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‘Let them say …’

Cadets honored at commencement

At the College for Officer Training commencement service on Commissioning Weekend, Commissioner Kenneth Hodder’s honest message to the Disciples of the Cross session was an encouragement and a warning.

Hodder, commander of the Kenya West Territory, said that as officers in ministry, they could expect to be misunderstood just as Jesus Christ was in His time. Hodder predicted that they would be mocked and even laughed at by their critics and pundits. “There will be days when your faith seems dry, empty, and wasted,” he said, but Hodder urged them to “commit to love.”

“I’m talking about the kind of love in which you are willing, indeed, joyfully prepared to give up everything for the sake of someone else,” Hodder said. “I’m talking about a love that goes beyond loving those who will love you back.

“Prepare to do what He did—to give everything that was within Him, to be broken, so that others would know the love of God.”

Hodder said the cadets would face sleepless nights helping people and living out a Gospel that most critics still consider a “scandal and an embarrassment.”

“Prepare to give up what the world calls ‘dignity’ in favor of the dignity of faithfulness,” Hodder said.

“When God looks you over, He won’t be looking for ranks or degrees or medals or positions, He’ll be looking for scars,” Hodder said. “Let them see love.” Sustained applause was the audience’s response inside the Great American Hall of Hershey Lodge.

Some might even call you a “loser,” Hodder continued.

“That’s all right,” he said. “It doesn’t matter because in the long run you’re going to discover that what they said you have lost wasn’t worth having in the first place.

“The Army and the world need people who will love like that. Unless you are willing to commit first and foremost to a life of broken love, nothing will change. No destiny will be altered. No lives transformed. No heavenly kingdom built up.”

However, if they are willing to commit, Hodder said, “Everything is possible.”

“Let them say that you’re out of touch. Let them say that you’re living in the past. Let them say that the Gospel has lost its power and its relevance. The opinion of those who misjudged Christ didn’t last. Any criticism that you might endure as His disciple won’t last either. Just give yourself fully, abandon yourself to a life of loving people in the name of Jesus Christ and everything else will take care of itself.”

Just before Hodder spoke, Commissioners Barry C. and E. Sue Swanson, the USA’s East’s territorial leaders, presented an associate’s degree in applied science to each cadet.

The ceremony also included the presentation of several academic awards.

The valedictorian of the Disciples of the Cross session, with a 3.97 grade–point average, was Cadet Allison Cornish, who also took home the awards for Bible Knowledge Achievement (145 out of 150 correct on the test) and Doctrine Knowledge Achievement. Cadet Jessica Rock, with a GPA of 3.85, was salutatorian.

The award for Bible Knowledge Improvement went to Cadet Shane Carter, who improved by 53 points. The Doctrine Knowledge Progress award went to cadets Jonathon Lewis and Steven Thomas.

Cornish, who delivered the valedictory address, recalled two years earlier when the cadets arrived at the College for Officer Training excited, nervous, and not quite sure what to expect.

“But we were certain of one thing: God’s faithfulness,” Cornish said. “The mentors and officers at CFOT taught the cadets academics and how to love God and cling close to Him.”

She pointed out how, in His faithfulness, God took an eclectic group of strangers and made them into one session.

“That faithfulness is not temporary,” Cornish said.

“God’s faithfulness is eternal. No matter where we are appointed, no matter what our responsibilities will encompass, God is and will always be faithful.”

by Robert Mitchell


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