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The other side

By Anthony Barnes, Lt.

One Sunday at the corps, several women from the ARC rushed to the altar after the appeal. One of them had come forward four Sundays in a row. Most times, she wanted prayer for God to change some aspect of her life or the life of her family, but on this particular Sunday, she asked for the ultimate change—a prayer for salvation.

We prayed that prayer, and she rose from the altar a new creation.

During lunch in the fellowship hall, the young woman approached me with curiosity in her eyes and said, “Have you ever been to Hollister before?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“What did you do there?” she asked.

“You know what I did,” I said.

Before becoming a Salvation Army officer, I was a sergeant with a sheriff’s department not far from where the Army appointed us. One of my roles was watch commander at the correctional facility.

This young woman had visited the facility several times, and I personally booked her in jail on a few occasions. We recognized one another at the altar, but when you are at the mercy seat, you are no longer defined by your past. You are, from that moment on, defined by the grace that you receive from God.

“Barnes, I thought that was you,” she said.

She said she preferred to see me in my Salvation Army uniform, rather than the one I’d worn before. God had her in the right place, she said, because I was the only person who had seen her on both sides of life. At one time, I’d walked her into the jail in handcuffs and booked her according to the charges. On this day, however, I escorted her into God’s kingdom, into a life free from bondage, free from her past, with a clean slate and a hope that will never perish, spoil or fade.

Today, she is a soldier in The Salvation Army and attended the Future Officers’ Fellowship conference this past February. She continues to consider the call that God placed on her life—not just to possible officership, but to a life lived in him.

To my friend, my sister, and fellow follower in Christ, I am proud of you. Glory be to God for allowing us the opportunity to live and minister in his name.

Lts. Anthony and Lisa Barnes serve as divisional youth and candidates’ secretaries in the Southwest Division.

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