My calling to officership
A testimony from the 2020 Welcome of Cadets
By Sarah Culley, Cadet–
It is an honor to share with you my calling to officership and God’s love through reconciliation. Though raised in The Salvation Army, being called to officership was not a part of my plan. Growing up, I had been in corps programs that The Salvation Army had to offer, and I thrived because of the grounding and community it gave me. Through the church, I found continual guidance, support, security and love. I timidly stepped into places of leadership as the leaders before me encouraged me to use the gifts and talents God gave me. At that time, I felt I knew what it was like to be close to God, loved by him and in his will.
Then, I met someone and over time, I walked away from God, from love itself, believing I had found “real love.” Instead of placing my identity in the hands of the one who created me out of love, I placed it in hands that would later, abuse, break, deem me worthless and abandon me. And at that time, I knew what it was like to be full of sin, scared, lost and broken. God did not leave me there. He forgave me, placed his Word in my heart, people in my life and brought me back to himself. God’s grace and love changed me. When he brought me back to himself, he brought me back to life. My life continued to change, and God was moving in every area. I went back to school, graduated, found a man who loved Jesus, married that man, went back to school again and felt life was making sense. That is usually the time God smiles and says, “Oh beloved, just you wait.”
A few years back my husband suggested we go to Future Officers Fellowship after being encouraged by our corps officers at the time. Though I relented, I felt it was my responsibility to inform my husband, for the six-hour drive, why it was a waste of time and that he had no idea what it was like to be an officer since he had not grown up in The Salvation Army. My heart was full of fear and in many ways hardened. I felt that to be an officer meant great sacrifice, strength, discipline, dedication, endurance and boldness. None, which I felt were displayed in my past and all which seemed hard to grasp. I felt God was calling me to give up my life that he had just given back to me. I wasn’t willing to lose my life as I had done in my past just so I could step out into the unknown and fail.
Attending Commissioning shortly after, I felt God speak again. In response, I shamefully threw out a fleece and asked God to show me clearly what he wanted from me. The call was so great and who was I. That day, three unique encounters brought different officers to speak to me about officership. The following year, other individuals prompted by the Spirit came to me to talk about officership. Through reading my Bible and prayer, God also reminded me that through him, he has given me a story of restoration, of love and of new life. Others needed to know this message. If I truly loved him, I would step out and obey.
General William Booth once said, “He who calls to you from the sea…however, knows what it will mean; and knowing, he still beckons you, and bids you come. You must do it. You cannot hold back.” I confessed my running and testing of God to my husband. After we prayed, tears of relief just poured, and I knew I had peace of saying yes. A year later my husband received his calling. Today, we stand before you as Cadets of the Messengers of Reconciliation Session.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
Each one of us here before you today has had God reconcile us to himself. It is woven into our story and has changed our lives. He has called this session to bear this message to all who hear that God is able to reconcile you with forgiveness, love and hope. Join us, the Messengers of Reconciliation to bring the world to Jesus Christ.