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Couple carries family tradition of helping others to Tulsa Salvation Army

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Posted at 5:01 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 19:24:04-04

TULSA, Okla. — "Tulsa is a big small town."

Captain Dan Nelson and his wife, Major Sarah Nelson, have been running the Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command for a little over a month.

They've already learned about the Oklahoma Standard.

"Neighbors care for neighbors and want to care for neighbors," Captain Dan says.

Known as Captain Dan and Major Sarah, these two have been married for 15 years.

"Both of us were connected to the salvation army in the communities where we were and found each other that way," Captain Dan says.

They complement each other very well.

"We had common friends, relationships and experiences," they both said. "And so we met."

These two have never not known the Salvation Army and its mission of doing the most good by feeding, clothing, comforting, and caring for those with broken lives.

It's something their families have been doing for generations.

>>> Photos: Couple carries family tradition of helping others to Tulsa

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Captain Dan Nelson and his wife, Major Sarah Nelson, have been running the Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command for a little over a month.

Captain Dan's great grandparents were connected with the Salvation Army after migrating from Sweden, as were the next two generations.

"Music was a big part of our family," he said.

"It's a big part of the salvation army too. Brass bands in particular."

One of Captain Dan's most prized possessions is a picture of him as a young boy playing a plastic coronet and standing next to his father.

"So it does sort of show the generational influence of the brass music that's been handed down through the generations," Major Sarah says.

Major Sarah can also trace her family's involvement back for generations.

"Four generations of Salvation Army Officers," she says. "Which is an ordained minister."

But her story involving her grandmother is a little edgier.

"She grew up in a household where there were 11 children and her father was a gangster."

But not just any gangster.

"[My] great grandfather was associated with gangs under Al Capone," she says.

"It was that whole kind of circuit."

Because of that, Major Sarah says the family was always on the run. An untimely death of a sibling led to a Salvation Army officer reaching out to help the broken family.

"And that was the first place where it started to occur to my grandmother that there was more to life than always running, and that she actually had value, and that she was loved and that God had a plan for her life," she says.

That officer's name, Captain A.O. Baker, is still special after all these years.

"Had he not knocked on that door, I probably wouldn't be sitting in this seat in Tulsa, Oklahoma right now," she says.

But Major Sarah is here, with Captain Dan right by her side, fighting hunger and poverty during this pandemic.

And raising a family that might just carry on the family tradition of service to the community.

When asked how long they think they'll be allowed to stay in Tulsa, both responded, "Oh let's pray at least five years, hopefully."


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