OTTUMWA — The Salvation Army's newest captain wants to give those in need the tools necessary to make lasting changes in their lives.
Capt. Ruth Gibbons began at the Salvation Army last week after moving from Cloquet, Minn.
"As an officer, you know you're going to move when they feel you should or when the Lord leads you to," she said.
Capts. Oliver and Tabitha Knuth were recently appointed to lead the Salvation Army in Boone. Ironically, Gibbons lived right next door to the Knuths while all three were attending the Salvation Army College for Officer Training in Chicago.
"I feel that's what the Lord was calling me to do," she said of her decision to go to officer training. "I come from a family of Salvationists, so I've always known the Salvation Army. But later in life, the Lord said this is how He wants me to serve."
The Salvation Army tries to provide whatever its community needs, she said, whether that's a church, a feeding program, a thrift store or any other social service, "keeping that spiritual component in the practical things we do." One unit may have a thrift store, church and feeding program, whereas another community's Salvation Army may be more congregational.
The goal, though, is not to duplicate services already in the community.
"Are we a social service or are we a church? The answer to that is, 'Yes,'" she said. "But if you don't have the Lord on your side, you'll burn right out. There's so much need in the world, and we're trying to provide those services. We're trying to stretch our dollars over a period to make sure we're helping everyone we can. We want to help everyone."