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Jan29FriGod’s call to officership brings four cousins to the College for Officer Training. January 29, 2021
Cadet Matthew Rideout, Cadet Joshua Rideout, Cadet Janelle Colbourne and Cadet Kelsie Burford have a few things in common. First, they’re all cadets at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) in Winnipeg— the first three in the Messengers of Reconciliation Session (2020-2022) and Cadet Kelsie in the Messengers of Grace Session (2019-2021). Second, Cadet Matthew and Cadet Joshua are brothers. And third, Cadet Janelle and Cadet Kelsie are their cousins. Leigha Vegh, associate editor of Salvationist, interviewed the four family members to ask them about their journey to officership together.
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What does it mean to you to do ministry with family at CFOT?
Cadet Joshua Rideout: The opportunity to share my training and ministry opportunities with my family at CFOT is a special privilege that few experience. Many people have asked me if I planned on going to CFOT with my brother, Matthew, and cousins, Kelsie and Janelle, and the answer is no. I never consciously made the decision to go with them. I ultimately felt God was calling me to go into training this year regardless of who was going to be there. That being said, I also believe that God has a specific purpose and plan for each of our lives and that it is not a mere coincidence that the four of us are here in training together. We all grew up together, not just as cousins, but closer to siblings. It’s something that we have never taken for granted. In this season more than ever before, with the stress of training, ministry, COVID-19 and everything else, it has been easy to see the intentionality of God’s hand at work. I mean, what are the odds of us all being here at the same time? All in all, having a personal family within the greater CFOT family has been a blessing and I am excited to see what God has in store for the continuation of our training.
Cadet Matthew Rideout: Doing ministry with my family at CFOT has been neat. All four of us are officers’ kids who were born into that life. Knowing that we are following in the footsteps of our parents to become officers in The Salvation Army is unique. Out of my dad’s family, his younger brother and youngest sister were the three youngest out of six who became officers. Back on Father’s Day, around 43 years ago, my grandfather accepted Jesus as his Saviour one Sunday night, after my dad and his younger brother went forward as young children to accept Jesus that same morning. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Because of the power of God at work in the life of my grandfather, I am here today at CFOT following Jesus, as well.
Cadet Janelle Colbourne: It is such a special gift to be here at CFOT with my family. Some people have asked me if we planned it to happen this way. But the answer is no. Kelsie is a year ahead of the boys and me, and even though I knew they were doing their paperwork at the same time as me, I never could have imagined that our paths to CFOT would have synced up like they did. It truly is a blessing. Matt, Josh, Kelsie and I are all very close, and our bond often feels more like siblings than cousins. Even though our parents are officers, we were lucky to have lived in the same divisions as each other for most of our lives. It’s also nice to have family to lean on when things can get stressful. Attending CFOT is a busy time with our course load, but knowing that my cousins can relate to my situation is helpful. It has also been an added blessing to be here together as we near the holidays, since the pandemic has stopped us from being able to visit home.
Cadet Kelsie Burford: It has been an absolute blessing to have my family here with me at CFOT. It’s a unique opportunity to have people that have always been such a big part of my life share in this important journey and time of transition.
What has your call to officership looked like?
JR: For quite a while, and even before I could really name it, I had felt a calling to ministry. It took me longer to figure out not only was it a call to officership, but to something deeper. After I had figured it out and I was content with my calling, it was no longer about what I was called to do, but rather when I was to go to CFOT. After working with the Army as a youth director, it increasingly solidified the reason why I wanted to become an officer. It had nothing to do with following my parents or the other officers within my family. It had everything to do with me feeling an unshakeable desire to do nothing else other than to share the love of Jesus with others in practical ways. It’s this desire alone that has fuelled me to follow the path that I am currently on.
MR: Three years ago, I was at a youth Fuse weekend as a chaperone leader for my corps. There, the guest officer who was the speaker specifically said that 30-plus people present were going to become officers. I had heard many calls and challenges before about people considering officership, but this time was different. I knew God was speaking to me and that this was something he was calling me to. The next two years I spent working in The Salvation Army’s finance department. Though I was still able to serve and contribute to God’s mission through my work and at my corps, I knew that God was calling me to something different. Not a better mission or work, but God’s call for me, which just happens to be as a Salvation Army officer. Some encouragement I wish to share with those that might be considering God’s call to officership is that whatever God may be calling you to, don’t hesitate, and trust God’s timing as you follow him. A Scripture passage that has helped me along the way to CFOT is Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT), which says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” I just hope for the future that God would have all of me and work through me to proclaim his love wherever I go, and that others would come to know him.
JC: If I am being completely honest with myself, officership has always been what God has been calling me toward. But it wasn’t until the past couple of years that I was in a place in my life where I was ready to listen to the Lord and my calling. A few years ago, I was in a low and difficult period of my life and really struggling. One night I just completely surrendered my life to the Lord and his plans for my life. I never had fully done that before. I remember feeling God’s peace in that moment, which was exactly what I needed. It was shortly after that night when I really felt the Lord leading me to officership. I was scared and felt completely inadequate for the job. But I was reminded that God would not call me to something that he would not equip me for. My hope for my future in officership is that God would continue to use me as a vessel for furthering his kingdom. I also hope that one day my cousins and I can be officers in the same division, just like our parents were. Another source of inspiration for me was our grandfather. He was a strong man of God. He was an encourager, a pillar of faith in his community and truly loved by all. When our parents were young, our grandfather gave his life to Christ and I truly believe this impact was shown by our parents becoming officers. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2017, but I know that he would be so proud to see four of his grandchildren being obedient to God’s calling. The way he lived his life for Jesus has impacted my life, and I’m sure my cousins’ lives, more than I can put into words.
KB: I became a cadet simply because God called and I answered. I think that there are many moments in my life, looking back now, when God spoke into the call he placed on my life, even if I may not have seen it at the time. His grace and provision are what has gotten me to this point. I hope that God continues to use me in powerful ways to build his kingdom and to help reveal the truth of who he is to others. I believe God will use me to serve him and others.