“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity,” writes the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:12.
This verse has encouraged 17-year-old Riley Hobbs as he has become heavily involved in preaching and leadership at a young age.
A Larger Role
Born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador, Riley has attended Little Heart’s Ease Corps since he was a week old. After enrolling as a senior soldier at the age of 15, his corps officer asked him if he would do some short sermons on youth Sundays.
These preaching opportunities ignited a passion that he’d already had inside him.
“When I was younger,” Riley recalls, “I’d look up at the stage at the officer and feel that I wanted to see myself there. When I grew up, I was given the chance to be in that position. It created a passion, and I wanted to do it more.”
In addition to occasional preaching, Riley began leading the corps’ kids’ club.
After preaching on and off at Little Heart’s Ease for about a year, a defining moment in Riley’s journey came at Easter 2022, when Random Island Corps—which is about an hour from Little Heart’s Ease—asked him if he would come speak at their Easter service.
“I preached there in the morning and then at my home corps Easter night,” Riley recalls. “After that, I preached in five different churches and throughout the year.”
As well, Riley has been called upon more at his home church as, due to officer placements, Little Heart’s Ease Corps has been placed under the supervision module, meaning the nearby supervising church comes and does services twice a month.
After a couple of years of gaining practice and experience at home and in the area, Riley is prepared to step into a larger role.
“On the Sundays that the supervising church isn’t there, I preach and lead the service.”
Why the Army?
Riley fell in love with preaching because it is an opportunity to help others and lead them through the words he uses.
This passion for helping others has not only led him to seek out preaching engagements but has also helped him develop a stronger connection with The Salvation Army, one that is more personal and means more than just being brought up in the church.
“I believe in the Army’s commitment to helping others,” Riley says, “and community service sets them apart from other churches.”
Its presence and work outside of the church with camps, food banks, youth and women’s shelters, family and homeless services, and disaster relief, fall in line with Riley’s goals as a preacher and follower of Christ.
“The Salvation Army is a good place for me to help people. It is always there to help, and seeing how it does has brought me into the church more.”
With his passion for preaching and his commitment to and appreciation for The Salvation Army and its mission, Riley—who feels “very called to officership”—is hoping to enrol at the College for Officer Training in a couple of years. However, in the meantime, he is focused on preaching at Little Heart’s Ease and travelling to different corps in the area.
Using God’s Gifts
Riley hopes that people interested in his story will focus on what God has done— and will continue to do—through him to inspire others within and beyond The Salvation Army.
“I think that reading about my story will spark hope. My generation isn’t done!”
Riley encourages young people not to let their age stop them from pursuing their goals and making a difference, something he has been busy doing in his young life through various ministry channels.
“For people who are looking to start preaching or get out there, just go for it, and don’t let anyone stop you or look down on you for your age. If God’s given you a gift, why wait to show it?”
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