‘Ordinary people, extraordinary work’
Colonels Bamford welcomed“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Bamfords!” said Commissioner Barry C. Swanson, territorial commander. “They are back; they are here; and they will serve this territory in a wonderful way!”
A capacity crowd, which included delegates from this year’s Candidates Seminar Weekend, witnessed a warm and enthusiastic evening of music, drama, and pulpit ministry at Centennial Memorial Temple in New York City. The featured guests were Colonels William A. Bamford III and G. Lorraine Bamford, the newly appointed chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries.
Setting the tone for worship and providing reflective musical and dramatic ministries were the Greater New York Youth Band, the Greater New York Youth Chorus, and the Territorial Arts Ministries Team (TAM), as well as Phil Laeger on piano, who invited the audience to sing a medley of choruses and sacred hymns.
Commissioners Barry and Sue Swanson, territorial leaders, were conversational and engaging as they reintroduced the Bamfords to the territory. They had served for the past four years as chief secretary and territorial secretary for women’s ministries of the South America West Territory.
The Swansons recalled the Bamfords’ history in the East, pointing out that Colonel Bill was born in Philadelphia and Colonel Lorraine, in Boston. Before being appointed to South America, they had served in four Eastern divisions (as leaders in two of the divisions) while raising three children.
In expressing words of appreciation, Colonel Bill thanked his children, who he said had accepted and supported God’s call upon his life and the life of their mom.
Colonel Janice Howard, secretary for spiritual life development, put her arms around the Bamfords and prayed for God’s anointing upon their ministry. When Commissioner Barry Swanson once again encouraged everyone to show their appreciation for the Bamfords, the audience responded with a standing ovation.
Colonel Lorraine put the focus of the evening squarely on God when she said, “We thank you, but we are realists. We know that you’re not here to welcome us. You’re here to see Jesus and to worship Him.”
While reflecting on her time in South America West, Bamford thanked the Eastern Territory’s media team for live–streaming territorial events. Looking directly into a camera, she greeted, in Spanish, friends and colleagues in South America who were watching the festivities.
“I am honored to be a Salvation Army officer,” she said. “But, to be honest with you, I am not extraordinary.” Her next comment arrested everyone’s attention: “And nothing personal, but—neither are you.”
Reflecting on her childhood as “a timid little girl,” Bamford said, “We are ordinary in our own eyes and in the world’s eyes. But we are extraordinary in God’s eyes!” Quoting 2 Corinthians 4:7, she concluded, “We should never confuse God’s incomparable power with ourselves.”
Prior to delivering his message for the evening, Colonel Bill expressed deep appreciation to people who had sent letters during his four years in South America.
Bamford focused attention on ordinary individuals who became extraordinary, such as Nelson Mandela, Catherine Booth, and biblical giants Moses and Joshua.
Using examples from Matthew 4:18–22, Bamford said, “We need to be like these disciples. We need to be willing to listen and to obey and to follow God…. To the disciples, Jesus simply says, ‘Come, follow Me.’” Bamford continued, “You see, Jesus is seeking ordinary people to do extraordinary things—for Him.”
Bamford reflected on TAM’s dramatic presentation, which, based on the passage from Matthew, depicted Peter letting go of his net in obedience to Christ. Bamford rhetorically asked, “What do we need to let go of in order to be of service to the Lord? What is your ‘net’?”
Bamford, who had been a pharmacist prior to answering the call to officership, listed other “nets” that have the potential to hold people back from serving the Lord—people who, in that particular audience, were contemplating officership, employment, or soldiership in The Salvation Army. “Is it a dream home, possessions, or even family [that is] holding you back?” he asked. “You are already safe in His hands. And He wants to do something with you!”
In response to the message, many knelt at the mercy seat as the song “I’m in His Hands” gently filled the temple.
by Warren L. Maye