Relevents: Envoy Vangerl Pegues
Envoy (Pastor) Vangerl Pegues from the Troy, N.Y., (Temple) Corps shares with SAConnects her love for the outdoors, for the teachings of Salvation Army Founder William Booth, and for the man whom she fell in love with and married.
Thirteen years of running the corps ministry myself was overwhelming. James, now my husband, was corps sergeant major (deacon) in one of the corps where I pastored. When his wife passed away, I helped him with the burial proceedings. Within the next year, he lost two sons to gang violence (one of whom had been my first junior soldier). I had loved those boys. Their deaths felt as if I had lost two of my own children. A friend, who could see that I clearly loved James, advised me that James needed someone to be there for him after so much loss. I called James and told him that I loved him and that I wanted to be with him. Five months later, we were married. We are both envoys now, and we share the ministry and its responsibilities. It has been such a joy to see James become a pastor, and to lead this corps.
My love for hiking and the outdoors came to me when I was a child. That’s when I discovered New Hampshire’s White Mountains and fell in love with them. The first time I climbed them, I said to myself, This is where I belong. Now, I always meet God in the mountains. I can connect with Him so powerfully there.
Geocaching is a game like Treasure Hunt, and anyone in the world can play it. It makes the outdoors even better! Through the Geocaching app on my phone, I look for hidden objects—whether they are overseas or near a local road from other gamers. The corps is using Geocaching to celebrate the Salvation Army’s 150th anniversary by putting “caches” all over New York State. Anyone who finds them will learn about the Army turning 150 years old.
I’ve been blessed by God to have two wonderful children, and I continue to be blessed with many “adopted” children. Through working in the community, I have been able to welcome and raise them in my home. Although separated from their families, they’re just as dear to me as my biological children. We also adopted a grown man. He’s 42! When an adult becomes part of your family, there can be damage and trauma from childhood. We help such people get past that pain.
Since age 9, I’ve tried to be involved in my community and make wherever I am a better place. In Boston’s Roxbury community, I helped a man named Charlie maintain a public park. We put the swings out and helped prepare and serve lunch to the local children. Sometimes, Charlie was absent, and I was the person who did all the work. One summer, Charlie went missing for a few weeks. Thinking he might be on vacation, I just kept doing my job. One day, a local man saw me working at the park and said, “You know, Charlie died recently.” Word got out that a nine–year–old girl had been maintaining the local park for the whole summer. As a result, I became Boston’s “Citizen of the Year.”
You can hear the voice of Founder William Booth at the Salvation Army Museum in London talking about his trip to India and the importance of being “transcultural.” Booth says in the recording, “Although Christianity is the blanket we wear, we also need to explore a person’s culture and learn to respect it and to see how we can utilize it to introduce Christianity to that person. Never strip someone of his or her culture or identity.” What Booth was saying is what I have been saying my whole life. Christ says, “Come as you are.” He will never make you ashamed of who you are or where you’re from.
Interview by Hugo Bravo