Come join our Army
Y.P. bandmaster in Las Vegas, Nev., shares his testimony.
I was born and raised in London, England. I learned to play the cornet in the Christian Boy’s Brigade, associated with a local Baptist Church. On the way to church, I often passed the Balham Corps of The Salvation Army, where I would see the band and songsters doing their street meetings. To me, this seemed a fun way to tell people about the love of Jesus.
I had been taking cornet lessons from a member of the Band of the Royal Horse Guards. One day my instructor took me with him to play for a BBC radio program. There I met their principal cornet player, Ray Todd, who was also the principal cornet for The Salvation Army’s famous Chalk Farm Corps band. Upon his invitation, in 1966, I was soon playing in the corps band and later became a Salvation Army soldier there.
At age 19, I joined the Irish Guards Band. After leaving the military band, I became a member of the New Vaudeville Band (older readers will remember our best selling recording, “Winchester Cathedral”) and traveled extensively. While touring, I went to church as often as I could, but not nearly as much as I should have. I first came to Las Vegas as a musician.
In 1990 I left the music business and began a new career in real estate. A friend invited me to attend a large church where I played in their worship band. However that never felt quite right, as some of the group had no Christian testimony and treated it as just another paid gig. I also drew on musical contacts and friends to found the Las Vegas Brass Band.
Well, just as when I had been invited to attend the Chalk Farm corps by Ray Todd, God stepped in again and brought Major Mike Olsen into my life. He auditioned for the Las Vegas Brass Band for the BBb tuba chair, and we chatted about our Salvation Army connections—he being a retired officer who had served in England. He invited me to play in the Las Vegas Citadel corps band.
Now I’ve come full circle. I was re-enrolled as a soldier and play in the band and sing in the songsters. I also have the privilege of leading the youth band program at the corps. I thank God every day for bringing me back home to where I really belong.
It didn’t take “an evangelism program” to get me to The Salvation Army 42 years ago, nor did it last year. It simply took a personal invitation from someone who cared. I’ve since invited four other musicians to join The Salvation Army corps band. That’s my take on caring evangelism.