Charge to the Disciples of the Cross
By Check Yee, Lt. Colonel –
My dear lieutenants of the Disciples of the Cross session, it is an extreme honor for me to share with you what is in my heart on this very happy and important occasion.
Congratulations to you for your completion of your training as Salvation Army officers. But of course we all know learning is a lifelong process; there is still a lot to learn. The Bible tells us we never lean on our own understanding. But in all things, we acknowledge God because his way is better. His thoughts are better. He is above all of us.
You have just been commissioned and ordained this morning as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You are blessed people because you have been called by the one who said, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and appoint you to go and bear fruit. For without me, you can do nothing.”
It has been a wonderful three days with glorious events! How can you not love the Army’s style? How can you not love the Army’s organization, the uniqueness of everything? This is why I fell in love with the Army when I was only 21 years old.
Now we come to this final meeting, and I can sense the momentum building up. But after today, you are going to be sent out into the communities into the “global village.” You’re going to meet people of all cultures and as you walk the streets and alleys in a city where you’ve never been before, you may even hear a language that is other than your own. But this is your city.
From this moment on, you will never be the same, because you are chosen. Therefore you are blessed.
Yesterday I attended a very unique meeting. A person attends this kind of a meeting only once in their lifetime. It was the 55th reunion of our “Pioneers” session. Our ages range from 75-85 years old. I happen to be the big brother. We were there around the breakfast table, not only to rejoice in our fellowship, but also to renew our dedication from long ago.
We will never forget the morning of our covenant ceremony where, under our session flag, we sang, “I am in his hands. Whatever the future holds, I am in his hands.” Then through the decades our God, my God, turned my future into the present, the present became the past, until now, and God is still with us.
Fifty-five years ago, a few weeks before my commissioning, I was called into the office for an interview with the training principal, our beloved Colonel Harry Larsen. He said in his charming, baritone voice, “Cadet Yee, I have looked at your report. You don’t seem to be too musically inclined. You don’t play in the band. You don’t play instruments of any kind.” I sat so nervously before him. It seemed like I had to pack up and go home. I might not make it to commissioning.
However, after a pause, Colonel Larsen said, “Nevertheless, you can always love people.” I answered, “Yes, Colonel, I will. I do. I must.” So with this mandate, I was ordained and commissioned as a probationary lieutenant, without a star on my epaulet.
“Love people.” But what is love? It is a word we speak about every day, but sometimes we see people abuse the essence of love.
As a Salvation Army officer, love to me is what William Booth said to his son, Bramwell, regarding the homeless under the London Bridge, “Go, and do something. Bramwell, do something.” This is what love is all about.
I like The Salvation Army’s slogan from the 1960’s: “People are our business.” Isn’t it nice? People are our business. Technology does not produce love. We do.
Now I was ready to come to training college. My corps officer accompanied me to the train station. He said a lot of things while we walked, but I only remember the very last thing he said to me, “Check, be faithful. Be faithful.” So throughout all my officer life, I never dared to forget the words of my training principal, “Love people,” and that of my corps officer, “Be faithful.”
So now time passed by quickly, and I was preparing for my retirement. I phoned my former corps officer to invite him to my retirement events. His wife said, “Check, he cannot talk to you now because he is dying of cancer. Do you have anything to tell the Brigadier?” I said to her, “Yes, please tell him, ‘Check Yee has been faithful till the very end.’” The brigadier’s wife answered, “I will tell him. I think he will die with a smile on his face.”
The Salvation Army has a God-honoring, glorious heritage in Christendom: Unique, sometimes peculiar. In God’s boundless ocean, boundless salvation and boundless mercy, we can visualize the untold multitudes throughout the decades who found forgiveness when they had almost drowned to the bottom. For 150 years, thousands of officers and soldiers overcame various forms of obstacles, marching as to war, even some dying unto martyrdom. They paved the way for you and me to walk on and follow.
My dear lieutenants, you have proclaimed in public that you will be Disciples of the Cross. I’d like to give you an old chorus.
“I have decided to follow Jesus,
No turning back, no turning back.
The cross before me, the world behind me
No turning back, no turning back.”
So may this be your own song, as you step into your new life.
Now the baton is passed on to you. Remember, people are your business. Love them and be faithful. How can we ever forget the people coming to the foot of the cross last night? I cannot forget. They are your people. They are your business.
Your credential is a B.A. – “Born Again.”
Your endorsement is the Resurrected Christ.
Your weapon is the Bible.
Your testimony is your uniform. Wear it right, correctly.
Your power is prayer.
Your banner is love.
Your song is joy unspeakable. I can guarantee you, and sometimes with tears.
Your sacrament is Holy Life.
Your baptism is the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Your communion is the bread of Life and the Living Water.
Your altar at home or anywhere is the Mercy Seat.
Your theology is Christianity in action.
Your password is the resounding “Blood and Fire.”
Your credit rating is your accountability.
Your supply is God’s grace.
Love People. Be faithful.
God bless the Lieutenants.
God bless The Salvation Army.