Commissioning: The challenge ‘to persevere in the midst of uncertainty’

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Cadet Katherine Hernandez presents the challenge speech at the Commissioning 2020 Sunday afternoon

By Katherine Hernandez, Cadet–

It was a beautiful Southern California day when my session mates and I arrived at the campus of The Salvation Army College for Officer Training at Crestmont. As we got out of our vehicles, our faces reflected a combination of fear, excitement, nervousness and expectancy. I remember looking around, taking a deep breath and exhaling very slowly. I couldn’t help but think: Wow, my family and I, along with the rest of our session mates, had finally arrived at what would become our home for the next 22 months. 

Just arriving on campus was an accomplishment for most of us. For many years I had told myself that becoming a Salvation Army officer was not for me; yet, as I stood here on this sacred place a sense of peace came over me. I knew that this was exactly where God wanted me to be.

The first few weeks on campus were pretty much a blur; however, before we knew it my session mates and I were settling into cadet life, assignments were being turned in, friendships were beginning to bloom, and our lives were slowly being transformed.

God had chosen 10 individuals from different walks of life, from distant parts of the world and from diverse cultures and backgrounds, bringing us together to become the Messengers of the Kingdom. Ten unique individuals who God united in a mighty way, preparing us to go out and proclaim his kingdom to the world. Ten individuals who make up one of the smallest sessions, but who are mighty in spirit, or as we like to say: We are “tiny but mighty.” Ten individuals who have believed and trusted that God has placed a significant calling in our lives; thus, we have stepped out in obedient faith to answer the call to full-time ministry.

God has used the past 22 months to equip us. In doing so, he placed important people to help us along this journey. These people include family, friends and Salvation Army officers. These individuals have poured into our lives in more ways than they will ever know. They have walked alongside us, have prayed earnestly for us and with us, have stood in the gap for us, and have prayed on our behalf when words just could not come out. More importantly, they have been great examples of what it means to be Christ-like. It is because of their great example, their love for God and others, and the time they’ve invested in us that we have made it this far. 

As I reminisce on how far my session mates and I have come, I can’t help but thank God for his grace and unfailing love. Together we’ve overcome many obstacles, we’ve adapted to various changes, and we’ve mourned the loss of loved ones. Yet in the midst of it all, we’ve also celebrated great milestones, we’ve faced our fears, and we’ve rejoiced at the gift of new life and love. The change that has taken place in our lives is noteworthy. We were once individuals who were broken, lost, hopeless, who felt unloved and unwanted, and who were submerged in addiction. Yet, we stand before you today as individuals who have been transformed by the healing power of God.

This transformation, unbeknownst to us, started long before we arrived on the Crestmont campus. In the last 22 months, we have been eyewitnesses of how God has slowly started to refine us. We have also seen how he started chipping away those areas that needed to be removed. Through this refining process my session mates and I have been stretched, challenged, and have been molded into the messengers that stand before you today. It hasn’t been easy; yet, we wouldn’t change it. We have learned that it is during painful and uncomfortable moments in life that God is growing us. It is during times when we can’t go one more step, or we feel like giving up, that God embraces us and gives us the strength to continue. It is during those dark moments in life that God’s radiant light penetrates and brings peace. It is during those times of uncertainty that we can look to Jesus as our source of everlasting hope. And it is because of who Jesus is that we can proudly stand and declare what we believe. 

As we get ready to be commissioned and step out in faith, my challenge not only to my session mates, the Messengers of the Kingdom, but to everyone listening, is to persevere in the midst of uncertainty. To love genuinely. To pray without ceasing. To draw closer to God with each passing day. To reflect Jesus in all we do, and to proclaim God’s kingdom wherever we go. Our session verse, Luke 17: 20–21, says, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed…the kingdom of God is within your midst.”

Today, I encourage you to live for the kingdom of God and to proudly stand for what we believe. 

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