On September 17, 14 new cadets of the Messengers of Compassion Session (2017-2019) marched into Elim Chapel in Winnipeg to mark the beginning of their officer training. An enthusiastic congregation greeted the cadets and their families as they saluted Commissioner Susan McMillan, territorial commander, and took the platform, together with the second-year Messengers of the Gospel (2016-2018).

The Canadian and Salvationist flags are marched inThe Canadian and Salvationist flags are marched in
After the opening strains of Praise Him! Praise Him! supported by the Heritage Park Temple Band, Chief Secretary Colonel Lee Graves prayed: “In a turbulent world … more than ever we need Messengers of Compassion who will take their stand and say ‘Jesus is the hope of the world,’ because the world needs peace.”

Colonel Graves acknowledged the hundreds watching online via livestream as well as international guests from the Germany, Poland and Lithuania Territory, Major Alfred Preuss, corps officer of Siegen Corps and College for Officer Training (CFOT) training officer, and Major Annette Preuss, secretary for personnel and training principal, who were present to support Cadet Anne Beinker from Hamburg, Germany. Also recognized were Majors Wayne and Deborah Bungay, newly appointed as leaders in the Tanzania Territory, and Commissioner John Nelson, retired.

Commissioner McMillan then welcomed the new cadets saying, “Today is a joyful occasion. We pray that God will bring blessing upon them―bring them passion, bring them courage.” The congregation rose to its feet in response as the College for Officer Training’s worship team led a time of spirited singing and Colonel Deborah Graves, territorial secretary for women’s ministries and integrated mission secretary, brought the scripture reading from Philippians 2.

Major Brenda Allen, director of spiritual formation, appeared on stage in costume to present a dramatic monologue about the Good Shepherd, who brought the “lost sheep” home and was willing to lay down his life for the flock. In conclusion, she passed a shepherd’s staff to her husband, Major David Allen, training college principal, who introduced it as a “sessional emblem.”

“How we rejoice for the 14 Messengers of Compassion,” noted Major Allen. “They come from all parts of the territory, from Victoria to Botwood, Newfoundland.” He described CFOT as a “school of applied theology that is about knowing God, knowing ourselves and knowing our mission.”

Cdts Lynn and Joel TorrensCdts Lynn and Joel Torrens
The cadet chorus, led by Donna-Lee Samson, sang their sessional song composed by Major Len Ballantine, Nothing to Offer but Christ, including the words, “Though I am broken … I give Jesus to you.”

Dedicating the sessional flag, Commissioner McMillan noted, “Every army needs a standard behind which they march―to know what they stand for and for whom they fight. This flag will remind you to take the Word of life to the world.”

As the offering was collected, Major Roxanne Jennings, director of field education, distributed prayer cards with names and photos of cadets, asking participants to faithfully remember the cadets during their training.

At the outset of her sermon, Commissioner McMillan announced record enrolment for the upcoming officership information weekend in October. “God is calling and people are responding,” she proclaimed.

She then joked about unusual sessional names, such as the “Up and At It” session, a territorial moniker that preceded the General’s naming of the sessions. Others were recounted, including Torchbearers, Hold Fast, Warriors, Joyful Evangelists and Defenders of the Faith.

The cadet chorus sings their sessional song, Nothing to Offer but ChristThe cadet chorus sings their sessional song, Nothing to Offer but Christ
Commissioner McMillan noted that the names by themselves meant nothing unless they were put into action. “There’s no reason to be called Messengers of Compassion,” she said, “unless you’re willing to speak out and tell others of the love of Christ every day of your officership.” Then, addressing the entire congregation, she asked, “Do you have that attitude of compassion? How does that show itself in the way you live your life?”

The territorial commander paid tribute to Major Leonora Vargas, who operated a girls’ home in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and, in retirement, volunteered to open the Army work in Pando, a remote region. She recounted how excited Major Vargas was to introduce her newest converts. “She was so successful because she loved these people. They responded to her ministry, because they saw the compassion of Jesus in her.”

Basing her sermon on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Commissioner McMillan noted that being a Messenger of Compassion means leading a life of humility. “It means I must die to my own ambitions, so that Christ can live in me; die to my own desires, so that I can be obedient to his call.”

Major Shawn Critch, divisional commander, Prairie Division, offered a benediction and participants were invited to a reception held at the CFOT. The weekend’s events also included a morning family worship service for cadets at Booth University College Chapel.

To see more photos from the march-in meeting, visit facebook.com/salvationistmagazine

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