Friday Aug 29 2008
Salvation Army has power to change lives
By: Major Ed Loomis, Salvation Army Auburn Corps Officer
If anyone might be wondering how I came to be such a staunch believer in summer camp, this is how it happened. When I was 5 years old and my dad was still around, I wanted to grow up to be just like him. He was a plastering contractor and quite an artist in his chosen profession. However, dad had a problem that he was never able to conquer; he was a chronic alcoholic and, while he tried to keep it in check around the kids, it finally got the best of him. By the time I was 7, mom could no longer tolerate his addiction and the effect it was having on the family. As a result, my mother and father separated and later divorced. Although I was very young I clearly remember that for so many reasons, not the least of which was his preference for the bottle over his family, my earlier desire to be just like him was replaced by a sadness that was overwhelming. So when you can no longer follow in your father's footsteps, what’s a young boy to do? Thankfully, my mother stepped in and took care of the problem. It had long since been her desire to take her children, three girls and two boys, to church on a regular basis. Dad was not keen on the idea while he was around but he had said to mom that if she took “his kids to any church” it would have to be The Salvation Army. Now, not too many people knew back then, or now for that matter, that The Salvation Army is a church first and foremost. So, after a bit of checking mom discovered that they were indeed a well established part of the Christian church. A bit more research led her to a small Corps (church) in East San Diego, California and on the very next Sunday she walked in the door of the East San Diego Temple Corps carrying my younger brother, followed closely by my three older sisters and me, bringing up the rear. While it was my dad’s suggestion to attend The Army, during the ensuing formative years with dad out of the picture, it was our mom who was faithful to follow through and connect our family with the corps. As a result, all five kids went to church and the corps became our “home away from home” for the next 11 years. During those years we went to Sunday school, Bible study, learned to play a brass instrument, (for which The Salvation Army is very well known), joined the youth group, went to summer camp, met many wonderful new friends, rang the bells at Christmas, and became “Soldiers” (members) of this wonderful organization. It was hard for me at first to listen as the Corps Officer (Pastor) spoke of a Heavenly Father who loved me when my earthly father was no longer there for me. Dad’s alcoholic condition hung like a dark cloud over my childhood and twisted my view of what God must be like. But one summer, at The Salvation Army Camp, my life was transformed forever; for it was there that I gave my life to the Lord and gained new hope that would carry me through my life. Not only did camp, through the efforts of so many wonderful Christian counselors, teach me that in what seemed to be a “throw-away society,” people have tremendous value to God. It also gave me hope that I could rise above the stigma of my earthly father’s example, to be what my Heavenly Father intended me to be. As a result of my life changing experience during numerous summer camps and my involvement with our local Corps, I eventually made a commitment to become a Salvation Army officer; and for the past 21 years my wife and I have been trying to give back, to God and the Army, for what they have given us through the years. Though it has been 50 years since the last time I attended a Salvation Army summer camp as youth, the lessons I learned back then are still with me to this day — being a responsible and caring individual, being responsible for myself and to those around me, being a loving husband and father, being a contributing member of society and a good neighbor, just to name a few. Even driving carefully and with respect for others on the freeways is a trait I attribute to the lessons I learned so many years ago at summer camp. But the most important thing I hold onto is to know that something I learned as a young boy at a Salvation Army Summer Camp continues even now to benefit my children, my children’s children and my community as well. That’s special, and it is for that reason I am so supportive of our camping and youth programs at The Salvation Army. I truly believe that a Christian camping experience changes lives, as it did mine so many years ago. Every year hundreds of troubled kids are yearning for the same kind of hope that I found as a young camper. We at The Salvation Army are pleased to make that possible each year. I am thrilled to share with this community that this year we were able to send 18 young people to camp as a result of the generous donations received from so many wonderful donors. The Salvation Army is in Auburn for good: Doing the most good they possibly can with the generous donations received from a very giving community. We are also indebted to our advisory board and many other wonderful volunteers who give tirelessly of their time, talent and treasure to help us help others. Majors Ed and Joyce Loomis have been the corps officers of The Salvation Army’s Corps Community Center in Auburn since June 2007. They love the ministry they share and are grateful for this opportunity to live, work and minister in Auburn.