The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and BermudaView RSS Feed
Dec5FriLeaving alcohol behind, the Reid brothers now live for Christ. December 5, 2014 by Kristin Ostensen
"Looking back, at where we were then and where we are now, one of us getting saved was a miracle. But all three? Never.”
- Filed Under:
Glen Reid and his two older brothers, Calvin and Lloyd, are senior soldiers at Trinity Bay South Corps in Dildo, N.L., where they are active in various ministries. But before they came to the Army, they were notorious for their drinking—a lifestyle that nearly cost Glen his life.
Band of Brothers
Growing up, the Reids attended Sunday school at The Salvation Army, and their mother was a senior soldier, but Glen and Calvin lost their connection with the church once they were old enough to leave. Lloyd became a soldier as a young adult and played in the band for several years; however, by the end of his 20s, he had also drifted away.
“I got in with the wrong people,” he says. “I didn't have the willpower, and the devil took over.”
When Lloyd moved away to Toronto and started travelling for work, it became that much easier to leave his faith behind.
“I didn't have time for church because I was so busy travelling,” he says. “And when evening came, I'd drink a few beers, go to bed and do the same thing the next day.”
For Glen and Calvin, the partying lifestyle started while they were still in grade school.
“I started drinking at a very young age,” says Glen, “though it didn't seem out of the ordinary, because most of the young people drank back then.”
“In my teen years, I started having a few bottles of beer and I started smoking,” Calvin shares. “One thing led to another and it got worse and worse.”
When Glen became a fisherman, his addiction to alcohol only grew.
“When we finished our fishing, we'd be right to the tavern and we'd go drinking until we'd get too drunk to walk,” he says. “My wife hated it—every time I went drinking, we would have a quarrel when I got home.”
Glen and Calvin's drinking got them in trouble with the police on several occasions—Calvin was charged with impaired driving three times, while Glen's drinking and driving resulted in a short stay at Her Majesty's Penitentiary and two weeks at a prison farm.
When the three brothers drank together, it was a toxic combination.
“We couldn't agree when we got drinking,” says Glen. “We just started fighting.” Arguments often escalated to fist fights, especially between Glen and Calvin. “There were a lot of times when we just couldn't meet because we were drinking.”
From Death to Life
Glen was the first of the brothers to realize that his life was getting out of control.
“One night, I got boozed up and came back to my boat around 2 a.m.,” he remembers. “At 4 a.m., when we got up to leave the harbour, I was still drunk.
“I went out to let go of some of the lines and slipped and fell off my boat,” he continues. “I was in the water for what seemed like a long time, and I had to swim until I found a ladder on the dock and climbed up.”
When the crew started to come on deck, he told them he had fallen into the water. “I realized that I could have drowned and they wouldn't have even known that it had happened.”
When he went home to his wife, Valerie, and shared the story, he told her, “I'm going to change my lifestyle.”
“But that's where I failed because I was trying to change my lifestyle,” he notes. “I didn't turn it over to the Lord right away.”
Glen went back to drinking for a while, until one Sunday morning when he happened to be watching an evangelist on TV.
“Just listening to him for a minute or so, I realized that I had the opportunity to turn it over to Jesus,” he remembers. “I asked Jesus to forgive me there and then. The new came in and the old went out.
“That was 19 years ago and I've never had any desire for alcohol since.”
A Place At the Altar
Problems in Calvin's marriage were what ultimately led him to stop drinking. “If I had kept on the booze like I was, my wife wouldn't be with me today,” he says.
Things finally came to a head one Saturday night, about 13 years ago.
“I was out boozing all night, so I came home drunk and I wanted to go out for a bit of food,” he recalls. “She wouldn't go out with me, so I got mad at her and I grabbed her by the arm and bruised her. The next day, when I got up, she showed me the bruise so that I'd know what I'd done.
“That was the last time I drank—that's when I said this was enough.”
By this time, Calvin's wife had started attending the Trinity Bay South Corps, and she invited Calvin to join her one Sunday night.
“So I went with her and I told her, 'If you want to get saved, fine, but I don't want any part of it,' ” he recalls. “But really, I didn't want her to get saved because I figured, if you get saved, what am I going to do?”
When that Sunday night came, Calvin was sitting with his wife in the church. “She was crying, so I said, 'If you must go up to the altar, go on. I'll deal with it,' ” he remembers. “Ten minutes after she went to the altar, I was behind her.”
Brothers in Christ
Within a year of giving his life to God, Glen was ready to become a senior soldier. “I wanted the whole nine yards,” he says. “I didn't want to get saved and sit on the back bench.”
Then a year after that, his corps officer approached him about becoming the assistant corps sergeant-major. He accepted and became corps sergeant-major two years later.
“When I turned my life over to Jesus, I turned it completely,” he shares. “I said, 'Lord, whatever you want; I owe you so much.' ”
Calvin and his wife began taking senior soldier preparation classes two years after he came to the Army. “After I got saved, I wanted to get involved with everything I could,” he says. “Wearing the uniform means more than anything to me. I'm proud to wear it.”
However, while Glen and Calvin grew closer after becoming Christians, their conversion placed a strain on their relationship with Lloyd.
“We tried to see Lloyd, but he didn't want to see us coming, deep down,” Glen says. “It wasn't the same anymore. If you're drinking, it makes you feel uncomfortable, being around people who aren't.”
After 50 years of being away from the church, Lloyd finally returned to his faith more than two years ago.
“It was always in the back of my mind; it never left me,” he says. “But it's so easy to drift away and very hard to get back.”
Though Lloyd attended the corps occasionally, he usually didn't stick around until the end of the service, until one Sunday, when his grandchildren were being enrolled as junior soldiers.
“That night, I decided that this was it,” he says. “My granddaughter was sitting in front of me, so I tapped her on the shoulder and said, 'Come up to the altar with Pop.' And I took my wife by the hand and we both went up and gave our hearts to the Lord.”
Things had been difficult between Lloyd and his wife, who was unhappy with his drinking. “My home life wasn't a good life,” he recalls. “If I was drinking on a Saturday evening, there was sure to be a row.
“Now that we're saved, I know we've got a home prepared for us in heaven,” he continues. “But now I also have a very happy home here on earth, which I never had before.”
Lloyd was reinstated as a soldier in 2013, making all three brothers senior soldiers, and each is involved with ministries at the corps. While Glen is corps sergeant-major, Calvin is involved with community care ministries and greeting, and Lloyd participates in men's fellowship and sings solos.
“When they see us now, some people still can't believe it,” says Calvin.
“The change that Jesus can make in an individual life is unexplainable; the only way you can experience it is to try it for yourself,” adds Glen. “But when people in our community look at the three of us, and where we were, they know that there's a difference.”