I grew up in Mangere, South Auckland, in a home impacted by the adverse effects of alcohol. I was about seven when Mum and Dad separated. A Salvation Army officer turned up with some of my favourite toys from our old place, along with food and support. This act of kindness made a lasting impression on me.
When I was 17, we moved to Otahuhu. The Salvation Army was just over the back fence. On Saturday nights, the noise of the youth group drew me in. There was something very appealing about the purpose and hope my new friends possessed. As our friendships grew, my understanding of Jesus also grew. In time, I felt moved to give my life and follow the Lord.
I’ve always been inspired by the life of William Booth. His focus on the least privileged in society found an echo in my heart. After Melissa and I married, we both sensed God calling us to engage in Booth’s mission—the mission of Christ—as officers.
Officership has enabled me to wrestle with what it means to be part of God’s Kingdom. In Mark 4, Jesus shares the Parable of the Growing Seed. This story reminds me that I am privileged to partner with God in seeing his Kingdom come on earth in the here and now. This keeps me grounded and faithful in sharing my life journey with others.
We must continually seek to be an inclusive Army. People need to know that wherever they’re at on their journey of life and faith, we are secure enough in our identity as a movement to embrace them.
When asked to describe my officership experience I often choose the words ‘bittersweet symphony’, because my faith has to work in the world I actually live in. Bad stuff happens and it isn’t always fair. Yet in the midst of whatever life throws at us is a God who transforms injustice, bitterness and indifference into faith, hope and love.
Changing appointments has been challenging. I’m a relational person who finds it difficult to let go of significant friendships. Yet, ironically, I wouldn’t want to be bereft of those relationships that have shaped the person I am becoming.
Officership is a way of living. Stretching and difficult at times. But fulfilling and rewarding. Saying ‘yes’ to God was a great call.