Reflectors of Holiness

“Being a Reflector of Holiness ... doesn’t end when I get in a moving truck. It is a lifelong commitment.”

In June, Cadets from the Reflectors of Holiness were commissioned andsent to the field in all four US territories. Here are the inspiring testimonies of four of the new lieutenants:

Lieutenant Isaiah Rector

If I had to describe my upbringing in one word, I’d say it was “typical.” I was born and raised in Baltimore, the youngest of three brothers. My family was loving, hardworking and stable. However, we weren’t really a religious family. We said we were Christian and we had plenty of Christian children’s books, but I only recall going to church a few times. I knew who God was, but I didn’t know Him personally. 

Throughout school, I had hygiene issues and was often bullied. At home, I struggled with bedwetting. While my family had sympathy, I still felt like a burden to them. Loneliness and isolation were commonplace for me. I tried to find fulfillment in video games and entertainment in those early years. While those things in themselves aren’t bad, I idolized them. I was looking for something more, but I was looking in the wrong places. It wasn’t until I was introduced to The Salvation Army through summer camp that I discovered Jesus was the hope I was looking for.

I was 10 years old and had just started going to the Baltimore Temple Corps, after attending summer camp a few months before. It was time for the altar call and I don’t remember what the sermon was about, but I remember feeling like I needed saving in that moment. With the assistance of one of the soldiers at the corps, I accepted Christ into my heart. Although I didn’t quite understand the significance in that moment, I began to understand that Jesus cared about my struggles. 

I don’t think I really wrapped my mind around what salvation meant until my late teen years. During my early teen years, I was a Sunday Christian, but I didn’t try to take the next step in my relationship with Him. Rather, I just tried to fit Him into my plans for my life. 

My perspective didn’t begin to shift until after I became a senior soldier (which is backwards, I know). Shortly after, God began tugging on my heart about the error of my ways. I had fallen into my own selfish habits and, deep down, I had already known that I wasn’t living how I should’ve been. Ultimately, the problem was that I didn’t want to face it, so I just kept going further down my own path. But one Sunday morning, it hit me. On this particular Sunday, the Lord was drawing me in. Rather than talking to my friends or zoning out, I listened expectantly and the Lord showed up in a mighty way. In that moment, I began to believe that God had more for me and that the road I was on wasn’t going to lead me there. God’s grace had been leading me to this moment and it was His grace that allowed me to see what I’d been missing.

Since then, I’ve seen the Lord in a whole new light and I’ve seen my struggles in a different way as well. In the face of challenges, heartbreak, addiction and selfishness, I’m reminded of my weakness. However, the Lord has also consistently shown me His strength in my weakness. He has comforted me in times of pain. He has freed me from the chains of unhealthy habits and addictions. He has humbled me in the best of ways to remind me that the call He has placed on my life is bigger than I am. He has blessed me with my lovely wife, Rachel, and two beautiful daughters. Every morning, I can wake up knowing that no matter what happens, the Lord is blessing me. I can’t say that I always get things right, but by His grace, He is leading me closer to the holy life He intended for me. As I follow the call that He has placed on my life, I hope to remain faithful until the very end.

Lieutenant Ji-Young Roo

I was born in Seoul, Korea, in a family of faith. I was the second of three sisters. I had an affluent childhood with my mother, who ran a piano academy, and my father, who was a good provider. My parents actively participated in church services and events when I was young, so we spent a lot of time at church. The church was a comfortable and enjoyable place for me and I actively participated in all the church had to offer. The praise and worship songs and memorized Bible verses I learned at church gradually piled up in my heart. Until the day when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior through a Sunday school teacher. Since I was a very young child at that time, I simply confessed my faith with the heart of a child.

When I was six years old, my parents, who love music and wanted their three daughters to serve God through praise, gave me a violin as a birthday present. I loved playing the violin, which was always with me. It suited me well and I decided as a child that I wanted to grow up to be a professional violinist.

When I was in the fifth grade, God called my father to be a pastor and my parents willingly obeyed God’s call. Our family started to struggle financially because my father quit his job, went to seminary and started a new church. At that time, I was preparing to enter a music academy middle school and for that I needed a very good quality violin. However, the financial situation of our family could not afford that expensive violin. One day, my mother came to me and said, “Would you like to pray for your new violin together? We can’t afford to buy you a good violin right now, but our Heavenly Father will be able to.” 

My mother led and taught me the path of prayer. So, we began to pray for a new violin and pray that I would become a person who praises God through the violin.

About three months after we started praying, my mother got a call from a professor who was a friend of a church member. He said that when he was in Germany, he bought a violin for his daughter, but his daughter was not interested in the violin. The professor found out that I liked to play the violin. He gave me a good German violin as a gift—no charge! Our prayers were answered! Hallelujah!

Through this answered prayer, I came to trust that God is my Father Who hears me and answers my prayers willingly. Because of this, I have a firm conviction of faith. God revealed Himself to me in this way when I was young, and as I grew up, He helped me through the Holy Spirit so that I could continue to hold on to the Word and pray with faith. 

After I got married, we moved to the United States. God revealed His plan for my faith journey in America in a way I did not know or plan. I thought that I was glorifying God and serving God’s kingdom only with my violin and musical talent. However, God called me as an officer of The Salvation Army and wanted to deliver the gospel through my words. He wanted to deliver God’s love through my hands and feet. He wanted all of me to be used for the expansion of God’s kingdom without me limiting myself, and I am now obediently following that path. As a cadet of The Salvation Army, I have experienced many ministries in various locations and with diverse people.

