The Highway of Holiness

Proud skyscrapers of yesteryear are shredded and in shambles. Abandoned cars line roads that are now succumbing to encroaching plants. Debris witnesses to a panicked exit, the last evidence of human habitation. What was once lively and thriving lies abandoned and decaying. The post-apocalyptic world remains a favorite scene in science fiction movies.

From the vantage point of Heaven this planet is in shambles. God created the world to be a place of beauty and perfectly balanced function. What is now the Sahara was to be as lush as the Amazon Basin. Animals that flee from us were to eat from our hands. The diseases that plague our days shriveled before a superior immune system. This is a post-apocalyptic world compared to the Eden of God’s design.

Isaiah 34 contains a frightening description of God’s judgment against the nations, particularly Edom. Their cities, villages and countryside were doomed, turned from thriving places to desert. But Isaiah 35 suddenly turns about face toward a restored earth that the future owns once God establishes His reign upon it with the return of Christ.

Centering on the nation of Israel, there are a series of contrasts as the prophet paints a picture of the new paradise.

  PRESENT FUTURE
VERSE 1 Wasteland Blossom
VERSE 2 Deserts Green
VERSE 3 Tired Hands  |  Weak Knees Strengthen  |  Encourage
VERSE 4 Fearful Hearts Strong
VERSE 5 Blind  |  Deaf Eyes Opened  |  Ears Unplugged
VERSE 6 Lame   Leap like a deer
VERSE 7 Parched ground  |  Desert jackals Pool  |  Marsh grass, reeds, rushes
VERSE 8 Deserted Great road
VERSE 9 Lions, ferocious beasts  The redeemed
VERSE 10 Sorrow and mourning Joy and gladness

Isaiah acknowledges that the present state of affairs is a world that is not right, that has crashed tragically. While he calls on nature to describe the scene, the images were symbolic of the corruption that sin has wrought not only upon God’s creation but within the souls of humanity. It is all in desperate need of repair, of renewal.

But there comes a promise. God has not abandoned what He has crafted, He will not forsake the ones He has redeemed. The day is coming when He intends to reassert His claim upon this planet and when He does, deserts will evaporate, hurricanes will be blown away, earthquakes will tremble in submission.

Travelers will journey through the reborn earth on a highway, a highway of holiness (verse 8). But this is not an open road for just anyone. It is a turnpike for the holy. Isaiah is specific about who will not be admitted: “Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be for those who walk in God’s ways, fools will never walk there.” The issue of access will not be a question during Christ’s reign on earth. By then it’s a settled matter.

When Isaiah speaks of evil he means those who have made a deliberate choice to reject Christ as Savior. It is a heart self-absorbed that would not have Christ reign over it, choosing instead its own road of rebellion. Unlike the highway of holiness, that alternate road, while broad, leads only to destruction (Matthew 7:13).

Isaiah also says that “fools will never walk there.” He does not mean the uneducated – many who lack formal education are wise beyond the learned. Rather, these are people who just frittered away their opportunity to serve Christ. They weren’t necessarily against Him, but neither did they align themselves to Him. These banked on getting around to it eventually until all their tomorrows slipped away from them. One does not stumble blindly into the kingdom of God. It is a deliberate act of repentance toward God with a plea for His forgiveness. God receives us as we receive Christ.

Those who will feel most comfortable in the kingdom of God will be the ones who most prepared themselves to live there. If I were to decide to move to Mexico, I would prepare myself by learning Spanish, understanding the customs and studying the laws of that nation. And those most fitted for the kingdom of God will have learned the language of heaven in prayer, conformed their lives to the Word of God so they know the laws and customs of the redeemed. The highway of holiness will be a familiar route to those who live holy lives now.

How prepared are you for Christ’s kingdom? How fitted are you to walk on the highway of holiness? If you are not, ask God’s Spirit to sanctify you now so that on that day your feet will tread a familiar path.

Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee, Editor-in-Chief and National Literary Secretary

A Proper Gospel Day

It was in a country church in central Kentucky 40 years ago that I remember truly hearing the fullness of the Gospel. What my parents had taught me through word and deed became crystal clear. I began to comprehend the fullness of God’s sanctifying grace clearly laid out in all of Scripture. I saw, for the first time, God’s intention for His people.

In a Sunday evening service I began to understand the importance of the Holiness tradition and its consistent emphasis on the day of Pentecost as a turning point in the history of salvation. I came to truly conceive that our beliefs about the possibility of a pure heart are not strained or odd readings of Scripture. The Army has only ever pointed to the heart of the God who redeems us from all our sin. What an overwhelming, beautiful thing the Gospel is. But when does such a marvelous promise actually take place? Is it only an ideal? A hope only for Heaven, but not this life?

Pentecost is our answer.

The grandeur of the Gospel revealed in Scripture is that God has always offered all of Himself to us. As persons created in His image, God revealed His intention for us. Though marred by the Fall, that divine desire is made possible by the restorative power of the Atonement. We join all who have believed that the human heart can be transformed by the work of the Triune God. The proof of that reimagined fullness has been revealed in history on the day of Pentecost.

It was there, in that small church, that my mind and heart were opened to the Scriptural evidence that makes plain what God longed for Israel, what Jesus came to offer, and what the Spirit produces in every heart. I realized on that Sunday evening the biblical plan for recreating God’s image in us.

Most of us would agree that the disciples were moral, seekers after God and were willing to pay some price to follow Jesus. They were better than most. Certainly, they were not openly sinning. But as every Gospel indicates, their hearts were full of self-centeredness. Jesus compares one of them to Satan!

An honest look at their hearts reveals:

  • They did not have the same mindset as Jesus. Their perspective was law abiding but it was not formed by the Cross that Jesus kept bringing to their attention.
  • They had no spiritual power to confront the needs of the world. Their ministry began with a semblance of authority but that was gone very soon. Jesus strongly confronted them with their inability to offer wholeness to the needy.
  • They were always bickering, arguing and undercutting each other. When a disciple does not have the mind of Christ they turn toward those nearest them in competitive comparison.
  • They did not love anyone outside their circle. It is revealing that one would struggle to find any clear act of selfless outreach in any disciple once Jesus began to talk about the Cross. They did their duty but there is no passionate love for the needy exhibited anywhere.
  • They did not love Jesus faithfully or consistently. All of them, except John, left Jesus and ran the other way when the authorities came for Him. They had everything God could offer and missed Him and His full, transformative grace.

The immediate context of Pentecost is forgotten by many who proclaim the Gospel. Brengle pointed out that no one was converted between the Resurrection and Pentecost. He had his finger on the pulse of most Christianity. We think we have the Cross right. We believe in the Resurrection. But we live without the whole plan of the Father and the Son and the Spirit actualized in our lives. Wesley referred to Pentecost as the first “proper Gospel day.” And that is what I saw that evening in a dimly-lit church.

Everything was different on that first Pentecost after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus.

Everything was different on that first Pentecost after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. Something happened on that day that changed the history of the world. Every self-curved attitude and action the Gospels reveal about the disciples was countered by the re-orienting power of the Spirit.

  • They began to think like Jesus. His purposes were no longer unclear to them and, with the first proclamation of the undiminished Gospel in one afternoon, thousands came to believe in Christ.
  • Note that a selfless, yet powerful, ministry ensued. In Jesus’ name, redemptive power flowed to human need. The disciples knew that the Risen Christ could meet every need of the heart.
  • The disciples have a new, committed loved for each other. They actually like each other.
  • They love those who before had repulsed them. Indiscriminate, inclusive holy love poured out of them. The Spirit enabled them to reach out without a whit of condescension.
  • They stayed committed to Jesus no matter what it cost them. They loved Him with a love that was not of their own making. All of this and more was given to them in an ongoing, intimate, daily relationship with the Spirit of Jesus.

