Commissioner Israel L. Gaither
The Salvation Army
Former USA National Commander
Commissioner Gaither, with his wife Commissioner Eva, retired as active Salvation Army Officers, November 1, 2010.
Ordained and Commissioned from The Salvation Army’s School for Officer Training in June, 1964 in New York City, he held senior leadership positions at both the USA National Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia and International Headquarters, London, United Kingdom where he served as the first African-American Chief of the Staff as second-in-command since the founding of the international movement in 1865. He is also the first African-American to serve as the USA National Commander.
In addition to corps and headquarters leadership roles, Commissioner Gaither also held the senior leadership role as Territorial Commander for the Army’s Southern Africa Territory and the USA Eastern Territory. At the request of the General the Gaithers returned to serve as interim Territorial Leaders of the USA Eastern Territory September 1, 2012 – January 31, 2013.
During his active service the Commissioner has addressed thousands of Salvationists, and Christians of other denominations, worldwide. In retirement, he continues to undertake invitations to serve as guests for various Salvation Army events and other ministry opportunities.
Family is a high priority for the Gaithers. They are the proud parents of two adult children, Michele Gaither Sparks of Wilmore, Kentucky and Mark Gaither of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And among the greatest joys of their lives are their four grandchildren – Isaiah (Sparks); Matthew, Virginia and Andrew (Gaither).
Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder
Commissioner Hodder is a sixth-generation Salvationist. After graduating from Harvard College (AB, 1980, magna cum laude) and Harvard Law School (JD, 1983), he practiced corporate and real estate law in Los Angeles with the law firm of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. During that period, Commissioner Hodder was the winner of the Christian Legal Society’s national writing competition for his paper titled Employment Discrimination by Religious Institutions.
In 1986, however, Commissioner Hodder and his wife, Jolene, who was then a Divisional Manager for Carter, Hawley, Hale, left their respective professions and responded to God’s call to service as Salvation Army officers. While in training, Commissioner Hodder was elected President of his session, and at graduation, he received the Principal’s Award as the most outstanding cadet.
Commissioned as lieutenants in the Messengers of Joy session, Commissioners Hodder went on to serve in corps appointments in Glendale and Torrance, California, as instructors at the School for Officers Training, and later as staff officers at USA Western Territorial Headquarters. In 1997, they were seconded to Atlanta, Georgia, for three years as Coordinators for the International Millennial Congress, the largest such event in the Army’s history. Subsequently, they served at Southern California Divisional Headquarters in Los Angeles, and then as divisional leaders for the Cascade Division, which is based in Portland, Oregon.
Commissioners Hodder were appointed in March, 2006 to serve in the Kenya Territory. In his role as Chief Secretary, Commissioner Hodder assumed operational responsibility for the creation of the Kenya East and Kenya West Territories.
In addition to his current responsibilities for international legal and personnel matters, Commissioner Hodder also serves as a member of the International Moral and Social Issues Council and as an adviser to the National Legal Commission. He and his wife have one daughter, Jessica Danielle, who is in her final year at Marymount International School in Kingston.
Vic’s first book was Handbook on the Pentateuch which Baker Academic published in 1982. A second and revised edition of that book appeared in 2005. It has been translated into Russian, Korean, Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese. His other books include The Book of Genesis, New International Commentary on the Old Testament, two volumes (Eerdmans, 1990; 1995); Handbook on the Historical Books (Baker Academic, 2002); Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary (Baker Academic, 2011). He served on the translation team for two modern Bible versions, the New King James version (NKJV) which Thomas Nelson produced in 1982, and the New Living Translation (NLT) which Tyndale House published in 1996 and 2004 (second edition). In conjunction with the NKJV project he wrote the notes for Exodus and Leviticus in The Wesley Bible. A Personal Study Bible for Holy Living (Thomas Nelson, 1990). In conjunction with the NLT project, he wrote the notes for 1 and 2 Samuel in the NLT Study Bible (Tyndale House, 2008). Additionally, he has contributed chapters and entries to numerous other publications such as The Quest Study Bible, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, An Evangelical Commentary on the Bible and the Asbury Bible Commentary.
Vic has had the privilege to lecture and preach at a number of other college campuses, as well as speak in churches, retreats, pastors’ seminars, family conferences, camp meetings, and more recently, overseas in Japan and Jamaica. Among his highest joys has been the opportunity to preach over a hundred times in the chapel service in Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University, and at least once a year for 40 consecutive years stretching from 1972 to 2012.
