196 Testify: Envoy Kevin Nagasaki and Dalton Low at 2024 Testify Congress

196 Testify: Envoy Kevin Nagasaki and Dalton Low at 2024 Testify Congress

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We’re back with more highlights from the 2024 Testify Congress.

Last month, in Pasadena, California, The Salvation Army from around the Western Territory joined for an event focused on teaching, training and motivating Salvationists to tell the story of Jesus more often and to more people. 

And the sessions featured, you guessed it, testimonies from programs and ministries of The Salvation Army across the West. 

Today, we’re sharing two:

First, you’ll hear from Envoy Kevin Nagasaki. If that name sounds familiar, it is! Envoy Kevin was on the show in Episode 190 talking about living and serving through the Maui fire disaster. This is his testimony.

Then, Dalton Low and his mom, Angela. Dalton was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at a young age. He found a place of belonging at The Salvation Army, and helps lead worship today.

So allow me to introduce to you today, Envoy Kevin Nagasaki and Dalton Low—who each took to the stage live after the screening of their video testimony.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

* * *

Envoy Kevin Nagasaki: My grandparents used to take care of the church in Honolulu. So I kind of grew up in a church, knowing all the Bible songs, knowing all the stories and everything. But I kind of faded away once I got my license and then started getting into trouble. I got involved in a lot of illegal activities. Then I learned a lot on how to gamble, how to deal drugs. Then we opened up the strip club. Then we opened up the gambling halls. We had a lot of things going.

I was in and out of prison, in and out of boys’ and girls’ homes, always knowing Jesus, but I mean, never putting Him in the front. It was always, you know, I or the money. I finally realized that I was tired of this life. I was tired of looking behind my back and worrying about who’s gonna try and rip me off, or who’s gonna try and rob me. I made a 30-year-old plan. When I’m 30 years old, I was gonna just retire, take the money I had buried and hidden and just leave that life. God had other plans for me. I get a knock on the door where we’re living and they’re looking for me. I said, no, here it is. So my first instinct is to run, but then this voice inside of me told me, hey, get it over with, get it done. You know, if you want to live a good life, you’re going to have to change.

So I stood up, they arrested me, they just took me right there that day. And I went on my knees in that cell, and I told Jesus, I said, you know, whatever gotta be, if I gotta do the 25 years, I’ll do the 25 years. If that’s what it takes to clear my record, I’m gonna do it because it’s time. And I did only eight months, and that can only be God. You know, that was the top one.

Moving forward from there, I started cooking and then started washing the dishes. I said, that’s going to be my mantra. I’m going to be the dishwasher to help people because that’s what they need. To be clean, to be washed, to be restacked, and to be reused to bring out the good message and to bring the good news. That’s what the Army is all about, giving the needy, giving the people that second chance. You know?

And I thank, you know, God of course first and then thank Salvation Army for giving me that second chance. Those experiences, life experiences, all those things shaped me in ministering to the people on the street now. I’m willing to hug them, I’m willing to talk to them, willing to sit with them. I have known the community practically all my life. Lahaina, the town most devastated by the wildfire, a point of no return. At least 1 ,000 structures burned down. Block after block, houses are burnt to a crisp. The deadliest wildfire in modern US history. When the fire came, it looked like a bomb went off, but everything just burned.

A lot of people lost their lives, 101, and basically we knew all of them. It’s gonna be definitely different, but you know, the spirit and the mission of Salvation Army is still gonna be out there to meet the need, no matter what. I’ve been a Corps member since 96. I’ve been working for the Army since 98. Whatever it’s gonna take, keep that ministry going. That’s what we need to do here and that’s my mission. It’s been a blessing.

* *

Angela Low: Dalton was diagnosed with autism when he was like 18 months old. When he was a year, he wasn’t talking. He was non-verbal for a long time. Basic needs, you know, were hard to come at. So that brought issues like anger and communication was very hard. Like at the Christmas party or things like that when other kids would get certain gifts maybe that he wanted and he didn’t have a good communication system set up and sometimes we’d have to just leave.

We needed food and we’d heard about The Salvation Army and they were just a couple blocks away and they were setting up for vacation Bible school. And they told us, you should come back tonight. It was the first night. I’m used to my daughter being invited to a lot of places and not him. And I said, well, you know, even him, they’re like, yes, you know, of course they were just like, you know, they’re so welcoming. And I went back the next night, I think it was like the third or fourth night. They both, you know, asked Jesus into their heart. Like with his hearing, I’m just amazed. I don’t even understand it all.You could play five keys on piano and help tell everyone what they are.

Dalton Low: I’m good at drums, I’m really good at piano, but I’m good at guitar, really good at guitar. I love music because I like the sound of the music.

Angela Low: Our worship leader, Phil, he met him and Dalton just adored this man. He really just encouraged him to come and join the worship team. Phil would just stand by his side and mentor him and teach him praise and worship and how to be on stage in front of the congregation and just really took him under his wing. That was his first prior attachment to a person and he just loves him. 

[Corps Officer]: Dalton is actually now the lead guitarist in our praise and worship team. We allow him to pick his own songs and to lead praise and worship. It’s been a real good fit just because of the fact that he just enjoys singing to God, enjoys playing any type of instrument. It’s good to praise God. It’s really special and our congregation just really loves it. Having him up there, it’s given him a sense of purpose, I think. It really just comes down to loving them and accepting them for who they are, recognizing what are their spiritual gifts, what are their strengths for figuring out where can they get plugged in.

Angela Low: What does that feel like when you sing for God? 

Dalton Low: It feels like God is very happy. 

Angela Low:  What’s your favorite worship song? 

Dalton Low: I like Graves in the Gardens because I love it. It makes me happy tears. I was writing a song, the first verse is like, it’s really easy. I use a Bible to put verses on the first verse and so it’s the chorus. But song’s called Love Others.

Angela Low: He has freedom while he sings. There’s nobody else in the room. It’s just him singing to God.

This is how God wants us to worship him. With the freedom to give him our total praise without worry about what people are looking at us or how we sound. He just wants our worship and he wants our total commitment to him. And I could see that in Dalton. One thing like planning for his future stuff, I always think about, I know he’s going to have somewhere in The Salvation Army and I feel comfortable with that, knowing he’ll always have a place.

Additional resources:

  • Get inside the Caring Magazine Scripture Study Collection and find a suite of free, downloadable Bible studies to guide you through topics from New Beginnings Through Forgiveness, to Understanding our Imago Dei or Life Hacks From David.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now.

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