The concept of sanctification is central to all the Bible and Christian thought. We dare not separate the Cross from Pentecost. The Trinity does not suffice with a Gospel that merely pardons sin and leaves us with the quandary as to sin’s source. Without the possibility of an Upper Room experience we are left behind locked doors just like we find the fearful disciples at the end of the Gospels. Without the coming, the bestowal, the fullness, the baptism of the Holy Spirit the Church is just like the disciples were before Pentecost. As one evangelist said, “without Pentecost, we are simply ornamenting the dead.”

But, the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, has come. And if anyone yields by faith to His full presence, He can come and produce in us the life, power, purity and love of Jesus. Then, there is hope that we also can live each day as a “Gospel” day. That is what the Gospel means; the life of God in the soul of every person; the presence of Jesus pervading all of me. That is why the Army proclaims both Blood and Fire. Golgotha and the Upper Room. Pardon and purity.

Pentecost was the first Gospel day. The question for us is, are we willing to live in the reality of this Gospel day by day? Experiences are wonderful, but it is the daily life of the mind and power and love of Jesus that reveals those who are formed by the Gospel. If you have ever known a Gospel day it will set the course for every day to follow, because it is all about the presence of the Risen Lord in your heart, filling you with His love and power and purity.

Today, this day can be your day of salvation. What a prospect!

Dr. Bill Ury is the national ambassador for Holiness with The Salvation Army and, an adjunct professor at several institutions.

A Call for Mothers to Stand for Truth

Christian women, some serving in ministry, are hiding a past abortion. Makinglifedisciples.com reports 4 out of 10 women in church are post-abortive. Many fear being found out, that their reputations could be ruined—or if they are fully healed in God’s forgiveness, they aren’t talking about it to anyone. Jesus already forgave them on the Cross, but some have yet to fully accept His full cleansing. Satan does his best work in darkness—stamping the titles of “Guilt” and “Shame” upon a sinner. I, too, bore that branding secretly for 30 years, until I realized how much Jesus loves me.

Watching a video at church one day, The Lord began to lead me towards blessed freedom. I believed I was fine all those years, having asked God’s forgiveness almost immediately for my lifestyle actions that led up to the abortion. However, I was not yet ready to acknowledge the loss of my baby. After receiving remarkable healing through God’s full forgiveness, by which He pulled me up from the depths of grief and loss, how could I remain silent? More women need freedom. Meanwhile, dozens of babies are aborted in my town, and in every city in America, every single day—which also affects their mothers long afterward. God must weep over the nearly 60 million infants aborted in the U.S. since 1973. His command is simple: “Choose Life!” Deuteronomy 30:19 states plainly, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

But what of the mothers who chose death? Our faithful God loves each of them. He wants to redeem and restore the mother who failed to choose life—He will give them new life! God can also show the power of His forgiveness to the fathers, grandparents, and friends who aided in the abortion. God shares His promises through the testimony of those He has healed—by the prayers and voices of grateful recipients of God’s grace.

Let us not discount the spiritual impact on post-abortive mothers. Any hidden guilt or shame from an abortion experience can cause barriers in relationships—with spouses, with living children, in church ministries and even with our Savior (not that Jesus recoils from us, but we turn from Him, feeling we are unworthy).

Sadly, after 40 years of being “The Law of the Land,” an entire generation believes abortion is normal, an unquestionable right, a birth control method—without regard to consequences.

  • The legal process to bring Roe v. Wade to fruition was based on inaccurate or incomplete information—or downright deceit. Court cases are usually based on facts and legal precedents, but not this one. According to http://tiny.cc/yfjvsy, several key points the Supreme Court considered were: “Life cannot be proven to start at conception.” The Word of God disputes this, and so do many scientists now. When Job pleaded with God about the trials he faced, he declared, “You guided my conception and formed me in the womb.” (Job 10:10). David, who drew so close to God, as his psalms record, said “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it” (Psalm 139:13).
  • The Supreme Court assumed women and abortion providers would have a normal doctor-patient relationship from which to make informed medical decisions on the risks of abortion. However, “dehumanizing abortion practices reveal that no such relationship exists between abortionists and their clients.”

