Jennifer Atkins’ favourite Bible verse is Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
“What a great verse!” she smiles. “As a family, we were unsure of where we were going next, but God took care of everything.”
“He had an amazing plan for our family,” her husband, Scott, agrees. “We just had to open our eyes and see.”
A Journey Back
Scott Atkins’ Salvation Army story began in 1998, when his mother started attending the Salvation Army church in Lindsay, Ont.
“I loved it!” remembers Scott. “And the more I got to know about the worldwide organization and what it stood for, the more I admired it.”
But as he got older, his church attendance fell away with the competing demands of work, marriage and family. “Fast forward 15 years,” says Scott, “and I realized I hadn’t gone to church for a very long time.”
As well, Scott and Jennifer had hit a rough patch in their marriage. “We were struggling,” says Scott. “Our marriage had weakened.”
With all the stresses, Scott felt called to go back to church.
“The only church that ever spoke to me was The Salvation Army,” he says, “so I started attending St. Thomas Corps.”
Renewing his commitment to God through The Salvation Army and becoming a soldier was an easy decision for Scott. “My mom was a single parent raising my sister and me on her own and she was able to rely on the church for assistance in making ends meet,” he explains, “so to be a soldier in an organization recognized all over the world for being not only a people of faith but a people of humanity, is amazing.”
Scott was enrolled by General Bramwell H. Tillsley (Rtd) in September 2015.
The Complete Picture
At first, only Scott attended church, but before too long, his sons, Sebastian and Alexander, and even his little daughter, Shealynn, started going with him. In their turn, they started to get involved in the life of the church as well.
“I’d never been to church,” explains Jennifer, “so when first Scott and then the children started going, I became curious.”
But it was Sebastian, who’d become a junior soldier that May, who really opened up her eyes. He would come home from church and tell her all about God and what he was learning, and soon she found herself in front of her computer screen more and more each day, trying to figure things out for herself.
“I also started reading the Bible on my own at night, trying to realize where I fit in all of this,” she says.
“Things started to change and our marriage was lining back up,” Jennifer says. “The pieces were coming together.”
So Jennifer took the plunge and started attending the Army with her family. “It was a big step, but Majors Jennifer and Terence Hale, who attend the corps, were so welcoming,” Jennifer states.
Major Jennifer took the time to go over biblical concepts that Jennifer found difficult, and Major Terence encouraged her to attend soldiership classes. By the end of the course, it all fit together.
“This is where I needed to be,” Jennifer realized. “With God and my family.”
A year and a half after Scott, Jennifer was enrolled as a soldier last May, alongside her son Alexander.
A Whole Life
The Atkinses all play a part in their corps.
Scott is an active member of the worship team and the band, where he is joined by his sons. Jennifer takes part in Bible study. Six-year-old Shealynn joined her brothers as a junior soldier this month and is part of the timbrel group.
Scott and Jennifer take to heart the fact that youth are the key to the future of the Army and are working with the kids’ club.
“The way we live our lives now is definitely having an influence on people around us to want to check out The Salvation Army and see what it’s all about,” says Scott.
Concludes Jennifer, “I always say to my husband, ‘I don’t know why more people don’t attend The Salvation Army.’
“It just makes life whole again.”