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May23ThuBill and Renee Mailman resisted officership, but God had other plans. May 23, 2019 by Ken Ramstead
Bill and Renee Mailman were sitting in their pew at Berkshire Citadel Community Church in Calgary as the corps officer, Captain Peter Robinson, preached the first of a five-part series on accepting God’s call.
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During the sermon, he asked the congregation, “What’s the scariest thing God could call you to do?”
Renee and Bill looked at each other and said in unison, “Officership,” chuckling as they did so.
But the question wouldn’t go away.
Two Lives, One Lifestyle
Both Renee and Bill are children of Salvation Army officers.
“I was born into The Salvation Army,” Renee says. “It’s what I know.”
When she was 16, she worked at The Salvation Army’s Pine Lake Camp in Alberta, where she accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour.
“It occurred at staff devotionals the week before the camp officially opened for the summer,” she says. “I’d wondered if my beliefs were my own or belonged to others. But that night, I knew they were mine.”
As for Bill—“It was the life I grew up with”—he committed his life to God at 14 and become a senior soldier at 16.
“I was already living the lifestyle, so it was putting to paper something that was already part of my life.”
While Bill was a soldier before he and Renee were married, she did not feel any urgency.
“When I turned 14, there weren’t any other kids in the corps my age, so the matter of becoming a senior soldier never came up.”
It was only after the couple had been married for a while that their corps officers approached her about making the commitment official.
“And that was just fine with me,” Renee says.
Still Not Called?
Officership was another story.
Though well-meaning acquaintances occasionally raised the idea, “Officership was not something we aspired to—not that we were against it by any means,” Renee says.
She was happy working as a registered nurse in an adolescent psychiatry unit, while Bill was content as a FedEx package handler.
“Being officers’ kids, we’d periodically check in with each other—‘Do you feel called?’ ‘No. Do you feel called?’ ‘No. OK, I guess we’re not called’—and that was that,” says Bill.
“I Think So, Too”
So matters stood in the summer of 2017, when Bill and Renee’s corps officer delivered that series of sermons.
“It was a difficult summer for me. I loved my job but I kept feeling that God was telling me I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore,” Renee says.
One night before work, she broke down crying because she dreaded going to work the next day.
“I looked at Bill and said, ‘I think we’re supposed to be officers.’ And for the first time in all those check-in sessions, Bill responded, ‘I think so, too.’ ”
Avoiding the Obvious
It turned out that Bill had been trying to deny the call to officership, but was failing.
“It was uncomfortable for me knowing what I needed to do and actively resisting it,” he says.
Bill vividly remembers Captain Peter’s last sermon in the series.
“I remember him saying, ‘If God is calling you to do something, just do it.’ That’s when I knew—but I didn’t want to raise it with Renee.
“So that evening when Renee broke down, I realized we’d been avoiding the obvious. Less than a year later, we were at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) in Winnipeg.”
“Just Do It”
Now in their first year at CFOT, the Mailmans will become officers next year.
“I guess you could say we have 2020 vision!” Bill laughs.
In retrospect, the Mailmans realized that they had put off something they knew they had to do for quite a while.
“We asked many officers for advice and they wisely deferred,” says Bill. “We wanted someone—anyone—to give us a yes or no answer. They all knew it was a decision no one else could make for us.”
“If you are asking the questions about officership,” says Renee, “then it’s worth sitting down and taking the time to pray to God and ask him what he wants for you.”
“The fact that you are even asking the question means something right there,” agrees Bill. “And if you are feeling this way, if that’s what you feel God is calling you to, it’s simply being open to the fact that you’re being called. So go on and do it!”