The day I heard the drums

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Salvation Army officer recalls a day that would shape his future.

By Julio Vasquez, Major

Which way to go?

Approaching the stop signal, I debated whether to go to the shopping center on my right or drive another 10 minutes to the mall. A gentle honk from behind hastened my decision and I turned into the parking lot.

After a few minutes in the store, I heard drums. At first I though my mind was playing tricks on me, but then I heard them again—the sound was coming closer and closer. Looking out the door, I saw a group of people in uniform with drums, brass instruments and flags.

That was my first contact with The Salvation Army of Santa Ana, Calif. It was a Sunday afternoon and these “uniformed people” were holding an open-air meeting. The beat of the drums drew me to their gathering, where I heard the message given by Captain Louis Diaz.

Next Sunday, I made a point of returning to the store at the same time, and just as I had hoped, I again heard the drums announcing the arrival of The Salvation Army.

My sister, Gloria, had visited this peculiar “church,” but at the time I was not interested. Now, however, the sight and sounds of the brass band, the flags and the preaching reached out to me, and soon I began visiting the Santa Ana Corps, at that time led by Majors Joe and Doris Noland with a Latino ministry under Captains Louis and Abigail Diaz.

I particularly enjoyed the monthly united meetings, when both congregations came together to praise God. The words, “By thy grand redemption, by thy grace divine, we are on the Lord’s side, we are one,” resounded as we gathered and sang in unison, with the band playing and the people standing side by side breaking down unseen barriers.

That was the welcoming environment at the Santa Ana Corps, where I committed my life to Christ and dedicated my all to The Salvation Army. As a first-generation Salvationist—and an avid reader—I read William Booth’s story, the work of The Salvation Army in Latin America and the poignant story of Eliza Shirley. I was now a part of God’s Army, dedicating myself no only to praise him but also to serve the suffering humanity around me.

Complementing the Army’s rich heritage was the loving acceptance from the Nolands and the Diazes and the soldiers who accepted me as part of their Santa Ana family.

Now, 28 years later, God has blessed my with my beautiful family, and together we have pledged our service to him through God’s Army—my Salvation Army, where I still hear the drums!

Most recently Majors Julio and Karen Vasquez served as corps officers in Torrance, Calif., ministering with their children, Jonathan, Rachel and Lillian in the Los Angeles South Bay area. This summer they will assume new appointments in the Northwest Division, as corps officers of the Pasco Temple Corps (Wash.); Major Julio Vasquez will also serve as Tri-Cities area coordinator.


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