honiara, which provided catering for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force during the 2019 National General Election, food relief to 790 families in Burns Creek after Cyclone Harold hit in 2020, catering for the Biosecurity Emergency Coordination Centre in 2020/21, and is currently supporting the Livelihood Sector of the National Disaster Management Office during the recent COVID-19 outbreak. “Learning Spaces” are being established in village churches to offer literacy and other informal learning opportunities for children who have dropped out of the educational system and for women who have had little or no education opportunities. A “School Fees Loan Program” was set up to help vulnerable parents “keep kids in school longer.” Meanwhile, a “Reusable Sanitary Kit Project” was handed over to The Salvation Army by a group of expat women to alleviate period poverty in the Solomon Islands. Wide community networks are being nurtured that have opened the door for The Salvation Army to participate in developing resources alongside World Vision to equip churches to change cultural attitudes towards gender-based violence.
There are now 280 Senior Soldiers and 63 Junior Soldiers actively serving in the Solomon Islands, with five Envoys and two Auxiliary Captains appointed to various roles to help lead this mission growth. We are excited about three candidate couples preparing to enter the Officer Training College. In addition, the appointment of area officers to Malaita Province and Western Province has boosted the capacity of the district team to manage and sustain the rapidly expanding presence and impact of The Salvation Army. The district team meets weekly to coordinate mission activities, leadership development and financial management in alignment with the Solomon Islands District Mission Development Strategy.
Upon their appointment to the Solomon Islands in 2017, Majors Robert and Vanessa Evans devised a mission development strategy that incorporated the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), the Apostle Paul’s leadership approach (Ephesians 4:11-13), and missiologist Henry Venn’s three-self Indigenous Church model (Self-Governing, Self-Supporting, Self-Propagating). Their mission development strategy centers on three key priorities:
- MISSION PARTNERSHIPS – Develop Future Leaders (Self-Governing)
The Salvation Army Solomon Islands District is actively identifying and training indigenous leaders to equip them for mission and ministry. These emerging leaders are provided applicable training opportunities to develop their character, increase their competence and align them with the organizational culture of The Salvation Army.
- MISSION RESOURCES – Develop Financial Sustainability (Self-Supporting)
The Salvation Army Solomon Islands District is actively seeking to develop mission resources that will financially support existing ministry activities and fund future mission initiatives. These mission resources are being developed by identifying and utilizing the gifts and abilities of Salvationists that have the potential to stimulate income generating opportunities in the local marketplace and reach a wider audience through neighboring Salvation Army territories.
- MISSION GROWTH – Develop Further Ministries (Self-Propagating)
The Salvation Army Solomon Islands District is actively seeking mission opportunities to expand the presence and impact of The Salvation Army beyond Honiara into surrounding villages and provinces. This mission growth is being supported by area officers/leaders who identify and respond to local evangelical pathways where God is already at work and the presence of The Salvation Army is invited by villages or initiated by existing village churches.
The theme for the Tenth Anniversary Weekend in November 2021 was “Greater Things,” celebrating the extraordinary journey so far and casting a vision that “you will see greater things than that” (John 1:50). It is based on our firm conviction that there are even “Greater Things” still to be done in the Solomon Islands through the active and expanding presence of The Salvation Army. To this end, the district team envisions new openings in each of the nine provinces, with every church becoming a learning space for integral mission, led by well-trained indigenous leadership, and financially sustained by a social enterprise in each location. The Salvation Army is also exploring the challenges of human trafficking and modern-day slavery and drug and alcohol addiction, where there is a notable absence of church engagement. The District Officers are networking with other community organizations and NGO’s to identify how The Salvation Army might participate in these mission spaces in the future.
In all of the mission growth of the past ten years and the mission opportunities looking towards the next ten years, it is clearly evident that God is at work in guiding the growth and development of The Salvation Army in the Solomon Islands.