Doreen Gill has lived in Yellowknife, capital city of the Northwest Territories, for more than 40 years. She is a committed member of The Salvation Army, a dependable volunteer and a proud grandma. She shares how her church family has helped her overcome grief and loneliness.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m originally from Peterview, N.L., but we moved to Yellowknife in 1982, when my husband got a job here. Our two young boys loved all the outdoor activities. My husband hunted and I liked to preserve wild meat, pickle beets from our garden and go fishing.

I’m now retired after working for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation for almost 26 years. I love attending performances at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre and spending time with my four granddaughters. Someone at work once told me that I was the glue that kept my family together.

Tell us about your spiritual journey.

When I was growing up, The Salvation Army was the only church in my community, and I was a junior and senior soldier. Envoy Roland Abbott, one of my elementary school teachers, was influential in my life. I can now thank my family for sending to me church because God never left me even though I left church at 19.

How has God met you during difficult times?

My family was dysfunctional. I didn’t have much trust in men because I never knew my biological father. I also experienced abuse as a child. My self-esteem was very low. However, I have overcome these feelings through prayer and God’s help. I learned how to be independent, and this gave me more selfesteem.

I have experienced many things in my life. God spoke to me twice. The first time, I tried to commit suicide and he stopped me. God said to me, “There’s a reason for you to live.” I felt his Spirit and a calmness came over me and I knew it wasn’t my time.

Before I came back to church in my 60s, I was going through marital difficulties. I was ready to leave my husband and God spoke to me a second time, saying, “You cannot leave him.” I stayed with my husband to try to work it out. A few months later my husband was diagnosed with stage four cancer, so I believe that’s why God stopped me.

Why did you come back to church?

I came back to church because I was overwhelmed with grief at the loss of three family members—my mother, sister-in-law and aunt—within three months of each other. I wasn’t able to go back to my hometown and visit them before they died or attend their funerals. My Aunt Pansy, an envoy in The Salvation Army, told me I needed the fellowship of a Christian community and encouraged me to go back to church.

When I finally accepted Jesus and went back to church, I found a new family and it’s the best thing I ever did for myself. I wasn’t lonely anymore and I found comfort in God and the fellowship of my church community. My youngest son noticed a difference in me. I told him I was finally at peace.

What disciplines or practices have helped you grow spiritually?

Prayer, reading Scripture, worship, Bible study, fellowship and service. I rely on God every day.

What inspires you about The Salvation Army?

I have been attending The Salvation Army in Yellowknife for four years. I volunteer for whatever needs to be done—Christmas kettles, food and clothing drives, anywhere I am needed.

Last summer, I attended the commissioning of cadets during the INSPIRE Congress in Toronto. The Salvationists were just like one big family, which was something I wasn’t accustomed to. It was so enjoyable and I’m thankful for the experience.

I am inspired by the way The Salvation Army is always ready and willing to help in any situation. When I volunteer with the kettles, you have no idea how many people tell me they would not give to any other organization. People always know where to go when they need help.

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On Thursday, May 30, 2024, DIAN WOLLISON said:

Doreen, thank you for sharing. It means more than you know.

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