Like Elijah, Jonathan Fitzgerald heard God’s call to serve Him, not in a strong wind, an earthquake or a fire, but in the gentle breeze that contained the presence of God. Now he works as a Salvation Army Captain and as the Education Officer for the Caribbean Territorial Training College in Kingston, Jamaica, equipping others to answer the call. His responsibilities include overseeing curriculum, scheduling and ensuring the academic success of future officers, known as cadets.
“I have the opportunity to teach people from many different nationalities and languages,” Jonathan said. “This allows me to gain an expanded view of God’s gracious love for the world. I find great joy in seeing a person spend time in a class that I teach and leave with a much deeper understanding of God and His love for us. When my passion can ignite a deeper passion in another Christian, that confirms in my heart why I am a Salvation Army Officer.”
The Caribbean Territorial Training College equips future leaders from 17 different Caribbean countries. Approximately 10 new cadets enroll annually. Over the course of 22 months, the cadets develop a strong biblical foundation, become mentally and spiritually self-aware and engage in ministry experiences.
“Without fail, God always works powerfully in their lives so that by the time their two years are finished, they have grown into prepared and passionate leaders,” Jonathan said.
The mission of the Salvation Army is to train Cadets to both preach the gospel and meet human needs in practical ways, such as rehabilitation programs, prison ministries, social justice initiatives, the Christmas Kettle Program and emergency disaster relief.
Part of the curriculum involves practicing the principles the cadets have learned in the classroom in the real world. Throughout the term, cadets engage in brigades, campaigns and summer assignments that allow them to reach the community for Christ by leading Sunday Schools, Bible studies, discipleship programs, and children, youth and adult ministries locally and in corps throughout the Caribbean.
“Attempting something big for God really only requires one thing—faithful obedience to His calling on your life,” Jonathan said. “We can’t do anything remarkable on our own, but when we are obedient to God’s desires for us, He can use us in ways we never thought possible.”
Located on the fourth largest island in the Caribbean, the college serves as a crossroads of Caribbean cultures and languages, such as French, Haitian Creole, English or Dutch. Although speech and skin color may differ, God has broken the barriers through a shared purpose of knowing Him more deeply.
“The cultural dynamic has forced me to learn new ways to communicate God’s truth effectively despite not sharing a common first language with most of my students,” Jonathan said. “I have found that my relationships with students, my teaching and my personal witness to God’s love in my life have been instrumental in developing deep bonds of friendship with the fellow officers and cadets that I’m serving alongside.”
Jonathan grew up in the Salvation Army and has worked at camps, in the corps and on summer mission teams since he was 14. He has been an officer for eight years, serving in Jamaica one year. He met his wife Catherine, who is a Field Training Officer, at Asbury University, and they have two children. Jonathan graduated from Asbury Seminary in 2008 with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies.
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