Norma McCorvey, the face of this courtroom battle, Roe v. Wade, did not want an abortion, nor did she have one. She wanted a divorce. “A pro-abortion feminist attorney used McCorvey’s case as a means to overturn Texas’ law making most abortions illegal. Weddington took the case all the way to the Supreme Court… and the rest is history.” McCorvey said, “You [will] read about me in history books, but now I am dedicated to spreading the truth about preserving the dignity of all human life from natural conception to natural death.” (http://tiny.cc/wygvsy) 

We can follow Norma’s example by speaking out to save babies and mothers.

Ephesians 6:12 says “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

In the aftermath of war, witnesses and survivors stand up against its atrocities. Who better to stand up for Truth than those directly affected? Lest us share Truth that comes from The Word of God, because the Truth will set people free.

Many women describe feelings of trauma after abortion. If you or someone you know has undergone an abortion and are dealing with alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, fear of infertility, feeling “numb,” guilt, regret, shame, thoughts of suicide, grief, you are not alone. Help is available. Visit Advice & Aid at www.adviceandaid.com  (where resources include blogs by those who have experienced abortion) or call their helpline at 913-962-0200. Visit optionline.org for help available in your area.

— By Mrs. Leslie Sams

Part Nine — The True Vine

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener … I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (John 15:1, 5).

The Apostle John is the only gospel writer to transcribe Jesus’ farewell discourse with His disciples (13:31-17:26). His extended address lasted an estimated two hours, commencing during the Passover meal in the Upper Room and not concluding until Jesus and His band of disciples reached the Garden of Gethsemane just before midnight. The final portion of this celebrated colloquy (chapters 15, 16 and 17) contains Jesus’ tender words of assurance to His disciples as they walked together from the Upper Room, across the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Passover meal, known as the Seder (meaning “order”), usually lasts four to five hours. The sun had set by the time the meal concluded and Jesus bid His disciples, “Come now; let us leave” (14:31). Jesus then led the group of eleven (Judas having departed the meal early) across the Kidron Valley to the western slope of the Mount of Olives.

Well-known in Jesus’ day for its spacious natural caves, olive trees and presses, the entire area provided an escape for people seeking relief from the heat of the crowded city streets. Gethsemane (meaning “olive oil press”) was in reality a section of Jerusalem’s first century “city park.” While leading His followers to the comfort and protection of Gethsemane was not unusual for Jesus, the disciples had little idea of what they were to face later that ominous night.

On the road to Gethsemane Jesus comforted His disciples with some of the most compassionate words found in scripture:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful … Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:1-5).

THE SYMBOL OF THE VINE IN THE 
OLD TESTAMENT IS ALWAYS USED IN
CONNECTION WITH THE DEGENERATION.
JESUS—THE TRUE VINE—IS THE
DEVINE REGENERATOR. 

It is not surprising that Jesus used an illustration of vines and branches to comfort His disciples. The Mount of Olives was heavily wooded. When Nehemiah restored the Feast of Tabernacles, he commanded the people to “Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches and myrtle branches, and palm branches and branches of thick trees to make booths …” (Neh. 8:15,  KJV).

The disciples understood the metaphor of a vine and its branches. As in Jesus’ day, vines continue to grow throughout Israel. Vines require much attention if they are to produce the best fruit. While vines grow quickly and in all directions, it is critical that the soil is clean and full of nutrients.

A young vine is not allowed to flower for three years. Each year it is drastically cut back to conserve its life energy. When the vineyard does yield a harvest, branches that have not borne fruit are cut off. The farmer knew well that the vine cannot produce a large crop without drastic pruning.

Beyond a practical understanding of vines, the disciples also grasped the theological implications of Jesus’ illustration. The Old Testament often portrays Israel as the vine in the vineyard of God. The prophet Jeremiah recorded God’s confirmation: “I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” (Jer. 2:21). The Psalmist praises the One who “brought a vine out of Egypt; [and] drove out the nations and planted it” (Psalm 80:8).

