West welcomes ‘Messengers of the Gospel’
A theatrical opening recognizing “a gospel that matches the hour” kicked off the Western Territory Welcome of Cadets Sept. 10 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Southern California.
The event recognized 45 new cadets—the Messengers of the Gospel Session—now in training to become Salvation Army officers at the College for Officer Training at Crestmont.
“This flag declares that your session represents Messengers of the Gospel, but it also declares—perhaps more importantly—the ‘Blood and the Fire,’” said Territorial Commander Commissioner James Knaggs. “A fresh translation of the ‘Blood and the Fire’ may be said in this way: love and more love.”
Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs, Territorial President of Women’s Ministries, challenged the cadets with the words of Ephesians 3:14-20: For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
“We pray that you will become rooted and grounded in love and that an understanding of these truths will become part of your DNA,” Knaggs said.
In her testimony, Cadet Melissa Jones noted the session verse, Matthew 24:14: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations.
“From this verse we receive our message, our mandate, and a prophetic statement from Jesus about what will happen in the world,” Jones said. “Once we believe, we must then seek out the Holy Spirit to transform us through and through. For if we are to be witnesses to the world, we must not just preach the message, we must be the message.
“The gospel is more than mere words. It is a living, breathing, transformative message, and if we are to be his messengers we must continually move beyond mere belief and into living testimonies of God’s transformational grace and salvation,” she said. “That is how we change the world for Christ.”
The Messengers of the Gospel sang their session song, “We’ve Got Good News” (Rob Little / Nicholas King), flanked by the now second-year cadets of the Joyful Intercessors Session.
James Knaggs rode onto stage on a bicycle—one pant leg rolled up—shouting “Messenger, messenger.” From a backpack, he pulled a sack lunch, a free clothing voucher, a map to the Bell Shelter, a corps schedule
“I think being a Messenger of the Gospel has something to do with food, clothing, shelter, and fellowship,” Knaggs said. “But it occurs to me that there is more to it. It includes these things, but the message of the Gospel comes from the heart. It comes from God’s heart to our heart, and from our hearts to others.”
Knaggs turned to Acts 8:26-39, the story of Philip—a messenger of the Gospel.
“The messenger listens to God, and acts upon it,” he said. “The message of the gospel is urgent, and messengers are important to the kingdom of God—how else will people hear it? The messenger knows how to convey the gospel.
“The message of the gospel brings new life in the joy of Jesus,” Knaggs said.
Following a time of commitment, Chief Secretary Colonel Douglas Riley led a song, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain” (SASB 241) before the closing benediction.