Six Young Leaders to Watch - Salvation Army Canada

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  • Mar26Thu

    Six Young Leaders to Watch

    From camping ministry to gang outreach, these youth are transforming the Army's future. March 26, 2015 by Kristin Ostensen
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    This month, is featuring six young people from across the Canada and Bermuda Territory who have made mission their priority.

    Aged 12 to 21, they are already taking on leadership roles in ministries from Sunday school to music camp to floor hockey. With a passion to serve God by serving others, they show that faithfulness to God's calling begins at any age.

    Taylor Burton

    Taylor Burton's love for camping ministry goes back to a pivotal summer evening at the Maritime Division's Scotian Glen Camp almost 10 years ago.

    “On the last night of music camp, they gave an altar call,” he remembers. “I knew that I needed something more and that week, through the Bible teaching and worship times, I came to understand what that was—a personal relationship with Jesus.

    “Ever since that first camping experience, camp has been very important to me—especially Scotian Glen,” he adds. “It's become my passion.”

    Taylor has worked at Scotian Glen in the kitchen and as a counsellor, and for the past two summers has been Bible director.

    “I look forward to it every year,” he says, “because it's the chance to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to a bunch of kids who may not have heard it before, or may not have given it a chance before. I see camping ministry as extremely important because I know the effect it's had on my life and many other kids' lives as well.”

    When Taylor isn't at camp, he can be found at Sydney Community Church where he leads worship on Sundays and co-leads the youth group with his wife.

    “Our divisional youth leaders, Captains Morgan and Lisa Hillier, have been really good to my wife and me, helping us grow by giving us opportunities to be leaders,” he says. “And they've helped me grow by talking to me, not dismissing me as a younger person, but being interested and involved in what I'm doing.”

    As Taylor and his wife consider where God may be leading them, in terms of future ministry, they are grateful for the support of leaders and Salvationists in their division: “They take young people seriously and understand that young people have a desire for Christ, for deeper things; you just have to lead them to it.”


    Andrea Melissa Fernandez Fajardo

    When Andrea Fajardo and her family moved to Canada from Honduras four years ago, they faced many challenges adjusting to a new country, new culture and new language. When their first winter came, they found themselves in need of warm clothing.

    “We were told that The Salvation Army was an organization that helped people—we didn't know it was a church,” Andrea recalls. “When we picked up the clothes, we were invited to church and we've been attending Montreal Citadel since.”

    Andrea became a senior soldier last year and is currently involved with teaching Sunday school, participating in the corps' Spanish Bible study and co-leading the youth group.

    “When I lived in Honduras, I was in a Christian school, and my teachers were always teaching us about our impact in this world, and how we were to do what God's Son says and serve people,” she notes, “and when I moved to Canada, I came with that mindset.”

    Andrea and two other young adults from the corps started the youth group last fall to fill a need in their community.

    “For me, being a youth group leader is being part of something big,” she says, “because teenagers are in this stage where they don't know what they believe in or what they should do, so being part of this makes me feel like I'm doing something for God.”

    While Andrea is dedicated to children's and youth ministry, she says her greatest passion is to help people living in poverty.

    “I would like to go to another country—maybe back to Honduras—where people have a lot of needs and I want to help those people,” Andrea says. “I want to give them a chance to see life from another perspective and I want them to know God loves them.”


    Caitlyn Gillingham

    When Caitlyn Gillingham finished high school last June, she knew she wanted to spend a year developing a closer relationship with God. So when she heard about the Army's Revolution Hawaii (RevHI) program, a year-long discipleship program in Honolulu, she found the place she needed to be.

    “Going into this program, I was motivated to get spiritually disciplined,” she explains. “I want to be prepared for wherever I'm going next.”

    At RevHI, Caitlyn spends her mornings reading and praying, and her afternoons at a shelter for homeless women in downtown Honolulu. “It's a lot of community work and working with the poor,” she says.

    Before going to Hawaii, Caitlyn was involved with many ministries at Yellowknife Corps, where her parents are the corps officers. She has worked at Pine Lake Camp in the Alberta and Northern Territories Division for the past three summers, taught Sunday school, played with the worship team and worked at the soup kitchen at the Army's Bailey House.

    “One of my passions is working with people in poverty,” she says. “I've seen a lot in Canada, from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to Yellowknife, where so much of the population suffers from alcoholism. But I don't want to be oblivious to the poverty of third-world countries because I know that's monumental compared to what we have here.”

