On the day of her enrolment as a Soldier, 22 November 2009, Sue testified as follows:
How did I come to be standing here, making my commitment as a soldier in the Salvation Army? That s a very good question. Just over two years ago, I was happily ensconced in the church where we had worshipped for more than 17 years. I had no intention of going anywhere else. But God had other ideas, and He led us here. Let me share some of that journey with you.
Looking back, I suppose I had been going through the motions for some time. Church was like a comfortable pair of slippers, put on once a week. The surroundings were familiar; the service format known. I enjoyed singing in the music group. That was enough, wasn t it? Then something happened which made us think again. Our journey had started.
One Sunday morning, we decided to try something different. We came through the door of this place and were immediately made to feel so welcome. The presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible here. The services seemed a bit strange at first- many of the rituals that I had grown up with were not observed by the Salvation Army, but it was refreshing to do something different. And there was superb music at every service. I have always enjoyed worship music and often find it spiritually uplifting. It seems to me that music has a way of touching people, often without them realising it. How many of us go around during the day humming or whistling a tune heard somewhere? It s a powerful communication tool.
After a while, we were asked if we would like to become adherents. This seemed like a logical step of commitment. I felt as if I had found my spiritual home. Soon we were attending both the morning and evening meetings, not because we had to or were expected to but because we wanted to. I really looked forward to Sundays! Time and time again God seemed to be speaking to us- through the words of Majors Beverley and Drew; through songs and through testimonies. He was preparing the wayâ€¦
We signed up for the Christianity for Life Plus course. This was something new for me again as I had never felt the need to discuss my faith with others, believing it to be a personal and private matter. However, the seven sessions, each with a different focus, were really helpful in helping me to develop my faith, through prayer and through reading the Bible.
When the course ended, I was quite disappointed. I had a deep desire for learning more about the Christian faith. Then I discovered Wednesday Bible Study sessions. I used to enjoy studying the Bible as a child in Sunday school and now found I was reading it with a new awareness. I began to focus on God in a way I had not done for a long time, and it felt good.
But something was bothering me. The question of evangelism. The Salvation Army is all about spreading the gospel message to others. I m basically a shy person and I didn t feel brave enough to talk to others about my faith. Luckily, there was another inspiring course: Contagious Christianity.
This helped me to see that there are many different ways of showing and sharing your faith. The Bible has many stories about ordinary people and the ways in which God worked through them. I began to think that maybe I could make a difference just as I am.
I have always tried to be supportive, both as a wife and mother and in my role as a teacher, but I looked for additional opportunities as I went about my everyday life, and I discovered that a word of encouragement, an offer of practical help, a listening ear, or a prayer for someone in need are easily achievable ways of putting the Christian faith into practice.
Over the past year, I have also had the privilege of being involved in some of the corps outreach activities: helping to serve Christmas lunch to the homeless; witnessing in the High Street with the band; and taking part in the door to door collections for the Annual Appeal which gave me the opportunity to have some interesting conversations. Then there s the gospel choir, formed to sing in the Nativity concert next Saturday. That has been an incredible experience. Sixty people, from all walks of life, singing with enthusiasm and joy. What better way of sharing the message with others?
Events such as these are challenging, but also rewarding. Who knows what seeds may have been sown? And all are ways of, as the gospel song puts it: â€œLetting your actions shout your faith out loudâ€.
And so continued my journey towards soldiership and further commitment. But the questions were still there. Was this what God wanted? Was I ready to stand up and be counted in this way? When was the right time? How could I serve?
I still don t have all the answers. I continue to be challenged daily in my Christian life and witness. But I know that I am ready to take that leap of faith, and I trust that God will show me how I can play my part in furthering His kingdom. In the words of the hymn Amazing Grace: â€œGrace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me homeâ€. I know He led us here for a reason, and I am proud to stand here and be part of this great movement that is the Salvation Army.
Finally, I would like to thank all those who have encouraged me and prayed for me along the way; my husband, Peter; family and friends, and ask for your continued support as I begin the next stage of my Christian journey. God bless you.