In her first appointment as pastor at the Salvation Army Corps in Derry, N.H., Katie Mayes, wears many hats. From a janitor to youth group and children’s leader to a preacher and fire department chaplain, Katie is always ready to answer the call to provide spiritual and social aid to the community.
Nothing could have prepared Katie for her first call as chaplain. Her phone buzzed at 2 a.m., requesting chaplain services in the aftermath of a suicide. Katie called the dispatching agency for more information and learned that the parents had found their son dead and wanted support.
“I remember hanging up the phone and just staring at the wall and thinking, ‘Am I really about to respond to someone who had committed suicide? What am I supposed to say and do?’” Katie said.
Katie didn’t know, but soon realized her comforting presence, a hug and a listening ear were all that was needed. After the incident, Katie stayed in touch with that family for about a year.
“This is my first church and my first community,” Katie said. “It didn’t hold me back. Instead, it felt like because I was so afraid that God just gave me more and more and more.”
Three years later, Katie still responds when chaplain services are requested or when the firefighters request a rehab truck with coffee, water and snacks at an extended scene.
Katie not only works to meet the social needs within the community, but also provide for the spiritual needs. Once a week, kids from the community gather for homework help, devotions and games.
“I love the kids ministries because somebody has to be speaking positive things into their lives,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s just believing that they can graduate high school.”
Each summer, she also works with the kids’ camp.
“My first time taking kids to camp was like coming full circle,” she said. “I see God’s call on my life to be that person for somebody and be intentional about loving people and connecting them to the opportunities that the church can give.”
Katie’s parents divorced when she was 10, and her family only attended church on major holidays. Looking back, she believes that the Salvation Army camp was part of God’s plan for her from the beginning.
Katie graduated high school and attended a Christian college to play basketball. As an athlete, she had to attend 80 percent of the chapels. In 2009, she started working at the Salvation Army’s day camp.
“I wasn’t a Christian at all, but I felt so connected to these people and wanted to be there,” she said. “They just loved me with a Christ-like love that was so compelling that I never wanted to be anywhere else.”
In 2011, she accepted Christ.
“God took my life and turned it upside down,” she said. “Not only was Christianity and scripture new to me, but God was calling me into ministry.”
Katie accepted the call and was commissioned as an officer in 2015.
“I had nothing to offer, but God brought me to this place and instilled a confidence in me that this was what He was calling me to be.”
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