Faces of the Army: Major Jerry Friday

Mar 20, 2024

Major Jerry Friday's outgoing, candid personality, and infectious sense of humor are evident from the moment you meet him, but it is his deep passion for God and people that leaves a lasting impression. As the Gulf Coast Commander, he is dedicated to creating a sense of love and acceptance in every area of ministry, a commitment that resonates with his staff, his clients, and the community.

Major Friday’s journey from humble beginnings in Midland, Texas, to his current role as the Gulf Coast Commander is a testament to the work of God in a human heart. "The Army saved my life," he said. "It catapulted me from West Texas to the place where I am today,"

Major Friday vividly recalls the feelings of affirmation and acceptance he experienced as a young boy attending The Salvation Army church. He was bullied in school, and although he deeply loved his family, he never felt accepted. “I was bullied as a young person for a long time” he said. “So, I know what it’s like to experience that.”

Feeling the Lord's call to be a part of the Salvation Army, he graduated from Officers Training in 1983 and served in various locations, including Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Georgia. After 9 years, Major Friday left from the army to pursue a career in civilian life. “I felt led in a different direction at that time, but of course, God has a way of drawing a person back to His plan and purpose.”

Although he found the financial stability and recognition working in the private sector, he continued to feel the Lord leading him to rejoin The Salvation Army. “I knew I had been called and I wasn’t doing it,” he stated. “I was teaching a Sunday School class, telling the young people that God wanted a willing heart, and God used that very lesson to remind me of His calling on my life.”

Major Friday returned to the Army as an officer, serving in Atlanta, GA, as the Territorial Conference Director and later the Territorial Mission and Cultural Ministries Secretary.

As a part of The Salvation Army’s International Ministry in Atlanta, Major Friday found himself working with people from various backgrounds. "We tried to create an environment where different nationalities could unite and worship. Our youth program saw people from all over the world participating and growing together. We even had to break down a wall in the building to accommodate the number of people attending the service. In my mind, that's what heaven will be like."

Today, he holds the esteemed post of Commander on The Salvation Army Gulf Coast Area Command. Major Friday and his team on the Gulf Coast are striving to create a network of support for those who need it most. With the addition of the Kroc Center - the dream funded by Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald’s franchise founder Ray Kroc- the current ministries are reaching more people than ever. In keeping with Mrs. Kroc’s charge, the Kroc Center is a beacon of hope and an agent of change in an underserved community. The center offers programs and services that encourage positive living, including life-changing experiences for children and adults while at the same time strengthening families, and enriching the lives of seniors.

“We have a great team here on the Coast. Everyone sees the Kroc Center, which is remarkable, but we also have an awesome Family Thrift store and the brand-new Center of Hope facility for those experiencing homelessness in Gulfport. In addition, our Pascagoula Corps offers incredible programs in the community. It's an amazing work across six counties."

"The Army has provided acceptance, love, encouragement, and life-long friendships. When I reflect on some of my summers at camp, youth councils, or youth conventions, those were life-changing moments."

While there will undoubtedly be challenges ahead, Major Friday reminds his team constantly that "when we are in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, God will continue to bless the effort."

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