Candidates Seminar 2020 | Weekend Wrap-up
‘Put me in, I’m ready!’
Training principal challenges would-be officers
“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”—Isaiah 61:4.
There were a lot of puzzled looks when the would-be officers, employees, and volunteers attending Candidates Seminar 2020 were given small stones as they entered the College for Officer Training (CFOT) gym on opening night.
The object lesson’s purpose came into clearer focus when Lt. Colonel David Kelly, the CFOT’s training principal, discussed the calling of David, who would become king of Israel by age 30. Kelly asked, “So what happened between the time that he received his calling, and the time that calling was fulfilled? Specifically, how did he use that ‘in between’ time to prepare for the future?”
“You need to know because to a great extent, you are here exploring what God’s calling might be for your life,” Kelly said. “You have been called to something; I promise you that. You are called to something significant.”
Kelly said that the first thing the young shepherd boy did was seek God. Kelly drew an analogy by saying to his audience, “In the same way, you should become more like Jesus, and grow in your relationship with Him. This is foundational to any meaningful calling God will place upon your life in the future.
“I don’t know what God has next for you, but whatever that looks like, it will be better, more fulfilling and more fruitful if you have done the hard work of becoming a friend of God.”
Kelly said the second thing David did was prepare himself for whatever God had in store for him. David was, of course, good with a slingshot and also excelled at music.
“What skills are you intentionally developing that God will use for His glory? I’m probably on dangerous ground with a few of you, especially having passed out stones, but can I just encourage you to spend less time with video games and more time learning a new skill that God will use in ministry?
“Trust me, the world will not end if you spend less time on your phone.”
David also wanted in the game, Kelly said, drawing a parallel to a basketball player who wants to take the last shot in a close game.
“I don’t know what the future of the Army will be, but I know we need the next generation to lead us there…we need people like the cadets and delegates in this room who believe in our future ministry and believe enough in God’s faithfulness to be all the way in, in whatever role God calls you to,” Kelly said.
“We need people who will say: ‘Put me in coach, I’m ready. Put me in captain, I’m ready. Put me in major, I’m ready. Put me in, God, I’m ready.’
“And we don’t need any of you putting your heads down when we need someone to pray, or when we need someone to lead. We don’t need more soldiers who look the other way when we need a Sunday School teacher. We don’t need any more soldiers who act like those old dudes Statler and Waldorf on the Muppets; who love to comment on the work of others but stay on the balcony and never jump into the action.
“We need soldiers who are saying to their corps officer, “put me in, I’m ready and I’m available. We need soldiers saying to God, “put me in, Lord, I’m ready and I’m available. My question is, ‘Are you ready and are you available?’”
As the CFOT Band played “This Little Light of Mine,” Kelly urged the delegates to come forward, pray a prayer of commitment—such as “Put me in, Lord, I’m ready and I’m available”—and then drop their stone into a basket near the platform. Nearly every delegate came forward, and many prayed in groups.
by Robert Mitchell
A delicate balance
The Candidate Seminar’s Saturday “Round Robin Rotation” offered candidates an opportunity to learn about the life and responsibilities of a Salvation Army officer.
Majors Crista and Stewart Dalrymple said that although maintaining a healthy family life can be a challenge, being in ministry as husband and wife is also a special gift. “Our children came with us during kettles and toy pick-ups,” said Major Crista. “Today as adults, they fondly remember being part of these ministries.”
She compared handling family life to being a tightrope walker, whose key to success is maintaining a delicate balance. “If the walker leans too far left or right, he will fall. So, if we lean too far into our ministry and neglect our family or vice versa, we will also fall. You need to know when it is time to give one side special attention.”
Major Stewart said that, with any career, stress is inevitable. He reminded the attendees to take care spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. “Keep that relationship with God close and reach out to someone if you need help, whether it be a fellow cadet, an officer or a counselor.”
Am I worthy?
“Officership is a calling, not a vocation” explained Lt. Colonel Ruth Stoneburner. “It is not about your parents. We don’t become officers to please others.”
Stoneburner said the first expectation of an officer is to win souls for Christ. “This is done by making yourself available for God’s leading and being in contact with Him every single day.
“You must be in His presence at all times,” says Stoneburner. “A great preacher can win souls on Sunday, but his own daily walk can bring in more souls than time spent in the pulpit.”
“Even as they are ready to sign that convent, the question they most ask themselves is: Am I worthy?” says Stoneburner . “Yes, they are worthy, because God makes us worthy. He will equip you, as long as you surrender yourself to your calling.”
Majors Mike and Cathy Himes talked about pastoring. They said corps officers are at the frontline of The Salvation Army; it’s where they develop their love for others.
