SSC Sends Young Adults Into Global Mission Field
By: Kristin Mudge
For the first time in three years due to global COVID restrictions, three teams, each composed of four young adults, were launched into the mission field this summer through the USA Southern Territory’s Salvationist Service Corps (SSC) program. One team travelled to Jamaica, another flew to Japan, and the final team served in our own territory in the Florida division. Each group spent six weeks ministering and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
During their launch at Commissioning in June, territorial youth secretary Major Tim Gilliam declared, “Our young adults are inspired. They are anointed to do great things for the Kingdom. They are prepared to go beyond their comfort zone and beyond their borders to spread the revival fire and to evangelize and disciple the whosoever.”
Deborah Ensley from Team Japan describes SSC: “You put your life on hold to go minister the Word of God to people who haven’t heard much of it or have heard a lot but just need help… You basically just go on a ministry walk with Jesus for six weeks.” Gerardo Maldonado adds, “I would explain it as a life changing experience. So, it’s mission work. You’re out there changing other peoples’ lives, but at the same time they’re changing yours.”
Team Japan, made up of Gerardo Maldonado (co-leader, TX), Gracie Parrish (co-leader, KT), Ke’olani Perez (NSC), and Deborah Ensley (NSC), flew across the world to serve where they did not even speak the language. They served in many cities all over the country including Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Osaka. Deborah tells us, “A lot of the things we got to do were ministering with children. So we went to elementary schools, we got to go to kids’ festivals… We got to experience traveling to some of the elderly homes, some children’s homes as well. So, we got to do a little bit of everything.” Gerardo adds that they did some street ministry where they went out and prayed for people. “I thought when we showed up that we were just going to be in the trenches. I thought we were going to be out there just struggling, sweating, preaching in the streets every single day.” When he discovered that most of their work would be with kids, he admits that he was a little disappointed. “I was like… there’s not much we can do; they’re just kids. But, man, I was completely wrong. The kids were such a blessing, the lessons that they taught me… is something that I cherish in my heart, and I feel like I’m going to be learning from that for the rest of my life.”
Gracie says of her experience: “It showed me how deep faith can be. Going overseas–I know faith, and I know how deep it can be for some people. But meeting the officers and just being totally involved with them, I just noticed how deep faith can really be. They’re all in for God and all in for being hands-on with their community, with their country, just trying their best to spread the gospel.”
Team Florida, or the “Sunshine Crew”, had the opportunity to see what intentional service can be like in our own backyard in St. Petersburg. The team—Nathan Roberts (co-leader, PMC), Caroline Brummer (co-leader, TX), Markel Fields (ALM), and Carla Moore (NSC)—split their time between the Sallie House for foster children, the Boys and Girls Club, the Children’s Village, the homeless shelter, and even spent a week at Camp Keystone as counselors.
As many of the children they worked with were from The Salvation Army’s programs for foster children, the team experienced many challenges, but they also learned a lot about the “ministry of presence”. Caleb Louden, the territorial youth Character Building and camp program director and SSC liaison explains, “The ministry of presence … can be the most powerful kind of ministry. It’s just being there for people when they need someone to listen to them and show them that they’re seen and loved.”
Caroline shared that one of the most impactful moments of the summer for her happened on the very last day. “We had two girls; I wouldn’t say ‘problem’, but they were definitely troubled just from what they are going through.” She explained that one of these girls had even declared that she was an atheist and really did not care what the team had to say to her about Jesus. On their final day, the team was not scheduled to go to church, but they decided that they had the time and felt like they should attend. “So, we went to church on Sunday. And at the very end when it was the time of commitment, both those girls… asked [us] to go to the altar and just pray with them.”
Caroline says, “[SSC] personally impacted me by being able to grow my relationship with God and grow my leadership skills. Since I’m called to be an officer in The Salvation Army, it gave me an opportunity to be a leader of a team and definitely just grow myself spiritually.”
Team Jamaica—Emily Horton (co-leader, KT), Josiah Outerbridge (co-leader, TX), Destiny Stephens (FL), and Jacky Orozco (TX)—spent their six weeks on a Salvation Army compound in Kingston, working with the School for the Blind, the Francis Ham elderly home, The Nest children’s home, and the Havendale Corps. They did a wide variety of activities from gardening, painting, and leading devotions to fellowshipping with children, officers, and locals. They were even able to experience Jamaica’s Commissioning. Jacky tells us that though it felt much smaller than our Southern Territorial Commissioning, it was inspiring to see that God is calling people from other places in the world.
Destiny tells us that about halfway through the summer she saw a huge “God moment”. “We were at church, and one of the kids came up to me and asked me to go pray with her. And so, I went and prayed with her. But I asked was there anything specific, and she just said that she really missed her family. She was one of the children in the children’s home. And so, I prayed that if it was God’s will that her family would come and visit her. And I asked her how long it had been since the last visit. And she said it had been two years.” A couple of weeks later the girl asked Destiny to pray with her again. “And later that day… there was a guy there with… her and her sister, and I said, ‘Who is this?’ And she said, ‘Miss, it’s my uncle.’ And she gave me the biggest smile. And it was just the sweetest moment ever. And I was like, wow, that was really God.”
Emily says that SSC has impacted her life, “just with my walk with Jesus and… my walk with myself, learning that I am capable of doing many things. And learning to lean on God, more than I have in my regular life and continuing that even coming back.”
Many of the team members have much to say to anyone considering participating in SSC in the future. Gerardo says, “This is for everybody. I feel like everyone should apply. There’s no, ‘maybe I’m new to The Salvation Army,’ or, ‘I’m too old,’ ‘I’m too young,’ ‘I don’t have enough experience.’ No, this is for everybody.” Destiny says, “There’s so much opportunity for ministry, but also personal growth.” Nathan tells us, “If you’re really into leading and being a disciple and being a person that everybody looks up to, this is the thing for you. This changes lives… SSC will change your life.”
If you or someone you know is interested in applying for Salvationist Service Corps 2024, click here for more information.