Commissioning: ‘May we go and make disciples’
By Paul Chisholm, Cadet–
Looking back at my life, I can see God drawing me to him. Several times when I was growing up, people tried to introduce me to Christ—but I had other ideas of how I was supposed to live. After years of addiction, incarceration, destruction and pain, God brought me to a place where I could finally stop running and give my life to him.
The consequences of my actions piled up—the most impactful was my 2-month-old daughter being taken from me and put into foster care. The county officials told me I had until she turned 1-year-old to get my life together or she would be put up for adoption. I was physically tired, emotionally bankrupt and spiritually dead.
I walked into the doors of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) broken, with nothing to give, and the Army said it had a place for me. The Army believes that it is called to help with a heart to God and hand to man. The Army uses a holistic approach, helping you physically, emotionally, spiritually. If it weren’t for this, I would not be standing before you today.
The gospel was presented in a way I could understand, and I accepted Christ into my life, kneeling and sobbing on the chapel floor at the Canoga Park, California, ARC. Wow, did my life ever change from that moment on. The person I was no longer existed; a transformation occurred as I became a new creation in Christ. The Holy Spirit was at work, changing me from the inside out, changing the way I thought, the way I talked, and even the way I carried myself.
I entered into a discipleship relationship with the late Envoy Jerry Bloom, a man who exhibited Christ in every aspect of his life. A man who taught me what discipleship was all about: a relationship with another person where Christ is in the center. A man who walked alongside me every step of the way, through completion of the program, court dates, regaining custody of my daughter, through the rebuilding of the relationships I had destroyed, becoming a soldier with the Army, and becoming an accepted candidate. Until a few short weeks ago, when the Lord took him home, he was a phone call away, to pray for me, encourage me, and lovingly correct me when necessary. I believe we all need a Jerry Bloom in our lives. Now I get to be sent out and be one to someone else.
The lessons that God taught me while here at the College for Officer Training have been numerous. But the lesson God most imprinted on my heart was the need for discipleship. Discipleship has helped me grow in my relationship with the Lord. God knew I needed someone to hold me accountable and to continue to stretch me. It’s amazing when you pray and ask God to send you someone to help you grow in your spiritual journey, that he sends just the right person to disciple you. In my case, God blessed me with Major Nigel Cross. I thank God every day for not letting me do this on my own. Through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, and the guidance of my discipler, I was able to walk, sometimes fall, but most importantly get back up with dignity. I made some mistakes along the way, but God continues to say he’s not done with me yet. The Holy Spirit continues to work on me. Like the refiner’s fire, all my impurities continue to come to the surface but God so graciously removes them as I learn to live each day trying to be more like Christ.
In Mathew 28:18-20, Jesus says this when commissioning his disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Tomorrow, my session mates and I will be commissioned and sent out into this fallen world. Our Commissioning ceremony might be virtual, but it is still real! We will be commissioned as officers in The Salvation Army and sent out in the world to make disciples of all nations. We will be sent out with our heads held high, because we serve a mighty God, a God who is bigger than any virus, a God who is still in control, a God who loves us and cares for us. We will be sent out into the world in a time where people need to see and feel the love of Christ. May we go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them of Christ and God’s redeeming love.