by Major Karen Johnson
In his Christmas message of 1915, General Bramwell Booth is quoted as saying, “Every land is my fatherland, for all lands are my Father’s.” Indeed, when our desire is to serve God and follow His leading, barriers are broken down and bridges are built.
This past year at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) has been one of bridge building as the Training in Spanish initiative was introduced and we welcomed the first four cadets to participate in it. This approach has utilized a multifaceted approach in providing support, education and resources in Spanish while helping cadets learn English so they will be prepared for their work as officers.
Classes such as Bible and doctrine have been taught in Spanish, while other classes have either been interpreted or provided with a facilitator who helps with comprehension. Seven bilingual officers on the CFOT staff have readily assisted these English-language learners both in the classroom and in more casual settings.
While the destination—commissioning as a bilingual officer—is clear, the process is flexible and customized to meet each cadet where they are on this journey. Every quarter, progress is reviewed, needs reevaluated and supports are adjusted for the individual cadet so that he or she is not overwhelmed but consistently moving toward self-sufficiency and established outcomes. Underwritten by International Headquarters, the award-winning Rosetta Stone language education software has been an invaluable resource.
“It has been a challenge in dealing with all the logistics that pertain to such a blessed endeavor,” said Captain Edwin Velez, one of the officers who has given assistance in the new Training in Spanish initiative. “But we, as a body of believers, have been supremely blessed to work with those who have been called by God.”
Indeed, their presence on campus has enriched the fellowship and created a cultural sensitivity in the other cadets which will serve them well in ministry. In spite of the language barrier or cultural complexities, the Spanish-speaking cadets have fully engaged in campus life. They often have demonstrated their love for God and passion to minister to others which is what brought them to the CFOT and what the CFOT can’t provide. While they are learning important skills they will need as officers, they are teaching the other cadets and staff alike about overcoming challenges in order to be used by God.