I was born into a church-going family, but as a child I didn’t understand why it was important to go to church. Whenever I asked, I was told, ‘Just because!’ And so long as I was quiet in church and didn’t complain, I avoided a clip around the ears.
When The Salvation Army came to Glen Eden to start a new church, I got involved. Through the soldiers that were part of this mission, David and Ester Rankin, I saw and learnt that Jesus is a real person.
It was through music that my connection with The Salvation Army and my faith grew stronger. I’d been playing the euphonium since intermediate school and was asked to join the music team at The Salvation Army. Later, I was asked to try for a scholarship to attend a National Development Youth Band camp. I applied and was accepted.
I met and made friends with people from around the country and from Fiji and Tonga. That weekend, everything I’d heard about God and having a real and growing relationship with God came together to make sense. I gave my life to God that weekend, even though it took a while for me to understand what that really meant.
I had the chance to join the National Youth Band, but I had to be a Salvation Army soldier (member) to qualify. So I became a soldier. But I confess I only made that decision to get into the band.
At this time, I wasn’t honouring God in every part of my life. My girlfriend Sheree became pregnant with our first child and we couldn’t afford to get married. I was no longer allowed to be a soldier because of our situation, but it was important to me to look after my family.
I understood the decision about not remaining a soldier, because I hadn’t set a good example to others, but I did feel rejected for a while. I became very bitter toward God and The Salvation Army and started to investigate other religions. This was a real ‘wilderness’ time, but eventually my bitterness diminished, and my love for God and the purposes of why The Salvation Army exists became clearer.
Our second child was born and I was more aware of my need for God than ever. I started to attend church again, and soon after, Sheree became pregnant with twins. The preaching I was hearing at church was really hitting the mark in my life and I started applying it at home and work.
Sheree saw the love of Jesus in action through our church family, and this helped her turn to God. We were married before our twins were born and both became soldiers as well. Later, I became the children’s worker at our church.
I kept learning to trust God more, handing over everything I was worried about.
When I look back, I see that my calling to serve God as a Salvation Army officer started at a young age. There is great need in our communities and no amount of ‘government bandages’ can cover that up.
What I like about The Salvation Army is that we’re willing to get off our bums and help. Being active to win souls for God is our business, and I want to be part of it!
By Misi Vemoa