On June 22, the Canada and Bermuda Territory will commission five officers in the Defenders of Justice Session. As these Salvationists prepare for the next stage of their service in The Salvation Army, they reflect on their path to officership and how they seek to defend justice in all aspects of their life and ministry.

Tharwat Eskander and Mirna Dirani

Cadet Tharwat Eskander

When I learned that our sessional name would be Defenders of Justice, I immediately knew that this was divine. Mirna and I are so passionate about social justice that we have taken anti-modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) courses and started a young adults training program called Others to focus on social justice and MSHT advocacy and work. As I become a Salvation Army officer, I pray that I will see what God is doing in our community and have direction on how we can join his work. I hope to be able to reach the nations who are already in our neighbourhoods with the good news of Jesus, and create a welcoming and attractive church environment where unchurched people will feel and know the love of Jesus.

Cadet Mirna Dirani

My educational background is in business, but my heart has always led me to social services. I started my career abroad, assisting refugee families and youth fleeing war. Then God opened the door for me to work at the Army’s Florence Booth House, a women’s shelter in Toronto. This was a step I didn’t fully understand, but God gave me peace that this period was a time of growth toward my calling. At that time, God was opening my eyes, revealing the injustices around me, focusing on my purpose and calling me to act. My whole life, I have had a deep desire to give my all to Jesus. When the opportunity for full-time ministry with the Army came, Tharwat and I didn’t hesitate; we said yes with all our hearts.

Appointed corps officers (outreach and evangelism directors), Mississauga Community Church, Ont.

Matthew and Jenny Rideout

Cadet Jenny Rideout (with Lieutenant Matthew Rideout)

After completing high school, I thought I would find fulfilment in a career in nursing. Officership was never on my radar, but I was always looking for ways to serve, whether by teaching Sunday school, volunteering at youth group, standing at the kettles or working at camp. When I felt God call me away from nursing, I had the opportunity to become the youth ministry co-ordinator at my church, and that was where I started to realize that God was leading me in the direction of officership. As an officer, I will seek to defend justice by identifying needs in my community, amplifying the voices of those whose voices go unheard, and using the gifts and abilities God has given me to serve those around me.

Appointed corps officer, Georgina Community Church, Jackson's Point, Ont.

Neil and Jen Thompson

Cadet Jen Thompson

As a child living at CFOT with my parents, who were training to become officers, I was told by some of their peers that I would be an officer one day, to which I replied, “Not a chance!” But in our first year of marriage, Neil and I found ourselves attending an officership information weekend. We came away feeling that the timing wasn’t right, but that God wasn’t closing the door on officership. In the fall of 2019, we went to another information weekend where we heard God say that he wanted us in fulltime ministry but didn’t want us to leave our community, Vernon, B.C. We were confused, but a few months later, we were asked to consider overseeing the work of The Salvation Army in Vernon as auxiliary-lieutenants. This seemed like an answer to prayer and a confirmation of what God had been saying to us. After two years, we knew he was asking us for a long-term commitment, so we became cadets. We are amazed at God’s plan and thankful for the opportunities he has given us.

Cadet Neil Thompson

To me, defending justice means to love others unconditionally, to seek to listen and understand what people are going through, and to journey with them toward hope. I desire to speak up and stand against injustices in our world and to be a voice for the voiceless in our society. As I begin this next stage in my ministry with The Salvation Army, I hope and pray that I will continue to be a vessel used by God to proclaim and live out his love and his kingdom in every aspect of my life. I want to reflect him in every way, so that he may be glorified in everything that I do.

Appointed corps officers, Vernon Community Church, B.C.

Principal's Commendation

On behalf of the College for Officer Training (CFOT), I am privileged to introduce the Defenders of Justice Session, who will soon be the newest Salvation Army officers of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

Before entering training, these cadets were called to ministry leadership, with four serving first as auxiliary-lieutenants and one in full-time youth ministry. These ministry experiences were formative and prepared them well for the tailored training program they would be entering to equip them for a lifetime of Salvation Army officer service.

Their training journey has been unique. As a session, they took classes at CFOT and Booth University College while being fully remote. In addition to engaging in the full training curriculum, which includes biblical and theological studies and spiritual life development, four Defenders of Justice carried corps leadership responsibilities and sharpened their practical ministry skills and mission formation. They have all excelled academically and are commended for their exemplary attitude and character.

These five individuals have embraced their sessional name. The Salvation Army’s mission is rooted in the pursuit of justice on behalf of others and in alleviating their suffering. As Defenders of Justice, these future officers have been living the mission by sharing the love of Jesus, meeting human needs and being a transforming influence in the communities in which they live, just as our mission statement proclaims. Their training has enhanced their ability to forge Christ-centred and others-focused ministries.

Deana ZelinskyI invite you to join the CFOT community in praying for these cadets as they prepare to enter a covenanted relationship with God and to serve as officers of The Salvation Army. As they will soon be entrusted with the sacred responsibility of officership, may they sense the strength of God upholding them, the guidance of his Spirit leading them, and the grace of his mercy enfolding them as they walk humbly with their Lord (see Micah 6:8).

Training Principal

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