I was asked to share with you five things which make me the person that I am. God, by His Spirit, has dubbed them “constants” or invariables; not subject to change (Prov. 22:6). They convey less about me, and more about Himself, exclusively, and what He is doing in me.
1. Early exposure to God
I was born the first girl and the second of eight children in Speightstown, Barbados. We were christened at the local Methodist church. From early, our mother exposed us to the things of God. She taught us His Word and ways, and lived them herself. When we were old enough, we attended the Methodist Sunday school, and were also involved in church activities there.
In this setting, God’s plan for my life unfolded. When my vocal talent became apparent, I was invited to join the church choir as its youngest member. I rendered solos on special occasions, as requested.
During an evangelical campaign there, I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. I was 12 years old.
On Sunday afternoons, we attended the local Salvation Army’s Sunday school, our mother being a former officer. She was quite active in the junior and senior corps, before and after her officership.
After my conversion, I was drawn to The Salvation Army. One Sunday evening in company with my mother, I attended a Salvation Meeting and that was it for me; I wanted to go back. I just could not stay away, nor could I subdue the “pull.” Eventually I made a break with the Methodist church and was enrolled as a Salvation Army soldier.
I threw myself into activities at the Army with abandon—Corps Cadets, band, songsters, and the timbrel brigade. Music played an important role in my spiritual development. As was the case with Army Founder William Booth, the Methodist church and the Army were part and parcel of God’s plan for my life.
I learnt that salvation is an event as well as a process. Like a seed with all the parts of the plant that it will become as long as conditions are met, Salvation has within it the potential for growth into Christlikeness.
God is committed to completing the good work which He has started in me (Phil. 1:6). My duty as His child is to do what requires to ensure that it is brought to fruition.
2. God’s Call
I had no specific plans for my future. I just wanted my life to count for something, rather than merely drift along. I had commenced a career in teaching when God called me to full–time service in The Salvation Army. Back then I knew little about the Holy Spirit experientially, but on that Youth Sunday as I entered the hall for the Salvation Meeting, I felt a sudden weight on my head and shoulders. It startled me so much that I shared it with the bandmaster.
The Holy Spirit manifested His presence in the words of the first song, “Rise Up, O Youth, For Mighty Winds Are Stirring.” They fairly leapt out at me; and there were tears. In those moments I knew something unusual was happening but could not explain it. A very small voice conveyed the words, “full–time service.”
3. Commitment to God and Ministry
If I give my word, I have every intention of keeping it. This is the way God wants us to be because it is the way He is. “He who began a good work in [me] will be careful to complete it until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:6). I must be as committed to letting Him finish what He started.
I communicated this to my husband, Franklyn, very early in our marriage, and it influenced our ministry at all levels, in the Caribbean and beyond. When our children came along (Alison, Christine, and Dorothy), it became a shared commitment. The challenge lay in helping them understand why they were a part of it. We had to open their minds to the things of God and teach them to pray from early. When they were old enough, each was given a Bible and devotional book and encouraged to read daily. When we became leaders in the Australia East Territory, God prompted intense, systematic Bible study—a constant—to enable our family to successfully cope with the unique challenges of the appointment.
4. The Infilling and anointing of the Holy Spirit
When we became leaders of The Caribbean Territory, the Holy Spirit made another significant move. He infilled me; came into my space—my kitchen—and did it. My husband was visiting Cuba and I was preparing lunch in advance of attending the Holiness Meeting at the Kingston Central Corps in Jamaica. I was prompted to play one of the “Hallelujah” cassettes, which I did. As the music filled my kitchen, “I will bless the Lord, and give Him Glory,” I felt waves of ecstasy being poured in and out of my being. I could hardly stand; my knees were so weak. Praise for Jesus flowed out of my mouth. When I came to myself, my hands were in the air—cook spoon and all—and I stood before my stove in bewilderment, in awe, and in wonder.
I felt a freedom to worship my Lord, to witness about Him, and to minister boldly in His name. Open prayer was amazingly different, and with this anointing came the realization that I could not function effectively without it either. It had to be, has to be, a constant.
5. Operating in My Spiritual Gifts
The Holy Spirit continued to have His way in me. Just after our arrival in the Eastern Michigan Division, a desire to be all that God purposed for me was birthed. It was there that the gift of Tongues first manifested. I did not know how to respond; I knew nothing about it. So, I resisted. But the next day, soreness in the back of my tongue was enough to remind me. Much later, when the gift manifested again, I was more informed, and understood what was happening. In the quietness of our den, I yielded to the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit. In the process, I discovered the hidden power in praise and worship as a direct result of God “enthroning” Himself in it (Psalm 22:3).
Our ministry continued in Eastern Michigan. I felt so blessed by God’s presence and His impact on ministry to the women of the division. As retirement neared, God encouraged us with Psalm 121:3, “He will not suffer thy foot to be moved.” I thought of organizing teas for women with a focus on Bible study, but God had other plans for me. Ministry opportunities awaited at the then Detroit Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) at Fort Street, which would later become the Southeast Michigan ARC.
Following my husband’s passing, I was divinely directed to the Montclair Citadel, N.J. Corps, verbally, as well as in a dream. That was 11 years and 4 months ago. Ministry has been mainly prophetic; I receive messages from God, which I share with those for whom they are intended. I intercede for the sick and others with needs, personally and via the Yada Yada prayer group. I’m still singing in the choir, although I am no longer the youngest.
My desire remains to be and to have and to do all that God has purposed for me on this side of Heaven, operating always under the anointing of His Holy Spirit.
by Colonel Joan Thompson
Colonel Joan Thompson, commissioned in 1965, served with her husband Colonel Franklyn Thompson as administrators and as divisional leaders in the Caribbean Territory, the Australia East and Papua New Guinea Territory, the USA Eastern Territory, and the USA Central Territory.