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Oct8TueBeverly Burton brought her husband, John, to faith. He helped renew hers. October 8, 2019 by Ken Ramstead
It all started at a martial-arts studio in Burnaby, B.C. John Burton and Beverly Slater both happened to attend the same class. Mutual interest led to the couple deciding to go on a date. The venue she proposed, however, was a little out of the ordinary.
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“She dragged me off to church!” laughs John.
John had been a churchgoer when he was young, but had stopped attending. Beverly was a third-generation Salvationist.
“I didn’t know what to expect, never having been exposed to The Salvation Army before,” he says. “And then going to a church with a whole bunch of people in uniform. I didn’t know what to think of that.”
But it only took him a couple of Sundays to look past the uniforms to see the people in them.
“Everyone I met was nice and I enjoyed the services,” John says. “They were different from what I had grown up with—much less structured and formulaic.”
After they married, John’s commitment to the Army grew stronger. John attended senior soldier classes just to learn more about the Army, but once he finished, he decided to become a soldier.
“There was something that resonated about the Army for me,” he says. “Not only could I go to church and worship God but I could also help people, through our food banks and thrift stores, for instance. I’ve always liked how those two facets of The Salvation Army work together.”
For Beverly, who had become a senior soldier at 14 and played in the band, falling in love with John and seeing his newfound devotion to the Army made her look at the church with fresh eyes, and deepened her own commitment.
“I felt renewed,” she smiles. “Though I had brought John back to church, his faith renewed my own. As a married couple, we strengthened each other in our faith.”
While worshipping at Kentville Community Church in Nova Scotia, the Burtons threw themselves into the life of the church. Inevitably, officership became a consideration.
“As a lifelong Salvationist, I think there was always that little voice inside me urging me to consider officership,” Beverly says, “but there was also part of me that knew that if it was something John and I were going to do, we should do it together. And I also knew that wasn’t the place where John was at that time and I needed to wait for him.”
For his part, John was running a consulting business and was content, but the more that he became involved in the corps, the more he found his work unfulfilling.
“God placed officership on my heart,” he says.
The tipping point for John came at the 2018 congress and commissioning weekend in Toronto.
“Spending time around Salvation Army officers of all ages and ranks, I had a wonderful feeling of love and family,” he says. “I remember coming out of the commissioning thinking, I want to spend the rest of my life around people like this.”
When John finally broached his thoughts on the prospect to Beverly, all she did was look at him and say, “OK.”
“You could have bowled me over right then and there,” says John. “I never imagined in a million years that officership was on her heart, too. We both needed to take that leap of faith together.”
John and Beverly Burton have entered the College for Officer Training in Winnipeg this fall as part of the Messengers of Grace Session.