by Major Lesa Davis
“This is an important night for the Central Territory,” declared Colonel Steve Howard, chief secretary, as he greeted the enthusiastic crowd gathered for the Cadets’ Welcome. “We are welcoming a new session of cadets, people who have responded to the call of God to officership, along with many others who are exploring their own calling by attending the 730 Weekend.” He urged everyone present to be attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit and responsive to God’s call.
As the Chicago Staff Band played “In my life, Lord, be glorified,” 23 cadets, including four who are receiving training in Spanish, took their places on the stage as “Messengers of the Kingdom.”
Major Tricia Taube, territorial candidates’ secretary, highlighted the contributions of many people who helped the cadets reach this milestone. Divisional leaders and candidates’ secretaries stood, representing corps officers and local leaders whose faithful service inspired and encouraged the cadets on their path to become Salvation Army officers.
Presenting the session flag to College for Officer (CFOT) Training Principal Major Brian Davis, Territorial Commander Commissioner Brad Bailey described it as a “silent sentinel of the sovereign God…a symbol that inspires Salvationists to surrender to Jesus, to share the good news of Jesus and to serve the whosoever in His name.”
In turn, the major presented the flag to session flagbearer Cadet Marty Norris. Addressing the session, Major Davis said, “You are messengers to a world that not only needs to hear the gospel but to see it embodied. You must be living proof that your message is true.” Commissioner Heidi Bailey, territorial president of women’s ministries, then dedicated them in prayer.
A highlight of the evening was a bilingual interview with Cadets Ramon and Elisaine (Ely) Cebrian by Majors Marc and Karen Johnson, assistant principal and Spanish training director at the CFOT. Natives of Cuba, they became soldiers of the Dodge City, Kan., Corps but were convinced they would have to go to the Eastern Territory to receive training since the Central did not offer it in Spanish. Ramon’s delighted declaration, “God heard our prayers and provided a way for us to be trained in Spanish right here in this territory,” was greeted by thunderous applause.
In his message, “Step up and step out,” based on Acts 26:27-29, the territorial commander said, “The gospel has transformed us. We are all called to proclaim it.” He urged Salvationists to live as effective messengers of God’s Kingdom in a secular society. During a time of response, the stage was lined with potential candidates.
Immediately following the meeting, 174 delegates, cadets and staff traveled to the CFOT for the 730 Weekend. Cadets served as hosts and guides for candidates as they were given opportunities for worshipping, studying and learning together.
Following a day in the life of a cadet, delegates attended cleaning details with their cadet hosts and then morning prayers where Cadets Scott and Dena Smith challenged delegates to trust God throughout the candidate process and addressed many common concerns.
During the day delegates attended doctrine and Bible classes with their cadet hosts, as well as attending sessions that specifically addressed spiritual preparation and the candidate process. Major Tricia Taube, territorial candidates’ secretary, and Mr. Blake Lanier from the Candidate Coaching Action Plan program as well as CFOT staff members held a Q & A with delegates to address specific questions and give practical advice on exploring their calling and preparing for CFOT life.
On Saturday evening, Lts. Christopher and Rachel White used the life of King David to urge delegates not to be “too afraid to trust.” Drawing on their own experiences in training and their first appointment, the Whites encouraged delegates to be faithful and obedient to God as they prepare themselves for a life of serving Him as officers.
Delegates especially enjoyed time with their cadet hosts, both in organized fellowship like “Taste of Chicago,” Saturday night’s scavenger hunt and tours of the campus, and in unscheduled time in small groups and one-on-one.
The weekend concluded with enthusiastic worship, including a stirring message from Territorial Program Secretary Lt. Colonel Philip Maxwell. Using Joshua 3:1-5 as the basis for his sermon, the colonel called on delegates to remain in awe of God and be faithful, obedient and focused as they explore God’s calling for their lives. The message was followed by an eager response.