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Jan22FriCadet Patrick Penton had to give up everything to pursue his passion for officership. January 22, 2021 by Ken Ramstead
(Above) “God has blessed me, so much more than I ever deserved,” says Cdt Patrick Penton
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Patrick Penton was at the airport on the way home to Canada when it hit him.
“Everything that was home for the last 14 years—all was gone. I had to surrender my old life and depend on God.”
Penton was born in Bishop’s Falls, N.L. His mother and grandfather were Salvationists, but she’d married a Roman Catholic and left the church.
One evening, the Salvation Army corps in Bishop’s Falls held a concert, and his grandfather asked the 10-year-old if he wanted to attend.
“That was the first time I’d really heard the gospel preached,” Penton remembers. “And that was also my first introduction to The Salvation Army.”
Cat Out of the Bag
Unbeknownst to his parents, Penton started to attend Army church services.
“I sensed I might get in trouble with my parents, so I didn’t go inside,” he recalls. “Instead, I would stand under the window and experience worship that way. If you talk to any of the older soldiers today, they’d tell you they remember my little head bobbing up and down at the window.”
Eventually, Penton did enter, and a couple of years later he stood up one Sunday and shared his testimony.
Of course, in a small town, news leaked out.
“We were shopping the next day and someone told my parents, ‘You must be very proud of your son.’ That’s when the secret got out.”
Change of Direction
Penton’s father forbade him to attend Army services, but he continued. Matters came to a head one Sunday when Penton was caught sneaking into the house after a late-evening service.
“I was in big trouble,” he recalls.
The situation at home became difficult but, eventually, Penton’s father relented, and his mother even started to attend Army services with her son.
“From that time on,” he says, “there was a change of direction in our family life.”
“You Should Be There”
Now a soldier, Penton realized officership was in his future.
“I had many preaching engagements during high school,” he says, “and it just felt right behind the pulpit. Seeing people coming to know the Lord, seeing the Spirit moving among his people, confirmed to me that this was the decision I needed to make.”
Penton attended William and Catherine Booth College in Winnipeg—now Booth University College—and planned to attend the College for Officer Training (CFOT) immediately upon graduation.
But a year of travel turned into 14 when he secured a job with the Korean department of education.
Throughout that time, he was involved in ministry, leading English congregations and even leading worship at The Salvation Army’s Korea International Corps.
One morning at 3 a.m., Penton’s phone buzzed him out of sleep. It was a call from Canadian friends who were attending the Army’s international Boundless Congress, which took place in London, England, in 2015.
“It was as if I heard something in my mind saying, ‘You should be there.’ ”
“I Need to Go Home”
Penton made the decision to return to Canada.
“I had my work. I was travelling on speaking engagements three to four times a year. Everything seemed to be perfect.”
But when Penton prayed that year, peace did not come to him as it had every year before. “That’s when I knew I had a decision to make.”
In 2018, Penton called Major Terence Hale, territorial children and youth secretary and assistant secretary for candidates, and told him, ‘This is where God is leading me. I need to enter the 2019 Messengers of Grace Session. I need to go home.’ ”
The interview process went smoothly, and Penton started at the CFOT in the fall of 2019.
A Passion for People
Penton had a wonderful first semester, though it took him a while to reacquaint himself with Canadian culture. “For instance, I had to get used to not bowing to everyone I’d meet!”
At the end of the year, Cadet Penton was asked to take on a field-based appointment, and he is now the corps officer in Glovertown and Charlottetown, N.L.
Cadet Penton still has his CFOT responsibilities on top of his corps duties, but he would not have it any other way.
“God has blessed me, so much more than I ever deserved,” he says. “But that can’t compare to the joy I receive when I see someone changed by the power of God.”