I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was 12 years old and going to a Salvation Army Corps for the first time, not knowing that day would change the course of my entire life.
I came from a tough home. But The Salvation Army offered me the chance to get away from that situation for a bit and to just be a kid. I started attending the corps and immediately was hooked on Bible Bowl. I joined the Salamanca team. As a teen, that program had a profound impact on my life. I loved the competition, the friends, and the overnight trips to Long Point Camp.
We became good as a team and won the territorial championship six consecutive times. As a kid who wasn’t getting a ton of affirmation at home, being on a winning and loving team gave me confidence and helped me to believe in myself.
At a time when life was very difficult for me, Bible Bowl introduced me to Jesus, helped me to develop a deeper relationship with Him, taught me how to study the Bible and commit Scripture to my heart, and rooted my faith.
Bible Bowl also introduced me to camp. Some of my favorite memories from my teenage years are from working at camp. Each year, I received a chance to be away from home for a portion of time, I made lifelong friendships, and I received my call to Salvation Army officership—all because of camp.
Fast forward 21 years, and it takes my breath away to think of the ways in which God pieced the puzzle of my life together and how He effectively used The Salvation Army to reach me as a youth. Now, I am a divisional youth & candidates secretary (DYS) for the Northern New England Division, which means that youth ministries are a large part of what I do.
How beautiful it is to see things come full circle. Today, I spend my summers at Camp Sebago in Maine, running a Salvation Army camp that is much like the one where I spent so many summers while growing up. I am blessed beyond measure to see camp change the lives of so many kids, day in and day out. Being a DYS, I am privileged to be in charge of organizing our divisional Bible Bowl. It is so exciting to have the program that started it all for me, still be part of my life.
If you are ever tempted to wonder if your youth ministry efforts are in vain, be encouraged. God is using you and The Salvation Army to reach them and to change lives.
I am living proof.
—Captain Amanda Kruger