Three persons with passion


by Lawrence Shiroma, Major –

The walls of Jerusalem have been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire. When I heard these things, I sat down and wept” (Nehemiah 1:3-4).

About 446 B.C., heartbreaking news of the destruction of the walls and gates of Jerusalem reached Nehemiah in Susa, causing him to break down and weep. Rather than wringing his hands and blaming God for this tragedy, Nehemiah made it a matter of prayer and waited patiently for God’s leading. Like Esther approaching Xerxes, Nehemiah approached Artaxerxes and was granted the king’s support to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. But, as it is today, Israel’s hostile neighbors “were very displeased that someone had come to help the people of Israel” (2:10). Scripture identifies three men, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem who “scoffed contemptuously” at Nehemiah’s foolhardy plan (2:19).

As writer George Lyons points out: “There is never a shortage of people willing to tell us why what God puts in our hearts to do can’t be done.”

But Nehemiah refused to be intimidated. His response to the critics: “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We his servants will start rebuilding” (2:20).

The cadets at the College for Officer Training participate in corps on designated Sundays. The 43 first-year cadets of the Ambassadors of Holiness session attend four corps on a rotation basis: Tustin Ranch, Long Beach Citadel, Santa Monica, and Torrance, while one team remains behind to lead the Sunday school for the children at theFamily Care Center. The 28 second-year cadets of the Prayer Warriors session attend six corps also on a rotation basis: Pasadena Tabernacle, Whittier, Glendale, Murrieta, San Bernardino Citadel and Riverside.

This year, I have accompanied my team of second-year cadets to Riverside and San Bernardino Citadel. The corps officers there, Majors Rick and Margaret Peacock and Captains Stephen and Nancy Ball, have made the cadets feel at home with their congregation and have afforded them every opportunity to participate in Sunday activities from teaching Sunday school to preaching.

I especially enjoy sitting in the adult Bible study class. Local Sunday school teachers, Major Melba Gilden at Riverside and Yvonne Iruke, at San Bernardino, do well in presenting the lesson plans from the approved WordAction curriculum. I believe it is part of the divine plan for The Salvation Army that the same Bible lesson is presented no matter what corps you may attend on any given Sunday. This promotes a uniform and consistent teaching of the whole Word of God. Just as Nehemiah was able to have the Israelites work in a concerted effort to rebuild the walls of their city, Salvation Army Sunday school teachers also work in a concerted effort to rebuild and strengthen the lives of their corps members through God’s Word.

This past Sunday I sat in the adult class at Long Beach Citadel, where my wife and I soldier. Unlike myself, the members of the Bible study are very faithful in their attendance. It always warms my heart whenever I enter into their fellowship and see their welcoming faces. Audrey Newman led the class in place of Randall Silvers, the regular teacher. Like Major Melba Gilden, Yvonne Iruke and all the other 270 adult Sunday school teachers in the Western Territory, Audrey’s Sunday school lesson was from chapter one of the book of Nehemiah.

All three teachers have a passion to communicate the truths of God. As with Nehemiah, they have had their share of nay-sayers, “Why teach Sunday School? Don’t you know it’s old-fashioned and that nobody will come to your class?”

Some people may want to inform you of the demise of Sunday school, but you couldn’t tell this by attending The Salvation Army corps at Long Beach, Riverside or San Bernardino.

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