The vine became the symbol of Israel. One of the glories of the Temple was the vast golden vine that hung on the front of the Holy Place. The vine was the emblem emblazoned on national coins during the brief period of Jewish independence known as the Maccabean Period (164-47 BC).

Jesus referred to Himself as the “true vine” (15:1). The Greek adjective is alethinos (pronounced a-lay­ the-nos), meaning true, real, genuine. “True” is one of the Apostle John’s favorite words. He used it 23 times in his New Testament writings. It is only used five other times in the rest of the New Testament. Alethinos means “that which has not only the name and semblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name.” It is the opposite to that which is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary or simulated, Alethinos is the genuine article—”the real thing!” By all criteria, Jesus is authentic. He is true God and true man.

Jesus is the true vine. The symbol of the vine in the Old Testament is always used in connection with degeneration. The point of Isaiah’s prophecy is that the vine has run wild. Jeremiah complains that the nation of Israel has “degenerated and become a wild vine.” Jesus—the true vine—is the Divine Regenerator. The Bible tells us that one-day, God, the Father, will seat Jesus on the throne of heaven and declare, “I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:5)

Commissioner William W. Francis is a retired officer. He is also the author of The Stones Cry Out (USA Eastern Territory, 1993) and Celebrate the Feasts of the Lord (Crest Books, 1997), and is a frequent contributor to the War Cry and other Salvation Army publications.

From the Ground Up

Standing on Turk Street, directly across from the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in San Francisco, California, you’ll notice that it looks nothing like the other 25 Kroc Centers ministering across the country. Like most buildings in downtown, this Kroc is much taller than it is wide—soaring eight stories into the San Francisco skyline.

Width-wise, it can’t be much more than the space for two plots of land zoned for business. But there’s no arguing that what goes on inside is a beehive of activity, if not a tad cramped.

In point of fact, The Salvation Army does operate two separate, yet partnered ministries in the 135,000 square-foot campus sitting on only half an acre—the San Francisco Kroc Center and Railton Place, a transitional and permanent housing facility. Again, from a vantage point across the street, it’s hard to tell if it this a Kroc Center with a housing shelter, or a housing shelter that happens to have a Kroc Center.

Majors Raymond and Jennifer Erickson-King, Kroc administrators and corps officers, oversee both programs.

“The Salvation Army’s Railton Place is a 110-unit transitional and permanent residence for sober homeless,” explains Major Raymond. “Of these units, 15 are provided to young adults between the ages of 21-24 who have aged out of the foster care system. Another 83 units are available to chronically homeless adults and veterans.”

Residents living or temporarily staying at Railton Place have access to the programs offered through the Kroc. Of course, many memberships come from the surrounding area—although admittedly the homeless population in this portion of the city is astounding!

Major Raymond notes that “What makes [the San Francisco Kroc Center] unique over all other Krocs, is that there’s also this housing component. It takes two budgets and two employee staffs, although some employees intertwine between the Kroc and Railton.” The first three floors are for the Kroc Center and the top five for Railton Place.

The two Salvation Army ministries, working in tandem, are acatalyst for realizing individualpotential, and an epicenter of hope—igniting a renewed and vibrant community in the heart of San Francisco.

Services offered by the Railton Place Resident Program include case management and substance abuse counseling and a life skills program. Workshops and classes offered include cooking, education, employment assistance, computer skills, art, money management, music, fitness, smoking cessation groups and more.

In keeping with the mission of The Salvation Army, the San Francisco Kroc Center provides facilities, programs and services that encourage positive, life-changing experiences for children and adults, strengthens families and offers life-enrichment for seniors.

“You could not have picked a block in San Francisco that needed a Kroc Center more than this one,” Major Erickson-King says. “Within a half-mile of the city’s center, which is called The Tenderloin, 110,000 people are living with an average income of $28,000. For a long, long time this area has suffered a high crime rate. In fact, you can buy as much alcohol, drugs, and drug implements as you want, but you cannot buy a head of lettuce!”