Vic and his wife Shirley have been married for 47 years, and have four married children and thirteen grandchildren. Both Vic and Shirley were born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, and have dual citizenship, Canadian and American (as of several years ago). Vic is ordained in the Wesleyan Church (Central Canada District).
Oscar worked hard at making his dreams a reality. At South Oak Cliff High School he was an outstanding performer in football, baseball, track, and basketball. His senior year he received all-district honors in all four sports.
College years brought Oscar more recognition for his athletic ability. By the time he was a junior at Southern Methodist University, he could see his dreams coming true. He was second team All Southwest Conference in football and the league’s newcomer of the year in basketball. Everything seemed to be going right, but success and recognition weren’t enough.
Married now, Oscar was having problems with his wife. He had developed a serious drinking problem and was asking questions about meaning and purpose in life that he couldn’t find answers for.
The answers came when he met an evangelist who led him to Christ, who shared the best news Oscar had ever heard – God loved him and had a plan for his life. A plan that freed him from drinking, set in motion the restoration of his marriage, and provided a definite sense of direction and real meaning in life.
Oscar was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns in l975 after finishing his collegiate career at SMU where he made the l974 Time Magazine All American Football Team at tight end. In his rookie year with the Browns he caught 41 passes for 463 yards and three touchdowns and was named 4th runner up for rookie of the year.
During his pro football career Oscar worked in the off season with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). He retired from the pros in l979 and went into full-time Christian service, working as Area Director with the Dallas Chapter of the FCA.
Since 1980, Oscar, his wife Linda, and their sons Mario and Quincy, have traveled throughout the United States co-laboring with such ministries as: The Fred Jordan Mission, Mike Barber Prison Ministries, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and The Salvation Army.
A native of Dallas, Linda attended South Oak Cliff High School where she met Oscar Roan. They were married during Oscar’s junior year at S.M.U. but soon after began having marital problems. With the marriage on the verge of divorce Oscar accepted Christ and began to live the Christian life before Linda.
One year after Oscar became a Christian, Linda filled with turmoil, bitterness, and hate cried out for the peace of mind she so desperately needed and prayed with Oscar to receive Christ.
Linda was sexually molested at the age of twelve by her father who had once been a minister. Her life as a victim of child abuse had been a battle. The guilt, fear and insecurity caused ulcers resulting in two operations and finally the removal of 60% of her stomach.
Since accepting Christ into her life. Linda has become a new creature, a living testimony to the grace and power of God to heal and restore from the hurts and scars from the past.
She was soon able to share with her husband the anguish of what had happened to her as a child. God began a progressive healing which led ultimately to deliverance from the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds of the past.
In l974 Linda began to share her testimony and sing publicly. She has detailed her struggles and complete victory in Christ in her book, “In My Search for Love,” in the hope of helping others who have been the victims of child abuse. She has also recorded several contemporary Christian albums. Side-by-side with Oscar, she has been involved in full-time youth evangelism and ministry since l980.
It all began innocently enough. A simple “honey do” list sent Joe Castillo on a routine trip to his local home improvement store. But Joe has always been able to see beyond the mundane. With his church’s upcoming Easter service on his mind, Joe strode through the aisles wondering how he could tell the story of Christ’s resurrection in a fresh, new way. As he made his way down the sand aisle, he noticed a bag had opened and spilled on the concrete floor. Shoppers had scuffled through the sand, leaving lines and patterns. “I found myself dragging the toe of my sneaker through the sand,” recalls Joe. “I made it home with my ‘honey do’ list, but I also had a bag of sand, a kitchen light fixture, a piece of glass, and four table legs. And a SandStory was born.”
That ordinary “honey-do” trip was the catalyst that eventually took Joe into the living rooms of over 23 million viewers around the world as a finalist on the hit television show, America’s Got Talent in 2012. It was an experience of both highs and lows for Joe, who admits, there were some daunting moments.
“Being given only 90 seconds per Sand Story challenged me to condense some of my favorites,” says Joe. “The show also had final say on my content and they limited my ability to share my faith openly with the more Christian-themed Sand Stories that I wanted to use. But the response from viewers was always very positive and encouraging.”
Despite the obstacles, as the weeks on the show went by, Joe realized his original desire had already been fulfilled. He was using his talents to draw more people to God.
