1,355 days and counting

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service.” (1 Timothy 1:12, ESV)

by Lt. Kenesa Debela

In almost four years of being an officer, I have often come back to these words of Paul to Timothy. In knowing a lot of fellow officers, I am well aware that ministry can be stressful. There seems, at least from my perspective, to be an unfortunate focus on the challenging side of ministry—long hours, budget woes, neglect, conflict, burnout, etc. Is that all ministry amounts to? Far from it!

I think we need to be intentional and resist the temptation of letting the challenges extinguish the joy we ought to have for the vital calling Jesus has entrusted to us: loving Him and loving others while serving Him and serving others! As officers, we experience particular joys that people in other vocations may not experience. Can I get an “Amen?” Joining The Salvation Army in my mid-40s and leaving behind a well-established career, I am, undoubtedly, a firsthand witness! There truly are so many blessings and joys that accompany ministry in The Salvation Army.

It is a privilege and a joy to pray with and for folks. Prayer is such a vital part of ministry. The physical and spiritual battle people face is a daily reminder that prayer is necessary. One of my favorite requests as a pastor is: “Please pray for me.” It is not only a pleasure to draw near to God in prayer, but there is a wonderful spiritual fellowship when we get to intercede on behalf of others. As an officer, I have opportunities to experience such sweet fellowship daily.

It is also a joy to sit with someone in need and engage in conversation, getting to know them as people beyond what brought them to our doorstep. It lets them know that they are seen, heard, respected and valued. They become hopeful. “God did it!” were the words of a gentleman with tears in his eyes as he turned the key to enter his one-bedroom apartment after experiencing homelessness for over a year. All it took was for someone to acknowledge him as a person first, not just another homeless guy. What a reminder of Romans 5:8 (NIV): “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Officership provides countless opportunities to demonstrate the unconditional love of God to a suffering humanity. How joyful!

 

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