Need prayer? Ask the maintenance guy
Written by Craig Dirkes, writer/photographer for The Salvation Army Northern Division
Every couple weeks, like clockwork, a man who lives with schizophrenia comes to The Salvation Army in Rochester, Minn., in need of prayer. But the man doesn’t ask to meet with any of the pastors on site. He asks to see Dave Kruger, the maintenance guy.
“We pray about simple things – that God would help get him a new shirt or a new pair of socks,” said Kruger, 58, who’s been working at the Rochester Salvation Army for a quarter century. “The man keeps me humble.”
After Kruger prays for the man, the man prays for Kruger.
“He is so sincere,” Kruger added. “He shows me how God takes care of our littlest needs. The man is a blessing to me.”
Kruger prays with many others. During weekday business hours, he’s the go-to prayer-giver any time the lead pastors of the Rochester Salvation Army – Majors James and Paulette Frye – aren’t available.
“That happens every few weeks,” Kruger said. “Some people want prayer when they’re having a bad day, and some just need to know there’s someone out there who cares for them.”
He has daily prayer duties, too. Every weekday, right before the Rochester Salvation Army’s hot lunch program begins at 11:30 a.m., Kruger leads dozens of guests in a word of prayer before they sit down to eat a home-cooked meal prepared by staff and volunteers. He’s been doing so for about 12 years.
Kruger doesn’t stop there. He regularly prays with men from a local halfway house who come to the Rochester Salvation Army to satisfy their community service requirements. The men do janitorial work a few hours a day for weeks or months at a time.
“I talk and pray with them to help keep them on the right track,” Kruger said.
Recently, he became close with one particular man who’d had a difficult time battling addiction. The man and Kruger talked and prayed almost every day for several months.
“This place was a safe haven for him,” Kruger said. “Today he’s living in Mankato and doing really well.”
Kruger knows from experience what it’s like to need prayer and a helping hand. He was raised in Rochester, poor, with 16 brothers and sisters (yes, 16!). His father worked as a farmhand, while his mother stayed home and took care of Kruger and his siblings.
“We slept three or four kids to a bedroom – sometimes three or four to a bed,” Kruger said. “We raised farm animals and also ate out of our garden – potatoes, beans, cucumbers. My mom canned vegetables all summer long.”
He was introduced to The Salvation Army when he was 7 or 8 years old, when his mother took him and his siblings to the local Salvation Army Store to buy clothes. There, they met a young Salvation Army officer-in-training.
“He invited us to church,” Kruger said, fighting back tears. “When Sunday came along, he drove to our house and picked us up.”
Fifty years later, Kruger hasn’t stopped attending church at the Rochester Salvation Army. He was hired there in 1991, about 10 years after he graduated from vocational school with a degree in building maintenance. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran has been married for 31 years and has three grown children.
Kruger is an example of a Salvation Army employee who lives the organization’s mission to serve in the name of Jesus Christ, and he’s not alone. Across Minnesota, North Dakota, and around the world, tens of thousands of staff members – from delivery drivers, to office personnel, to social workers – are ready and willing to pray with guests who seek God’s blessing, or help them in other important ways.
“Dave Kruger embodies the idea that together, we are one Army,” said Major James Frye, co-leader of the Rochester Salvation Army. “The combined efforts of Salvation Army officers, staff members, volunteers, and donors become a groundswell of love and compassion that touches countless lives.”
Kruger is happy to do his part.
“I can’t reach all the people,” he said. “But if I can reach a few of them, that’s what it’s all about.”
To receive prayer from The Salvation Army, you needn’t travel all the way to Rochester to see Dave Kruger. You can do so online by clicking Contact Us. Simply check the “Pray for Me” box at the bottom of the page and type your request.
Rest assured that your prayer will be heard. Salvation Army officers at our headquarters in Roseville, Minn., gather to pray over these requests every week.