Messengers of Reconciliation launched
By: Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee
Arriving during the darkest days of the COVID pandemic, cadets of the Messengers of Reconciliation Session braved leaving homes, jobs and the safety of isolation to arrive at 1032 Metropolitan Parkway in Atlanta, beginning their training to become Salvation Army officers. Getting to training is a journey under the best of circumstances but these persevered and finished this initial segment of their life of service to God, His people and the Army.
The final steps in this process culminated with the Commissioning and Ordination Service on Sunday, June 5, 2022. Eleven cadets were commissioned as lieutenants, supplemented by three auxiliary captains who were promoted to the rank of captain. In presenting the Messengers of Reconciliation, Major Tom Louden, president of Evangeline Booth College and principal of the School for Officers’ Training, said, “I present to you fourteen who are on fire, sanctified, Blood and Fire officers who know God, know themselves, and know the mission of The Salvation Army. They are proclaimers of God’s Word, while living incarnationally and sacrificially for the salvation of the world through Jesus Christ. They are ready to do battle. They understand that The Salvation Army is not dependent upon a building or particular place. The Salvation Army is where they stand with the whosoever before them.”
Highlighting the varied paths taken to reach this moment, Cadets Rashad Poole, Ali Hamilton, Sam Mhasvi and Myranda Estudiante shared moving stories of God’s work in their lives. After reciting the Salvation Army doctrines, cadets and auxiliary captains to be commissioned came forward, knelt and received God’s blessing and a Scripture chosen for them by the territorial leaders, Commissioners Willis and Barbara Howell.
Mindful of not only the newly commissioned officers but the family, friends and Salvationists gathered, Commissioner Willis Howell engaged the crowd by dividing them between those who on cue would either shout out, “used to” or “but now.” This was entered into enthusiastically as the commissioner presented different life scenarios. Then he brought it into focus. He cited General Brian Peddle’s recent remarks to the General’s Consultative Council in which the General said, “For us the redemptive, restorative gospel is the main thing.” Howell then compared the expectations of those outside our ranks with this standard. “United Way will never come and give us money for this purpose. Community leaders and even our advisory boards will not ask, ‘How many are being saved? Became soldiers? Graduated from the ARC?’
“The gospel is the main thing. Above all else, we should be experts at sharing the gospel while being professional at other things. Our ultimate aim is to be the Good News people. It is wonderful that we are professional at sheltering people, with disaster work, with our social ministries but if we don’t rise up and leverage our expertise by sharing the gospel with them we have missed the main thing.
“The world does not need another well-run charity. While we can resemble that, our main persona must be that we are an Army of Salvation. We need to be experts at salvation. And to deepen, disciple in the faith soldiers who win others to Christ.”
Then the commissioner asked Salvationists to recite a portion of the Soldier’s Covenant: “I now call upon all present to witness that I enter into this covenant and sign these Articles of War of my own free will, convinced that the love of Christ, who died and now lives to save me, requires from me this devotion of my life to His service for the salvation of the whole world; and therefore do here declare my full determination, by God’s help, to be a true soldier of The Salvation Army.” The commissioner then challenged those present, “How are you fulfilling the declaration you made of your own free will?”
With the question posed, scores streamed to the front, kneeling in consecration in response to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
After a brief break, the celebration continued with a session entitled, “Rise Up and Go Forth!” Decidedly upbeat in all phases, the meeting opened with the song, “To Battle We Go.” A parade featured each session flag beginning with the Fearless Session in 1945 and ending with Messengers of Grace Session (2021), and where possible, members of that session serving as flag bearer. This was followed by the acknowledgement of officers who had been recognized for various levels of long service as well as those who had retired in the past year.
Hearkening back to a commissioning weekend practice of years past, the World Services gathering was once again included in the festivities. Reaching an unprecedented amount, the USA Southern Territory garnered $11,911,861 for the worldwide work of the Army.
Commissioner Barbara Howell in her charge to the cadets, made it clear that it was a test for all those listening. “Are you fired up? Packed up? Is the passion burning? We have to go, to be messengers and communicate the gospel of love. Even though it is an amazing message, that doesn’t make the task any easier. Not everyone wants to hear. But people need to hear it, see it, feel it. People are watching how we act. Our lives have to match our words. If it does, the impact could be massive.
“Before you share, make sure you feed your own soul. Guard your heart. Do not allow your busyness to squeeze out the time needed to keep company with our Lord. With God blessing our way, let’s not be nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible. Believe what others don’t believe – see through the lens of service. Inspire and produce red hot Salvationists who are committed to holy living. Ignite compassion where it doesn’t exist. Rekindle it where it has gone out.
“God is calling, ‘Salvation Army! Rise up! Like Lazarus, take off the grave clothes that have bound you.’”
With the challenge still ringing in their ears, the newest officers of the Southern Territory joined other Salvationists and friends who were streaming out with challenge to “Rise up!”