Congratulations to Semi Ratu and Elizabeth Walker-Ratu who have been accepted as candidates for officer training in 2019. They share their faith journey so far …
Semi: I was born into a large Christian family where I was one of seven boys. When I was four years old my parents were accepted into the School for Officer Training in Fiji. After being commissioned as officers, Mum and Dad were appointed to the Lautoka Corps. But, sadly, after two and a half years Dad passed away.
Growing up, I was raised by my mum, aunties, uncles and brothers. During this time, I knew who God was but didn’t really have a personal relationship with him. At the age of 16, I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and became a soldier of The Salvation Army. However, the pressure to try and fit in became part of the worldly things that distracted me from my walk with the Lord. It wasn’t until the death of two of my best friends from church that I realised if I continued on this path, I, too, could end up in a similar situation.
I recommitted my life to the Lord and have been purposefully walking with him ever since. Over the years, I have had many people of influence in my life come up to me and say they could see me as an officer. I really didn’t take them seriously as I didn’t see myself being an officer. But I was always reminded of the Bible verse from Proverbs 16:9, ‘We may make our plans but God has the last word’ (GNB).
Along with my wife and two boys, I am excited about the next step of our journey and look forward to seeing what God has in store for us.
Elizabeth: One of the favourite words in our house at the moment is ‘but’— this word sums up a large amount of my faith journey. Like Semi, I grew up in a Christian household. I attended Sunday school at Hamilton City Corps and when I was seven became a Junior Soldier. I can remember vividly my preparation classes and was pleased to ask Jesus into my life.
Early in my teenage years my parents took on the role of offi cers at the Queenstown Corps—our home at the time. I really enjoyed spending my time at the church and being a part of the greater family there. During high school, I really struggled with the idea that if God was real how could so many others not see or believe in him? So, while I still believed, I allowed my
relationship with him to take a back seat as I looked for what others had.
Thankfully, I had a great corps surrounding me with prayer, and some amazing close mentors who encouraged me. By the time I finished high school, I had a really clear sense that God wanted me to be helping others in some way. This led me to head overseas a couple of times. On both occasions my experiences pushed me closer to God from a place of discomfort. I learned to rely heavily on him when in need.
The latest steps on my journey with God have been about trusting him in all areas of my life. This is where the word ‘but’ has been coming for me. Before being accepted into college I said to God ‘but I … ’ too many times. I know God will guide the next step for my family and me. Together we’re looking forward to the new chapter.
By Semi & Elizabeth Walker-Ratu (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 6 October 2018, p11 - You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.