New session of cadets welcomed
National Commander Israel Gaither delivers message at Welcome of Cadets.
by ROBERT DOCTER –
Commissioner Israel Gaither directs a point at the incoming session of cadets during his welcome speech.
Amidst marching officers, fluttering flags, martial music and territorial and national leaders, approximately 500 hand-clapping audience members at the Tustin Ranch Corps welcomed the God’s Fellow Workers Session of cadets. A room full of color enthusiastically sang “Happy Birthday” to Commissioner Eva Gaither, national president of women’s organizations and wife of the National Commander, Commissioner Israel Gaither.
Obviously surprised and pleased with the recognition by Commissioner Philip Swyers, Gaither said how privileged she felt to finally be able to visit the West and, with so many warm and excited people, to “celebrate Jesus Christ and discover what God has for us to do.”
Nineteen strong, the new session brings racial and ethnic diversity, breadth of experience, a strong history of higher education, an ease of communication and powerful testimonies of the miracle of God’s grace.
The occasion provided Swyers with the opportunity to introduce and dedicate the West’s newest brass band, the Territorial Youth Band, conducted by Neil Smith, territorial music director. The 35-piece band, selected from young musicians throughout the territory, demonstrated excellence of musicianship, a brilliant sound and exceptional technique in performing with only a single prior rehearsal. Their contribution to the meeting was significant, and their solo item, “Festival Prelude on Falcon Street” by Dean Jones, revealed sensitivity, beauty of tone, and a magnificent future.
Cadets Robert Lueras, Aeran Oh, and Emmanuel Masango offered prayer in three languages, and Cadet Anthony Barnes testified of the remarkable changes that take place in a life lived with Christ.
Joined by the Heralds of the Good News Session, recently returned from a summer of field work, the “Workers” offered their newly composed session song, “Bring the Harvest Home,” with lyrics by Diane O’Brien and music by Duncan Sutton.
Gaither asks searching questions
The National Commander delivered a powerful message in the biblically based, challenging, and highly mobile manner of strong preachers. Relating with warmth, humor, and Scripture in a direct yet friendly style, carrying only his open Bible, he moved to stand directly before the cadets, then crossing the wide platform and walking into the audience he spoke pointedly to divisional leaders, then moving back to the pulpit he seemed, almost, to wrap his arms around everyone.
Turning, he spoke affectionately to the cadets: “We thank God for you. You will help take this Salvation Army into the future.” He then told the story found in the Gospel of John describing the ministry transition from John the Baptist to Jesus, the Christ. “‘Who are you?’—this leader of leaders, this preparer of others had been asked by those around him. John answered with the words of Isaiah: ‘I am the voice of one calling in the desert. Make straight for the way of the Lord.’
“Two of John’s disciples heard John identify Jesus as ‘the Lamb of God,’ and immediately turned to follow him.
“Seeing them, Jesus asked them what I ask you: ‘What do you want?’
“They turned from John to Jesus because John released them,” Gaither said. “We need to find ways to release people. How I laud corps officers who release people to mission. Our mission is all about releasing people. It’s time,” Gaither said, “for Salvationists to become soldiers. Let’s start training them and release them. They are not simply the future. They are the present,” he exclaimed.
“God wanted my life, and I said: ‘Prove it.’ He did and I said: ‘What do you want—what do you want from Izzy Gaither?’
“Some people come up with different answers—some selfish—some trying to negotiate with God, refusing to do more than a specific amount. What I want is the grace of his presence, and through the years I keep discovering how much grace I need in my life. I need more grace.
“A short time later on that day in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, Nathaniel joined the group. Jesus had never met him, but seemed to know much about him—about his character, his beliefs, his commitments. Nathaniel asked him: ‘How do you know me?’
“How does he know each of us? We need a revival of courage that confronts attempts to mute the voice of believers. We can be that voice. America watches when this Army moves. It is time for us to see greater things. We can’t afford visionless servants of the kingdom. I’m glad God knows Izzy Gaither as Christ knew Nathaniel—and he told me I could use his name. I come to him often to tell him my needs. ‘Izzy’s here again,’ he says.
“God simply wants us to bring our needs to him, and remember, Jesus said we could use his name when we come to him.”
Scores line altar
Gaither then encouraged the congregation to bring those needs and present them to God as he led them in the Geoff Bullock song, “The Power of Your Love.”
Lord I come to you,
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I’ve found in you.
Lord I’ve come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of your love.
Needs were brought and grace revealed as the front of the auditorium filled over and over again with those seeking a deeper walk with God.
Major Donald Hostetler, principal, led a final song, and Major Arvilla Hostetler offered a benediction.