Messengers of the Gospel welcomed to CFOT
During the Welcome to Cadets events, September 8–9, audiences at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) in Suffern, N.Y., and at Centennial Memorial Temple (CMT) in Manhattan listened to representative speakers from among the 51–member “Messengers of the Gospel” session. Some listeners reacted to the message by praying at the mercy seat. Others stood on the platform to signal their commitment to become soldiers or officers in The Salvation Army.
At the CFOT, Major Richard López, territorial candidates secretary, underscored the Army’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.
“We thank God for bringing people from all these countries together for a single purpose—to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said López. (See sidebar).
Cadet Melissa Lowell from the Old Orchard Beach (Citadel), Maine, Corps, had waited for confirmation of her call to officership. Having had a plethora of father figures appear and then disappear from her life, the idea of trusting God as “Father” seemed impossible. “How could I tell people with confidence that God would never leave or forsake them if I truly didn’t believe it for myself?” she said.
When Melissa was a 4th grader, a classmate invited her to the Old Orchard Beach Citadel Corps Vacation Bible School program. “I knew I had found my home,” she said. “I found my safe place.”
Even during her tumultuous middle school and later high school days, the corps remained her balm in Gilead. “I could count on it to be my place of peace and goodness,” she said.
Then at Youth Councils, “God showed me how deep was His love through the sacrifice of Jesus,” she said. “That day, I gave my heart to the Lord.”
At Camp Sebago, Melissa found self–worth. Later, at a candidate’s seminar, she felt the call to fulltime ministry.
After seeing Cadet Jonathan Tirado’s video testimony, the audience responded with enthusiastic applause. Among them was Alonzo Hardy. Life had dealt him a bad hand. At 57, he was an ex–con, diagnosed with mental illness, unemployed, and living in a dangerous Brooklyn, N.Y., shelter.
“I felt like I was among the living dead,” he said. “It was like a graveyard where people, under the influence, would transform into creatures.”
Last year on Father’s Day, one such person brutally beat Hardy and left him to die. “He struck me from behind. I fell to my hands and knees. While I was down, he kicked me squarely in the chin as if my head was a football.” The impact fractured Hardy’s jaw on both sides. Unconscious, he fell across a bed.
The next day, he awoke in excruciating pain. “I had to push my jaw up with my hands and run to the hospital.” Police later arrested the man, reported the New York Daily News.
Following Hardy’s recovery, he volunteered at the Army’s Staten Island (Stapleton), N.Y., Corps. “On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we did pantry,” he said.
One day at the pantry, Hardy’s attacker walked in. Suddenly, everything Hardy had absorbed while volunteering quickly came to mind. “I had learned patience, mindfulness of the wants and needs of others, and to read Scripture,” he said. “ I had already prayed to God to take all fear away. I walked in the light of God. My life was in His hands.”
When Hardy looked into his attacker’s eyes, he saw dread. However, he also saw need. “He had no idea I’d be in the pantry. He wanted food for himself and his mother who lived nearby.”
Hardy gave him food. The man extended his hand and humbly asked, “No harm done?” Hardy’s response was, “No harm taken.”
At CMT, Cadet Tirado’s video inspired Hardy immensely. His fellow Stapleton Corps member’s message was powerful.
When Commissioner William A. Bamford, territorial commander, invited seekers to join him on the platform to become soldiers, Hardy made his way from the balcony to the Commander’s side. I feel I’m now part of the family of God, the body of Christ, Hardy thought. I feel the Holy Spirit in my heart. One day, I’m going to stand here—in uniform.
by Warren L. Maye
Messengers of the Gospel
|CADETS||51 (average age, 30)
and 4 cadet spouses
|MULTINATIONAL SESSION||US, Guyana, Haiti, Norway, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, UK|
|PREVIOUS OCCUPATIONS||hairstylist, administrative assistant, welder, assistant manager, intern, secretary, receptionist, youth
ministry coordinator, security, corps assistant, storehouse manager, medical biller, prison guard, event coordinator, English teacher, gardener, nurse, and others
12 children of officers
|DEDICATED IN THE SALVATION ARMY||24|