Answering the Call: Champions of the Mission
Booth College of Mission (BCM) and Fiji’s School for Officer Training are preparing to welcome 13 trainees in 2023, for the Champions of the Mission session. War Cry asks the trainees how they came to answer God’s call to officership.
Salome Matakaruru, Sigatoka Corps (Fiji Division)
I grew up in a Christian family. Sakeo and I got married on 18 July 2008. In that same year, we attended senior soldier classes and were enrolled as soldiers on 16 December. I was involved in women’s ministry, youth group and children’s ministry. God also appointed me as a local leader in Sigatoka Corps. Officership was never part of my plan, so when the call came I kept asking God for his confirmation. God answered my prayers and asked me to use my gift, as he blessed me to serve others. God asked me to become the person he created me to be and to do the things he designed me to do. The creator of the universe has called me to be part of his work to bring justice and kindness to his creation. What a joy and privilege!
Sakeo Matakaruru, Sigatoka Corps (Fiji Division)
I worked in sales and marketing for Tappoos Group for the past 14 years. I grew up in a Christian family where most of my family members are Methodist. I went to The Salvation Army at age 10. I attended Sunday school, junior soldiers, corps cadets and a youth group in Ba Corps. I moved to Sigatoka in 2007 for work. I met my wife Salome and got married in 2008. I heard God’s call for my life at a men’s camp at Sabeto, Nadi, in 2010. My corps officer encouraged me to keep on trusting the Lord with all my heart. This process is a spiritual journey in which I learned new things about myself and about my relationship with the Lord.
Anna Natera, Hamilton City Corps (Midland Division)
I started attending Hamilton City Corps in my mid-twenties. Officership was something I’d not heard about before, but from a young age I felt called to ministry. After completing my studies, I worked as a social worker in Community Ministries and served in the local corps with youth and children. During that time the call was still there but in the back of my mind. It was two years ago that Manasa and I started seriously talking about our calling. We decided to start the application process and see where God took us from there. At that point I decided to say yes to God, and have felt an immense sense of peace ever since.
Manasa Natera, Hamilton City Corps (Midland Division)
At the age of seven, I felt a strong calling to be an officer in Fiji. My teen years were a time of deciding whether to pursue officership or a different career path. While I chose a different career, I also served with Raiwai Corps as an assistant YPSM (Young People’s Sergeant-Major) and then as a youth leader. Having moved to New Zealand in the spring of 2008 to be with my wife, I once again found myself drawn to youth ministry. As part of my prayers, I asked God to reveal whether or not I was called to become a Salvation Army officer. There was simply no other way to put it other than God had answered my prayers!
Verenaisi Drotini, Labasa Corps (Fiji Division)
After my mother was promoted to Glory (passed away), Semi and I stepped up and supported the leadership at Dogotuki Outpost in Macuata. People used to tell us that we were called to officership but I would shrug it off because I never saw myself in that role. In 2020 we moved to Labasa Corps to have hands-on training. That year, God shaped me and dealt with the areas of my life that I needed to fully surrender to him. We are now on the verge of entering college and all I can say is it’s the hand of God that led us here.
Semi Drotini, Labasa Corps (Fiji Division)
In my village, my source of income comes from catching prawns all night. One early morning, as I sat tired and cold on top of a wet rock beside the riverbed, I looked up to the sky and asked God if that was all there was to my life. Little did I know that God had already paved a path for me and my family. In 2018 we had our first assessment for college.It got deferred, but we were not discouraged, nor did we give up. It was our third assessment in 2022 where we were accepted at the School for Officer Training for 2023–2024 intake. I have faith that it’s God’s calling I am walking into.
Tania Viljoen, East City Corps (Northern Division)
I received my first prompt from God when I was prayed for during a small group meeting. The leader said that he was excited for what God had in store for me. A second prompting came when I ended up giving birth to my baby in a carpark. I heard God’s voice saying that I had been given new life too, so what was I going to do with this incredible gift? My corps officers encouraged me to further explore this calling, and I attended Delve in 2021. On the second night, God left me with the clear words that I should not worry but trust 100 percent. He is faithful and will provide what I need, and he has—abundantly.
