Like the ocean

Commencement testimony

By Cameo McQuade, Cadet –

Commencement. I can’t believe that commencement is already here. When people first told me that cadetship would be two years, I couldn’t help but think about how long that would be, how much time we would have together, and just how many “11:59 moments” we would have. I never realized how fast it would all go by. As I sat writing this speech, it took me a while to process through all of the emotions, all of the special events that we were able to experience, and how much change we endured over the years, and it brought me back to one thing. Every day, from the moment we stepped foot on campus, I could see the ocean. Almost immediately after arriving to the College for Officer Training at Crestmont, my daughter, who was 18 months at the time, looked out and yelled “beach,” with great excitement.

I grew up in Hawaii, a place that many would argue has the best beaches. And my daughter never quite understood why we couldn’t go to the beach here and swim in its cold waters, but because she could see the ocean, she knew she was home. Every beach in the world is really connected by the same ocean, similar to how each of us come from different places, yet we are connected by one great Army, with the same love for one great God. It was here that we all called home, for what would be the foundational learning place of our officership. It was here that we laughed together, it was here that we cried together, and here that we eventually became family.

In our ocean, there have been times of great tranquility and still waters. Times where we have been able to bask in God’s presence and confirm that being officers in full-time ministry is what God wants for each of us here. It was in the still moments that we have been able to dig deep in our studies, write every kind of sermon there is, and remember to always sign up for meals.

We also experienced what I like to call “phantom waves.” When you’re on the water and you see a huge wave forming, and fear starts to set in, but then the wave doesn’t quite break, and the water lightly ripples beneath you. It was in these moments that doubt set in, but God quickly worked to reaffirm our abilities. It was in these moments where we didn’t think that we had the gifts to lead songs, or the stamina to get through the difficult quarters. But with trust in our Lord, all uncertainty was conquered, and we made it.

But we have also endured raging seas. Times where we weren’t quite sure where God was leading us, not sure how to complete our “d’rashes,” and a lot of sickness of those around us. It was a time where we felt like we were drowning, uncertain that we would ever surface again. But it was in these moments that we learned perseverance, lifelong friendship, and the power of prayer.

These past two years have been nothing short of a life-changing experience that has stretched us in every possible direction, stretching us to better equip us for the long voyage ahead. There is no other group of people than those behind me that I would’ve wanted to be on this adventure with. And to those who have been in our corner, supporting us with care packages, prayers, instruction, and advice, I thank you for being a part of this journey. I would like to share with you a portion of Scripture found in Zephaniah that I hope encourages you as much as it has encouraged me over the past two years. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love.” Our cadetship has been like the ocean, calm and still, rough and rigid, but in the end it was always beautiful, and we know that our future will be no different.

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