“Being on television was never a dream of mine,” admits Joe. “I know that fame and visibility comes with a price. It is the responsibility of living your life in a way that will honor Christ. But the exposure from America’s Got Talent has increased the number of people that would like to know me and have a minute or two of my time. One night in the green room as we waited for our dress rehearsal, I struck up a conversation with about ten of the young kids in the dance group ‘The Untouchables.’ The discussion began with them wondering why I had eight different Bible apps on my phone. It continued for an hour with questions about different religions, why God allowed evil, how did Noah get all the animals in the ark and what a person needed to do to have eternal life. It was the kind of opportunity that never would have come about were it not for this journey that God has ordained in my life. Right before they went on for their final performance, one of the young men in the group asked if they could pray before they went out. That was a special highlight of the whole America’s Got Talent experience for me.”
Born in Mexico City, Joe was strongly influenced by his artistic family and the international art community. His mother taught painting, and his father owned a graphic design and display company. By age five, he was enrolled in his mom’s art class for the neighborhood children. By the time he was eight, his father was teaching Joe to hand letter brush script. Then, at fourteen, he attended an artist’s chalk talk at a Christian youth camp in Mexico. Joe was so moved by the drawing and the powerful message that he accepted Christ that night. A year later, Joe’s dad passed away and his family moved back to the U.S. where Joe finished high school and enrolled in Florida Bible College, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Bible. Joe combined his love for writing, teaching, and art to create what he called a WordStory and soon began speaking regularly at youth camps and churches, becoming a favorite of Youth Specialties’ events. His ability to speak both English and Spanish also helped extend his reach into places where others could not go.
Joe hesitantly began using his talents in commercial arts, and started an advertising agency which he built over the course of 20 years. But after his first wife died of breast cancer, Joe reassessed his life, gave up his agency and went back to school, graduating from Asbury Seminary with his Master of Divinity. He became a pastor and started to teach scripture using an ArtStory technique, telling stories and incorporating scripture while drawing on a 4’ X 8’ canvas. His most well-known drawing, “The Face of Christ,” uses scenes of Jesus’ life to form His face. The drawing became a favorite gift item for Christian retailers worldwide, selling more than one million copies on plaques, prints and greeting cards.
Joe has created SandStory performances for Fortune 500 companies such as CBS, Walt Disney Company, NBC, Mercedes-Benz, P&G, and Apple as well as over thirty other major corporations. And though he has used his talents to entertain world leaders in more than 18 countries around the globe, Joe remains humble and appreciative of the opportunities he has been given.
“I believe that everyone has within them the gift of divine creativity,” says Joe. “It is not always manifested throughout the arts on a stage, but it always begins with the willingness to share the gift with people within your sphere of influence. If you share first with your family, your neighbor, your coworker, fellow student or friends, the stage can expand. If you deepen your relationship with God and share what He gives you, He will expand your ministry.”
As more doors open for Joe to impart his unique talents, he admits he didn’t always understand God’s timing. But he now looks back and realizes that even when he was taking part-time jobs airbrushing t-shirts, God was directing his path, allowing him to hone his skills and preparing him for bigger things.
“Despite the fact that I was an artist,” says Joe, “it took me a long time to realize how powerful the arts were in being able to inspire, reach and heal people who were in need. As I began using art in ministry, I discovered the response was always greater when I could tell the story using visuals rather than words. I am now convinced that, ‘Art can be the finger of God that touches the soul.’”
|1:30 PM||Delegate Registration | Bethea Welcome Center|
|7:00 PM||Welcome Session | Stuart Auditorium
Featuring: Joe Castillo
Monday – Saturday
|8:00 AM||ARC Chapel | Memorial Chapel|
|9:00 AM||Bible Session | Stuart Auditorium|
|10:30 AM||Coffee Break | Harrell Center|
|10:45 AM||Praise & Worship | Stuart Auditorium|
|11:00 AM||Bible Session | Stuart Auditorium|
|7:00 PM||Evening Session | Stuart Auditorium|
|10:00 AM||Morning Worship |
Sunday, Aug. 11
Monday, Aug. 12
Tuesday, Aug. 13
Wednesday, Aug. 14
Thursday, Aug. 15
Friday, Aug. 16
Saturday, Aug. 17
Welcome Session – Featuring: Joe Castillo
Retired Officers’ Night
No Session – Family Night
A Tribute to General John Gowans
|Tuesday||Teens: at Waynesville Corps
|Teens: Movie Night in the Big House
Youth: Putt-Put or pool night
|Saturday||Teens: AM – Blue Ridge Parkway PM – Stompin’ Grounds
Youth: Big Party at the Big House!