Naomi Navica, Tavua Corps (Fiji Division)
I heard God’s call to officership in 2003 during Youth Councils. Both my husband and I were there, however, I was not aware
that he experienced God’s calling too. Two years later, when we attended another Youth Councils in 2005, I looked across and saw my husband responding to the same altar call that I was. In 2008, we filed our first application for officership but got deferred, and then deferred again a number of times until 2018. Our corps officer Major Maika Ranamalo told us: ‘If God is calling you, then he is calling you! The Salvation Army is just the place of calling, but you have to make the right decision yourself.’ I look forward to allowing God to teach me and mould me so I can utilise his given gifts and talents for the extension of his kingdom.
Peni Soga, Tavua Corps (Fiji Division)
I heard God’s call in 2002 to be used in the kingdom of God. I began to attend the Tavua Outpost, where I met my wife Naomi in 2003. At Youth Councils in 2005, Naomi and I had the same calling to be officers. We applied and were deferred many times from 2008. We assumed that God had other callings for our lives, but our marriage was affected to the point that we separated in 2013.
Our family reunited in July 2014, however, life was still hard. It’s been a process in my life of what will happen if I don’t concentrate on God—much like Jonah and Nineveh. I thank God for his plan for my life and for choosing me from an early age. I’m looking forward to experiencing more of God’s calling in my life. I also look forward to journeying with other candidates and having fellowship with the training officers and my session mates for Champions of the Mission.
Karen Krishnan, Nasinu Corps (Fiji Division)
God placed the call for officership on my heart in 2014, not too long after I was enrolled as a soldier of The Salvation Army, at New Plymouth Corps in New Zealand. It was at the end of 2020 when I finally had the courage to put in my application for the process to begin. It took six years of allowing God to take me on a much-needed journey through brokenness, healing, renewal and finally surrendering, before I took the step to say yes. I look forward to a new season of growing spiritually and improving as an individual and a leader so that I am well equipped to serve the people I am called to serve.
Nikola Vaitaki, Manukau Central Corps (Northern Division)
I knew this was my calling even before I came to The Salvation Army, and I knew when we first started going to the Army that God led us here for this purpose. When I learned about adherents and soldiership, it really stirred something within me, and I knew this was where God wanted me to serve. The process of that has been challenging at times, but the more I tried to ignore him and the plans he has for me, the more he fought to get my attention. I thank God for being so faithful and never giving up on me. No matter what challenges I face, God’s plans for me never change and I will continue saying yes to him.
Ashton Vaitaki, Manukau Central Corps (Northern Division)
We’ve been a part of The Salvation Army for about six years now. A couple of years ago, Nikola came to me and asked if I wanted to become a soldier with him. I replied, ‘absolutely not’. We were already adherents, so I told him that I would only ever become a soldier if it was a stepping stone to something bigger like officership, ‘but that’s not for me, so I don’t see soldiership as something I’d do’. One month later, Nikola became a soldier, and God revealed to me that soldiership was most definitely my stepping stone into officership. The process has been intense, exciting and a bit nerve-wracking, but we’ve also felt very at peace.
Sereana Sekilini Vasu, Vaini Corps (Fiji Division)
Growing up in The Salvation Army, it has been my dream to serve God at every opportunity I get. God has bestowed something in me that I couldn’t understand when I was younger. My calling has been there from the beginning, it’s just taken me a little while
to discover. God has been trying to lead me to the right path; a path that I wouldn’t regret saying yes to; a path where I will walk with him for the rest of my life. There are rough times, but knowing God didn’t bring me this far to leave me, and knowing I have a whole Army behind me reminding me they’ve got my back and are praying for me, what can I say or do but trust the process and let God take control?