By Frank Lewis
Every spring the cadets from the 11 brigades at the Salvation Army Training College go out into cities across the country to minister and to get hands-on experience dealing with the people in that community. This week they are in Portsmouth.
“This year our division of the Salvation Army appointed us to have the cadets here with us,” Lt. Elizabeth Ferriera of the Portsmouth Salvation Army said. “It is basically a missions trip and a revival all in one. They are getting real world experience. They are conducting meetings and they are the hands and feet this week. They’ve been in our food pantry. They’ve been in our meals. They’ve been with our kids program. They’re getting involved as much as they possibly can and making connections with people here and tying them in and bringing them to Jesus.”
First-year cadet Beth Baggs was passing the time with area residents who had come to enjoy a mid-day meal.
“We’re doing what we’ve been trained to do and we are having a good time,” Baggs said. “It makes it concrete. The in-class studies that we’ve been learning - this is where it’s at. This is what we’re training to do and It’s great. I have been telling some of them, by the end of the week we’re not going to be wanting to leave. This is a great place.”
Cadet Chelsea Crawford said she is in town to get some real world experience.
“We get a lot of school work experience and learning through that,” Crawford said. “So it’s really good to get out in the world and actually experience what we’re going to be doing.”
Giovanni Romero, from Brooklyn, New York, sits in the corner of the gym and plays the piano to the delight of those having lunch.
“I started in church singing and it’s a problem when you sing but you don’t have somebody to accompany you. So that’s how I took up trying to learn the piano and to play for myself as I sing,” Romero said. “Music has been a way for me to express myself and to worship God.”
Thursday at 6 p.m., the cadets will hold a praise and prayer gathering. Friday at 6 p.m., they will be involved in a salvation meeting, enjoy food and fun on Teen Night, Saturday at 6 p.m. Sunday they will work with the Sunday School at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m., and top the week off Sunday with a fellowship dinner at 1 p.m.
Romero had never been to Ohio, but he has an observation about people and ministry since spending the last week in Portsmouth.
“It’s simply we would think that life in the city and life in small towns like this is different. But reality is that the needs of people are the same wherever you go. We all struggle with all the niches of emptiness, hopelessness of frustration at times and family issues, on and on and on. So the message that we carry is relevant wherever we go and it’s a wonderful thing that we can come and to share our experiences,” Romero said. “I love the Salvation Army and the work they do because the Salvation Army never asks questions before they give anybody anything. We never care about, are you Catholic? are you Muslim? We believe in serving anyone. So that’s really what makes it so wonderful. And I think that if Jesus was here, that is precisely what he would be doing because that’s what he did.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.