"Bringing Christ to People and People to Christ"

Gareth Pennington’s testimony

Fall afresh, the band piece I requested, has these words – Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me.   They are about giving control of my life to God for him to do what’s best with it.   By now I should be used to others being in charge.

On Thursday 4th July 1996 nobody asked me if I wanted to go, but I attended Songster practice like I had been for the previous nine months.   However, on Sunday 7th July I decided to come into the world (my birthday) and none of my family made it to the Army – I seem to have rarely been away since.

After my short spell of attending Mummy and Me, I was marched off to primary.   My joining coincided with Carole deciding to step down as Primary Sergeant, but she wouldn’t escape me that easily.   This place was obviously starting to make an impact on me because, when being driven past the back of the hall with a friend from another toddler group I pointed out ‘There’s my Army’.     He had a blank expression and it was perhaps at that time I realised that some people don’t attend an Army.

Progression in the YP Corps meant that there was someone else who instructed me what to do.   Whenever the YP Corps was leading a meeting, others were asked to lead songs, say prayers or show off their musical talent.   I was ordered by Tracy that I would, as usual, be praying after the collection (as my dad does).     Fiona had better get used to doing it.

When I was in Junior Soldiers, it was a funny experience.   Iris was the only person who didn’t boss me around and tell me what to do.   Which brings me onto seven glorious years in the Singing Company.     When Caz invited me to my first Singing Company practice I was unsure whether I should attend but decided I had better go because I was too scared to say no to my mum.

Upon joining the Youth Group, you think you’ve got to the age where you can make your own decisions.   Under Mark’s regime that glimmer of light shone through but with Ruth it’s back to normal and I’m being told what to do.     15 years ago I was being marched off to primary, today I have a bigger Primary Sergeant marching me off to away week-ends and a range of evening activities.

Coming to the end of my time in the Singing Company, I got my marching orders to join the YP Band, where I now get commanded what to do by Ryan.     All of those who have been telling me what to do for the past 17 years better be warned as it’s now my time to make a decision.

100 years ago, a volunteer army marched off to battle, thinking thjey would be home for Christmas.     As the war dragged on that volunteer army would need to become a conscript army.     My own life has turned out to the reverse of that.   Conscripted into the primary, junior soldier, singing company and the like it’s now my time to volunteer to join this Army, not just because my country needs me but because my God needs me who has directed me.

Valiant Soldier, fighting for the Lord
Keep in step all the time;
Don your armour, take your shield and sword,
Keep in step all the time.
Forward, forward, ’tis the Lord’s command,
In the cause of right now take your stand,
Go marching forward to the promised land,
And keep in step all the time.

I’ve had a great time in the YP Corps and I’m very grateful to those who through their commanding, ordering, directing and instructing are responsible for me marching in step with them as I embark on this new campaign.