Relevents: Major Elizur Vasquez
Major Elizur Vasquez, corps officer at the Boston Central Hispanic Corps Community Center, talks about the street ministry that introduced him to The Salvation Army, the book of Joshua, and the importance of developing community leaders.
In my early years with the Army, Roberto Santos took me under his wing. He taught classes on evangelism and how to present the Bible to both groups and individuals. Roberto also taught me how to knock on doors and introduce The Salvation Army. After he knocked on two doors, we approached a third house. He said, “Now, you knock.” When I had learned how to knock and speak, he then said, “Now, go teach another person how to knock on doors.”
I grew up in a family of missionaries from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. But as I grew older and came to the United States, I turned away from God. One day, as a teenager walking in Queens, N.Y., I met children conducting an open-air ministry led by a 12–year–old boy. I looked at him, and heard God ask me, “That used to be you. What happened?” I learned about their church (the Queens Temple Corps) and how they helped the community and the homeless, without discrimination. This outreach had been ingrained in me since childhood. I found a piece of home in Queens through The Salvation Army.
In my younger years, I had studied to be a pastor. It was something I wanted to do for the Army, but I had a good job working for an automotive engineering company in New York. I thought, How do I explain this to Mayra, my wife? But before I could tell her, she told me about a beautiful dream she had. In it, she saw herself in a cadet’s uniform, walking into the College for Officer Training (CFOT). God had answered my prayer before I had even prayed. My boss thought I was crazy to leave and offered me six months paid vacation to go back. Thirty years later, they’re still waiting for my return!
The Lord has gifted me with the ability to discover leaders. When I find that special person, I get a feeling in my soul. I look at his or her passion for Christ. Despite them feeling overwhelmed about balancing work and family responsibilities, God calls on them, and He gives them wisdom and the tools. We need to find people and prepare them to lead, just as the apostle Paul prepared Timothy.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). This has been my motivation. God has called me; therefore He is always with me. The verse comes after the death of Moses. God is creating a new leader in Joshua. I named my son Josue (Spanish for Joshua), because that is the verse I taught to others the day he was born.
interview by Hugo Bravo