Commissioning: A testimony from the 2019 Commencement
‘People need the Lord’
By Omoduni George-Kawaley, Cadet –
Two years ago, 19 individuals from varied backgrounds, diverse professions, in different stages of their walk with God confidently walked into the College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont. Well, maybe for some of us not so confidently, but obediently. Even though we were so different, we all had one thing in common—we had heard and responded to the call of God to serve him as Salvation Army officers. We all knew we were the Messengers of Compassion. What did that mean? Are we to preach messages of compassion or were we to deliver every message, regardless of the content with compassion? Twenty-two months later, we have come to understand that we are called to do both.
Before CFOT, many of us had not darkened the halls of a formal training institution—at least not in the last decade or two. Some had no college experience at all. We knew God had called us, and we had faith that he would equip us for the task. But by the end of the first week of orientation, with eyes glazed over from information overload, we couldn’t help but wonder whether we had bitten off more than we could chew. We quickly realized that there was safety in numbers and slowly bonds began to form—bonds that have become stronger as we drew strength and support from each other. Our instructors helped us to fully grasp the sacredness of the trust God has placed on us. This made us more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and eager to learn not only how to accurately teach and preach God’s Word, but also apply it to our lives.
At the start of each quarter, the lists of assignments and projects seemed overwhelming and we wondered how we could complete them all on time. At the end of every quarter, we looked back and were amazed at what God helped us to accomplish. Through it all, we learned the discipline of time management by intentionally choosing to avoid the 11:59 p.m. deadline. We received quality training that did not just broaden our education, but transformed and matured us spiritually. As we delved into the Old and New Testaments, our knowledge base expanded and it kindled in each of us a deeper love for God’s Word. Our “out” Sundays, Christmas and summer assignments, fall blitz and spring campaigns exposed us to the glaring needs in the world around us. They gave us fresh insight into the many programs designed to offer a hand up to suffering humanity, which The Salvation Army ministers to even beyond the walls of our corps.
Messengers of Compassion, God has entrusted to us a message of hope for our hurting world. He has called us to minister his healing love to the broken, the oppressed and the abused—they need to hear the message of compassion. But we are also called to speak against injustice and unfairness, and to stand against the oppressors and the abusers. There will be moments when we will need to speak the hard truth, but we must do so with compassion, offering God’s mercy. The tools we have received are only valuable when we apply them. Our session verse, found in Ephesians 4:32 says: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. As I think of what it means to be kind and compassionate, I am reminded of the Hebrew word “hesed,” which is translated to kindness in the Old Testament. “Hesed” is one of the richest, most powerful words in the Old Testament. It reflects the loyal love that people committed to the God of the Bible should have for one another. It means “to treat someone courteously and appropriately.” It also means “loving kindness” or compassionate love. It is the pouring out of oneself while not counting the cost or expecting anything in return.
Fellow Messengers of Compassion, and everyone who has confessed the name of Jesus, our world needs to know and experience God’s “hesed.” That is the standard of kindness, compassion and forgiveness we must uphold. The song “People Need the Lord” is a powerful expression of this concept. These lyrics, written by Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh and sung by Steve Green in 1984, are truer today than ever before.
Every day they pass me by; I can see it in their eyes.
Empty people filled with care; Headed who knows where.
On they go through private pain; Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries; Only Jesus hears.
People need the Lord;
At the end of broken dreams, he’s the open door.
People need the Lord.
We are called to take his light; To a world where wrong seems right.
They must hear the words of life; Only we can share.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
Let us go forward to bring not just a message of compassion but the Lord of compassion to those who need him.