There has been a surge of interest in our Mission Latvia 2013 plans. I hope to provide adequate insight to pique interest that will result in many stepping forward as volunteers. While I work away at that, here are some recent comments from formers...
COMMENTS LEFT ON OUR FSAOF BLOG SITE
For me, as a former, Facebook was the tool that allowed me to reconnect with so many of my Army friends - active officers, former officers, and Salvationists. It is sad, however, that the isolation I felt when I resigned as an officer was not filled by Salvation Army leaders pastoring me or just checking to see how I was doing. It took a social network called Facebook for me to begin the healing process and rediscover friends who really cared about me but had no idea where I was. I even found my favorite 9th grade Math teacher who had been such a mentor to me - what a blessing!-------
It took me almost two years to get spiritually connected again after resigning as a SA officer. And where did I find it ? Online; the former SA officers fellowship. That is now my spiritual home and I'm thankful God led there.
Former US Central
Me too, if it hadn't been for 'formers' and Sven's specific pastoral ministry I hate to think where I would be. Why oh why, does 'The Army'not care and leave it to a fellow former to pastor us and help us get our heads back in the right place. Sven, you will never know how much your being there (even though we have never met and possibly never will) means to me, and how much I believe that without you I was at real risk of loosing my sanity. You helped me to believe in God again, the SA, and myself. Thank you!
Bob, thank you for this. I can identify with much of what you have written and would agree with you. Last week was twelve months since Sven had his stroke. From those very early days I felt strongly that somehow or other I needed to offer support to carers from a position of some knowledge and understanding of having been there. Last week I started a blog / support group for carers of those living with a stroke and have been bowled over by the response. Already I have found myself talking with, praying for and sharing Jesus with people I have never met in my life, people with whom I may never meet, people who would profess no faith but want support different to what the world has to offer. I thank God for an added ministry that facebook has opened up to me to people within the UK and beyond. God bless you real good Bob in your extended ministry!
JP I am a former TSA Officer. The reason for my termination was TOTALLY based on the actions of my ex-husband. I have married a very Godly man who is a multi generational Salvationist who is retired from The United States Army. We both continue to feel God is calling us to Officership. When we expressed this call to our Corps Officer and then to our D.C. Keeping in mind my husband taught leadership in the United States Army and I have a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling–our D.C. informed us that we are too OLD for The Salvation Army to use us in full time ministry roles. My husband is 55 years old–I am 50 years old. Our Corps Officer told us that we should just be Soldiers in the Corps and tithe–that is all we are qualified to do because of our ages. I find this very disheartening to the point we are praying about leaving the SA entirely. We are told time and time again TSA needs Officers–yet we are told no because we are too old–we have no health issues and no known reason why we could not devote 10-15 years of service
GP If General Bond is correct in saying that we will know when God is finished with us when we have no more Officers, then how do we percieve the drastic decline in numbers over the past 10 yrs or so? The Salvation Army is seeing a decline in Officers and I think it speaks more about the need for change in TSA. We are no longer in the 18th Century, we need to move into the 21st Century. how should that look? More self-determining of appointments ( young people want to stay and build the Corps not be moved on all the time). Their children need stability and not frequent moves. Where in Scripture does it say we need to move around all the time?? This is a legacy of the 18th Century!!!!! We no longer do circuits. You may think this is a radical change but it will work if we gradually implement this. Having a Divisional commitment not a Territorial one I believe is the way to change. TSA needs to seriously look at tailoring Officership to the needs of individual people. I believe that young people will commit to being involved in an area for a long time and having the freedom of living in their own homes if wanted. Why not do a survey and ask them??? At the present time when a person becomes an officer they lose their self-determination, money from their assets(usually in order to go to College), they do not end up owning very much so if they need to leave down the track they are trapped. Who wants to sign up for that?? Our young people are bursting with enthusiasm to serve God but they will find another way to do this if TSA does not change. I have great faith that we can…we must!!
