In Remembrance of Lt. Colonel Lyell M. Rader: The Salvation Army’s George Fox
Lt. Colonel Lyell Rader (1939-2018) was a gift from God to me so that I would be shown a clear path of how I should follow Christ as His servant. God brought him to me at the embryonic period where I was entering as a cadet to become a Salvation Army officer in 1994.
As Samuel Logan Brengle portrayed “Saint Francis of Assisi” as the “thirteen-century Salvationist,” I will remember Colonel Lylle Rader as the Salvation Army’s George Fox, the Father of Quaker movement. In the history of Christian spirituality, George Fox is considered a symbolic and prophetic figure who tirelessly strived to seek the truth of the Gospel. He emphasized the virtue of silence as a distinctive spiritual medium for waiting on God and a faithful observance of the life of simplicity (including the simplistic non-liturgical worship form) which is anchored to his non-sacramentalism. Ultimately, Fox purposefully sought and obeyed “the light of Christ” in the path of his Christian journey which is only bestowed into the believer’s humble and obedient heart through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The various aspects of visible and invisible life lessons and influences of Colonel Rader’s Christ-like character and teachings enshrine my heart in the same notable aspects of George Fox’s legacy.
As a beloved teacher and devoted life learner, Lt. Colonel Lyell helped me to affirm that teaching is not a mechanical practice of conveying or transferring certain information or competent knowledge into the intellectual pouch of the students. Rather, for him, teaching was the whole process of integrated learning activity for transforming the student’s mind and attitude based on the teacher’s living example as one who sought “the light of Christ,” which is God’s gift for fulfilling the purpose of life as God’s children.
I still vividly remember how Colonel Rader led our Old Testament class. His signature way of approaching his students was always consistent. We the students, as community of learners anticipated to receive warm and yet deeply intellectual and spiritually inspirational insights. Every time he proceeded to dive into the main lesson or agenda, Colonel Rader began the class with the time of prayerful meditation in silence followed by a devotional poem from a variety of inspirational sources. And, this unique way of his spiritual exercise and guidance became a valuable teaching and blessing for me and many other cadets of understanding the significant practice of waiting on God for His presence in our daily walk of faith.
Although, I cannot properly describe the treasurable life experience of Colonel Lyell Rader’s service as a missionary in Sri Lanka for 13 years, I have witnessed his missionary spirit which was demonstrated by his character throughout the entire period of my Training course. Among many respectful teaching staff at the Training College during my session, including Commissioners William and Marilyn Francis, the close moments I had with Colonel Rader was always admirable, comforting and learning moments.
Even though I was a foreigner living in America as an immigrant who was immature and undisciplined in many aspects at that season of my life, Colonel Rader always listened to my stories with sparkling smile and accepted and embraced me with genuine openness and love which are essential virtue for every God’s mission workers. Truly, Colonel Rader’s uncommon way of laying his dead body in the casket that was made from undecorated and ordinary bamboo sheath symbolizes Colonel Rader’s Christ-like humble character and his missionary admiration for culturally embodied Christian practice of living the life of simplicity. The message I have received at his viewing through this reflective and humble display of returning to his eternal home boldly confirmed to me again why I am so likely to compare him as the Salvation Army’s George Fox.
In my final words of remembrance for Lt. Colonel Lyell Rader Jr., I want to heed his own words for understanding the unshakable principle of Salvationism. He advocated this belief as God’s missionary himself that “our personal holiness may be the first thing, but it is not the main thing. That is the Missio Dei, the Mission of God. And the fulfilment of his mission is his own glory!”
May the Spirit of God’ loving comfort and peace be abundantly bestow upon Colonel Rader’s beloved family, especially Colonel Elaine Rader, her four children and precious grandchildren.
written by Major Young Sung Kim, Ambassador for Holiness, Spiritual Life Development Department, USA East