Tourists, onlookers, and workers in Chinatown witnessed the "March of Witness," as more than 250 members of the Salvation Army corps from all over San Francisco marched through the street, testifying that "Jesus is Christ" on Sunday.
Starting on Powell St. at the Chinatown corps building, they marched to Portsmouth Square, known as the heart of Chinatown, for an Open Air Meeting, a tradition for the Salvation Army, with the Army’s brass band playing and flags waving in the air by young children to senior citizens.
At the square under San Francisco's blazing sun at 2:30 p.m., Maj. Thomas Mui introduced the Salvation Army’s Open Air Meetings, both in English and Chinese, saying that this was how the Salvation Army started, and everyone was welcome to join them in hearing what they had to say.
Some of the Chinese who were already there remained on the benches playing their games, while other Chinese looked on with curiosity.
The opening song, "Blessed Assurance" was performed by Maj. Judy Smith with the Salvation Army's Tustin Ranch Band, followed with prayers by Maj. Andrew Lo, Capt. Peter Kim, Lt. Mario Ruiz, and Maj. Ron Toy from the many corps in San Francisco, and then the testimonies began.
Maj. Thomas Mui, who was leading the afternoon Meeting, also translated the English testimonies into Chinese, most of which were about how Jesus changed their lives and why it was important for others to know who Jesus is.
"When we have life testimonies it has a great impact because these are the experiences of people, that’s why it was important for me to interpret it in Chinese," Maj. Mui said who didn’t know whether the people present were listening, but added, "The word has been spread out."
The closing song, which was called the Song of Commitment, "I love to Tell the Story," sang by Maj. Judy Smith, concluded the hour long Meeting of tradition, worship, and testimonies.
After the Meeting, they marched back to the Powell St., with two large banners that read "His Truth Marching On" and "Onward Christian Soldiers," and ended with the song, "Amazing Grace," and a reception for the Salvation Army workers.
The Salvation Army started as a Christian mission through Open Air Meetings by William and Catherine Booth in 1865 in London, reaching out to the poor, distressed, and under-privileged, Maj. Mui said. "We help them come to Christ, come to the Lord."
During the Meeting, Major Joy Mui, Captain Ok Kim, Lt. Beatrice Ruiz and Captain Smith read the verse, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," taken from John 3:16 and read in their respective languages—Chinese, Korean, Spanish and English.
The Salvation Army corps that were present were the San Francisco Chinatown Corps, San Francisco's Adult Rehabilitation Center, Harbor Light Center, Korean Corps, Mission St. Corps, South San Francisco Corps, Church St. Corps, and Yerba Buena Asian American Corps.
The second passage that was read in the four different languages came from 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"