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Today is our last Sunday at our Church before we leave. Due to it being January, we actually had our Corps farewell on December 18. Today we will receive a farewell from the Division as well as an “official” farewell from our corps. I thought I’d share today our farewell, which was shared by Mrs Wilson, as well as Liesl’s farewell reply.

Farewell Speech to Ben and Liesl

A few weeks ago Liesl led the devotions at Songster Practice. She spoke about her life being in the ‘count-down’ phase as she was going through ‘the last time I will be doing this’ before leaving WA for the Training College… the half packed boxes a constant reminder that time was ticking away far too quickly. She expressed that her sense of excitement and anticipation was tinged with sadness because she would be leaving her church family here at Floreat. Liesl has grown up in this church since she was a baby, except for a brief period after the family moved to Morley and attended the Corps there. However Liesl’s heart was always at Floreat so she returned and became one of us again where she has been nurtured and encouraged in her faith and service for God. Those who have known Liesl would be aware of her strong conviction that God had called her into full-time ministry in The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army logo (Anglophone Version)
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When she met Ben, who at the time was attending and involved in another church some of us may have wondered if God had other plans for her life. Would Officership still be her calling? As only God can do, He worked His plan and purpose out for both Ben and Liesl in bringing them together and laying on Ben’s heart that same conviction that as husband and wife they were to serve Him as Officers in The Salvation Army.

Today is another count-down for you both when we here at Floreat officially farewell you. Yes! It is a little premature as you are not leaving us yet but with Christmas and the New Year holidays it is appropriate that today we acknowledge your service in this church and assure you of our continued support in this new phase of your lives. On behalf of the Corps I want to thank you for your service to God in this place. Liesl, you have an amazing gift for Children’s ministry and many have benefited from the talents and service that you have given over past years. You will be greatly missed as our Session leader at mainly music. This has not been an easy task but you have competently engaged the parents and children in such a way that it has been a delight for other members of the team to see the enjoyment and participation of the mothers, grandparents and especially the children. There have been disappointments in the past for you but this has never dampened your resolve to use the gifts God has given you to change young lives and introduce them to Jesus.

Ben you have contributed so much with your God-given musical gifts and talents in leadership, training and encouraging others and more recently in the leadership of the Songsters. Whilst this appointment was to be a training experience for you, I want to expres as a Songster my gratitude for your commitment, dedication and helpful, patient instruction during practice. It has also been good to sing some familiar pieces which you have set to a new arrangement and I acknowledge your gift in this area. Both of you have served in the Youth ministry, organising and leading youth meetings, arranging speakers and so much more.

To say that you will be missed is an understatement. Who will take you place is a question to be addressed but I am reminded that this is God’s work you have been engaged in and He will provide and continue the good work and the influence you have accomplished in His name.

Your daily routines have been fairly predictable… work, Corps, social commitments… although it has been busier because of all the things that you have needed to do as you prepare for the Training College. Things are about to change for you from mid January 2012. College life will dictate your daily routines… to some extent you will lose the flexibility and choice of doing your own thing when you want to. Duties, chores, lectures, assignments, deadlines, out-training experiences, preparation for various ministry assignments will all be part of your normal life experience for the next two years. You have no doubt though about this, plus the fact that you will also welcome a precious gift from God in the form of the baby you will bring into the world. So life will change drastically for you and it would be natural to be overwhelmed with the doubts and uncertainty of all that is about to happen for you both. I would suggest that you put these thoughts behind you. Life is going to be exciting, challenging, rewarding and the different experiences are going to bring a new dimension into your lives which as yet you may not fully comprehend. This is because you are following God’s will for your lives and as the simple chorus declares, “Doing the will of God… the best thing I know in this world below is doing the will of God”

In closing I want to leave you with some promises from the Word of God.

“Therefore, [my brother and sister, Liesl and Ben,] be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things you will never fall and you will receive a rich welcome into the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ”

These are the words of the Apostle Peter in his 2nd Letter 1:10. The things he refers to are found in the preceding verses where he challenges Christians to make every effort to add goodness to their faith, then knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness and above all love. I am certain that College life and the training you will be undertaking will nurture and help you grow so that you will truly be Disciples of the Cross in two years’ time.