    When Caitlyn finishes her year at RevHI, she hopes to go to university to complete a degree in social work. But ultimately, she feels that she is called to full-time ministry.

    “I spent a few years running away from it, as any officers' kid might do, but at territorial congress last summer, I just knew that was where I was supposed to be,” she says. “I dedicated my life to The Salvation Army.”


    Jordan Young

    Being part of a corps in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Winnipeg has given Jordan Young an outlook on life that few of his peers have. In Winnipeg's north end, where Jordan's father, Lieutenant Mark Young, is the corps officer at Weetamah, gangs are a major problem, with many young Aboriginal men being drawn into a life of violence and crime.

    “Seeing the hurt and understanding why people are in those situations really drives me to help make a change,” Jordan says. “Seeing what I have and that I could give something, I want to help them and make their lives better.”

    Over the years, Jordan has been involved with many different ministries at the corps, and he drums every week at the church's Sunday meeting, but his passion is their weekly floor hockey program for at-risk youth.

    “Building relationships with them, as well as helping them out and making sure they're safe—it means something to me,” he says. “If someone is hurt, or not going down the right path, I really want to reach out to them.”

    He credits his father with helping him understand the call to make a difference in the lives of others.

    “My dad didn't hold anything back,” Jordan says. “He brought me down to the inner city from day one, showed me what I had compared to others and that really impacted me.

    “Sometimes kids are held back and they don't understand poverty—they don't get to see what's actually happening,” he continues. “Seeing what's happening helped me understand more and I wanted to do more.”


    Zach Marshall

    As a 12-year-old cornet player, Zach Marshall came to Conception Bay South Corps expecting to join the junior band and sharpen his skills. But sitting in church on Good Friday almost five years ago, he found himself making a life-changing commitment to Christ.

    “Listening to the corps officer as he gave a sermon about the three men on the crosses, I felt like there was something more than just going to church to be in the band,” he remembers. Kneeling in front of the cross that day, Zach gave his life to God.

    Today, he's an active member of the corps, taking an “anywhere that I'm needed” approach to ministry. As well as being involved with banding, youth group, young peoples' corps and community care ministries, Zach served at Scotian Glen Camp in the Maritime Division last summer and is a member of the candidates' fellowship.

    “I first felt a calling to ministry about two years ago after I spent the summer helping out at camps,” he shares. “Officership is the ultimate goal—that's what I want to do and I feel that's what I need to do.”

    As he pursues this goal and gains experience in leadership, Zach says he is spurred on by the encouragement he receives from the corps.

    “It's a great place to get your feet wet in ministry because there are so many opportunities to be in different types of ministry,” he says. “And it's easy to get involved because the congregation is so welcoming and supportive.”

    For Zach, being in ministry is about getting out into the community and meeting people where they are at.

    “I know some people say that the Army is cutting back, but I don't think that at all,” he says. “I think that we're on the brink of what's to come. Whether I'm pursuing officership or just being active in the corps as I am now, I want to do my humble part.”


    Bethany Derksen

    Bethany Derksen may be young, but she's already making her mark at the Salvation Army corps in Lethbridge, Alta. On Sunday mornings, she can be found downstairs, in the church basement, where she helps teach the Sunday school class for children aged 2-3.

    “I love helping the younger kids because usually we play games and do fun stuff,” she says. “My youth leader, Katri Dean, encourages me to help with that. She's always willing to let me help with the younger kids and learn how to work with them.”

    Bethany also helps with the corps' Tuesday night KidzOwn program, where she assists with dinner, setup and lessons.

    Outside the corps, she is involved with Pathfinders where she gets credit for the volunteering she does with the Army.

    “We have certain badges that we need to do community service time for,” she explains, “and helping out at The Salvation Army with things like Toys for Tots counts toward that.”

    Aside from her work with younger children, Bethany is also beginning to take on a speaking role at the corps.

    “Once in a while we have youth Sundays where the youth lead the service and I've done the offering,” she says. “During our Christmas concert I read the welcome and announcements.”

    Trying out new kinds of ministry at the corps was intimidating for Bethany at first, but she says she's becoming more confident the more she engages.

    “When I was little I didn't like talking or singing in front of people, but I find I'm more willing to do stuff in front of people now and I'm getting better at it,” she says. “It's a little scary, but I enjoy it.”

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