Mobilize morning events call for celebration
Women’s, Men’s and Jr. Soldier’s breakfasts build excitement as day two of Commissioning weekend begins.
Women’s Ministries Breakfast
Territorial President of Women’s Ministries Commissioner Jolene K. Hodder welcomed the women of the Western Territory to a “Deep Ocean of Love” breakfast June 3 in the Pacific Ballroom of the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California.
Following the meal, the Hawaii Hula Dancers performed and Lt. Colonel Marcia Smith read John 7:38: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Three women officers with firsthand knowledge then spoke about the Territorial Women’s Ministries Projects in Tanzania, Kenya West and Myanmar, which are financially supported by the women of the Western Territory.
Colonel Deborah Horwood, Tanzania Territorial Leader of Women’s Ministries, shared about the effort to fight against the practice of child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic abuse. Funds from the West will help to create teaching resources to use in community education. Due to The Salvation Army’s efforts to date, over 77 families have left the practice of child marriage or FGM, Horwood said.
“While we have creativity, we have time, and we have people passionate about the eradication of such practices, it is you holding hands with us that will help us create resources to go into these communities to fight these practices,” she said.
Jolene K. Hodder, who before her current appointment served as Territorial President of Women’s Ministries in the Kenya West Territory, talked about the mistreatment widows face in Kenya as tradition dictates that a widow be inherited by another man and must first go through abusive “widow cleansing.” The Army’s Ruth Circle Fellowship program is now enabling 720 widows with the means to support themselves and their children through poultry keeping.
Lt. Colonel Shelley Hill, Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries in the Singapore, Malaysia, and Myanmar Territory, said funds from the West are supporting the opening of four new childcare centers in Myanmar with government-certified instructors and appropriate equipment, as well as an officer computer training program for women in the region.
In her devotional, Commissioner Silvia Cox, World President for Women’s Ministries, talked about the promise of God’s vast ocean of love for each of us.
In John 7, she noted, the people were at a festival, celebrating as the priest fetched water, which represented the blessing of God. Finally, on the last day, Jesus stood and said loudly: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (7:37).
“That same water is here for everybody today, but you have to be thirsty,” Cox said. “You need to want it, to go to Jesus, and the promise is that whoever believes in him will have the stream of living water in them.”
Major Lisa Dickinson, Northwest Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries, offered the closing prayer before attendees sang “O Boundless Salvation.”
Men’s Ministries Breakfast
Themed “Gone Fishing,” the Men’s Ministries breakfast in the Grand Ballroom of the Long Beach (California) Convention Center celebrated God’s work in the Western Territory and encouraged the men called to serve him.
Major Kyle Trimmer welcomed all in attendance, and Dave Patton delivered the invocation. After breakfast, the men joined in worship. Territorial Commander Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder then took to the stage and presented the inaugural Man of the Year Award to one member of each division in the territory.
“What you do when you touch lives—whether they be men or children or families—when you impact them for Christ, you’re doing exactly what The Salvation Army is all about,” Hodder said.
Each recipient was nominated by their home corps, with the endorsement of their corps officer or administrator and the Corps Council. Recipients included: Major Kevin Bottjen, Alaska; Dan Olmstead, Cascade; Larry Dayton, Del Oro; Todd Bradford, Golden State; Captain Celestine Ruwethin, Hawaiian and Pacific Islands; Lyle Laverty, Intermountain; Major Ralph Hood, Northwest; Fred Folden, Sierra del Mar; Amilcar Alvarado, Southern California; and Major Juvencio Utrera, Southwest.
Ray Steiner of the Alaska Division shared his testimony and the importance of having a personal relationship with Christ. “Jesus is the testimony of the father,” he said. “And no one comes to the father, except through him. I have a best friend. And his name is Jesus. And if he’s not your best friend, he wants to be.
“God said he will finish the work that he started, and he will,” Steiner said. “God is able to give us what we need…If we seek him with our whole heart, we are going to find him.” He then read from Matthew 7:7–11: Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.
The General followed a performance by the Men’s Vocal Quartet—who donned fishing hats—with a few words on being “fishers of men.” He cited Psalm 130:6: I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.
“When we think about fishing, we think about saving souls,” Cox said. “Sometimes, we have to be patient, and sometimes we have to wait for God’s answer. Sometimes, that takes time. It’s not like pressing the send button in an email and expecting an answer.
“There is no shortcut for waiting for God’s response,” he said. “God is calling us this morning to step out into an unknown world, an unknown future, trusting God’s promises…We need to go out and catch some fish for God.”
Major Dave Shull led in singing “Victory in Jesus,” and Damon Hopkins delivered the benediction.
Jr. Soldiers Rally Breakfast
The Jr. Soldier’s Rally opened with a quick meal before the kids sang and danced to “Every Move I Make” and “Yes Lord.”
David Witthoff, Christian Education Director for Discipleship, spoke about being a junior soldier for the kids who might not know. He also showed the crowd a picture from his childhood of he and his siblings playing a video game. Witthoff told the kids that in the same way you would focus on a game you were playing or doing something you really liked, you should focus on following Jesus.
A skit told the story of Andy and his fear of going to his first day of swim lessons. His grandmother told him the story about Jesus walking on water to meet his disciples who were on a boat in the middle of the sea. Andy’s grandma told him that the disciple Peter was also scared, even though he had Jesus with him. Jesus was still there to help him in his fear and would be with Andy in swim class too.
Witthoff closed the message with a reminder that God is with us at all times.
“It doesn’t mean that life will be perfect,” Witthoff said. “But Jesus will always be with you.”