The 24 members of the “Messengers of the Gospel” session were greeted by the territory with a public welcome at the Chicago, Ill., Mayfair Community Church (Corps) where they—and the rest of those in attendance—were issued a challenge by guest speaker Commissioner Sue Swanson to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
Basing her remarks on the fifth chapter of Mark, the commissioner talked about Christ’s instruction to those people He had healed to “go tell others.” Alluding to her visit to the Trinity College Museum in Dublin, Ireland, she compared Christ’s charge to them with the efforts of Irish monks to do likewise during the Dark Ages. She said the monks painstakingly preserved the Bible by copying its text by hand onto parchment sheets, which were then bound not only into the beautifully illuminated Book of Kells on display in the museum but also into smaller books destined to be carried in leather shoulder bags by monks who disseminated the gospel message to England and the rest of Europe, many parts of which had not seen God’s Word in centuries.
“These men, with their messenger bags strapped across their bodies, were referred to as warrior monks. They knew they were going into exile, never to see their homelands again, but their commitment to Christ’s charge was even stronger,” she continued. “When we received God’s grace, Christ gave each of us a messenger bag; He called us to speak up. Where do you need to take your bag?” the commissioner asked.
During the entrance of the new cadets, their officer and soldier mentors were recognized as they followed them down the center aisle to the foot of the platform to stand with their divisional leaders and divisional candidates’ secretaries. Soon the front of the platform was packed with people representing seven divisions. After each group gathered for a final prayer and blessing, the new cadets joined the second-year “Joyful Intercessors” session already seated on the platform.
Major Cherri Hobbins, College for Officer Training principal, said in her introduction of the new session that 17 of the 24 members are first-generation Salvationists. Half of the session received Christ through Army ministries, six members are children of officers, two are fifth-generation Salvationists and 10 members are single. The average age of the session is 32.
While presenting the session flag to Cadet Christopher Nicolai, the major expounded on the significance of flags as signal devices that identify its bearer as well as its mission or intent, whether it be war or peace. “The Army flag identifies it as a Movement with a mission and message that we are all involved in the great salvation war,” said the major as she explained how the colors and symbolism on the flag illustrate the Army’s doctrines. “Our flag is not sacred; we don’t revere it, but we respect its testimony,” she added.
Cadet Makayla Broer shared how she met the Army in college by accompanying a Salvationist friend on a short-term missions trip. After graduation, she attended a Mission and Purpose conference and entered the Ministry Discovery Program even though she didn’t believe God was calling her to be a preacher. Two months later she realized God could speak through her and answered the call to officership.
First-year cadets Jack Huffman and Jenny Moffitt read Isaiah 40:1-8 while sessionmate Derek Jung read it in Korean. More international flair came from three second-year cadets—Kenneth Alip from the Philippines, Anil Kumar Kandamala from India and Vatthana Thammavongsa from Laos—who presented a skit supporting the cadets’ World Services/Self-Denial fundraising efforts.
Cadets in a praise team led congregational worship songs and a united chorus sang “Here am I, my Lord,” while the Chicago Staff Band, led by Bandmaster Harold Burgmeyer, provided music throughout the meeting.