Welcome of Cadets
Preparers challenged to emulate John the Baptist
by Robert Docter –
Prepare ye the way of the Lord—a single soprano voice stilled an excited capacity audience at the Tustin Ranch Corps as the territory welcomed its newest session of cadets, Preparers of the Way.
The initial haunting melody from the musical Godspell quickened hearts and reached deeply into souls.
Seventeen young Salvationists stood ready to give their lives for Christ and to prepare the way of the Lord for others.
Commissioner Linda Bond, territorial commander, stated at the outset that the service would be more aptly titled “A Service of Thanksgiving”—in which we as an Army thank God for the new cadets’ dedication—thanked their parents, officers and fellow soldiers for preparing them for this moment—and thanked them personally for their willingness to heed the call of Christ.
Drawing on material in Mark 1, Bond reminded the cadets and the audience that a holy way is not an easy walk. She noted that John the Baptist was the most notable “way preparer”—and his camel’s hair coat definitely did not come from the trade department. His diet of locusts was not served at any banquet table over- looking the majestic Pacific Ocean.
“John’s father undoubtedly thought he had raised a distinguished gentleman—a nice guy,” Bond said, “but instead he made his pulpit in an unusual place—the wilderness, preached repentance and called the crowds who came to him a ‘brood of vipers’.” Here Bond paused a moment, looked directly at the new session and said: “You don’t build a highway without tearing a few things up. You, too,” Bond said to the cadets, “are asked to preach some good news and some bad news.
“John reminded the crowd that they had a great and glorious God. He quoted prophecy from Isaiah, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.” Even in the desert the people flocked to him, confessed their sins and were baptized.
“What leads to repentance?” she asked. “A clear view of Jesus! To lead people to repentance, you must tell them about Jesus. You must tell those to whom you minister that people need to repent. Some parents are so enmeshed with their own ambition for material gain that, ironically, they ignore the family for which the effort is made. It’s neither wealth nor poverty that indicates a need for repentance. The prodigal son had a wonderful home, and he didn’t come to his senses until he was saturated in pigswill.
“If you don’t invite people to Jesus you deny them their humanity. Repentance without faith is only despair.
“You don’t need to be John the Baptist, but you do need to preach repentance. It’s a change of mind—a forsaking of old ways—a willingness to make restitution. And then, there is forgiveness. John said: ‘I baptize with water, but one comes after me who will baptize with the Holy Spirit’.”
Then, directly to every soul in the auditorium, Bond stated: “God in Christ by the Holy Spirit can transform a life. By the Holy Spirit you can be born again. That Holy Spirit can fill your life.
“In the Salvation Army, today, we need to talk about radical cleansing—Christlikeness. Whatever your background—whatever your culture—the Holy Spirit will empower you to victory—to victory!”
Western Territory meets cadets, greets lieutenants
During the opening moments of the Welcome of Cadets, the seventeen members of the Preparers of the Way Session marched proudly into the sanctuary of the Tustin Ranch Corps, ready to begin their training as Salvation Army officers. Joining them were the West’s seven new lieutenants.
A capacity crowd of Salvationists and territorial and divisional leaders provided an enthusiastic welcome.
Highlighting the evening was a joyous time of praise and worship in Spanish and English, brought by the Santa Ana Temple Corps and led by Marcela Tippol.
Cadet Christian Sibaja opened the meeting with prayer in both Spanish and English.
Chief Secretary Lt. Colonel Donald Bell brought words of welcome; Captain Kyle Smith, territorial youth secretary, and Major Nancy Davis, candidates’ and recruitment secretary, presented the cadets to Bond. New this year was a video introduction of the cadets, in which they greeted the territory and testified of their desire to bring the love of God to a needy world. “You have just seen some ordinary people preparing to do extraordinary things for God,” said Davis.
“This is a life long calling,” said Bond as she accepted the cadets. “In this day and age, not too many people accept this kind of commitment. I am so proud of you and receive you with great gratitude.”
Cadet Matthew Madsen testified of our need to live clear, unobstructed lives, much like a musician must keep his or her cornet unobstructed. He then played, “I’d rather have Jesus.”
The lieutenants were recognized for the first time. Bond called them onto the stage, and said, “I want to celebrate and recognize our new lieutenants; they are people who believe God has called them to spiritual leadership, but not to life-long commitment as officers.” She noted all are serving in their own divisions.
Lt. Stacy Cross spoke of working through her shyness and trusting God without reservation: “I’ve no doubt this is the right thing to do,” she said.
Joining the ranks are: Lieutenants Ned and Mary Ortiz, Shane and Regina Lu’uloa, Steve and Daylene Staneart, and Nigel and Stacy Cross.
Training College Principal Lt. Colonel Raymond Peacock led the final song, “I Believe We Shall Win.”
The Pasadena Tabernacle Band, led by Bandmaster James Anderson, and the Tustin Ranch Songsters, led by Songster Leader Bruce Freeman, provided music.
Bond notes session size
Last year at the TEC, in presenting the mission priority on the identification, training and development of leaders, I mentioned that we would be reviewing applicants for officer training very closely and would not necessarily accept everyone who applied. This announcement was received with applause. I hastened to add that while that direction was welcomed, we would have to realize that we must be prepared for smaller sessions for a time.
And so this year we have followed through. And this year we have a small session—17 cadets in the Preparers of the Way Session. However, they are 17 quality people who not only meet all the qualifications for officer training but who will set a standard for spiritual leadership which, we pray, will cause other young adults to rise to the challenge of officership.
—Commissioner Linda Bond