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New Salvation Army administrator: ‘I felt God was calling me’

Johnsons look to expand community services

Published: Monday, June 30, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 9:29 a.m. CST
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
DeShawn and Christal Johnson are the new administrators for the Sterling/Rock Falls Salvation Army Corps office. The Johnsons have been full-time ministers with the Salvation Army since 2006, and their first day at the Sterling office was Wednesday. They previously served 3 years at the Springfield Citadel Corps.

STERLING – DeShawn and Christal Johnson first became involved with the Salvation Army by happenstance.

“We went to the Salvation Army because we needed help with a bill,” DeShawn says. “And then we found out it was a church.”

It was 2006, and they were living in Macomb with their children when their name was picked for a Salvation Army school supply drawing, Christal remembers. On that same day, she was out applying for jobs. It turned out, the Salvation Army was hiring an administrative assistant.

Christal got the job.

Things kind of spiraled from there — in a good way. Wednesday marked the first day of the twosome’s new appointments as the Corps administrators for the Sterling/Rock Falls area.  

Before they joined the ministry, the two were already deeply involved in another church and with youth group programs in the Macomb area. Once they got involved with the Salvation Army, though, its mission struck a chord with them: to serve the needs of the whole person, not just their religious needs.

“Our big thing is family and community,” DeShawn says, sitting next to his wife. “Once [Christal] started working there, she was hooked.”

“It’s what I felt God was calling me to do,” Christal says.

Before their appointments as Corps administrators, they lived and worked with the Salvation Army in various roles, gradually taking on more responsibility and becoming more involved — first in Macomb, then Iowa City, Iowa, and Springfield.

Their plans for the Sterling/Rock Falls area?

“Expand,” DeShawn says. “We want to really intertwine the community with the Salvation Army. I’ll be looking at some of the service groups here ... and looking at how we can serve the families, and what’s the best way to serve this community.”

The two have five children: Andrew, 18; Alexis, 16; Jervias, 15; Jamal, 14; and Christion, 13.

Anyone interested in meeting the Johnsons is welcome to swing by the Corps office, 409 Ave. F in Sterling.

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