Commissioned as officers on May 26, 1966 (Commissioner Barbara) and June 10, 1973 (Commissioner David), the Jeffrey’s approach their retirement on August 31, 2017 after decades of faithful service in The Salvation Army. Committed to the service of God and humanity, they exemplify integrity and an extravagant love for God. If your path crossed with theirs, you would undoubtedly be blessed by their witness. YS asked the Commissioners about their covenant of marriage and officership. Here’s what they had to say.
Young Salvationist: What was the date of your wedding?
August 23, 1969.
YS: What was your color scheme?
Red, yellow, and blue—a Salvation Army wedding.
YS: How many bridesmaids and groomsmen did you have?
YS: Where were each of you born?
Waynesburg, Pennsylvania (Commissioner David) and Marion, North Carolina (Commissioner Barbara).
YS: When did you first meet Jesus?
David: I accepted Jesus as a child in the Pleasant Valley Methodist Church. I was a member of Grandma Reese’s Sunday School class. She was not a relative, but everyone called her Grandma Reese. She asked if any of us wanted to accept Jesus as our Savior, and I did! My parents were Christians. I later rededicated my life to Christ as a teenager at the Morgantown, West Virginia Corps. My first corps officer (the then Captain, later Major, Omer McKinney) had a great impact on my life through his preaching, his example, and the interest he took in me.
Barbara: I came into contact with The Salvation Army when I was 11 years of age. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior on a beautiful Easter Sunday morning in my home corps in Gastonia, North Carolina. The corps officer, Major Preston Leonard was preaching and it was as if he was speaking only to me! I was led to the Lord by the Young People’s Sergeant-Major, Jerry Shultz. I was reminded that Jesus went to the cross and suffered for me. Hallelujah! He rose and now lives in my heart.
YS: When did you first meet your spouse?
David: I first laid eyes on Lieutenant Barbara Garris at a regional Corps Cadet Rally held at my corps. I heard the sweetest voice singing directly behind me, and when I turned around, I saw this beautiful young woman in officer’s uniform. I thought I was seeing an angel. She was the cutest and sweetest young woman I had ever met. I loved her personality, her dedication to Jesus, and her compassion for others.
About a year later she was transferred to be the youth officer in my corps. I was the YPSM at the time and we worked closely together on various youth programs. At some point we fell in love, which has lasted these past 49 years.
Barbara: I met David when I was transferred to the Morgantown Corps. I was dating someone at that time, but later I realized that David was the one I wanted to be with. I thought he was the best looking guy I had ever laid eyes upon and so much of a gentleman—most importantly, a wonderful Christian.
YS: What did you do on your first date?
David: Believe it or not, we conducted a series of two dozen open-air meetings in various neighborhoods and towns.
Barbara: On our first date we spent a day conducting a series of open-air meetings throughout the Morgantown, West Virginia area and surrounding communities. The number of open-air meetings were down and my corps officer said something needed to be done, so David and I got some people together and we conducted the open-airs.
YS: How did you know God chose you for each other?
David: I’m not sure I can identify just one moment. I do recall after a day of conducting open-air meetings as a group of young people, that evening we sensed our love for each other. I can still recall the exact place of our very first kiss. Every now and then when I visit my parents’ home we will stop at that spot and ask each other, “Do you remember?” And then we would kiss again.
I knew she was the wife for me as she was already a Salvation Army officer, which I had already committed to be, both to God as well as to my corps officer and Divisional Youth Secretary (then Captain, later Lt. Colonel, James Jay).
Barbara: I knew David was the one God had placed in my life. After serving in his home corps as assistant officer and sharing his love for Jesus, a few months later we started dating. He was preparing himself for officership, which affirmed that we could spend our lives together as officers in The Salvation Army. We were married soon after he entered the training college.
YS: What is your favorite memory of your wedding day?
David: Seeing my bride walk down the aisle.
Barbara: My favorite memory of our wedding day was sharing time with my maid of honor and bridesmaids who were a big part of my life.
YS: What do you love about your spouse?
David: Everything. She is the most caring and giving person I know.
Barbara: I love everything about David. I was attracted to him because I saw in him his love of God and a kindness that he always showed to others.
YS: What is your secret to marriage?
David: Accepting the other person as she is. Marriage is not 50/50—it is giving 100% to each other.
Barbara: I think the secret to our marriage has been that we have always served alongside of each other in our appointments and we have communicated on the issues that come our way.
YS: How did you know God called you to be an officer?
David: I always admired the preachers at the little country churches I attended as a child. I wanted to be like them. When I met the Army as a teenager and my first corps officer, Major Omer McKinney, I definitely wanted to be like him. I offered myself to the Army and they took a risk and accepted, trained, and appointed me.
Barbara: I knew that God called me to be an officer at the age of 14 during a Youth Councils in my home division. I knew God had been speaking to me during the weekend and on Sunday morning I went to the altar and made a commitment to officership. Three years later I entered the Training College.
YS: What session were each of you in during Training College?
David: Blood and Fire.
Barbara: My session of training was the Defenders of the Faith.
YS: How many years have each of you been officers?
Barbara: As of April 2017, I have 50 years of service as a Salvation Army officer.
David: 45. Will be 46 in June 2017.
YS: What was your first appointment as a married couple?
David: Barbara’s first appointment was Grafton, West Virginia. We were appointed as Cadet-Lieutenants after my first year of training.
YS: As you approach retirement in 2017, what are some highlights of your ministry together?
David: Seeing people saved and brought closer to the Lord. I love shepherding the flock of God even though most of our appointments have been in administration. To love and care for the flock God has given us has been the highlight.
Barbara: We loved serving together as a couple in all of our appointments.
YS: What advice can you share with readers pursuing God’s will for their lives?
David: Every person should consider themselves called by God. The Army needs officers. Why not offer yourself for service as an officer? Then it is up to the Army to either accept and train you or not. My life has been rich and rewarding. I have not one regret. I would do it all over again if I could.
Barbara: Some people struggle with thinking they need to have some kind of sign from God to let them know what to do in life, but I don’t think God always works that way. What we do in life should be done wholeheartedly. I believe if we seek and do everything as unto the Lord, then we can be sure He will show us the