“Pastoris another word for shepherd,” explained Major Mike. “Bringing in and caring for souls is what keeps me up at night. There are still souls to bring in.”
Major Cathy said a pastor has 5 types of work to do: healing, sustaining, guiding, reconciling, and nurturing. A ministry will need each of these at some point, and a officer needs to be ready.
Moments of ministry
At every appointment, Major Susan and Thomas Hinzman reach out and get to know the people they frequent in the community, from the mayor of the town to the customers at their favorite dry cleaner.
“There’s really no secret to making yourself known in the community,” says Major Thomas. “Just love God, and love others as you love yourself. Get those 2 things right, and God will do the rest.”
“Moments of ministry will come when you least expect them,” says Major Susan. She shared a story of a woman who had come to buy a gift for the Angel Tree program. As she got to know the woman, Major Susan learned that this woman’s son had taken his life. “Even the programs you share with the community can have an impact that you may not be prepared for.”
Major Kathleen Muir said “ We are all seeking the same Jesus; we are on the same journey.” Muir also explained that unfortunately, there is no course that will magically teach one how to have a spiritual life. “The journey towards Him never ends. Sometimes you feel stuck, sometimes you coast along easily. It’s all a process.”
Muir said there are, however, disciplines that can help us. Studying scripture, fasting or solitude can help us develop a spiritual life. Her own discipline is to pray for each of her ten grandchildren when she goes to the gym. For each exercise machine she works out on, she prays for a grandchild, until she has prayed for all ten.
“Christ made us all different. We do not grow the same way or pace in our journey towards Him. But what makes us most alike is having a willing heart for Him.”
by Hugo Bravo & Warren L. Maye
On Sunday morning, Captain Pamela Maynor concluded Candidates Seminar 2020 by offering a thought–provoking and insightful study on the use of conversation as a catalyst for deep spiritual renewal and social change. She explained how such talks are effective because they are also intentional, unlikely, and intimate. Her sermon blended well with the theme of the weekend, which was “A Call To: Rebuild, Restore, Renew.”
Given how so many people in the room were contemplating and even struggling with the direction they should take their lives at this point, Maynor’s words were weighed carefully by the would–be officers for a potentially life–changing effect.
Although every year the Candidates Seminar clearly deleniates interest tracks designed to help people “Discover,” “Explore” or “Accept” the direction they would like to pursue, it can take several years of return visits before some people confidently make this life–altering decision.
A beautiful mix of traditional Salvation Army Cadet bandsmanship and contemporary praise & worship music by the CFOT worship band set the tone for a spiritually–enlightened atmosphere that permeated the College for Officer Training (CFOT) gymnasium. A multilingual prayer delivered by three cadets clearly reflected the CFOT’s intent toward inclusiveness.
Turn around, see them
Following Colonel Deslea A. Maxwell’s leading of the song “Who Is On The Lord’s Side?” a video testimony by Cadet Ismael Ortiz touched hearts as he described in great detail his struggle to find Christ in the midst of adversity. His testimony inspired applause and praises to the Lord.
Such stories continued as Maynor’s detailed and vivid descriptions of powerful conversations captured the imagination of everyone in the room. She drew them into each scenario, which was designed to illustrate how rich and powerful such dialogues can be.
Maynor took her audience back to a time in South Africa when she and 2 other Salvationist canvassed a community with the intent of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, door to door. “It was a rough neighborhood,” she began. “So, we decided to do an initial walk–through.” But while viewing one particular house, she felt the Holy Spirit stop her in her tracks.
The next day, she returned with her colleagues. Although she repeatedly knocked at the door, the house remained silent. Puzzled and disappointed, she walked away. Then again, the Holy Spirit spoke to her, saying, “turnaround.” At that moment, she saw a lone painter working outside of the house. The Holy Spirit told her to speak to the man even though he was “just a painter.”
As he listened to Maynor share her heartfelt testimony, tears flowed from his eyes. Astonished, she and her colleagues watched as he knelt on a concrete ground, bowed his head, and gave his life to Jesus Christ. “Jesus is calling us to look back and see those who need to hear the gospel,” she said.
On a personal note, Maynor told how a conversation commenced a courtship that led to her marriage. She also described how her conversation with Jesus Christ led to her finally accepting her call as an officer in The Salvation Army.
Maynor cited Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus as well as His talk with the woman at the well at pivotal moments in His ministry. She said the latter conversation was considered “the longest one Jesus had ever had with anyone.”
The impact of Maynor’s exchange with the audience was evident as many people responded to the call for prayer.
by Warren L. Maye