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Nov23FriHow a music class led to a lifetime commitment. November 23, 2018 by Ken Ramstead
For me, it’s come down to this,” declares Jenea Gomez. “I know who God has made me to be, I know who he has called me to be. The best way I can fulfil that calling is as an officer.”
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Journey to the Army
When she was nine, Gomez was introduced to The Salvation Army by her grandmother.
“I was staying with my grandmother for the summer and she sent us to the Army music camp at our local corps in Texas.”
Gomez’s grandmother wasn’t a Salvationist but had attended the Army herself when she was young. “I think she knew that it was a positive place for young people,” says Gomez.
“We lived in a poor neighbourhood and The Salvation Army sent a van to pick us up for free.”
For three weeks that summer, Gomez and her older brother were taught basic music theory and learned how to play a brass instrument. Monday to Friday, the kids were taught to play a song, which they would perform on Sunday at church and invite their family to attend.
After that summer was over, Gomez and her brother continued to attend The Salvation Army.
“There was always something to do, there was always something to learn,” she says.
“That was how we got connected with the Army. Now, my brother’s a Salvation Army officer and all my family attend.”
Gomez became a soldier when she was 16, and two years later, she moved to Vancouver to be part of the War College, the residential gap-year training program in the Downtown Eastside.
At that point, officership already interested her.
“At the corps I attended in Texas,” she says, “all of our leaders were soldiers, and I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to teach other people the things I had learned. I wanted to help with the brass band because that’s what had brought me in. I wanted to teach Sunday school because I had been taught at Sunday school.
“Soldiership was the path that solidified my decision to become an officer.”
“I wanted to attend the War College because I felt I needed the experience of walking alongside people through difficult situations,” Gomez says, “and I knew the War College would provide that for me.”
So that is what she did for the next six years.
“Once I started, it became my life,” Gomez says.
During her second year at the War College, Gomez met Donny Melanson, who had just started there. The two fell in love and were married.
“They pray hard,” says Major Debra Blackman, their corps officer at Cariboo Hill Temple in Burnaby, B.C. “They seek the Spirit. They believe in miracles. They love Jesus. They build bridges to the last, lost and the least. God has definitely put them together as a team.”
Gomez and Melanson talked about officership when they first met, and it arose again when they talked about getting married.
“After years of serving together in the Army and having conversations with different officers, I think it was this past year when we sat down with Majors Bill and Debra Blackman and we expressed our interest. That’s when things started to move.
“The Blackmans came back to us with overwhelming support. The more that we explored the idea, the more we committed.”
Nothing Else Matters
Gomez and Melanson are planning to go to the College for Officer Training in Winnipeg in 2019.
Gomez cautions that officership might not be for everyone. “For some people, another profession might be the best way to fulfil their calling,” she believes.
“For me, however, God has called me. It’s not a matter of the pros and cons of the decision, because God will work that through. It’s how I can best live that out and say ‘yes’ to God. Nothing else matters.”
Donny Melanson’s journey to officership will be told in next month’s Salvationist.