Q&A with Julius Emanuel Heard

"The mission to help others gives me purpose."

My name is Julius Emanuel Heard and I am a sinner saved by grace. Because of God’s grace, I’m not dead or in prison serving a life sentence. I am the prodigal son. I was raised in a Christian household. My mom taught us the word of God. We went to church every Sunday, but in my teens I became rebellious and I turned my back on God. Going to clubs, drinking, doing drugs,  and trying to find self-gratification made me feel like I was on top of the world. I thought those worldly things made me happy—but now my relationships and my faith in God give me incomparable joy. 

01. How did you first meet The Salvation Army?

I was at a low point in my life. The streets and my sinful ways had taken me to dark places. Through the Atlanta Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) I found the light of recovery.

02. What is your role in The Salvation Army?

My business card says that I am the Community Outreach & Volunteer Specialist/Charis Place Resident manager. I am also a soldier of the Seattle Temple corps and play the drums for the brass band and worship team.

03. What do you most appreciate about The Salvation Army?

The slogan “Heart to God and Hand to Man.” I didn’t know that The Salvation Army was a church, but as I learned from spiritual teachings I gained strength. The mission to help others gives me purpose.

04. What is your favorite program or event in The Salvation Army?

On Wednesday nights we have programs for all ages, like troops,  songsters, band and a family meal. It feels like a big family reunion. I love seeing families getting together.

05. How do you spend time connecting with God?

My biggest connection with God is a daily walk. I also find it valuable to be in a small group Bible study, which I attend on Sunday evenings at Captain Pavlakis’ house. I am learning that recovery is found by connecting with a spiritual power—connecting with God.

06. Who inspires you and why?

Seattle Temple inspires me—how they connect with the lost and those who are suffering, and the love and support they give to one another. They have never looked down on me even though I’ve had some rough patches in my life. This corps plays a vital role in my existence today. I want to specifically mention Major Ralph Hood. He was my counselor when I first came to the ARC in 2009. Even now as a retired officer, he still inspires me to keep going forward in my relationship with God through my recovery.

07. What is your favorite scripture and why?

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)—“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” This scripture lets me know that walking with Christ is going to have its challenges, but no matter what is going on, I should stand firm in my relationship with God. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and that my best isn’t good enough, but this lets me know that whatever I’m doing for His kingdom is not in vain.

08. How does faith influence your work, worship and everyday life?

Faith is the core belief in how I operate; without it I am completely lost. My faith is renewed every day because I know that I am totally dependent on God and His word, period!

09. What do you do to relax and have fun?

I like to say my life is a full-time ministry, so I’m still learning how to relax and have fun. When I get the chance, I like to play pool, chess and practice on my electric drum set. 

10. What are your hopes or goals for the future?

I previously stated that my life is a full-time ministry. God has called me to officership and so everything I’m doing now is working towards that goal. In the future, I hope that my experiences with drugs and alcohol can be used as a testimony to those who are in the same dark place that I was before entering The Salvation Army ARC back in Atlanta. 

Image by David Reardon