Relevents: Lieutenant Esther Cherubin
Lieutenant Esther Cherubin, corps officer at The Salvation Army Riverhead Corps in Riverhead, N.Y., talks about vocation ministry in Haiti, what waiting for an amusement park ride taught her about corps leadership, and what she gains when she gives.
In Ezekiel 34, God rebukes the “shepherds” (leaders) of Israel for neglecting their “flock” (the people). He scolds these leaders for taking care of only themselves. They did not properly nourish their flock, help the weak, bandage the injured, or look for the strays that had wandered off, leaving them to become food for wild animals. This is a step–by–step lesson for what we, as Salvationists, need to do for God’s flock. We must feed the people, clothe them, strengthen them, bandage them, seek the lost, and help save them. As people continue to suffer due to devastating natural disasters, we must bring salvation to them, both spiritually and physically. That’s what God is telling us to do.
Leaders Make the Future by Bob Johanssen is a book I read during my graduate program. As a lieutenant, I’ve gone back to it for leadership inspiration. One of the chapters titled “Dilemma Flipping,” talks about turning problems into exciting opportunities. Johanssen uses a metaphor of being an amusement park owner dealing with long lines at his rides. If your ride is a success, those lines are unavoidable, writes Johanssen. But a smart owner will flip that dilemma by creating diversions, such as playing music, displaying video monitors that show the ride in motion, and positioning fans so people can cool off as they wait. His ideas make the line bearable, and people return for a second ride. Changing negatives into positives is a crucial skill for a corps officer. I pay attention to the difficult aspects of running a corps and find ways to be more thoughtful and considerate to people I am serving.
I led a team to Haiti that, for almost two months, visited Salvation Army locations on the island. Corps life there is connected to the people. The Army’s compound has everything needed for the community. In some towns, corps serve as schools for children. At one corps, the front doors open like a storefront. Officers provide goods for anyone who needs them. One of the ministries that really excited me trained Salvationists in carpentry and other vocations. They take classes, graduate, and acquire skills that go a long way in a country like Haiti. They do work that I would expect the government to do. But, no need to hire contractors for these jobs—the Army is doing it, in Jesus’ name.
I just picked up my trombone again after having played it from age 11 to 18. When I went to college, I stopped practicing. But while training to become an officer, I began again. I was surprised at how much I remembered. I’m still working on my muscle memory. I hope that one day, I’ll use it in ministry and teach others how to play.
Giving is the ultimate standard of goodness. To give is the action that comes from love. Giving is the basis of John 3:16. God gave us His only Son to save us from our sins. I can always find something of myself to give to others. Whether it be my time, my attention, my talents, or my resources, there is always a sense of freedom in giving. It’s incorrect to think that, if I’m giving something, I must be losing and someone else is gaining. When I see it from the perspective of God’s Kingdom, I gain in blessings. It’s a kind of “Kingdom
economics.” When I give, I feel full with His love.
interview by Hugo Bravo