The Salvation Army is no stranger to this stretch of Turk Street. The Kroc Center replaces the old San Francisco Turk Street Corps, which was a beacon in the Tenderloin since 1886—a continuous presence for more than 130 years.

With approximately 3,500 children living in a ½ square mile area, the Tenderloin neighborhood houses the densest concentration of children and families in San Francisco. Many of these families are recent immigrants, where English is a second language, and parents may be unable to help their children with homework or help them acclimate to their new cultural environment.

Education is a top priority. Children are given the opportunity to develop character in a safe and nurturing environment. The after school program offers daily homework tutoring, a nutritious snack and recreation and enrichment activities for youth from kindergarten through eighth grade. Activities include: art, literacy, science and computers. Students in middle school also receive mentoring for high school and access to workshops in community service, leadership, organization and practical skills. Daily recreation in the gymnasium, dance studio, courtyard or game room keeps children physically active and healthy. Children are given the opportunity to develop character in a safe and nurturing environment. Children can also choose to participate in weekly Salvation Army youth programs such as Adventure Corps Rangers, Explorers, Sunbeams and Girl Guards. They can also participate in the Kroc Center music program, which offers lessons in boomwhackers, guitar, ukulele, keyboards, brass band, strings and singing.

Tourists who come to San Francisco often have no idea of what is going on in the Tenderloin District, despite being so close to it. Market Street is only one block away, and the southern terminus of the world-famous San Francisco Cable Cars is about a three-minute walk from the Kroc Center’s front entrance.

“This center is bringing a little hope to this desperate neighborhood. There is no outlet like this available to them,” says one Kroc Center volunteer.

“If (the Army) came to us at any time and asked us to put together the perfect project that incorporates all the needs and disciplines under one roof, we honestly couldn’t have come up with anything better,” exclaims (then) San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Newsom is presently the Lieutenant-Governor of California.

Sandra Ally is the Railton Place director. The five social services programs she oversees gives her a unique perspective enjoyed by no other Kroc Center, anywhere.

“This is an amazing Kroc Center, not only because of the community we are placed in, but for Railton Place, that all of our staff members are able to welcome and serve the same folks Mrs. Kroc envisioned we would touch. The need is so great here.”

The center has a capacity to serve 2,000 youth annually, and 30-40 meals are prepared onsite and served daily to low-income seniors.

“Being here keeps our members safe and off the streets,” Ally adds. “We are a community center and we focus on the community.”

“This is a center of dreams—dreams of inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness, dreams of opportunity rather than failure,” (then) USA National Commander Commissioner Israel L. Gaither said at the facility’s dedication in July 2008.

“Those who enter the Kroc Center will stand on their strengths and not fall on their weaknesses.”

Now entering its second decade of service, there is much evidence that the San Francisco Kroc Center is changing lives.

“I would not be the person I am today without the Kroc Center and the people who work and volunteer here,” says civic leader Christine Carr, a founding member of The Salvation Army’s Kroc Center Advisory Council.

—Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor, National Publications

Out of the Shadows

It was a typical Sunday, the sun was shining bright, the pews were full of joyful noise, and a group of excited little ones were walked on stage by their Sunday School teachers. There I was too, at four years old, declaring how on that special day I was inviting Jesus into my heart. What a day of celebration it was at the church “The Christian Tabernacle.”

My whole life I have known what it means to be good. In elementary school, while most kids could be found running outside as quickly as possible, I was usually the last one to leave just to make sure the teachers had enough help to clean up their classrooms. At home I did my best to behave and be a good example to my younger siblings. I thought if people focused on my goodness, then maybe they would not see the hurt and fear creeping within that shy, behaved little girl. I would spend 12 years of silence, harboring a deep dark secret that I carried within me. On my 17th birthday I chose to break the silence. With a trembling voice, I did what I feared most, I let others see beneath the layers of my protected heart.

Feelings of brokenness, insecurity, and doubt in my faith sneaked in through the crevices of my overwhelmed mind, and I found myself walking through the valley of the shadows. A couple of years went by and I started to see the power of God’s healing in my life.

