Feb 1, 2023


Spending any time talking with and getting to know Jason and Linda Hopkins, it quickly becomes clear they know their purpose and mission in life. Serving God first and in all things, they’ve made a commitment to serve fellow humanity following The Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations... and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you...” (Matthew 28:16-20). Jason leads their family on this Christ-centered mission with Linda serving alongside as the strong, dignified, and wise woman described in Proverbs 31.  

The Hopkins family began their journey as missionaries after being accepted as members of Wycliffe Bible Translators, with Jason as a linguist and Linda homeschooling and keeping the family going. Jason and Linda have five children whose ages ranged from 1 to 11 when they began missionary work 18 years ago. As a family they lived and served in Kenya and Ghana. Jason has also traveled to several other countries for his work. 

Living the life of a missionary is not an easy path. Doing so relies on the generous financial donations of individuals and churches, embracing new people and cultures, and living selflessly and modestly. When asked what inspires them to continue working in ministry, for Jason the answer is clear: “Being a believer, we’re supposed to go and make disciples, how could you not? Are there any other options? This is how God built me, this is our purpose.” Linda added, “Light has to have somewhere to go. There has to be a recipient.”  


COVID-19 Strikes Hard and Fast

While living in Ghana Jason and Linda were strongly advised to leave immediately for the United States before they lost the chance to return home indefinitely. In addition to leaving friends and coworkers, they also had to leave behind the place they called home and most of their possessions. The family returned to the U.S. on the last flight out of Ghana with 1 bag each. From here, Jason continues working with the translation team in Ghana. 

Because of several factors beyond their control, they have not been able to return to Ghana nor retrieve their household and personal belongings since leaving in early 2020. They recently had to sell or donate everything they left behind. Jason had gifted Linda a fancy brand-new sewing machine, which she never had the opportunity to take out of the box. Relying on their faith in God, they made the difficult decision to let go and look forward with hope in God. 

Upon returning to the States, the Hopkins found a home in Springfield, MO. In October 2021 Jason attended a convention for amateur radio enthusiasts, known as “Hamfest”. Reflecting on the path the Hopkins have taken, perhaps it was by Divine intervention that Marty Rueter, Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) Director for The Salvation Army (TSA) Midland Division, was at the same convention. Walking down the midway, the pair struck up a conversation. Although Jason has always known of TSA, what he was not familiar with were the many facets of service TSA offers, such as the Salvation Army Amateur Radio Club (SATERN), Canteening food and hydration services, and the Emotional & Spiritual Care Chaplaincy program. Jason and Marty continued their conversation after the convention, which led Jason to attend his first Annual Midland Division Training Summit in March 2022. 


First Impressions and Expectations

Jason was surprised at the Summit to find people with a real commitment to Jesus. The Emotional & Spiritual Care presentation at the Friday night dinner made a lasting impression on him. A friend training for Chaplaincy work with a different organization influenced Jason to pursue chaplaincy with TSA. Jason and Linda applied to and began taking courses in the TSA Chaplaincy program.  

While reflecting on the training, Linda said, “It’s made us better equipped to serve people in emergency situations. I’ve already used it in personal experiences with family and friends.” The Hopkins’ feel the Chaplaincy program has also made them more aware and sensitive to people’s situations. Jason shared, “Being created in God’s image, there is value in all of us. I’ve learned that whether suffering is that person’s fault or not is irrelevant. We don’t have to solve their problems, sometimes we just need to listen.”  

Jason and Linda would like others to know an important part of TSA is how it gives people the opportunity to minister and serve people in Jesus’ name. “People may not know TSA is a church, but they do know it helps people in need. I know it as a place where normal Christians can serve people.” 

In one example, while bell ringing, a person who donated began to share his story of trauma with Linda, “People see the shield and just open up. This was a ministry opportunity that I wouldn’t normally have on my own.” 

Volunteers come from diverse backgrounds, education levels and personalities. The Hopkins said they have found the TSA very welcoming, encouraging, and supportive. “You get to be with a fun group of people who, in Jesus’ name, are Doing the Most Good. These people are sincerely pouring themselves out for [the benefit of] others”. 

Jason and Linda have appreciated the Summit trainings. “It’s a way to get training and hear stories from people with real experience.” At the 2022 Summit, the Midland Division Commander, Lt. Col. Bob Webster shared about his first disaster response experience in Iowa and later at Ground Zero on 9/11. Jason said Col. Bob’s testimony was just as valuable as the classroom training, “Hearing other people’s stories help you get a clear picture of what it’s like to be a TSA volunteer.” 

The Hopkins encourage new volunteers to not give up. “I started the process in the middle of the pandemic. There were a lot of bugs and hiccups in the system. Now I see those problems being resolved. Also, the training can be difficult to find, but, depending on where you live, service opportunities are available that don’t require much classroom training but gives you real experience.” 

Outside of their missionary work and volunteering for TSA, Linda enjoys gardening and has already begun planning for her spring garden. Jason likes to read and learn new things and is a General class amateur radio operator (call sign N5NEE).  

Their plans with TSA are to continue training to reach Type 1 level in the Chaplaincy program and to cross-train in other TSA EDS ministries so they are equipped to be as effective as possible in a disaster response and in their personal lives. They are looking forward to meeting more TSA colleagues at the 2023 Annual Training Summit. How can you spot who they are? Keeping in the theme of personality and fun – with a beard as great as Jason’s – you can’t miss them! 


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