Coming in, going out
Describing the CFOT’s mission
“The thing that is so different about our training college from other ones is—there’s no gate,” said Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, territorial commander. His remarks concluded a weekend of memorable events as he addressed officers, delegates, and friends attending the Candidates Seminar’s Sunday morning holiness meeting. “You never come here and find closed gates.”
Campus security notwithstanding, Swanson said the appearance of openness signals to people, “No matter who they are, to come on in. We are not afraid of you. Let’s talk about what we do here.”
Swanson said the absence of gates also signals that, at the College for Officer Training, the mission is to go out. “We who are already here are ready to go, ready to move. We’re not here to stay. We’re here for a season. You learn, you train, you get ready, and you go.”
He said that Salvationists should have an open heart to others because God offers them an open kingdom, even “to strange people; people who are different from us.”
Swanson said that God’s nature is to reach out and to embrace people, rather than to reject them because they are different. “Our human instincts sometimes cause us to separate ourselves from the very people we are called to serve,” he said.
Although we typically live by rules designed to keep us comfortable and safe, Swanson asserted that Jesus wants Salvationists to put their ultimate expression of His love above other considerations. “His love comes first. We think in terms of my talents, my skills, and what can Salvation offer me? Rather than asking, ‘God, how can You use me?’”
Swanson, who said that the weekend was a “spiritual highlight” in his life, described God’s love as His remarkable distinction. He then invited people to come to the mercy seat and to pray.
In response to Swanson’s appeal, 60 people came to the platform seeking a deeper relationship with Christ, and 140 people came to become candidates for officership. “See how faithful God is?” he said with outstretched arms. ”A lot of people have come to this mercy seat. Don’t let this weekend go by without making your move.”
‘Time to act’
Swanson introduced Majors Linda and Richard Lopez to the crowd, recently appointed assistant candidates secretary and candidates secretary, respectively. Major Richard Lopez thanked divisional and territorial leadership for their support of the annual candidate recruitment campaign and then said to everyone in the room, “Now, it’s time to act upon what the Lord has told you to do.”
by Warren L. Maye
photography by Keri L. Shay