Most of my life I knew about Jesus, but it was in those uncomfortable years of tumultuous healing that I got to know Him personally. I found that striving toward a career in social work would be redemptive of my past, and useful in helping others who found themselves in similar situations of being shackled by fear, abuse or other issues. I loved school and fell naturally into the role as a social worker.

It was half way through my college years that I met a very respectful and handsome guy, who I found out was a director of an Academy of Music. One early Saturday morning, he took me to visit his Academy and I was incredibly curious why it was hosted at a Salvation Army church facility. “Wasn’t The Salvation Army a thrift store?” I thought to myself. This curiosity led me to get to know the caring officers, Majors Robert and Melissa Viquez. For years they had tried to recruit the Mariachi Director Angel Amezquita. However, it was not until his new girlfriend sparked his interest in the Christian faith that he agreed to attend a service. As I walked in to the very first Holiness Meeting, I was greeted like family. I could not help but want to stick around and learn more about this loving, loud, uniformed congregation.

The more we got involved, the more we fell in love with The Salvation Army. In 2010 Angel told me that he had felt called to officership; he asked me to consider following with him or maybe reconsider our future together. “Did he just propose?” I thought to myself.

It took me two weeks of praying and considering my options. I was two years away from graduating with my degree, and my college mentor was encouraging me to apply to grad school on the east coast. I didn’t know if I was willing to give up my plans for this big commitment ahead. And again, God’s miraculous power appeared.

Image of the Amezquita Family

It was a typical Sunday, the sun was shining, and the people at The Salvation Army of Gilroy were singing their hearts out. The altar call was made and I stepped forward to pray. It was then that Major Melissa Viquez gently walked towards me, held me in her arms and whispered a prayer she did not know I needed: “God is going to use your past for something amazing ahead, everything you have been through will serve a mighty purpose, so it’s up to you if you will accept.”

The Holy Spirit warmed my heart and I knew officership was also my calling. Two years later my husband and I were married and ready to be sent off into training. We soon realized that due to my husband’s legal status, we were not so close to entering training college as we thought. Every year that passed we grew a little more discouraged, because we were eager to get started. The Lord was using this period of waiting to teach us that surrendering was necessary to thriving in our faith and that relying on Him meant giving up our timing, our plans and our future. Receiving the phone call of acceptance was one of the happiest days of our lives.

We packed our home, prepared our one-year old daughter, and said good bye to loved ones. Hand in hand we looked ahead, and as we entered CFOT both excitement and nerves set in. The training experience has been far beyond our greatest imaginations. We have been submerged in building up our faith and knowledge. We are surrounded by a supportive and loving community. And now we are even preparing to have our first baby boy. Two years have passed and now we look towards another thrilling adventure ahead, commissioning. Where will God take us next?

I stand amazed at what He has done throughout my experience as a Cadet and throughout my entire life. God has the power to heal, He has the power to redeem, and He will use the willing for His glory. I may not know where I am going to be in July of this year, but what I do know is that I am called and I am willing. I am called to be an officer in The Salvation Army. I am called to give others hope because I’ve experienced hope. I am called to love immensely; the way Jesus has unconditionally loved me. The Lord has called me to be a Messenger of the Gospel and I can declare with faith that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Cadet Cassandra Amezquita will be commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in the Central Territory and ordained as a minister of the gospel in June 2018.

A Most Unlikely World Record

Dave Jones, of Madisonville, KY, will be the first to tell you that God has a sense of humor. He’ll also tell you how God used Dave’s desire to quit smoking to increase his faith beyond his wildest imagination.

“I had no idea when I decided I had to quit smoking in 2012 that the Lord would take me on a path that would eventually lead to setting a world record,” Dave admits. That 1,600-mile path to a world record qualifies Dave’s story as an iRony that points directly to God’s love for all of us.

Dave is an advisory board member for The Salvation Army in Madisonville. He and his family attend the corps for worship on Sundays; and, his mother is a soldier of that corps.

Six years ago, Dave weighed 285 pounds and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.

