By Brendan Rees
After five years as corps officers for Cranbourne’s Salvation Army, Majors Robert and Vanessa Evans are moving on for an overseas adventure.
A farewell meeting was held at the Cranbourne Salvation Army on Sunday 5 November with Mayor Sam Aziz presenting the couple a certificate in recognition of their significant contribution to Cranbourne and the wider community.
The couple will be heading to the Solomon Islands to serve as officers in charge, overseeing the existing work in the capital, Honiara, and expanding the Salvation Army’s presence throughout the islands for the next two years.
“We’re really looking forward to it. There’s mixed emotions. We’re very sad to leave Cranbourne. We don’t feel our work here is finished yet but we’re very excited about the opportunities ahead,” Major Robert Evans said.
Major Evans said he and his wife Vanessa were thankful for the “tremendous support” they had received from the community.
“We see our appointment not just through our church but see our appointment to the community. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the relationships we’ve built in Cranbourne,” he said.
Major Evans said changing the lives of people from different backgrounds and cultures was highly rewarding.
“We’ve seen transformations happen through people getting jobs or overcoming addictions. We’ve seen people transform through dealing with a lot of emotional baggage. We’ve seen people transform through engaging in a faith experience where they’ve had an encounter with God which has changed their perspectives of themselves and the world around them.”
“We’ve played a significant part in helping some asylum seekers get their protection visas and integrate into Cranbourne and become productive parts of our community. That’s been really rewarding, that journey,” he said.
As Salvation Army officers for the past 21 years, the Evans said they had been privileged to have served in the communities of Noarlunga in South Australia, Horsham and Palmerston in Northern Territory.
“We’ve developed a passion of the last several years for cross-cultural ministry. So Cranbourne has been a fantastic environment to develop that passion,” Major Roberts said.
Councillor Amanda Stapledon said the couple would leave a “huge gap” in the community and be “dearly missed.”
“Their love of their church, love of their community and of people will be the legacy that they leave behind as will Robert’s expert Facebooking, blogging and online sermons.”