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Mar19ThuAndrew and Jessica Downie were happy Salvation Army soldiers. But God wanted more from them. March 19, 2020 by Ken Ramstead
Jessica and Andrew Downie thought they had it all planned out. Andrew would continue to serve in the navy until the day came when he would retire with a full pension. Jessica would continue working for The Salvation Army—doing what she loved and serving God through her work.
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“Together, we would enjoy our peaceful retirement plans,” she smiles. “And now here we are, both of us senior soldiers, applying for officership.”
A Natural Fit
The Salvation Army has always been near and dear to Jessica, who began her faith journey as a young child through a bus ministry program. “It’s where I found faith as a child.”
She left the Army as an adolescent but came back to God in her early 20s. Shortly after starting work in social services, she became an adherent.
“The mission and values resonate with me,” she says.
Andrew, not surprisingly, portrays his life in nautical terms.
“Before becoming a Christian, my life was like a ship without an anchor,” says the leading seaman, “going with the flow of things and seeing where life was going to take me. Before coming to know Jesus, I focused on what felt good to me with little regard to how that was affecting anyone or anything else.”
Andrew first heard about the gospel as a teenager when he attended a youth group meeting in Ontario.
“I knew Christians were different from how I viewed myself but I saw them as naïve and hypocritical because that was easier than accepting the hard truth that I was missing something in my life, and that was God.”
After they married, he and Jessica attended an Alpha course together.
“God became real to me,” Andrew says, “and I could no longer ignore him. God used Alpha as a catalyst in our lives.”
“I was missing something in my life, and that was God.”—Andrew Downie
Andrew and Jessica decided to look for a corps where they could worship and in 2018 went to Westsong Community Church (now Connection Point Church) in Victoria, where they have attended ever since.
“I felt God’s presence there, which I had not felt in a long time,” Andrew says.
At that point, both Andrew and Jessica were content to be members of the corps. But the more the couple learned about soldiership, the more they realized that this was what God wanted in their lives.
“It was a natural fit,” Jessica says. “It resonated with who we were and who we wanted to be.”
The couple started the process of becoming senior soldiers after attending commissioning in Vancouver last year.
Officership had been on Jessica’s heart “quietly for a while” but she didn’t share this feeling with anyone, even her husband, who was happy in the navy.
“Plus, we weren’t even soldiers yet so it felt silly to discuss it,” she says.
But then, corps officer Major Catherine Burrows asked Jessica if she had ever considered officership.
“That started a dialogue between Andrew and me,” she says, “but he still wasn’t feeling called, and so I let it go.”
A week later, a retired officer also asked Jessica if she had considered officership.
“I explained what had happened with Major Cathy and that Andrew wasn’t feeling called. She said she would be praying for us.”
That night, the couple attended Bible study. Later that evening as they were about to go to sleep, Andrew sighed and said, “Jess, I think God is calling us to officership.”
“We don’t see officership as a choice, really,” Jessica says. “We see it as a calling, and taking that next step is just obedience to that call. We have always served our churches and in our community, so it feels like God has been preparing us for this step, unbeknownst to us, for a long time. We are just listening and responding.
“I still struggle with feeling worthy of this calling,” she continues. “Every day, I pray, ‘Really, God? Me?’ But I know that all things will work out for his glory.”