Be intentional; cultivate
Dan Jillett, corps sergeant major (CSM) of the Brockton, Mass., Corps and Intake Counselor at The Salvation Army Brockton Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), participated in the first Cultivate Young Adult online spiritual formation course. Dan spoke with SAconnects on lessons from the Cultivate program, such as how to pray intentionally and why we must break out of our comfort zones, as Jesus did.
Continue the work
The Cultivate program began as something you would expect to find in an online college or university course, but over time, it became smaller and more personal. We read a book called The Holy Longing: The Search for Christian Spirituality by Ronald Rolheiser. It was a unique perspective for all of us as Salvationists because the author is a Catholic monk. It was outside of our tradition, but I’m happy to listen to anyone who has something to say about God. The theme of his book applies to all Salvationists; we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in His world. Jesus died and rose for us; His job is done. It’s now up to each of us to continue His work.
Prayers have power
Cultivate helped me be more intentional in the way I pray. What it means to be intentional in our prayers is to know that when we pray, we fully realize the power that is in those prayers. I have seen prayer work, and seen that God has moved others in the form of doctors healing patients, and in people seeking recovery. Be intentional about those prayers, not just for yourself, but also for other people. Don’t be afraid to ask God to help people who need Him in life more than you do right now. This makes God happy.
Make your connection personal
I became close to the participants in Cultivate. The session lasted about nine months. During that time for each of us, life was going on. Many of us went through things that we discussed. I found myself being open with the group. Among other topics, we discussed how we each refer to God when we talk to Him. I told them what I called God, even though it was outside the norm. “Well, sometimes, when I talk to Him, I call God ‘dude’,” I said. It was something personal to me; years had passed since I used that word. I had heard one of my pastors say it during a sermon, and it stuck with me.
After I made my confession to the Cultivate group, the majority responded differently than I had expected. A few people were taken aback, but most people understood where I was coming from. They knew it was a term of love and respect, and it came from a personal place in me.
Get out of your comfort zone
I have always loved to write, but I felt it difficult to share my weekly Cultivate writing assignments. After I finally shared, I received some constructive criticism. I then realized that a big part of being a good disciple of Christ is getting out of one’s comfort zone.
Jesus sat with tax collectors and people whom He disagreed with, as well as with the sick and the poor. His commitment to inclusiveness caused politicians and the establishment to fear Him. It was abnormal for someone to leave his or her comfort zone, as Jesus did, to pray for and to love anyone and everyone. Get out of your comfort zone and break through the fear of the unknown, just like Jesus did.
Embrace the new, honor the old
At the end of the program, we gathered for a retreat in Pennsylvania. There we worshipped together, fasted, and visited the West Pittston Corps. Every year, the corps sponsors a canteen at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. We went with them to minister, hand out hot chocolate and cookies, share fellowship, and answer any questions people had regarding The Salvation Army.
While doing this, I noticed how the Cultivate program had taken us from being online to being on the frontline, back to the Salvation Army’s roots—as an effective street ministry. This is a healthy dynamic; God wants us to adapt to His changing world. But sometimes the rush to spread the message in modern ways can dilute the message itself. We need to always honor what has worked before.
interview by Hugo Bravo
— Cultivate is a ministry of The Salvation Army Eastern Territory’s Spiritual Life Development Department.
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