I believe that God’s ways are greater than my ways and His thoughts are more perfect than my thoughts. Sometimes I look at my inadequacies and there are times when I am disappointed with myself. But every time, without fail, the blood of Jesus Christ and His reckless love lift me up and set my feet on a rock and give me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2).

God’s way may be different from our way, but when we trust in our great God and submit our plans and will to Him, we believe that we will experience great and amazing things we can’t even imagine for the glory of God. 

Lieutenant Zachary DeLong

As I arrive at the end of my cadet experience as a Reflector of Holiness and prepare for a lifetime of serving God as a Salvation Army officer, I have been reflecting on the journey that I have been on to get here.

My calling came in a common way, at youth councils. I remember that Sunday at Camp Sebago in Maine, I felt God telling me that He wanted me to join the fight against sin and brokenness and preach to people in need. I was on fire! Then high school happened.

At that point, I decided I would become either an English teacher or a lawyer. That all changed during the last few weeks before graduation. I had the opportunity to conduct the school band and I fell in love with music. I was already active with New York Staff Band events and Star Lake Musicamp, but I knew now that I wanted music to be my full-time vocation. For two years I jumped between classes and majors in college.

In the summer of 2014, I decided to take a break from school and began to think about officership again. While taking a few weeks to decide what I wanted to do in the fall, I figured I needed a full reset to focus on what mattered, so I started working in retail.

God spoke really quickly! My phone rang with a job offer from the Western Pennsylvania Division as a regional music director in Pittsburgh, where I was living. “Well, I do enjoy music,” I thought, “and it’s much better than folding jeans eight hours a day.” So, I took the job.

I thrived so much that I went back to college to study music, this time for real. I graduated and immediately got a call from the divisional music director in Philadelphia. Over the course of my two years there, I felt I had found my calling. Music ministry was what I was made to do! God had me where He wanted me.

When COVID-19 hit, I again found myself out of a job. I moved into a music role at another church, but God still had The Salvation Army on my heart. God’s calling was still there, but it wasn’t to be in music ministry. God called me to be an officer all those years ago and the call was still there.

Life at the CFOT has been a boot camp, where God has put me through the wringer to be approved to be His minister. There were times when I wasn’t sure if it was really what I wanted. But there were also times when my calling was solidified. As a cadet, I have made friendships with people that will last a lifetime. I even met my fiancée and had the joy of counting down to commissioning and a wedding. 

Being a Reflector of Holiness is not a two-year adventure. It doesn’t end the moment I get in the moving truck. It is a lifelong commitment. I will be tested and held up to the image of Christ in my interactions with those I minister to, in my relationships with family and in my marriage.

I want to leave you with this verse, my life verse, from John’s first letter: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2 ESV). Hold on to God because what He has called you to do is far more fulfilling than anything you could ever imagine!

Lieutenant Alexandra Ozuna

I was born and raised in The Salvation Army and my church life became very routine. The Salvation Army programming was predictable, but I lacked an understanding of what a relationship with Christ looked like. It wasn’t until I was 13 years old, at summer camp, that I accepted God into my heart and felt God’s presence for the first time. 

In this relationship with God, I believe He gave me a fresh set of eyes to see the world. Unfortunately, those refreshed eyes gradually started to grow dim and my relationship with Christ became less clear.

My testimony started long ago as I found myself seeking God during an abusive and toxic relationship. At the age of 21 I became a young bride to my high school sweetheart. I thought he was the one. Sadly, shortly after our marriage, I discovered that was not the case. I endured bruises, broken bones and daily verbal attacks that left me beaten and damaged. Now that I am older and out of that relationship, I understand how having an intimate relationship with God protects His children from the pains of this world. I made the choice to be disconnected from God, and in my disobedience, I suffered the pain caused by counterfeit love. But God used my pain so that I would turn to Him to experience the unconditional love from my Heavenly Father. 

I ignored the advice my parents gave me and didn’t consider what the Bible had to say. Regrettably, that only took me down the wrong path. I never imagined how God was going to use my life experiences to equip me for my future in ministry.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’”. Verse 13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV). 

After I divorced my ex-husband, I sought help and decided to wholeheartedly seek God and make Him the center of my life. I got back into the church and was able to help young girls and women who have endured similar pain and suffering. My relationship with Christ grew as I sought Him out more each day. God gave me strength to choose Him and care for myself every day, to seek the help I needed to overcome my PSTD, anxiety and depression. I learned that with God and hard work we can see real and true results. 

Now, God has given me a husband to share ministry beside. He also gave us a beautiful son. The plans God had for me were far more than what I expected. Here I am serving God through The Salvation Army. Just like any other training we go through in life, being a cadet at the CFOT is not easy. My first marriage was not easy. It was not easy to step out in faith and trust God. Walking with God every day does not always come easy. 

Being a mother is not easy, but it has helped me understand the wisdom my parents passed on to me when I was younger. That wisdom helped me in my toughest times even when I disobeyed Him and went with my desires instead of seeking Him. God helped me see He had great things for me. He used my brokenness to help other women in the same situation of abuse. What God did for me He can do for you. The choice is yours. Don’t wait for things to get worse. The time is now. Choose God. Choose His plans and trust that the Creator of the world knows what is best for you and you are not alone.