Juan says: March 15, 2012 at 11:32 am There are some interesting thoughts in this article – some I agree with and some others that I have not yet seen evidence of. One of those is the claim that people are reticent to consider officership due to the desire for self-determination. I have talked with a number of young people and people my own age (late ’30′s) who are still eligible for candidacy, but this is not the issue that comes up. It is perhaps a straw man that we have subconsciously created because we are afraid of looking at the truth. There can be little doubt that officership is tied directly to corps growth. The more people we have attending corps and actively involved, the greater the pool of people who will consider officership. The more of those corps that are energetic, passionate, and innovative, the more those numbers will increase. For the last few weeks, I have been attending a corps in our city that at one time was dying. If you have any doubts about the possibility of resurrection, you should visit this corps. It is growing, it is vibrant, it is young. I met a lay leader there last Sunday – a guy I’ve know for about 10 years – and he said the corps has never been as strong and the leadership has never been as committed. He was so excited. There are also a number of young adults there who are planning to apply to be officers. From my experience, young people like these (call them what you want – post-modern Salvationists, neo-Salvationists, 614 revolutionaries) are adventurous and mission-engaged. Self-determination is not big on their list. They’ll go just about anywhere. We just need more of them. Following that train of thought, we need more corps like the one I mentioned. Major Waters said that General Bond declared that we will know that God is finished with us when he stops sending us leaders. While I don’t disagree with that, I do not take a deterministic approach to it as if God decides and just stops
sending leaders. The truth is God may be finished with us because we are stuck in the past. What was it Tony Campolo said a few years ago? “If the 1950s ever come back, The Salvation Army is ready for it.” If God cannot do a ‘new thing’ with us, it stands to reason that the officership pool will dry up. The question is: Is God really finished with us or is it just that we have disqualified ourselves from being able to be used by him? Jason Cavanah says: March 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm Yes like-minded in Christ is a good thing, but that’s not what the statement, as a whole, is addressing . If you are only asking internal like-minded people, then in return, that may cause you to become more close-minded to everyone else. I love the Salvation Army, and I love imperfection. Many officers within the Army have been a great inspiration. The only point I am trying to make is that maybe we should be looking beyond our own Salvationist ideals. I am finishing up the intro to officership course, and I LOVED IT !!!!! I think that many of the procedures and prerequisites for CFOT are bang on. I wouldn’t change them. I have a family of five, and we personally don’t mind the whole packing up and being placed wherever part of officership, but I could see how some families would be bothered by it. Our kids are older (14,12,11), and they are exited for the Salvation Army adventure. Right now the only thing that is driving me CRAZY is that we are doing all of this work, and application stuff, but are not entirely sure if we are going to be excepted or not. The only thing I wish is that there was some earlier way to say that your “in”. giving us something we can actually make a plan around. I would love to hear, “ok, if you do this, this, and this.You and your family will be going in 20XX”. But right now my kids are telling all their friends that we are leaving for Winnipeg Sept 2012, I have told my boss i’ll be leaving, and other family members are having a hard time parting with us. We have uprooted our whole life, and WE HAVEN’T EVEN BEEN ENROLLED YET !!!!! It is very nerve racking, and a great test of faith to have all your hopes and dreams in the hands of ? ? ? at CFOT. I guess the point is that there is a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to being a candidate. I think there would be much more responsive, and confident candidates if there were more of a system, something we could make a strategic plan around. As apposed to so many ? ? ?s
Jac says: March 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm Juan, I love your last paragraph…and I agree with your connection between church growth and the “pool for officers”. Jason, I think we agree in what like-mindedness should be, my point is just that I see people across Canada who are Salvationists who think and operate in very different ways. That’s why there are continuing debates among Salvationists re: uniform, moving, officership, communion etc. I have some strong opinions myself that might go against the traditional Salvationist views and some that are right in line with them. What helps me to sort through these and live within a system that I don’t always agree with, but love, is keeping my eyes on Jesus. I gather from your writing that this is your desire as well. I do agree the process for entering training college could use a lot work. I agree that it is very nerve racking. Especially if there are aspects that are out of your control that seem to take a while. Especially for those who have homes to sell etc, the way I read the original statement about assets though was that you lose everything….it’s just not an accurate statement to make for everyone.
Maurice says: April 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm I am a former Officer and was forced to relinquish my position because of my ex-wife who decided she no longer wanted to be married to me. From the time I was 15 years old, I felt the call to Officership and was very reluctant in accepting it. After many years, I could no longer ignore it and decided to enter into Training College. After a few years, my wife and I split and was told that there would not be an appointment for me in the June change. I was made to feel like a “black sheep” and not welcome within the inner circle anymore. I was also told by the DC that I should not move back to the town I ministered in (even though my young son was living there). As I listen to many people who are contemplating Officership, they talk about the struggles that many go through after they move out of Officership back into a Soldiership Ministry. While I understand the position of The Army, I do not agree with the way ex-Officers are treated.
Helen says: April 4, 2012 at 1:38 am I read this with interest as I am an officership candidate in the United Kingdom. I am 48, planning to go to William Booth College aged 50 and no-one has been anything other than welcoming because of my age. It seems that the Army in the UK has thought this through clearly and welcomes older cadets to college. Indeed, from looking at the background of the current intake, a significant number are older (in their 40s and 50s), and began their journey to Officership through the Territorial Envoy scheme. I find it odd that there are such variations in terms and conditions of vocation across the Army – in the UK, you can be a single spouse officer – i.e. your spouse can have another employment, so long as they are committed Salvationists. There is a requirement for a ‘reflection’ period after a marital split, but many officers continue to serve after divorce, so long as they acted correctly at the time. This brings many officers back into active service, and I understand that the selection conferences are busy considering those who have previously served. The Envoy scheme has brought many able Soldiers, especially older ones, into leadership right at the point where the secular world loses interest in our experience and maturity, and has given a number of my friends a fantastic opportunity to live out God’s calling on their lives. They take over a Corps and are trained as they go. For those of us who, God willing, will enter College in our mature years, there may be growing children to relocate and houses to sell, but that’s also the case if you relocate with a secular job (I’ve done it around 7 times in my career, moving across continents). I’ve told my children in detail and although they will have to uproot themselves completely, they are thrilled. I leave the sale of my house in God’s hands! I think the ‘not knowing yet’ part is a good test to see if you can live with the uncertainty that officership may bring.
Sven Ljungholm says: April 9, 2012 at 6:45 am Many interesting comments- my response… Non-officer spouses under the SSO Provision DO NOT have to be SA soldiers or even witnessing Christians. This is a problem of real concern. Several recommendations have been made @ http://www.fsaof.blogspot.com . To date little interest has been shown. Ours is a five year old international fellowship of former officers. In June 2012 several members of our Fellowship (430 members of former SA officers) will meet with leaders of a large USA Territory to explore avenues by which greater understanding, Salvationist love and prayerful guidance cand bring about a reconciliation to benefit the SA’s mission to God’s glory. If you are a FB member and former officer, feel free to join with us. Former Salvation Army Fellowship @ FB!