For many years growing up, Amber West often felt lonely. It wasn’t because she lacked friends or an outgoing personality—she had both. But it took a maturing of her faith, an ongoing process, for her to realize that even when she felt alone, she wasn’t.
“I grew up in a Christian home,” Amber says. “I’ve attended church for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I asked Jesus to be in my heart. I may not have known exactly what that meant; but I knew the difference between right and wrong and I wanted to do what is right in God’s eyes.”
Ironically, Amber looks back on her school years and can see that being a Christian might have made her feel “different” than other teens in her school.
Being a Christian “doesn’t mean that life was perfect,” she admits. “Actually, I struggled with feelings of loneliness and emptiness for much of my childhood.”
Amber realized that “being set apart for God in school wasn’t easy. I struggled a lot with who I wanted to be, and who God wanted me to be.”
She didn’t always make the right choice, she confesses, but when she was at her lowest point, God was there to pick her up.
“I cried out to Him; and He reclaimed my life!”
It was while in high school that Amber felt God calling her to full-time ministry. She just didn’t know in what capacity that would be.
“I vividly remember sitting in the chapel at church one day and very specifically repeating in my head, I just don’t want to be a pastor’s wife.”
“I had never seen a woman preach before. The example of women in leadership roles that I had seen at church involved things like baking cookies for fellowship hour, or watching children.”
“Those things are important,” Amber quickly adds, but “just not specifically what God was calling me to.”
Things began to change for Amber with her first experience with The Salvation Army—working at Camp Arnold in the Northwest Division.
“I grew up about five minutes down the road from camp, but had never been there until I got a summer job when I was 19. I started attending the Seattle White Center Corps a couple of years later when my husband became the Christian Education Director.”
So when Amber began to realize that the full-time ministry calling she’d been experiencing would come to fruition as a Salvation Army officer, she found herself facing another lonely hurdle.
“I was very intimidated by the idea of preaching,” Amber says. “But after much studying, practice, and prayer, I was able to overcome that fear.”
“I always tell people that I hate public speaking; BUT I love telling others about Jesus!”
Amber and her husband, Joe, were commissioned as Salvation Army officers in June 2014, as members of the Disciples of the Cross session. Today, Lieutenants Amber and Joe serve as corps officers in Roswell, New Mexico.
Lieutenant Amber no longer feels alone. She has a loving husband, four adoring children, and a Savior, who has been with her all along.
“My testimony is one of correction and love,” she witnesses. “There have been many circumstances in my life that I didn’t handle the way I should have. I tried to solve problems myself, tried to protect myself, or tried to survive situations in my own strength.
“God always gently revealed Himself to me in those circumstances and brought me back to Him.”
Her advice to other young adults struggling with loneliness and feelings of inadequacy is to find someone (your corps officer, fellow soldier, or a friend) that you can be accountable with.
“We weren’t meant to do this alone!” she says.
—Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor, National Publications