It was at a Salvation Army Sunday School class in Winchester, VA that four-year-old Mena Lang asked Jesus to come into her heart. Until then, she had scarce security in her life—but she was told that Someone loved her and would never let her down. Since that day, she’s been on a journey alongside Him—purposely driven to live her life as a sacrament to the Lord.
Mena, her sister, and their mom were living in the Army’s family shelter in Winchester and became involved in the corps there.
“I really don’t remember being ‘homeless,’ but I do remember living in the shelter,” Mena recalls, adding that a sense of permanence and security had been lacking for them. She also doesn’t remember how long that stay was, but that her situation started to improve.
“During that Sunday School class, I learned that Jesus would always be there and would always love me—just as He loves everyone else,” Mena says. “I was told that He has a specific plan for me.”
That’s a big deal for a little girl who had no real roots in her life.
Mena’s family eventually was able to get a place to live. Sometime later they moved to the Fairfax area, where they became involved at the Army’s corps program there. Mena became a Junior Soldier and learned to play cornet. As a teen, Mena became very attached to her Fairfax Corps officers, Majors Earl and Janice Fitzgerald.
“When I was a junior in high school, I was really struggling, so I went to visit the Fitzgeralds [who by then were transferred as directors of The Salvation Army Student Fellowship at Asbury University]. I had no intention of coming to Asbury—I just wanted to spend a little time with them.”
While there, however, God began revealing something exciting for Mena.
“My plan had always been to enroll in a community college and eventually transfer to George Mason University, just because it is so close to where we lived,” Mena says. “I didn’t even have a decision on which major to pursue.”
During her days with the Fitzgeralds, Mena says “something clicked. I felt like the Holy Spirit is in this place. During one of the chapel services, I sensed the Lord leading me to send an application [to attend Asbury] and see what happens.”
She agreed to fill out the application and if the Lord worked out the financial roadblocks, she would know for sure that this was right.
“I was on my way to Camp Happyland [National Capital & Virginia Division] for Divisional Youth Band rehearsal, when I got a call from Asbury—I had been accepted!” she says, still amazed. Plus, by the time she was to move to Wilmore, KY, tuition costs were worked out.
Mena even thinks she’s decided on a major—psychology. She is especially interested in helping children with particularly desperate needs.
“I’d love to work with kids because their minds are still malleable and forming. Lots of children grow up in situations they don’t choose to be in, and they don’t know that the Lord is there for them.”
No surprise there.
The four-year-old girl longing for stability and acceptance has become a Christian woman determined to show others how to rely on God.
Mena’s already begun living a “sacrament of service” through her three loves: psychology, music, and art. In addition to her studies at Asbury, she is heavily involved in the SASF (Salvation Army Student Fellowship), singing with the Songsters (soprano) and playing in the band (cornet).
“I love The Salvation Army because of the sense of family.
The Army accepts whoever you are and welcomes you with open arms.”
No surprise there, either.
—Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor, National Publications