by Robert Docter –
Down the aisle they came, led by the Army flag—escorted by Major Nancy Dihle, the territorial candidates’ and recruitment secretary and by their divisional commanders. Their confident bearing indicated high energy and enthusiasm as they mounted the platform.
They are the “Heralds of the Good News”—announcers of God’s plan of salvation…proclaimers of the love and grace of Christ—the newest session of cadets at the Army’s College for Officer Training at Crestmont.
A video introduced the Heralds to the near capacity audience at the Tustin Ranch Corps. In an earlier interview, CFOT Principal Major Donald Hostetler described them in highly positive terms—intelligent, experienced, mature, multilingual, well educated, and each with strong life experience. Almost all of them have had prior ministry experience with the Army. Three of the couples have been in-charge at corps prior to entering training. Others had experience in the Army’s social service ministries and in youth work. Only about one-third of the group has English as a first language. The remainder come from Korean, Hispanic and Chinese cultures.
Prayers were offered by Cadet Cheri Currie (English), Cadet Dean Lee (Korean), and Cadet Demetrio Villareal (Spanish).
Under the leadership of Lt. Colonel Donald Bell, chief secretary, the meeting moved forward. Strong musical contributions came from the WYI Gospel Chorus, led by Captain Lisa R. Smith, the San Diego Citadel Praise Team, led by Major Warren Dabis, the WMI Band, led by Bandmaster Neil Smith, and a massed singing company from the Southern California Division conducted by Jacqui Larsson.
The territorial commander, Commissioner Philip Swyers, received the session and presented them with their Army flag, the session name emblazoned within the red field of the flag. He then challenged them to become “Blood and Fire” officers and to fall in love with “your mission, your calling,and the word of God––also for those who are married, to fall in love once again with your spouse. Seal your relationship with Christ,” he said, “so you can serve a lifetime with him.” Commissioner Patricia Swyers, territorial president, women’s ministries, dedicated the group to God in prayer.
Cadet Christopher Aird testified of the power of Christ in his own life and described his commitment to the Army and its ministry to humanity. The Heralds, joined by the Visionaries Session, offered their session song, “Heralds of the Good News”––words by Lt. Colonel Diane O’Brien and music by Duncan Sutton.
Lt. Colonel Doorke Schurink read from scripture, and her husband, Commissioner R. Joe Schurink brought a message on the power of words, attitudes, and actions of the Army officer. He challenged the session “to offer something extra—an extra dimension of service to your community. There is a world out there in need of your words—words of spiritual renewal—words of hope.”
The magnificent melody and lyrics of William Himes’ “All That I Am” concluded the service with many seekers lining the altar.