Good News!

‘Doer of the Word’

Laurence “Pete” Twitchell, the corps sergeant–major (CSM) at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Ashland, Ohio, says encouragement is one of his spiritual gifts.

“When I’m here, I try to be upbeat and encourage people to smile and praise the Lord,” Pete says while leading a tour of the new center in northern Ohio.

He says he also uses his gift to help people discover their own spiritual gifts.

“The Lord calls us to serve Him in obedience and He gives us all special gifts,” Pete says. “He does not call us to sit and watch. He calls us to be doers of the Word. That’s how I try to encourage.”

Pete is a “doer” at the corps, where he teaches adult Sunday school and encourages others to get involved in a host of projects.

“Anyone who wants to help with anything, all they have to do is say ‘yes’ and there’s a place for them,” he says.

Pete’s spiritual journey began as a child when he would accompany his mother, a professional organist, to church. She made him memorize the 23rd Psalm and told him he had a guardian angel.

“I remember a lot of times, I would look around to see if I could see him,” Pete recalls of his younger days.

Pete would go to church, but, he says, “I don’t think they let Jesus in the door.” He still believed in God but came to believe “He’s not in the church.”

Pete went to the U.S. Air Force Academy and spent four years as an officer in Boston before returning to the Ashland–Mansfield area. He was 37 and “searching” when some friends from a local Assembly of God church invited him to services.

“I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit as soon as I walked in the door,” he says.

When the church called for volunteers for youth training, Pete went forward. One of the requirements was to be “born again.” Pete asked a leader how you know you’ve been born again and he responded, “Even the trees look different.”

Pete prayed to be born again and his life was never the same.

“My whole life turned around—I had new eyes,” he says. “God’s Word and God’s promises became real for me.

“My wife and I thought, Boy, we really wasted a lot of time. Now we really better get to work.”

Pete and his wife Casandra headed to the Assembly of God’s school of ministry in Bradenton, Fla. During a mission week, Pete sat in the back and listened as a missionary from Honduras displayed building plans and talked about a new clinic.

“I felt a poke in the ribs, literally,” Pete says. “So I looked to see who was bothering me and there was nobody there.”

Pete heard a voice tell him to go talk to the woman because, as a homebuilder, he could help.

“We’ve been going to Honduras now for 30 years,” he says.

On countless trips there since 1981—usually about once a year but sometimes more—they have helped construct clinics and a Bible college. He also has helped deliver medicine and other supplies to the impoverished nation.

For the last decade, Pete has also organized an annual trip to Cranks Creek, Ky., and delivered food, clothes, blankets, hats, coats, and toys to the poor. This year, the group will take 60 bikes to give away.

When asked what motivates him to service, Pete says God blessed his business over 40 years, and this is his way of giving back.

“I have been so blessed by the Lord and I know it,” he says. “It says in the Word that you cannot outgive God and I’ve found that really to be true.

“I am really blessed physically to be able to do this. I’ve never made much money, but I’ve never wanted for food or for clothing, and we have a really nice place to live. So what more do I need? Nothing. I got what I need.”

Pete came to The Salvation Army when his old church had enough youth helpers.

“The Lord told me specifically to go to Ashland to The Salvation Army and to work with the children there,” he says. “It was like a directive that came into my head.”

Pete has been the CSM the last four years. One of his major projects was getting the corps involved in building a stone wall that features the history of The Salvation Army worldwide and in Ashland. The project grew out of a two–week stone art class he was asked to teach at the corps.

“I never would have thought to do it, but the Lord told me to do the history of The Salvation Army in Ashland and involve as many people in the community as I could,” he says.

The wall features everything from Salvation Army Founder William Booth to  local color such as Amish buggies.

Another project Pete gets the young involved in is a community garden on the grounds of the Kroc center. He teaches survival skills and self–sufficiency.

“The kids are required to get their hands dirty and help,” he says.

Major Thomas Hinzman, program secretary in the Northeast Ohio Division, called Pete a “one–of–a–kind” person.

“He has such a heart and passion for ministry and speaking about our Lord and Savior, you can’t help [but] feel lifted up just being in his presence,” Hinzman says.

Looking back, Pete says he joined the Air Force so he could see the world, but that didn’t happen until he came to Christ.

“I ‘flew a desk’ for four years in the Air Force, and it wasn’t until I came to the Lord that I got to do some of the really adventurous things that I was dreaming about,” he says. “It says in the Word that if you delight yourself in Me, I’ll give you the desires of your heart. And that He has done.”

by Robert Mitchell

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