South Greets Messengers of the Gospel
By: Laura Poff
The Southern Territory welcomed the 33 Messengers of the Gospel to the Evangeline Booth College in a special ceremony held at the Atlanta Temple Corps, Saturday Sept. 10.
Following the entrance of the new cadets and training staff, several officials spoke directly to the students, offering words of support, guidance and encouragement.
Representing the soldiers of the Southern Territory, Territorial Corps Sergeant-Major John Reeves called for increased collaboration with local corps members.
“We need you to be our preachers, our pastors and our partners,” he said. “Trust in your soldiers. Enable and empower us. Work alongside us and allow us to work alongside you.”
Commissioner Don Bell, territorial commander, spoke on the symbolism of the flag as it was brought in by the session flagbearer Cadet Armando Acosta, mentioning that all four USA territories were welcoming their session mates across the nation that night.
“You were called by God out of your comfort zone and into Atlanta,” he said as one cadet family rose to discuss their journey from seeking a church to finding, and ultimately answering, their call.
“Two years ago, our family did not know The Salvation Army was a church,” Cadet Carmen Owens said as she told the story of how the movie Silver Bells introduced her daughter to The Salvation Army as a church and ultimately led them to it.
“Every opportunity we pursued came to a dead end until I surrendered, threw my hands up and said, ‘God, if you want me to move, you’re going to have to make it happen,’” Cadet Shane Owens said.
National Commander Commissioner David Jeffrey returned to the South to serve as the main speaker for the night. Reflecting on his own journey as a cadet and officer, Jeffrey affirmed the importance of staying true to their primary calling.
“Above all else, we are followers of Jesus Christ,” he said. “I can testify that God will be with you and he is faithful.”
He went on to address the significance and meaning of their session name and the duty they will have to follow through on it.
“You don’t have just any message,” he said. “The message that you have will save lives. It’s the most important message in the history of the world.”
He went on to briefly mention the current political climate that threatens to divide us.
“Our hope is not found in the Republican Party, our hope is not found in the Democratic Party,” he said. “Our hope is found in the Lord.”
In his final remarks, Commissioner Jeffrey pointed to the ultimate task the Messengers of Hope have accepted, the one they must spend their lives working to complete.
“God hasn’t asked you to spread a rumor,” he said. “If the gospel isn’t true, nothing else really matters. If the gospel is true, it’s the only thing that does.”