The Messengers of the Gospel session of cadets is finishing a two–year odyssey at the College for Officer Training (CFOT), where Cadet Dontay Gibson and his sessionmates have done the hard work necessary to become Salvation Army officers. The session will be commissioned in Hershey, Pa., June 17 with special ceremonies taking place during the weekend of June 15–17. Gibson shares some of his insights about the past two years.
What makes this session of cadets special? There is a sense of unity that coincides within this session that no disagreement or differences can break apart. We’re a quiet group, but outspoken when the time calls for it, humble but still courageous.
How has the session evolved? We went from strangers and acquaintances to family and friends, and we have grown in wisdom and demeanor.
What are some of your fondest memories at CFOT? I would say going to Puerto Rico and serving the various communities that were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the fall of 2017. I would also say working out in the morning with the guys in the weight room, just talking about life, music, school, and sports. Going to fellowship at various cadet apartments was always a good time, whether it was a birthday party, baby shower, get together, game night, or movie night.
What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them? My biggest challenge was allowing room for people to make mistakes or to accomplish a task differently than what I would do. There is room for grace and acknowledging that the way you accomplish a task isn’t necessarily the same way someone else would accomplish the same task. There is value in creativity and pioneering programs and ideas, but I’ve learned that you don’t have to be an expert in a particular field to have an innovative idea.
As your session goes into the world, how can it be effective and relevant in reaching today’s society? I believe our session is on the front lines when it comes to tech and social networking. Not to boast, but we just made it on the tech wagon, where most of us grew up with cellphones and internet access. But there is some value in the fact that we also knew life before today’s tech and internet.
What impact do you think this session will make for Christ? Considering our name is The Messengers of the Gospel, we’ll serve alongside our brothers and sisters in the faith by spreading the good news of our risen Savior. We hope to take part in reaching the earth with the Gospel. Once that happens, the end will come, so we have work to do. God gave His message to His children. We just have to share it with people. They will only have to believe to become His children as well.
When you came to CFOT, you cited Romans 1:16 as your life verse. Why? Has your vision changed? When I got saved Oct. 5, 2012, I had an hour–long discussion with God regarding His plan for my life. He knew my heart. I had to do ministry fulltime, 100 percent. I couldn’t work in the secular world while pastoring on the side. For me, secular and ministry had to be one and the same. It had to be explicit and in your face. God suggested I join The Salvation Army where I could serve fulltime in ministry and never be ashamed of the Gospel. So this verse is a declaration of what I believe is a way of life for me.
How have you changed while serving as session president? It may sound strange, but I believe being in leadership enhances traits that are already there, whether good or bad. If you’re organized, then you’ll be more organized. If you’re prideful, you’ll be more prideful. In my case, I knew my weaknesses and strengths. I worked on my weaknesses more so than I normally had to, which in turn, working on my downfalls has become one of my strengths.
What are you and your sessionmates looking forward to during Commissioning Weekend? Graduation, ordination, receiving our appointments, and receiving our appointments. Did I mention receiving our appointments? Also, fellowship with family and friends, eating Hershey’s chocolates, and—no more homework … for now!!
Interview by Robert Mitchell
Watch Cadet Gibson along with his sessionmates during their commissioning ceremony on June 17 @ saconnects.org/live.