Cadet Testimony: Sebastian Arroqui"I stand confident in my calling to serve Him because He has been and will continue to be faithful. Praise be to Him!"
I am originally from Montevideo, Uruguay, and I arrived in the United States at the age of six. My parents wanted me and my brother to have a chance at a better future, so they sacrificed language, comfort and family to come to the USA. Shortly after arriving in the States, my mom’s boss, at the time, told her about Army summer camps, and I attended Camp Grandview for the first time in 2002.
It was at Camp Grandview where love overwhelmed my heart. As a shy child, I felt loved, included and valued, so I accepted Christ as my savior at the back of the tabernacle in the Friday morning worship service.
My family came to the States on visitors’ visas, which meant that we only had a limited time to stay in the States legally. My parents stayed in the country after our visas expired, which led to many struggles as illegal residents, battles that my parents were willing to endure in hopes of a better future. When I felt the most unwanted and unwelcomed in this country, The Salvation Army took me in and made me fell appreciated. I saw God’s goodness through the officers and faithful soldiers I encountered. Through constant support and love, I became fully involved in The Salvation Army’s programs. As a teenager, I was a volunteer at camp because I wasn’t legally allowed to work. Camp Grandview meant so much to me and I wanted to be God’s love to campers just as I had experienced. Despite my feelings that I did not have family in the US, God gave me a family through the Army. A family full of love, acceptance and support.
I think it is so ironic and beautiful how God brought everything back full circle at Camp Grandview. I accepted Jesus as my savior at camp, and many years later, I heard God’s calling to officership there too. I was at a crossroads in my life, and I found myself working at Camp for another summer. That summer, I made a commitment to God that I would seek Him earnestly so that He would reveal to me His plan for my life. When I was ready to give up, I heard God’s voice. At the cross at camp, I heard God call me to serve Him full-time and heard Him calling me to be a Salvation Army officer.
Once I received my calling and accepted it in my heart, God opened every door needed for me to be a part of the Messengers of the Kingdom. I flew to Uruguay and received my full permanent residency on a risky process that could have left me in Uruguay permanently. Leaving the States was considered a voluntary exit, but it meant that I would be expelled from the country for 10 years as a penalty for illegal residency. Now, I am confident that God was executing His plan for my life perfectly. I remember looking down at my residency documents at the consulate, and they were signed and stamped before I was interviewed.
During this entire process, I was engaged to Nathalie. She patiently waited in the States for good news, as she also carried the responsibility of wedding planning with the hope that I would be accepted as a legal resident. I was approved as a permanent resident of the United States in time to finish wedding planning and be married in February of 2017. Shortly after, we started our paperwork to begin our journey as cadets. I look back and recognize the power and presence of God in every moment of my life. Through that time of my life, God gave me comfort through Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
The most beautiful thing about our testimonies as disciples of Christ is that we are continually growing and adding to it. God continues to reveal Himself to me daily.
“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”1 Peter 1:15-16
This Scripture passage used to be a source of intimidation. As I am maturing in faith and experiencing God’s sanctification in my life, I am beginning to understand the concept behind this verse. When I was a “newborn” Christian, this verse read to me, “Be holy or else!” For many years of my faith, I walked around intimidated and scared of “not being good enough for God.” I used to be of this mentality without even realizing that I was—I better be good if not God will not love or accept me. As I have progressed in my faith, and God reveals the concept of sanctification in my life, the mentality has changed drastically. God is not saying, “Be holy or else!” God is saying, “I am holy, so if you observe Me and mirror Me, you will be holy.”
Furthermore, “If you mess up, I am right here and I still love you. I will help you up and I will continue to guide you, just focus on Me.” He has slowly been revealing to me the things in my life that I must let go to progress in my sanctification. Those things involve sacrifices, so God has been showing me the riches of His blessings when I let those things go and fully submerge myself in Him.
Most recently, God has blessed Nathalie and I with our first child, Joanna Joy. Through Joanna, God has shown me more about love and joy than I have ever known. Through the experience of being a dad, I can understand another small portion of God’s vast, reckless, and never-ending love for us. Today, I stand in awe, thinking that commissioning is only months away. I stand confident in my calling to serve Him because He has been and will continue to be faithful. Praise be to Him!
In June 2020, Sebastian Arroqui was commissioned as lieutenant in The Salvation Army. He now serves as a Corps Officer in Griffin, GA.