Thanks to God’s unwavering love, Cymon Brooks* went from ‘ratbag’ to writer.
When reflecting on my call to be an officer (minister) in The Salvation Army, and how to tell my story, this quote came to me: ‘Everything has a beginning, everything has an end. In Jesus we are constantly being drawn to both as we journey with him.’
My calling began at a time in my life that was leading down two paths. One path was of new life and a complete 180-degree turn from where I was. The other was dark, uncertain and with very little prospect of anything good coming from it.
I was 33 and a ‘ratbag’. My conduct was somewhat questionable. I decided to start my own business, but, sadly, it didn’t turn out well and I risked (along with my wife Naava) losing a lot of money. It could have been worse, as we were faced with losing the house as well.
But somehow God was there to prevent this happening, as all this was taking place in the beginning of our relationship with him. I had a strong feeling back then that things were going to change, that a new beginning was taking place. As to the future there was only this silent, secure resonance deep within me that all would be okay as long as I followed Jesus.
I had a past that had to be let go, friendships that had to dissolve and habits that had to be removed, all had to be replaced with only that which God wanted for me. Many questions came to my mind. What is it that God requires of me? What am I to do now I realise that all I had once been and done was not God’s will for my life?
In faith I talked to my church leaders and discussed with my Naava our future together, including officership, our calling and God in it all.
Two of my biggest hurdles were my age and my academic record. I was approaching 38 and had left school at 15 to work in the commercial fishing industry. I remember asking one of my high school English teachers, ‘Why should I learn how to write essays? I won’t need to do this to catch fish.’
Adjusting to life at The Salvation Army Training College was tough, but I was determined to do my best. While accepting that it was not going to be easy, I set myself the goal of getting a pass on my subjects. Thankfully, I had excellent teachers and college mates who encouraged me. I believe it was God who got me through and put these people in place to help me.
Challenges in ministry come from the most unexpected places. Some situations arise just when you seem to be at your busiest. Three years in a row I had a corps (church) member or a relative of a corps member decide that was the time for them to go back to God, all within the week of the Red Shield Appeal.
As to the future, I just seek that ever-constant reassurance that I am doing God’s will through—believe it or not—words and photos. I know I have to develop my administrative skills and rediscover that passion for deep, personal prayer. But the highs and the lows—or should I say the mountains and the valleys—are part of journey we all take with God;
More than 14 years have passed since my call to officership, and I’d encourage anyone considering their own call. It’s all about faith and commitment. Jesus is faithful, Jesus is committed. If there is a call on your life, no matter what you leave behind, it will never come close to that which God has in store for you.
*Cymon writes monthly for Warcry on photography. A collection of his images has been published in a devotional book, Vision, by Salvo Publishing.