By: Captain Staci Gainey
Being raised a Salvation Army officer’s child, I vowed to myself (and to anyone who would listen) that I would not become an officer. I also said I wouldn’t have children. So now I’ve been an officer for over 10 years and have four children. I have become more careful in what I vow.
My calling came after my husband, Johnny, and I had been married for eight years. He was invited by the corps officer in Jacksonville, Florida, Captain Alan Phillips, to go out with him on the canteen. When they arrived at their destination and the homeless and hungry came out from everywhere, Johnny said that was it for him. He knew he belonged with this Army. For me, it was more of a confirmation. I knew God wanted me to be involved, but my real calling came later.
We began experiencing difficulties within our family. The ministry we were able to offer to the corps began to wane as our energies were spent on our children, who were going through a tough couple of years. After many months of prayer, pressure and very long nights, we decided to resign our officership while our children gained some ground and became a little more settled.
It was during these three years I was working out in the “world” that I realized how much I missed standing beside my husband in ministry. Johnny, having earned his master’s degree in divinity, was pastoring at two United Methodist Churches and preaching on Sundays, visiting the sick, meeting with the elders of the church, attending the monthly potluck dinners (and oh, what potluck dinners they were!). Because of our financial responsibilities, I was obligated to continue in a 60-hour-a-week job that was wearing me down, physically, mentally and emotionally. I seldom attended gatherings at church.
I remember one night looking down at our daughter, who was 9 at the time, and realizing I was missing out on so much of her life. I knew that working as a manager at a sporting goods store was not what God wanted for me. I knew that he had something different. We stepped out in faith in February 2015 and informed the Personnel Department that we were ready to return to the Army.
Confirmation after confirmation led to us packing up our home, our dog, our cat, our daughter and one of our sons, and less than a month later we travelled for three days and 2,000 miles to the great state of Oklahoma. Those few days were the most peaceful days I have experienced so far in my 47 years of life. We all knew that this is where God was leading us and that he had an awesome plan for us.
God has brought us to ministry, out of ministry, and back in for such a time as this. Although there are struggles, disappointments, stresses beyond what I think I can handle at times, I know God is bigger than any of that. He has gifted me with loving others, blessed me with a beautiful family, wonderful friends and an incredible Army family.