School of Horse-Eye Jacks following Longjaw Squirrelfish, underwater shot

Like all good men, I started going to church because of a girl.

I was 15, she was 16, and she brought me to the Bellingham, WA Corps. We must have set a teenage record because we dated for only five weeks, but I continued going because the YPL program was so great…or maybe it was because of the fact that there were 30 girls and only two guys there.

The reasons why I stayed are a little fuzzy…


But even after Lt. Robin Smith moved to another corps and the 30 girls dwindled down to five, at least this band geek had the local brass band to keep him connected to church.


Well, this less than stellar foundation in the church left me with a very minimal foundation in the Lord, and after becoming a soldier and staying at the corps for two years, I left the church altogether.


Fast forward through two years of college; I found myself back at the Bellingham Corps. I attended for a couple of months and was invited to a young adult retreat where I accepted the Lord. That Sunday morning changed everything. I went home and told everyone I was going to be an officer, and I got very involved at the corps. I took on the roles of Sunday School teacher, YPSM, Cadet, and now officer.

What was the massive difference between my flaky high school years to my time as a committed leader? The real difference was my experience. You know, after looking back, I must say that my experience at that altar probably wasn’t that different than many other Christians, but it was life changing just the same. My encounter with Jesus at that mercy seat at Camp Arnold was not one created that Sunday morning, but one that came from the inside of me crying out for Jesus.

Have you ever gotten tired of the same old church mentality in yourself, the same old relationship with Jesus, dodging your Bible, never praying…never encountering God? Well, that hit me, and I began to cry for something more, something greater. Jesus saved me not just so I could make it to heaven but to help build His church.

Leadership to me is not convincing me to work, but it is a by-product of a life that has encountered Jesus. Therefore, a life that is lived in mediocrity is not one that needs to be coerced into doing things for Jesus, but simply someone that hasn’t had a true experience with the Lord.

Don’t settle when it comes to God. Get greedy, and get all you can of Him and His Word.

Lt. Doug Hanson

Cheyenne Corps