Salvation Story

Have Calling; Will Serve

"I had many signs that God used to bring me to where I am today.” by Major Frank Duracher
Darlene Clark

Darlene Clark will always remember a simple craft that instilled in her a distinct calling to spend her life serving in Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) across the USA Eastern Territory. As a member of the “Joyful Intercessors” session of cadets, several events during her training college experience confirmed God’s direction.

“I believe I was called to this ministry during my time at the College for Officer Training (CFOT),” she explains. “Our brigade had been at the ARC in Portland, Maine. Prior to going, I made some wooden discs. I cut off the bark, sanded them by hand, and burned ‘Saved’ on one side and ‘By Grace’ on the other. I oiled them and we used them at a prayer meeting.” 

The little discs were a big hit with everyone and all 33 she had made were distributed. 

One year later, Cadet Clark served her Christmas assignment at the Portland Corps, and she was invited to one of the ARC programs. 

“I went and on New Years Eve, a young man came to me to tell me he was still clean and sober. He remembered our brigade and showed me the little wooden disc he kept all that time.” 

It was at that moment she says she felt God was leading her to ministry in the ARC. 

“I only told one person,” she goes on, “but what a surprise and a blessing when I was commissioned, and my first appointment was to the Philadelphia ARC for one year of administrative training!” 

It’s not really surprising that service in The Salvation Army would figure into her life’s work. Before she could remember anything as a toddler, Darlene was brought regularly to The Salvation Army corps in Bath, Maine. In fact, the earliest photo she has of herself happens to be of her at two years old in an Easter dress, attending Sunday school at the corps. 

At age seven, she gave her heart to Jesus. She remembers that day very well. 

“Kneeling at the altar,” Darlene recalls, “I looked up and saw the iconic portrait, hanging behind the pulpit at the back of the platform, of Jesus knocking on the door.” 

That night at home, while everyone was asleep, Darlene crept downstairs and opened the front door of her house, just in case Jesus was there trying to come in. He wasn’t, but her faith in Him began to grow throughout her adolescence. 

As a child, Darlene was quite involved in Army activities: Sunbeams, Girl Guards (both scouting programs), junior soldiers and as a teen, she became a senior soldier. 

Despite the corps becoming an anchor for her during childhood and teen years, Darlene’s home life was quite the opposite. Her parents were always fighting, and when they weren’t they were either drunk or holding wild parties. 

“The Salvation Army was my refuge,” she admits. “My mother was an alcoholic at the time, and I sought the church to get away.” Her family desperately needed and received Salvation Army social services. 

Her parents divorced when she was nine. Her mother was always “out” and Darlene had to raise her younger sisters. Although at 16 she felt the call to Salvation Army officership, she felt pressured to remain at home to raise them. By the time they had all grown, she married her boyfriend—but the marriage only lasted 10 years. 

“He just wanted out,” Darlene says of her ex-husband. “I decided to work hard and take care of my family.” 

Darlene held down two, sometimes three, jobs—and although “I got thoughts and a voice in my head, saying I should have been a Salvation Army officer,” she didn’t follow through for various reasons. 

“Although I walked away from God, God never left me. I believe He was all the while preparing me for such a time as this.” 

About then, her mom got saved and even became a soldier in the corps. Cancer took her in 2006, but at her mom’s deathbed, Darlene witnessed “a bright light” coming into the room. The experience was like a bolt of lightning to Darlene, and she took it as a sign that her mom was to be taken to Heaven. 

“I was sitting up by her head and my sister was just in front of me, on the opposite side of our mother’s hospital bed,” Darlene describes. “All of a sudden, a bright white light came into the room. It was just beside my mother’s head and between her and me.” 

Darlene further defines this light as “like a lightning ball and it was so bright I thought my eyes should have been burning—but it didn’t hurt me. I couldn’t look away and I was frozen in my chair. It didn’t last for long but long enough to know how bright it was and that I couldn’t move.” 

For Darlene, this experience seemed similar to Saul’s encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus.  

“I felt as if I was being electrocuted but, again, it did not hurt.” 

Her sister noticed Darlene’s strange look on her face and touched her. The light vanished. 

The following day, Darlene’s mom passed into Heaven. 

This encounter marked the first of the two turning points for Darlene to become totally involved in the Army’s mission and ministry. She resumed her soldiership and her involvement in all the corps programs made her nearly indispensable. 

Perhaps thinking that by now she was “too old” for the Army’s training college, she applied anyway, and was accepted. She resigned her 28-year career with an oil company, and set out for the CFOT in Suffern, New York. 

Darlene Clark was commissioned in June 2017 and initially posted to the Philadelphia ARC as a trainee for one year, followed by a four-year term as administrator for the Rochester ARC. Today, Captain Clark is the Adult Rehabilitation secretary for mission integration. In the Spring of 2023, she completed her bachelor of science degree in Ministry Management at Asbury University. 

Obviously, Darlene will never forget those little wooden discs she lovingly made as a gospel message to the people of the Portland ARC. It changed her life. Nor will she forget the beam of light she saw at her mom’s deathbed. 

“I may never know what it was exactly,” she says, “but looking back now, I had many signs that God used to bring me to where I am today.” 

During her training at CFOT, “healing chapels” were a regular feature. “God answered my prayer for a heart to love the least; and He answered my prayer. I could never do this ministry had He not. I love the men and women in our centers. It is a different kind of love when you look at men and women who are so lost and need to hear that they are welcome, and they belong.” 

She explains, “The ARC ministry is special. It is long days and heartbreaks; chaos and lives lost more than I care to keep track of. But it is so, so rewarding!” 

The payoff for her is when someone recognizes Christ as their personal Savior, and then goes on to graduate from the program. 

“Each one is a celebration of life and the assurance of eternal life in Heaven,” she exclaims. “I know full well that this is where I’m supposed to be!”