Called to follow: A covenant testimony
By Betty Vesikula, Cadet–
The testimony of Cadet Betty Vesikula, given June 7 at the Covenant Service at the College for Officer Training at Crestmont.
On June 11, 2017, our Territorial Commander, Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, issued a challenge to every Salvationist of The Salvation Army West. A challenge that God knew all too well I needed to hear. A challenge that ignited into flames the desire God placed in my heart for full-time ministry. These were his words that God used to solidify once and for all, his calling over my life: “No one is exempt to this call to action.”
In Scripture, the word “call” is designated as the invitation of Jesus Christ for a person to be saved. In other words, you and I were called first to him. Called out of darkness and into his marvelous light. We were called to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. And out of that calling came the desire to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as an officer of The Salvation Army. Out of that calling, came the divine and appointed moment, where the 10 of us were welcomed as the Messengers of the Kingdom.
Now, I love the illustration of when Jesus walked along the shore of Galilee, calling Peter and Andrew to follow him. They had to leave behind their nets, leave their occupations to follow Jesus. And for three years while following Jesus, they sat at his feet, learning and growing in their knowledge of himth—there was a heart change as they prepared themselves for a life of full-time ministry. They moved from self-centered to others-centered. They became God focused with a desire to serve and lead.
With that, I am reminded that that is exactly what Jesus called us to do—leave behind all that we know and love, our occupations, the comfort of our homes and nice cars. Leave behind our lifestyles that were self-centered, to follow Christ. In responding through obedience to God’s call, we all entered the College for Officer Training. A place that helped prepare us, strengthen, stretch, challenge and grow us into a deeper understanding of God, his immense love and desire for us, as future officers.
I see my journey here has been that of the disciples, sitting and learning at the feet of Jesus. I am not the same person I was when I drove in that first day of check-in as a new cadet. God has done a mighty work in and through me these almost two years.
I walked in an unequipped, inexperienced, unqualified person. Today, I stand before you equipped with the authority given me by my savior to live to win souls and make others salvation the first purpose of my life.
I walked in fearful and unsure of what I had to offer; today, I stand before you assured and confident that I am called to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unloved and befriend those who have no friends.
Fellow Messengers, we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. So, what does that mean? “No one is exempt to this call.” We are created to do this. We are equipped to do this. We are called to do this.
It is my prayer that we will follow through with what Hebrews 12:2 says, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. I pray that we will never lose sight of this sacred and holy moment. And that in making our solemn covenant with him in his holy presence, each other’s and in the presence of our leaders, we will live our lives in love and service to Christ for all our days.