Offering encouragement, especially to young people

Reprinted from Decks Awash, Volume 15, Number 6
November – December 1986
Photographs from MUN Digital Archives

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Captain Gerald Fifield, 1986

For more than 50 years Little Hearts Ease has had a strong nucleus of Salvation Army families. The integrated high school was originally a Salvation Army School and Southwest Arm’s only Salvation Army citadel is situated here. During the last year the resident officer has changed a couple of times, but with the latest appointment of Captain Gerald Fifield, a new stability should be obtained.

“I think we have been moving officers about a bit too much. The Army is trying now to make appointments for at least four years,” says Captain Fifield who has just accepted Little Hearts Ease as his fifth appointment.

“I started in 1975 at Deadman’s Bay—that’s near Wesleyville—as their first full-time officer and was two years there. Then I moved to Lower Lance Cove on Random Island for two years, Blaketown in Trinity Bay for four years, and finally Monkstown, Placentia Bay, for four years. I spent the two months prior to coming here in Germany with the Red Shield Services ministering to the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Captain Fifield’s stint in Germany was covering old ground. Before becoming a Salvation Army Officer he spent over eight years in the Royal Canadian Engineers, three of them in Germany. He has been an engineering instructor in the Canadian Army and for five years he worked underground for the International Nickel Company of Canada, first in Ontario, later in Manitoba. He knows how to get things done. In his last appointment at Monkstown, he built a new citadel, and a new citadel is high on his list of priorities at Little Hearts Ease.

“At every corps I’ve had I’ve ended up building either quarters or a citadel. The one here is only 20 years old, but it was built with rough lumber, it’s not particularly well heated, and the walls and roof aren’t too strong. We’re having a consulting engineering company advise us, but I’ve heard it may cost $80,000 to rehabilitate the building and we can probably build a new one for around $160,000.”

The magnitude of the figure does not seem to dismay Captain Fifield.

“In Monkstown we had only 21 families, roughly 80 people, and nowhere to go to raise money. What those people did was provide things to sell and then bought them back. Sometimes I’d ask them if it wouldn’t be easier to put a $20 bill in an envelope and give that in. But they’d say, ‘No, we feel we are fulfilling something this way’ Who’d want to change a good thing like that? There’s 80 Salvation Army families in Little Hearts Ease, about 250 people, and they seem to be very energetic and co-operative. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble raising the money.”

Ever since Captain Fifield worked as an army instructor with new recruits, he has enjoyed working with young people.

Interior of the Citadel at Little Heart’s Ease, 1986

“I think we’ve neglected young people to a certain extent. There are families today that don’t take the time, or haven’t the time, to talk with their children. Maybe the parents both work and the children are left alone. The children become bored and that can lead to other things like vandalism. I’ve found children still need a firm hand and direction, although they might not come right out and say it.”

He is also worried about the future of youth in the work force.  

“You frequently hear about government helping different groups in the work force and I often wonder what the young person thinks. He may have just got out of school with Grade 12 and he’s got nowhere to go. He may have gone into debt to go to university and be living with his parents for years not able to get a job. Then he hears of industries being supported by government because they’ve had a bad year. How about the young people who haven’t yet had a chance in society, who can’t join the work force? They must take it rather hard.”  

The Salvation Army has a youth group for people aged 12 to 19 and despite the wide range of ages, Captain Fifield thinks it works rather well.  

“It’s not all young people. Everybody has problems and counseling is part of my ministry. I encourage people to face problems, not push them under the rug or look for solutions in a bottle. I had a drinking problem myself and if it hadn’t been for a spiritual change in my life, no one knows what I might have been like today. In 12 years of ministry, I’ve also experienced first hand what drinking can do to homes and families—it isn’t worth it, not even social drinking.  

“I may not be able to solve a person’s problems but I can be a source of encouragement and get him started on the way back,” he concludes.

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Transcribed by Wanda Garrett, May 2019

These transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material.