Introducing–the newest Salvation Army officers

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Prayer Warriors commissioned and ordained

by Karen Gleason –

[Photo by Nikole Lim]
“Joyous, yet solemn”—such was Sunday morning’s Commissioning and Ordination service held before a full house at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Chief Secretary Colonel William Harfoot presided at the meeting, describing this sacred occasion when the territorial commander ordains the cadets as Christian ministers and commissions them as Salvation Army officers.

Harfoot noted, “What we do today makes a difference for eternity, and God is going to lead us as a Salvation Army in a way everlasting.”

Commissioner Philip Swyers introduced special guests Commissioners James and Ruth Osborne, stating that they are first people of God; second, people of brilliance of mind—always thinking; and third, people whose Salvationism is infectious.

Prayer Warriors—commended, commissioned and ordained
Following a video on the meaning of commissioning and ordination, the cadets of the Prayer Warriors Session entered and took their places. Training Principal Major Stephen Smith noted that of the 27 being commissioned, 21 are first-generation Salvationists, none are second or third-generation, two are fourth-generation, one is fifth-generation, two are sixth-generation and one is a seventh-generation Salvationist! During their training, Smith said, the cadets completed rigorous academic work, a program of spiritual formation and field training. He then commended them to Swyers as being ready to take the field as Salvation Army officers.

The Prayer Warriors rose in unison, reciting the Army doctrines before Swyers and promising to uphold the beliefs and mission of The Salvation Army.

Individually, the cadets were then called before Swyers, who, laying his hands on each one’s shoulders, said: “I commission and ordain you as a Salvation Army officer with the rank of lieutenant.” He gave each new officer a specific mission imperative, such as “Your mission is to project the love of Christ in your godly living,” and “May your vision be worldwide as you seek the lost wherever they are.”

Commissioner Pat Swyers read each cadet’s chosen Scripture verse.

After a prayer of dedication by Commissioner Pat Swyers and a song by the cadet chorus, “I’m in His Hands,” newly commissioned Lieutenant Juan Argumedo gave his testimony of leaving behind the traditional American dream—which didn’t bring happiness—to follow God’s call. He encouraged others hearing the call to “let the Lord’s will be manifest in your life and believe in his promises.”

Moving forward with the mission
Commissioner Ruth Osborne read the Scripture, Romans 8: 1-11, from The Message. This passage describes what life in Christ means: The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death (v. 2).

In a compelling message, Commissioner James Osborne addressed the disturbing changes in our society—citing statistics on the decline of Christianity in America. He called Salvationists to action: “We better wake up from our slumber…for the continuing crescendos in our land have serious implications for the church and each Christian.”

He noted that many Christians took the edict to be “in the world but not of it” to mean that they were to avoid the world. On the contrary, he said, we were always to connect with the world and tell them about Jesus—without being corrupted by the world.

“It’s an open secret that in the last 50 years we have failed to penetrate our society,” he said. “All this while we’ve been losing our moral compass and our spiritual focus.”

Some of the sobering statistics include: In 1776 America was formed as a Christian nation with 95 percent of the population Protestant; today that number is 52 percent and in a scary decline. Nearly 50 percent of the nation’s young people are raised with no religious influence in their lives. Atheism is on the rise with 15 percent of Americans identifying themselves as such. They are winning more converts than all the Christian churches put together.

Osborne predicted that “American’s silent majority will become a persecuted minority,” and sometime in the not-too-distant future African and Asian countries will be sending missionaries to pagan America.

What’s the answer? It’s what it has always been. Today, Osborne said, “It is more important than ever that we reach the world with the redeeming love of Jesus…he is the only answer.”

The altar call followed a time of commitment. Candidates’ Secretary Major John Brackenbury called forward those already accepted for the next session of training, then those whose applications are in review, and finally those answering the call for future sessions. An unbelievable outpouring of people of all ages came to the stage—a total of 99!

Following the closing song, “O Boundless Salvation,” Major Marcia Smith pronounced the benediction.

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