There are your typical saints, those who volunteer at the local food bank, the faithful charity check writers or the frequent donators to the homeless shelter.
And then there’s a level of sainthood that most never muster— the one where you sell all you have to follow a dream. This is the level of sainthood where Majors Roy and Kathy Williams reside, presently as the metro Tulsa Area Commanders of the Salvation Army. However, it wasn’t easy to make the choice to be employed full-time with a charitable organization.
“We had great lives,”Roy said.“I loved the company that I worked for and she had a great business.”
The Salvation Army requires that both husband and wife commit as a team to any full-time position like that of an officer.
“If one of us wants to quit, both of us have to quit,” said Roy. “Everyone that’s married has to do this as a couple.”
And while Roy was ready to put a sign in the yard, sell off all of their belongings and give his two weeks’ notice, Kathy was busy putting the finishing touches on their dream home. Pressuring his wife into making such a monumental decision would have been “unwise,” according to a chuckling Roy.
Instead of pressuring his wife, Roy did the only thing he knew to do. He prayed.
“I said, ‘Lord, if you want me to be an officer, I’m willing—but it depends on Kathy. If she wants to do it, then I’ll go.’ ”
Roy prayed this during a Salvation Army ceremony, then went to his wife and put his arm around her.
“Roy was giving an award away, so he had to stay up on the stage,” Kathy recalled. “After the message, God spoke to me and said, ‘You’re not afraid anymore. You can do it.’ When Roy came down I told him that I wasn’t afraid anymore.”
The couple put their dream home on the market in March, just three months after purchasing it. By June, they had sold all of their belongings, sans a few family mementos and a couple changes of clothes. They used the funds from the sale of their home and possessions to fund the two-year seminary college the couple needed to attend before becoming a permanent part of the Army.
“This isn’t for everyone,” Kathy said quietly. But the choice they made 17 years ago was a clear one. “When you see the good the Salvation Army does for people, the way the money is handled, you can’t help but want to be involved,” Roy said. Kathy oversees the Army’s four churches in the Tulsa area and reviews all of the applications for assistance and organizes the influx of toys at the Christmas Toy Shoppe, which will later be dispersed to needy families. Roy oversees the Salvation Army’s fundraising, the public relations, and the local boys’ and girls’ clubs. For their efforts, they make a combined $34,000, plus housing.
They didn’t seem to give much thought to the low salary, the long hours or the standard-issue uniform of the Army officer. In fact, Roy jokes that he prefers the uniform over trying to find something in his closet to wear. It’s all part of the calling.
“We don’t have a retirement, like most people do with the investment in their house,” Roy said. “Instead, we are able to live debt-free and help people every single day that truly need it. I think that’s better than a planned retirement in the long run.”