By Colonel Dennis Phillips –
For the past 19 months, by the will of God and appointment by the General, I have had the priceless privilege of serving as Commissioner Chang’s “first lieutenant.” I have been with him in the best of times as well as the worst of times, and in every instance, whether it be celebrating a major spiritual victory in the territory or joining hands and hearts in prayer on behalf of an officer in crisis, his has been a life God can be proud of.
This was Paul’s counsel to Titus (2:14). In the King James Version, he encouraged us to be “a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” a phrase later translated as “a pure people” (Today’s English Version) or “a people that are his very own” (NIV). But my favorite paraphrase comes from The Message, where Eugene Peterson puts his own inimitable spin on the advice by saying, “…making us a people he can be proud of.” And that describes our soon-to-be retired territorial commander, Commissioner Peter Chang.
God can be proud of Peter Chang because he has not been disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19). When young Peter Chang first heard the call of Christ to serve him with his life, little could he have known where that calling would lead. Korea? Of course. Singapore? Hong Kong? Possibly. But New York City? Rancho Palos Verdes? London? The location mattered not, nor did the change of culture or the differences in language. What mattered was his total abandonment to the will of God which emboldened him to follow the Lord’s will wherever it led.
God can be proud of Peter Chang because he has been faithful to the admonition of Christ to “abide in him.” (John 15:4) Again, Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase helps us better and more clearly understand that Jesus was saying, “Live in Me. Make your home in Me.” Or, as John Stott points out, “Be like Me.” I know of few people who personify Christlikeness as faithfully as our Commissioner. He possesses the vision of Christ for the unsaved. His heart is filled with the passion of Christ for the poor, the lonely and the hurting, and his spirit of integrity, truth and fairness are akin to the spirit of our Lord.
God can be proud of Peter Chang because he made “full proof of the ministry.” (II Timothy 4:5) In his own land as well as upon distant soil, he sharpened his skills, advanced his education and continually stretched his abilities to meet the increasing demands of ever expanding leadership responsibilities.
Yes, indeed, God can be proud of Peter Chang, and so can we. In the 33 months of his leadership, 38 corps and outposts have been opened, bringing the total to 335, the largest number ever in the U.S.A. Western Territory’s great history. It was not easy to follow in the footsteps of General Paul A. Rader, whose MISSION2000 set an unprecedented pace of growth for the territory, but Commissioner Chang added his own People Count! dimension to the plan, and renewed momentum was experienced throughout the West. We can be proud of Commissioner Chang because 3,840 soldiers and adherents have been enrolled during his term of leadership. Fifty-one new corps and Silvercrest buildings have been completed and dedicated, 58, 430 men, women and children have sought the salvation of our Lord in Salvation Army meetings, and 88,178 more have sought spiritual growth and reconsecration in their lives. We can be proud of Commissioner Chang because 5,292 soldiers enrolled in the People Count! campaign and performed tens of thousands of deeds of kindness. We can be proud of Commissioner Chang for the hundreds of new soldiers who will be enrolled during the Great Victory Congress, and we can be proud of him for the vision he brought to having the grandest congress this territory will ever have experienced.
Of course, in all of these circumstances and achievements, his ministry has been enhanced and enriched by the faithful and talented leadership of his lovely wife, Commissioner Grace Chang.
I am personally proud of Peter Chang because of the example of Godly leadership he has faithfully demonstrated–in good times and bad. Henry Ford said, “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” Peter Chang has a way of doing that with those who are close to him. Soon, he will be gone from THQ and his territorial commander’s office, but he will not be forgotten. He will have left his imprimatur upon thousands of lives throughout the Western states and Micronesia, including mine. His presence and influence will continue to influence and affect us for years to come, and we will be the better for it.
Yes, indeed. Peter Chang’s life is one God can be proud of.