My Calling – Captain Donald Marvels

By: Captain Donald Marvels

In May of 1991, I was working for the City of Tyler as a sanitation specialist.

It was common on Fridays when I got paid to head straight to the liquor store to celebrate for any and every reason.  Needless to say, this particular Friday, things were different. I was intoxicated and driving and was pulled over by a state trooper.

I went to jail and was bonded out later that day.  As I returned to work on Monday, Dan Brotton, my supervisor, pulled me aside and said he was setting up a meeting with an EAP coordinator, to talk about my drinking problem.  I went and agreed to work a 12 step program which led me to Alcoholics Anonymous.

My sobriety date is June 12, 1991 and in June of 2016 I will thank God for 25 years of being clean and sober.

In 1994, I met and married my beautiful wife Paulette Marvels. As I began to lead a life of recovery, I got a job as a drug and alcohol counselor at Northeast Texas Treatment Center.  It was a new facility and the director’s name was Dick Yeomans who managed me for a few years, and retired shortly after that. He and his wife quickly took interest in me and began helping me to love me for me.

One day, I get a phone call from Mr. Yeomans who said, “Donnie you won’t believe it but I’m volunteering at The Salvation Army over here in Tyler, TX”.  He said, “I saw the white truck and it said ‘volunteers needed’, so I called and I want you to know this place needs you bad.”

I stopped by just to see what all the fuss was about and met a man named Rusty Matheny who showed me the facility and asked if I could start working there.  I began working as a weekend supervisor. My wife, Paulette, was going to church every Sunday and I wanted no part of it. But the corps officers, Majors Jim and Beverly Lawrence said my job was to be in church every Sunday, to make sure the shelter clients came as well.

As I went to church, something started to happen to me. I told Paulette and she agreed to come too. We  saw hurting people smiling, and having a great time.  I soon asked Major Lawrence how  I could become an officer.  He said that both Paulette & I would have to be called and told me to bathe it in prayer.

Well, after a few years of praying and both of us seeing The Salvation Army more, Paulette and I were asked to share our story at a Young Adult Retreat,with then-DYS Majors Jim and April Taylor.

The very next Saturday, I was awakened to my wife sobbing with a hot cup of coffee in her hands, and I immediately thought “boy, what have I done now?’

I asked her what was wrong and, with tears streaming down her face, she said, “God spoke to me and we are supposed to be Salvation Army officers.”

I am convinced of three things: officership is a calling by God, everything happens in God’s timing, and everything must be bathed in prayer.

I have many reasons to be thankful for the SA and the opportunity it’s afforded my wife and I.  However, I will sum this up by quoting Commissioner Israel Gaither as he was speaking so passionately in Missouri at the Quad Councils.

Commissioner Gaither looked out into the crowd of Officers and he said, “I will never be able to give the Salvation Army as much as The Salvation Army has given me.”