Musician discovers more than music at Oklahoma City Citadel

By: Brad Rowland

The Salvation Army’s musical ministry makes an impact around the world, and that is plainly evident in the Oklahoma City Citadel Corps. Within the last 18 months, the group of committed Salvationist musicians added another individual to their ranks.

Christi Wans was introduced to The Salvation Army through a brass banding connection. While playing with the Frontier Brass Band, she became acquainted with Ryan Sharp, the leader of that group and a Salvationist, and met Andrew Barrington, divisional music director for Arkansas-Oklahoma, during a joint concert with The Salvation Army.

On that day, Barrington extended an open invitation to any member of the group to attend services, or even brass rehearsals, at Oklahoma City Citadel, something he does regularly in similar settings.

“The idea is that musicians that are not saved can come and be a part of this community,” Barrington said. “They can hear about Jesus, play music that is about Jesus, and hopefully develop a relationship with him through that. We take that seriously in our corps.”

Wans accepted the invitation, visiting with the Oklahoma City Citadel band and immediately falling in love with the fellowship. After a whirlwind tour of travel as a professional trumpetist, Wans was reconnecting with the Oklahoma City area but, as of the spring of 2019, she was struggling financially and in search of steady work. That opened the door for her to spend the summer on the staff of the Arkansas-Oklahoma music conservatory, working for Barrington, and the stage was set for a life-changing moment.

Battling personal demons, Wans engaged in conversation with Barrington, who advised that a change was needed and that change comes from God. The Holy Spirit spoke to her through Psalm 27, and she engaged in a glorious conversion.

Since then, she has been fully engaged in the Oklahoma City Citadel Corps, even being enrolled as a soldier on the same day as one of her students, who she personally invited to The Salvation Army. In fact, she has become a prolific recruiter, with a passion to share her story and what the fellowship can do.

“I think my story shows what can happen when reaching out to people through music,” Wans said. “You can bring them in, even without expecting them to be a full-fledged member of the church right away. I’m so glad that I came to the Army, and I think that work continues now. … You can bring people to church through the music, and they can stay for the community and grow in that.”

While Wans was only peripherally aware of The Salvation Army until recently, she connected immediately with the people, saying “it was a blessing” to be welcomed with open arms and no expectations. She indicates that she is still in the early stages of learning and developing as a Christian but, even in just a short time, she has identified with the Army’s mission and the power within it.

“I’m still learning a lot but, even before coming to The Salvation Army, my main concern was helping people and being there for humanity,” said Wans. “Really, that is what I’ve learned that the Army does, too. The whole mission is just doing good for people and taking care of people. That’s such a noble cause, and they also make incredible music. That’s part of their worship, and mine, and that’s amazing to me.”