God’s Work Revealed in Birmingham
By: Kristin Mudge
The Birmingham 614 Corps in Birmingham, Alabama is not your typical corps. It is housed in the Birmingham Center of Hope, and its outreach is mainly geared toward the residents and beneficiaries of the center’s programs, as well as those in the nearby Birmingham Adult Rehabilitation Center.
This corps is special in many ways, but it has seen significant success with one particular program—their REVEAL discipleship ministry.
Originally started as a Battle School ministry under Majors Cathy and Matt Riley, the ministry was rekindled and renamed REVEAL in 2017 under Captains Bryan and Tonya Farrington. Majors Bret and Susan McElroy were appointed as officers for the corps in 2018 and have had the privilege of watching the program and its participants flourish under their leadership.
In a presentation during the Saturday morning session “Everywhere” at Commissioning in June 2023, Major Bret McElroy explained that the mission of REVEAL is to make disciples. Their goal is to help people get free, to renew their minds, to help them walk in the Spirit, and to help REVEAL God’s mission and purpose for their lives.
The program is structured similarly to a training school; the program lasts about 6 months— longer if a student is called into ministry—meeting every weekday for classes and on Sundays for worship. Morning classes aim to teach the students spiritual formation, discipleship, and spiritual development. Evening classes give the students opportunities for ministry and evangelism, creating a context for them to put into practice what they are learning.
The curriculum follows a “heart-focused model” taught by Dr. Marcus Warner in his book, A Deeper Walk. In his presentation, Major McElroy said, “If the information does not reach the heart, and if the mind is not renewed, transformation will not take place.” He likened the heart to a garden, quoting from Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV). He stated that the heart must be pruned, removing all weeds and stones to create the proper environment for good fruit to flourish. Through this pruning and refining of the heart, mind, and soul, the men can begin to walk in the Spirit and learn to live a victorious life.
The results of the program’s success speak for themselves. The Birmingham 614 Corps currently has one cadet in training and plans to have two more next year. Majors McElroy are working with a couple of others on their future in ministry. However, Major Bret says the goal of REVEAL is not to send people to training, but to make disciples and send them into the workplace, wherever that may be, to be Jesus in their culture.
“What we do works. It works because Jesus works. And if we can just learn to let Christ live through us, then all we have to do is show up, and He will do all the work.”
Cadet Jason Houser is living proof that this ministry is having an impact not only on the lives of the students, but also on the future of The Salvation Army.
Jason arrived at the Birmingham Center of Hope having nowhere else to go after a nearly two-year period of hospitalization. He began attending worship services at the Birmingham 614 Corps straightaway. “I immediately felt as if God was beginning to work in my life in a whole new way.” He then met Major Bret who later invited him to join the REVEAL program.
Through REVEAL and the skills acquired in the program, he began teaching Sunday school, leading prayer groups, teaching Bible studies, and serving others in ways that he never thought would be a possibility. Two years after joining in this special ministry, Jason entered training as a member of the Defenders of Justice Session. “The Salvation Army saved my life, and now, with God’s help, I plan to serve Him through The Salvation Army for the rest of my life.”
Learn more about the Birmingham 614 Corps’ REVEAL program by clicking here.