Still feeling the Fuego
Fuego: “A Catalyst Experience for Young Adults”
was held last October at the Split Rock Resort in Lake
Harmony, Pa. Offered as three days of worship, teaching,
empowerment, and fellowship, it left a spiritual fire in the heart
of many participants. Here are a few of their testimonies.
Dustin Fitch, a first–year cadet at the College for Officer Training, said, “God has been speaking to me. I see revival coming to The Salvation Army. I see a group of young people rising up to become what the Army was founded to be.
“This new group at the College for Officer Training includes people who are on fire for Jesus. The Holy Spirit is just running rampant all over the campus. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
“This [Fuego] will keep us fed, help nurture us, and allow us to spread what we know and what we love to other people.”
Fitch grew up in Appalachia in eastern Kentucky. He attended the University of Pikeville before God directed his path to Camp SWONEKY, where he taught archery.
Once he joined The Salvation Army, Fitch jumped at the opportunity to connect with the Urban Mission Team at the Cincinnati, Ohio, West Side Corps.
Fitch admits he was a country boy and out of his comfort zone, but he told himself to “plant seeds, plant seeds, plant seeds. You may not see the harvest, but it still might come.”
“It was different,” Fitch said of the urban ministry assignment. “I would lay my head down at night while gunshots would go off or people would be outside fighting. We lived across the street from a biker gang. It was awesome. They were beautiful people who just didn’t know their worth and didn’t know Jesus. I got a chance to minister to some of those guys.”
In 2012 Dave Webb, an officer candidate now living in Salem, Mass., became a senior soldier in Portsmouth, Ohio. He has held several jobs with The Salvation Army at Camp SWONEKY, in Portland, Maine, and in Salem, Mass.
Prior to finding the Army, Webb attended a charismatic church.
“Upon coming to The Salvation Army, I read a lot of their history. I thought, That’s something I can sign on to. I thought of William Booth, Elijah Cadman, and Joe the Turk. I said, ‘If this is what the Army is about, I need to be a part of this.’
“The idea behind the Army’s ‘blood and fire’ motto has always been deep within my heart. Since becoming a soldier, I’ve looked at the Army from an outsider’s perspective. Being from a bunch of other churches, I thought, Where’s this fire we speak of? We talk about the pioneers and the fire they had, but where is it today? Is there anyone who stands out like that? Are there soldiers who are willing to do whatever—even be put in jail?
“I felt we had simply talked about the Holy Spirit, but where was the walk?”
Then Webb heard Colonel Janet Munn, the principal of the College for Officer Training, speak at last year’s Candidates Seminar.
“She delivered a Holy Spirit–filled message for us. I thought, ‘I’m finally hearing it. I’m feeling it. I’m sensing it.’ The Spirit in me was recognizing the Spirit in someone else. There is a fire in this Army. Something amazing is happening and God is doing it.
“While coming to Fuego, I had already felt as if the Holy Spirit was saying, ‘I want to do something incredible here and I want to use these people to do it. I’ve brought these people here for a reason.’ ”
Webb said he had planned to relax, read, and study that weekend, but the more he prayed, the more he felt nudged to attend Fuego.
“What I’ve gotten out of this weekend is that the Holy Spirit is definitely alive in The Salvation Army and He’s working in people. The time is now. I believe this is the generation. The world groans in anticipation for the sons and daughters of God to manifest. We, the Army, are those people.
“It’s comforting for me to look at the Army and see leaders coming together to say, ‘There’s fire here and we want more of it. We want to be led by the Holy Spirit and we want to change the world.’ It’s scary but it’s comforting at the same time. People are going to live forever because of what we’re doing.”
A holy fire
Sarai Olmedo, who teaches dance at the New Brunswick, N.J., Corps, has been a Christian since 2010 and a senior soldier since 2011.
“I felt the presence of God at Fuego, in the worship and in the Word. I’ve learned much. It’s been a huge blessing for me.”
Olmedo said she hopes to take what she learns back to the youth at her corps.
“I want to learn more about God. This is a new experience, learning with other young people. I can take a lot of information from here and better my life as a Christian. I want to share my testimony at my corps and show the youth how to live a holy life. I want them to have the fire of the Spirit in their hearts.”
Sheri Mather, a youth program assistant in the Empire State Division who attends the Onondaga, N.Y., Tabernacle, said, “It’s been encouraging to see so many young adults from our territory in one space, seeking God.
“The sessions were about catching hearts on fire. It’s been exciting to relight our passion and to serve Christ.
“I saw a lot of energy during the meetings and worship sessions. People were enthusiastic. That’s great to see in our young adults.”
by Robert Mitchell
photography by Justina Stickland