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.
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.