My name is Cadet Minnie Cleveland. I was born and raised in Mississippi where I grew up in the church. I come from a long line of strong, black, Christian women. It was the teachings I received from these women that led me to except Christ at an early age.
After graduating from high school, I attended Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia. Although I believed I was a Christian, I rarely went to church while I was in college. It was during this time I did not obey God. I made so many bad decisions that caused me to fall on my face. God would speak to my heart, but I did not listen to him or anybody else. I wanted to do my own thing.
I left college to join and later retire from the United States Army. My life changed when the military unit I was assigned got deployed to Belgium to move all equipment and soldiers from Germany to Saudi Arabia in support of “Desert Storm.” I was absent from my family for almost a year. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see them again. I felt hopeless, depressed, and began to doubt God. I thought I was going to die.
It would be through this situation God finally got my attention. I began to pray and plead with God for forgiveness and mercy for all the times I was disobedient. No matter how much I prayed, I didn’t think God heard me. One night while lying in my bunk thinking to myself, “God has forgotten about me because of my disobedience. Here I am all alone in this cold, dark, room in a foreign country.” I wondered if I would ever see my family again. My heart was so heavy that I began to cry uncontrollably. Suddenly, it felt as though someone was hugging me. A still, small voice spoke to me and said, “I am here, you don’t have to worry.” I believed it was God speaking to me. That night I recommitted my life to him.
From that day forward to now, God has used me to be a witness of his love and goodness. I can tell how he changed my life and gave me hope when I felt hopeless. God used the teachings of Samuel Brengle’s life of Holiness to pierce my heart and answer the call to officership. It is by the grace of God I am here today, a cadet at The Salvation Army’s School for Officer Training. Ready to serve and be used by God.