Holland, Saunders speak for session




Captain Jack Holland


Captain Rhonda Saunders

Representing the Ambassadors of Grace at services during Commissioning weekend were Captain Jack Holland and Captain Rhonda Saunders.

Both Holland and Saunders testified to the numerous changes the session’s cadets encountered during the past 22 months–changes necessary to the making of God’s Ambassadors of Grace.

“It is accomplished,” Holland announced at Commencement. “The words of our Lord Jesus Christ uttered two millennia ago are also appropriate for today.” His theme centered on promises: promises made, promises fulfilled, and promises for the future. These graduating cadets fulfilled the promise they made when they came to CFOT 22 months ago. Holland’s own journey to officership began with a promise, or more precisely, a pair of glasses and a promise.

The glasses he wore as he spoke have a long history. “When I entered the Honolulu ARC back in 1996, I had lost my glasses,” he relates. “While I could read reasonably well, I couldn’t see across the room and it was very frustrating. One day while reading the Bible I discovered the story of Jesus healing the blind man. After reading this, I said a simple prayer asking for God to give me sight again and if he did, I would pledge my life to helping others gain their sight as well.

The very next day, I happened upon the barrel of used glasses collected by the ARC – there were literally hundreds in the barrel. Without much thought I reached in and grabbed the first pair my hand touched-this pair. When I put these glasses on, they fit perfectly and, even more surprising, they were the perfect prescription. I could see again–no headaches, no squinting. Perfect sight!” Holland then had a promise to fulfill. “Today, as I graduate and become an officer in The Salvation Army, my promise is being fulfilled–helping the blind to see the wonder of God’s powerful love.”

Holland acknowledged his classmates and recalled the words Catherine Booth spoke over one hundred years ago when she was asked who these people were that the Army sent into the world as its representatives. She responded that they are “men and women full of fire and energy, numbers of them having sacrificed home, or friends, or situations…something which constituted to them their earthly life! Think of the absorption and heroism such people are capable of, and what they are likely to become with three or four more years’ experience…Would to God that we could put down two red-hot Salvation officers amidst every thousand of these neglected masses, the world over; we should soon see the dawn of a brighter day.”

Holland went on to identify his fellow Ambassadors of Grace as “heralds of God’s mercy, living wonders of his atoning power.” He then emphasized that these same Ambassadors are warriors, “girded and prepared for war.” In closing, he expanded on this image: Warriors of the cross, marching to war to redeem the lost-marching to bring men and women back to the Father’s way-heroes of the faith rallying to the Lord’s trumpet call…I am proud to call them mates, friends, and companions. I salute them, the Ambassadors of Grace.”

Captain Rhonda Saunders addressed those present at the Service of Appointment. She focused on grace and change: the power of God’s grace to effect change in people’s lives and the desperate need of the world to experience this grace. Saunders also described the spiritual changes experienced by the cadets and the bonding they have shared. “Spiritual growth and change is not a solo event but one that requires others to help you along the way. I praise and thank God for these Ambassadors of Grace who have come along side of me and helped me change spiritually. I know that we are all changing. We, the Ambassadors of Grace, promise that we will continue to change spiritually to better serve you. We are an ever changing session but will always be Ambassadors of Grace.”

Throughout her speech she echoed the refrain:

Grace there is my every debt to pay, Blood to wash my every sin away. Power to keep me spotless day by day, For me, for me!

Not only was there bonding among the cadets, but also a special bonding with Christ, stated Saunders, and “be-cause of this bonding to each other and to Christ, we are Ambassadors of Grace.”

Like Holland, Saunders spoke of the session’s dedication and eagerness to serve: “You ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Saunders. “We are dedicated to serve; dedicated to spread the news of God’s grace to the world. ‘The world starves for grace.’ Legalism, rules, and, at times, poor personal opinions do not allow the sinner, the social deviant or the heartbroken to be welcome in church. The church, which should welcome and love the unlovable, has closed its heart and doors to many a person in need. The world is starving for grace.”

In closing, she said: “We are not the same people you sent into training 22 months ago. We are new officers in The Salvation Army. New officers who are ready to serve because of God’s grace and Jesus’ blood, ready to teach and be Ambassadors of his grace, ready and eagerly awaiting the news of our first appointments. We have changed physically and spiritually so we can better serve and love you and show you God’s grace. We have become bonded to each other and to Christ. We all have a relationship with Christ that will keep us moving. We are dedicated to God, to the Army, and to you. We are dedicated to see God’s kingdom here on earth. We are ready to meet you, the Western Territory. I do not know if you are ready for us, but ready or not, here we come!”

A native of Long Beach, CA, Holland has a BA in history and political science from UC Santa Barbara and a law degree from Santa Clara University Law School. He practiced law in California for 20 years and served briefly as Assistant Attorney General of American Samoa. In 1995 he became an Adherent in The Salvation Army in Honolulu, HI, and a soldier a year later. He received his calling to become an officer while in the Honolulu ARC.

Captain Saunders comes from a Salvation Army family whose heritage dates back to the Army’s roots. She made her personal decision to become a Salvationist at age 7 and renewed that decision at age 14. Her involvement with the Army has allowed her to travel and work throughout the US and overseas, and Saunders has an appreciation of the worldwide impact of the Army because of these experiences. She holds degrees from El Camino Community College in Torrance, CA, and from Asbury College in Kentucky.

As Holland and Saunders graciously acknowledged their session mates, so New Frontier congratulates the 31 Ambassadors of Grace as they move on to the challenge of their new assignments. Special commendations are due the following students:

(for exceptional performance in several areas)

Ragina Halverson

(for highest GPA overall)

Jack Holland

(GPA of 3.90 or above)

Jack Holland, Rhonda Saunders Shane Halverson

(GPA of 3.75 to 3.89)

Elizabeth Welch, Ragina Halverson, Darren Stratton

(GPA of 3.60 to 3.74)

Sylvan Young, Courtney Stratton, Marcey Hoffschneider, Lourdes Griffith, Eric Bradley All of the cadets and a/captains being commissioned receive a certificate indicating,they have completed the officer training course.

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