Yorkminster Citadel has a vibrant Spanish-speaking worshipping community among its membership. Led by Captain Fabio Correa, it joins in corporate worship on Sundays as well as enjoying its own celebrations and events at other times. Captain Fabio was interviewed by The Salvation Army in the southern United States, and his story is published below.
This article has been translated and republished from the Southern Spirit online magazine.
A few days ago we had the opportunity to hear the beautiful testimony of Captain Fabio Correa, associate corps officer at Yorkminster Citadel in Toronto, Canada. He shared with us the story of how he had been a soldier in the Doraville Corps before having to immigrate to Canada and start all over again. He told us the following account of how God opened doors and how today he and his wife are leading a Hispanic ministry in Canada.
First years in The Salvation Army
To be a Salvation Army officer in Canada was never in my plans, just as other events in my life had not been thought of by me but had already been conceived by my heavenly Father from before my birth.
Life is not made up of coincidences; my life has been a succession of miracles programmed by God. After visiting several Churches in the city of Atlanta, in search of God, I came one evening to the Doraville Salvation Army church with my two children. I had already had the opportunity to meet Sergeant (now Captain) Kelly Durant and to be invited by him to attend his church, but was initially a bit conflicted since we Latinos are traditionally Catholic and I was not sure of the change. My wife Angelica could not join us that day. She had managed to get a job after a long time searching, but the only bad thing was that she would have to work every Sunday.
As soon as my children and I entered the church that first day we were met with great affection by the Sergeant and his wife Regina, and then during the sermon I felt that God was directing me to the Army as the church where he wanted me to be. Once the service was over, we were invited to have a meal with all the members of the church. I felt strange: I knew no one and I was now used to not having a family. It was great to see my children running with the other children in a safe place. When the meal was over, Sergeant Durant took a vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming the room where we had eaten. I offered my help and it was beautiful to feel in that place, from the very first day, the call of God to become Army officers in Atlanta.
Hispanic Ministry in Canada
Finally we managed to have a spiritual family in Atlanta. We were not alone, God in his infinite mercy had brought us to his Church. But we had not defined our immigration situation and the situation became increasingly complicated. It was a very difficult decision to leave our church, but we prayed and asked God for confirmation of his answer, and that”s how we decided to move to Canada.
I remember that in the farewell service they had for us in Doraville Major Valdez said, “We trained them here without knowing that God had a ministry in Canada for them.”
One cold morning we arrived at Yorkminster Citadel Corps in Toronto, smart in our uniforms and looking for a place to worship. Our presence was very noticeable in a church that was 100% Canadian, traditional, conservative, and nothing like the Doraville Corps. There was no sense of a Latin flavour, but despite the lack of expressiveness we were able to see that God’s love has no boundaries of culture, colour or language. God”s love cannot be controlled by man-made barriers. Despite the differences, we felt that this was the place God had chosen for us.
Gradually we were evangelizing and inviting Latinos to our church. This created the need for a Hispanic pastor and I was chosen for the position six months after arriving in Canada. Hispanics were growing in numbers and this meant that with Major Len Ballantine (the corps officer/pastor) we asked God for direction about the course the church should take. God answered and we obeyed. The church reinvented itself in a framework of multiculturalism, began to sing in two languages, to read in two languages. Then Commissioner Bill Francis invited us to be officers. It was difficult for us to go to college so we prayed and began our training as auxiliary captains.
My official position is Associate Corps Officer at Yorkminster Citadel Corps in Toronto and my wife is Program Coordinator for English as a second language (ESL).
Last year we organized the first meeting of Hispanic Salvationists in Canada and the first Hispanic Family Camp at Jackson”s Point — events that I directed. This year we had our second camp. We have also brought from Chile many Salvationists books in Spanish, helping our members identify themselves with The Salvation Army. We have been very happy serving God in Canada for seven years, but always hold Doraville Corps in our hearts and remember how that corps was the instrument used by God to bring us into his glorious Army.
Captain Fabio Correa