Sometimes God speaks, and it’s just a matter of being open to listen.
In 2005, Major Curtiss Hartley, a Salvation Army officer who was then a captain serving as a publications editor, heard a distinct message from God when he was attending an international publishing conference.
And the message wasn’t about writing or editing. Then–Colonel William Francis, one of the speakers, made a comment about developed nations in the Salvation Army world being willing to tithe, not just with their dollars, but also with their personnel.
For Curtiss, it was as if a bell was sounding, loud and clear. His wife, Sandy, also an officer, heard that bell too.
“On our way home that night we started talking,” Curtiss says, “and we both felt that God was asking us to make our willingness to go somewhere, sometime, known to the Army.”
The Hartleys prayed about it, and after a couple of days, Curtiss says, “That bell was still ringing.”
They wrote a letter to their leaders saying they would be willing to serve overseas.
“There! We had done the deed,” Curtiss says. “We had responded. Sometimes that’s all God asks of us, right? I mean, we weren’t ‘called to the mission field.’ We never sensed God telling us to go to a far country. We aren’t bilingual ... sometimes I struggle being uni–lingual. But God said, ‘Make yourselves available,’ so we told The Army that we were available.”
Nothing happened that year. Each year after that, for six more years, the Hartleys checked off a box saying they were still willing.
“We never prayed about a future appointment or sought an opportunity to go overseas,” Curtiss says. “But we did pray that God would use us where we were and prepare us for each new day—for whatever opportunities He would bring our way.”
Then, in the fall of 2011, the Hartleys’ divisional commander, Colonel Dennis Strissel, called them into his office. The meeting seemed to be about a small matter. But then the other shoe dropped.
“Now for the real reason I’ve called you in,” Strissel said. Then he asked whether the Hartleys would be willing to have their names put in for possible service in Papua New Guinea (PNG), half a world away in the South Pacific.
“After a befuddled moment of awkward silence, we asked if we could take some time to discuss and pray,” Curtiss says.
Strissel gave the Hartleys two days.
“We prayed. We talked. We Googled,” Curtiss says. “We asked our parents and our children. And the overwhelming message, loud and clear, was that we should say yes.”
The bell they had heard years before was still sounding.
“It’s an exciting and scary adventure,” Curtiss says. “But it comes down to this: We put our lives in God’s hands years ago when we said ‘yes’ to becoming officers, and we know that we can trust Him with our lives—even when we are as far away as Papua New Guinea.”
The material for this article comes from one originally published in the Salvation Army’s Central Connection.