Another Scripture I want to pass on to you is Paul’s words in Romans 8:28.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”

I quote from the message translation this passage with some extra verses.

“God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the Life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives in Him. After God made that decision of what His children would be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself, and then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had done.”

When the pressures get heavy and the demands seemingly unbearable remember these words of Paul and take encouragement from the fact that God will always meet you at your point of need.

To the congregation, I would say, Ben and Liesl still belong to us. They may be leaving us and embarking on an amazing and exciting journey but they will always be a part of this Corps and therefore we have a responsibility to support them, encourage them, take an interest in what they are doing, to make sure we have their email address if we have a computer so that we can send messages and most important of all we are to continually uphold them in prayer.

To Ben and Liesl in the words of Paul, I say, “May God Himself, the God of Peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and He Will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Liesl’s farewell

The last time I had to say goodbye to this church, I was about 10 – and probably threw a tantrum or something. But this time I know it is for good reasons and I am going to attempt to do so without tears – but no promises.

Even though I was away for a short while, Floreat was always my home – and I am blessed to be able to say I have been part of this family for my whole life – and like all families we have been together through good and bad, supporting each other all the way. For this I am truly grateful.

I can’t imagine not being here – I look back and realise this corps has been an integral part of my life and memories. A lot here would remember the beginnings better than me – I was a regular attendee since just a few weeks old. I was dedicated in this building with many of you present.

I found a whole new adoptive family of aunties and uncles who may as well be blood. I have beautiful memories of Sunday School with teacher Alice and others, marching around the lower hall to “I’m too young to march in the infantry”. I remember years of anniversary musicals with teacher Barbara and others.

Of course I was a true Salvo kid – a bandmaster’s daughter – learning the cornet with Gary and the junior band, and the timbrel – How could I ever forget Junior Soldiers with “Cranky” Mrs Jackson – who knows I really love her. And I’ve been to more fete’s than I care to count!

Although at about the time of being enrolled as a Senior Soldier, I left the corps for some time, I never really left – people still loved me and people still cared. I continued to attend JYG and eventually Youth Group before my heart couldn’t stand being away any longer – and with the help of the wonderful Marion Family Chauffeur service, I was back where I belonged.

It was during the next few years the love and support of this corps was just what I needed. And I can never be more grateful for the people here who have always been there.

I will cherish the most the heart of Floreat – the love and kindness that is offered to all who enter the doors – an attitude I will hold onto as I work with people from all walks of life. But I have always known I could bring anyone here without fear of judgement or aloneness and I am grateful to the love shown to all the “strays” I’ve brought in along the way – none more so than the acceptance shown to the strange Anglican that rocked up out of the blue as the newest boyfriend in my life. Despite the obligatory making sure he was good enough, he was welcomed with open arms.

And I know I speak for Ben when I thank you for the way you have loved him – It is not just with my sadness that we say goodbye but even in what feels like longer but has only been about three years, Ben has experienced the family we have.

It’s hard to believe that the 22 year-long chapter is closing – but I know we have the prayer and support of a beautiful family back home.

I struggle to imagine all the major events of life not involving this building – every Christmas begun here – every mother’s day, Father’s day. It’s the place I signed my Soldier’s Covenant, the place I gave my life to God – various times – the place I preached ym first sermon, led my first meeting, accepted my call to college, married my soul mate and grew in faith for so long. I get upset sometimes when I think of my baby not growing up here like I have – not having a church to call home – but  instead of getting upset I will thank you all – for all the good lessons you have taught us, for nurturing us to this point, for showing us what it means to be a family, for supporting us in every way possible – from prayer, to words of encouragement, to fundraising assistance.

You all have played a part in getting us to this point where we are ready to say “C’ya later” and enter Training College as prepared and spiritually ready as we can be.

Although College is making me remove my Floreat Epaulettes, it is still, and always will be – our Home Corps.

So again, thank you – for simply loving us – in whatever way it has been. We can’t thank you enough!

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