My Calling – Major Gerald Street
By: Major Gerald Street
“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” – Mark Twain
These words are an appropriate description of my spiritual experience as I came of age. My parents were corps officers for 45 years, loved the Lord and were great parents. While I loved them and admired what they did, I did not intend to follow their footsteps. I was intent on intellectually making my own spiritual reality, giving God some consideration but not allowing him to be Lord in my life. I had that covered.
The summer after I graduated from high school, God spoke to me very directly about the emptiness of the path I was on. I found myself in an intense argument, but then I realized I had no good argument. I had nothing to make a deal with. I just needed him. I went to the corps that night and tried to give a testimony in the service. I don’t think what I said made a lot of sense, but something opened up in me and the Holy Spirit changed me. I’ve never been the same.
Being active in the Army, the question had to come up: Are you called to officership? When I would try to talk with the Lord about this it was like he shut the conversation down – almost as if he would say, “We’re not talking about this.”
I was overwhelmed when a summer camp flirtation turned into love. Some of Teresa’s first words to me were, “I want you to know that I am not called to be a Salvation Army officer.” My unspoken response was, “Great, because God will not even talk to me about that.”
We married four years later, had a baby boy and settled into making a living. We attended the Wilson, North Carolina, Corps faithfully, but I was not engaged spiritually. We were busy making our own life.
We left the corps for a while and attended a Free Will Baptist Church. God used that pastor’s preaching to call us to return to the corps wholeheartedly and be of service. What followed was a great time of ministry with the young people in the corps and area. We were drafted to help with a couple of youth councils, which were very significant for us.
Our good friends, Lt. Colonels Kathy and Eddie Hobgood, lost their minds, we thought, left us and went to training college. We “knew” that wasn’t for us. We went to visit them there and soon revisited the possibility that God might be calling us to be officers. With great help and encouragement from our corps officers, Majors Fred and Betty Carver, and our divisional youth leaders, Majors Dan and Lynda Delaney, we were in the next session.
Jesus’ words about saving and losing, about treasure and giving and receiving, have all proved true in our experience. We served 16 years as corps officers in Dalton and Savannah, Georgia, and trained in the Houston ARC, followed by 16 years as ARC administrators in Tulsa, Austin, Charlotte and Miami. As officers’ kids who were “not going to live where someone else tells us when we’re grown,” we have lived in great places and worked with fine people in every appointment.
Not long after surrendering to the Lord as a young man I had a vision that I would one day run a home for boys who came from broken homes. Occasionally I would think about this but could not resolve it. We worked with young people who needed our attention in the corps, but that wasn’t it. One Sunday, looking out from the platform during a song, in the Tulsa ARC worship service, the Lord said clearly to me, “There they are. I told you that you would do this.”