Lightbringers,Lightbringers, shining the light of Jesus Christ.
We’ll tell the world a Savior has died and spread the gospel of new life. (snippet of our informal session song written by Cadet Larry Torbitt)
On June 3, 1972 the Lightbringer Session was commissioned to go into the world and to shine the light of God in a dark world. Little did I know where that journey would take me.
The first leg of the journey began in Newport, Kentucky. An old four room school; one room was the chapel, one was the game room, one was the all purpose room and one was our apartment. (there were other spaces that allowed for offices, corps kitchen, food pantry, etc. We also had an attic and a basement.)
I can still remember the excitement I felt to finally be doing the work to which God had called me. It felt so good to be done with the strict regimentation of the Training College along with the daily calendar that scheduled every moment of our lives.
I arrived in Newport filled with the arrogance of youth but more importantly the assurance of hope that ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’
I can still vividly recall the excited feelings of competency that we are here and that God was going to do great things in this appointment through us. Oh the innocence of youth!
As I look back with the eyes of experience and maturity I can see that God did do great things through us, just not in the way that I had expected; nor with the outcomes I had wanted to see. You see, God works things out for our good and the good of the appointment in ways that we don’t always see immediately or perhaps at all. Nevertheless He does this in marvelous and miraculous ways. The old adage comes to mind: God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. And if we are careful or, dare I say, faithful, we may have the blessing of a glimpse Him in action.
The reality is that in the four years that I spent in Newport I learned much! I think that top on that list is that things do not always work out as the “authorities” teach (or like they say in Training). For example, when I arrived my Home League consisted of about five or six women. I was told that if I did visitation ‘they would come.’ Well, I did, they didn’t…….then. I made it a practice to visit all the ladies on the roll and those who weren’t. I can recall three women in particular that I would visit on a regular basis but could never get them to come to a Home League Meeting. Now here’s the truth about visitation: I believe that it is vital to corps growth and to the spiritual shepherding that our people need, it needs to be consistent and it needs to happen from one officer to the next. What I learned is that some folks are so broken that it is difficult for them to believe that there are those that truly care for them. It took the faithful visitation of my successor to finally get those three ladies into the Home League family. My successor thanked me for my faithfulness that made her task easier. God works in marvelous ways for our good and the good of our appointments when we are faithful, even when we don’t see the results that we expect. I think that we all know this but when we do not see immediate results we get discouraged and let the evil one have the victory.
The most important lesson I learned from Newport is that as an Officer I was called to run a marathon not a sprint. I also learned that along the way I would run through deserts, valleys, mountain tops, and luscious pastures. I know many will not want to hear this, but I also have learned while running this race that the old chorus is true: “By the pathway of duty flows the river of God’s grace.” Sometimes in this marathon, while running through the desert places, I wanted to quit and it was only my sense of duty (and calling) that kept me going. As I kept on, I discovered that the wonderful river of God’s grace gave me the nourishment and strength I needed to keep me obedient to His will.
Tomorrow a new “crop” of Lieutenants will be assigned their first appointments. I envy them their beginnings. The glimpse God gave me from our first appointment of working all things for our good and the good of the appointment: About fifteen years after Newport as we were walking towards the Ocean Grove Auditorium a tall young man approached us. He had cadet’s trim on this uniform. He asked us if we remembered him. “Well, you look familiar but not really.” He then proceeded to tell us his name and that we had enrolled him as a junior soldier. It all clicked and the little boy that we knew came flooding back to our hearts and mind! Thank you, Lord, for that blessing and reminding us that You do have a marvelous way of using us for Your purposes!
As I write this many faces are coming to mind that it was my privilege to serve. I am so grateful that I can look back, see my failures and successes, and say that I would do it ALL again if given the chance.