From the desk of…
by Pam Strickland, Major –
This past June I attended my session reunion (The Evangelists) in Chicago during the Central Territory’s commissioning weekend. We also attended my husband’s session reunion (Disciples of Jesus) during our own Western Territory’s commissioning weekend. On top of all that, we have been involved in five retirements and the Chief Secretary’s farewell. I want to take some time to reflect on what all this has meant to me and not miss the opportunity to ponder great events that happen in the lives of Salvation Army officers.
First of all, the reunions. It was wonderful to visit with session mates, and discover where and what they have been doing these past many years since our time together as cadets at the training college. I have been blessed. God has given me many friends over the years, but two go all the way back to those first days at 700 Brompton Avenue in Chicago. I believe these two were tailor made for me—kindred spirits—bosom buddies, if you please. They have been God’s gift to me in the years that have followed—accepting me for who I am and always there to nurture, mentor, and encourage me in my Christian walk and in my service as a Salvation Army officer. George Eliot, a 19th century author, said that friendship is the “inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.” This friendship (Mary’s and JoAnn’s) has not been a right, but a privilege.
The retirements have reminded me of commitments made and service given by faithful officers over the years. It is amazing how many times our various paths have crossed while on this journey of officership within The Salvation Army. The experience of working with, learning from and sharing in the many victories of seeing lives changed has been rewarding. I thank those who have gone on before me for setting the examples, for paving the way and for holding the standards high. Each has been a blessing to me. I have enjoyed the fun and fellowship, the laughter and tears and the many opportunities to share and exchange ideas, and I have appreciated the encouragement given over the years. I am reminded of Jonathan and his encouragement to David (I Samuel 20:1-4), and of Barnabas as he encouraged the early church of Antioch, challenging them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts (Acts 11:19-26). May these officers each continue to be encouragers as they enter retirement. They will be missed.
My reflections take me back to the moment when I signed my covenant many years ago. Little did I realize the adventures that awaited me as an officer in The Salvation Army. These adventures have only come my way because I was obedient and answered the call to officership. Every time I attend a commissioning weekend, I am reminded of the awesome, humbling experience—to think that God called me to share in the worldwide mission of The Salvation Army—to preach the word, to win souls and to serve suffering humanity. My constant prayer is that I will remain obedient and faithful to that calling. The inscription under my picture in my commissioning booklet reads, “I will to do the will of God.” This has not changed over the years. I pray that I will always be faithful to serve, and quick to encourage as I continue on this journey of ministry called “officership.”