“I was hopelessly addicted to nicotine, so I decided to play this game with myself; which was basically deciding what I dislike the most and then use that as punishment,” Dave explains.

“Every single time that I got a nicotine urge, I stood up and took off running,” he says. “I still hate to run, but it’s gotten easier over time.”

That was October 2012. The more he ran, the less he craved nicotine, and the pounds began to melt off. These days, he tips the scale at about 195.

Calling his anti-nicotine strategy “my inner drill sergeant,” Dave quickly came to know a greater benefit than just breaking a nasty habit. His walk with the Lord has mushroomed beyond what he imagined possible.

“I’ve found that my life is all about surrender to God’s will,” he says. “His strength is made perfect in my weakness. The weaker I become, the more He is glorified!”

Dave completed two Iron-Man Triathlons in 2015 and 2016. And since 2012 he has run in countless marathons. His biggest challenge, however, came during 2017.

“I decided to run in marathons in all 50 states, and on all seven continents—eight if you count Zealandia,” (a newly-discovered land mass mostly submerged in the South Pacific Ocean). “And to qualify as a world record, all of my U.S. races had to be completed within 365 days; and, the seven continents within seven days!”

Covering all 50 states within the span of a year was challenging enough, but coordinating the 777 Quest (seven marathons on seven continents within seven days) proved to be—well, a marathon in itself.

Crisscrossing the globe within a week was barely possible by negotiating the various time zones. Beginning in Perth, Australia on January 25, Dave went on to run in marathons located in Singapore (January 26); Cairo, Egypt (27); Amsterdam, The Netherlands (28); New York City (29); Punta Arenas, Chile (30); and King George Island, Antarctica (31).

“I very nearly missed the Zealandia, but a fellow marathoner kept goading me to fly down to Auckland for a race fortunately scheduled for that last day.”

From the starting gun in Perth until the finish line in Auckland, 166 hours, 54 minutes, 11 seconds elapsed—a mere hour, six minutes and 49 seconds to spare of the 168 total hours in seven days!

“There were times when I had nothing left—my strength had to come from God!”

Dave’s faith has grown exponentially with each step, and his communion with God is deep like the oceans he’s crossed to make his testimony to the world relevant.

Dave founded his own extreme-sports company, called “Eternal Endurance.” He’s appeared on radio and television, and remains busy sharing his testimony to youth groups and churches around the world.

More important than running away from his addiction, Dave prefers to know that he’s been running toward a much deeper, closer, and intimate relationship with God.

—  Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor, National Publications

 

War Cry Survey Promotion Official Rules

SPONSOR. The Salvation Army, USA National Publications, 615 Slaters Lane, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314

TERM. Promotion begins at 12 am Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on Friday, September 28, 2018 and ends at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. (“Promotion Period”)

ELIGIBILITY. The War Cry Survey Promotion is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States (including the District of Columbia) who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Must enter from an eligible jurisdiction. Eligibility may be verified at any time. All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply.

AGREEMENT TO OFFICIAL RULES. Participation in the Promotion constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules and all decisions of the Foundation.

HOW TO ENTER. LIMIT: One (1) entry per person. To enter, visit https://tinyurl.com/november2018Survey and complete the official online survey form. Completion of all required personal information will result in one (1) entry. All entries must be received during the sweepstakes period.

In the event of a dispute as to the identity of an online entrant, entries made online will be deemed made by the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at the time of entry. Potential winners may be required to show proof of being the authorized account holder for that email address. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person assigned to an email address by an Internet service provider, online service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain.

Sponsor is not responsible for late, lost, damaged, mutilated, stolen, or misdirected mail, or for technical failure or human error which may occur in the administration of the Promotion or the verification of surveys. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the operation of the Promotion or to be acting in violation of these Official Rules.

PRIZE. One winner will receive a gift card from one of the following retailers Walmart, Christian Book Distributors or Amazon with a total retail value of $50.00. No alternate prize, cash or other substitution or transfer of prize allowed, except by Sponsor, who reserves the right to substitute the prize with another prize of greater or equal value.