Arise & Shine A New Day Guest Speakers & Panel Members
Program Director for
Shield of Hope, Chicago, IL
Leader. Advocate. Global Servant.
The true funnel toward effective leadership, is service. Embodying that preface with the highest of honor; is servant leader, Sonya Smith.
Sonya Smith is the Program Director of The Salvation Army Shield of Hope an International Best-Selling Author of the Anthology book “Leading with Uncommon Courage”. She is also the Founder of the Gospel Tea and Beauty from Ashes Experience, a Motivational Speaker, Life Coach and Ambassador for Christ.
Her altruism reputes her as one, known for placing the causes of others, above her own. With both social disparity and various forms of injustice towards humanity as her leading passions; Sonya is often, a featured speaker on diverse platforms for her devout advocacy. She has served over 20 years in various roles in Women’s Ministry leadership. She has a heart and passion to see young girls and women take their rightful place as God’s precious daughters.
Making the most of every opportunity to serve young girls and women, Sonya Smith uses her life’s experiences and skill sets to relate to those who are facing identity crisis, abuse, peer pressure, education, relationships, substance abuse and bullying.
Sonya’s mission is clear: To empower young girls and woman to embrace who they are so they can evolve into who they were created to be fearfully and wonderfully made.
Invoked sincerely, by a sheer faith in God and the well-being of mankind, Sonya submits that love; is her primary inspiration. Believing it to be both, a repellant against hate and the only force credible; in bringing transformation to the world.
Sonya is humbled to be chosen and used by God and to serve Him for the rest of her life. Her deepest prayer and desire are to see the oppressed FREE and WALKING in GOD’s truth so that their lives are transformed and enriched by the love of Jesus Christ, who died for us all. May God’s overflowing love for us, help us to love others unconditionally.
Major Melissa Viquez
Corps Officer of
The Salvation Army
Minneapolis (Temple), MN
My name is Melissa Viquez, I was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was at the age of 11 when I received God’s calling. My parents supported and cherished my calling. My mom encouraged me to continue seeking God, and together we walked under Jesus’ light.
My aunt Elsi, a faithful servant and missionary in Ecuador, was the person God used to motivated and minister my life. As a child I suffered a lot after my parents divorce. It was during the most difficult time of my childhood that I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior.
Before Christ, I felt lonely and devastated. I was a very sad child. After Christ I discovered that He loved me and was able to transform my tears into joy. Accepting Christ as my personal savior has been the most special and important decision I could ever make. I allowed Jesus to come into my life make me rise from my broken and lonely past.
When Jesus came into my heart I just new He wanted me to serve others and to demonstrate His love and compassion to others around me. The mission and vision of The Salvation Army was what captured my attention. My family and I attended to several churches, but it was at The Salvation Army where we felt loved, blessed and able to fulfill our calling.
When I learned about the ministry of the Salvation Army in Costa Rica, I wanted to join the ministry. In 1994 I made the decision to serve the Lord as a Senior Soldier. At the age of 18, God opened the doors necessary for me to travel to this country, exactly on October 5, 1995. Upon arriving in the United States, I became part of the Santa Cruz Corps, located in California.
I got married on February 15th 1997. My sweet husband and I have three children: Ellie (20), Fernando (17) and Eliana (13). My husband Robert was commissioned in 1994 and I was commissioned in 2001. The majority of our years of service were in the Western Territory.
Three years ago my husband and I accepted Commissioners Bailey invitation to serve in the Central Territory. We are currently the Corps Officers of the Minneapolis Temple Corps in the Northern Division. Serving the Lord in this territory has become a blessing. We love our Army family here and are grateful to the Lord for his love and mercy. Every day we see God’s provision and love.
Participating in Arise & Shine A New Day is also a blessing. My desire is that together we could receive an amazing message from the Lord during are time together at this conference.
Captain Jessica Martinez
Corps Officer of
The Salvation Army
East Chicago, IN
Captain Jessica Martinez was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She attended The Salvation Army since she was born because her mother attended and knew the Lord through Women’s Ministries in the Army. Jessica studied Accounting and Christian Education in Peru. In 2006, she moved to London to work as a volunteer Staff Worker at The Salvation Army’s International College for Officers (A short-term residential program offering six-week sessions of further development and spiritual retreat for officers/pastors of The Salvation Army.)
From 2007 to 2012, Jessica worked for The Salvation Army in Peru in the finance department and also for Together, a Salvation Army Fair Trade based in Norway that helps women in developing countries to achieve financial independence. After recognizing God’s calling in her life, in 2013, God opened doors for Jessica to attend The Salvation Army College for Officers Training (Seminary) in Chicago. In 2015, Jessica was commissioned as an officer/pastor and was appointed to the Minneapolis Central Corps (church) in Minnesota as an associate officer/pastor. After a year, she became the corps officer (Senior Pastor of the church). In 2021 Jessica got appointed as the corps officer of the East Chicago corps in NW Indiana-Metropolitan Division.
Jessi as her friends call her, thinks that Pastoral care is one of her strengths. Outside of her relationship with Jesus Christ, her family is next in importance.
Jessica knows that life is not always easy but trusts in the words found in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. Jessica is a firm believer that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:8) and also that the Lord will never send us to a place where He will not go with us.
Women’s Ministries Leader,
Sharlene Andrewin Olivera has a passion for empowering others, especially women and young girls to reach their full potential for God. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Organization Behavior in 2018 from Northwestern University Evanston, IL. She has been employed at Northwestern for almost 20 years and is currently the Manager of Research Administration for the Materials Science & Engineering department. Sharlene also serves as the Corps Secretary and, for the past 12 years, as the Women’s Ministry-Girlfriends Leader at the Evanston Corps.
In the summer of 2015, she had the privilege of attending the Boundless Congress in London, England where she was 1 of 200 mass timbrelists. She is very humbled and grateful to God for this opportunity to have done what she loves and has been doing since she was a junior soldier back in her home country.
Sharlene was born in Belize City, Belize and comes from a large family. She is the eldest of four siblings. Her mother, Alice Lamb, migrated to Chicago, IL when Sharlene was four years old to make a better life for her family. Sharlene attended the Salvation Army Central Corps from birth and was enrolled as a junior soldier at the age of seven and in later years as a senior soldier. She was raised by her grandparents. Her late maternal grandmother, Helen Lamb, who was the Home League Secretary and Songster’s leader for the Corps, set a great example for her family. She made it a priority to take her grandchildren to church on Sundays, while living out her faith in action. She made sure that Sharlene was active in the Corps. There is no doubt that her grandmother helped to shape her spiritual life.
There were also Corps Officers who played a role in molding her spiritual character into what it is today. She was a junior soldier under then, Captains Molvie and Keith Graham, Captains Winsome and the late Raphael Mason Jr. and a Corps Cadet under Captains Sheila and Errol Robateau Sr. In 1987 at age 15, she was 1 of 3 young people from Belize to represent their Corps at The Army’s Centennial Congress in Jamaica and remembered the late General Eva Burrows as the special guest, and how impactful and inspirational her message was.
At the age of twenty-five she migrated to Chicago with her daughter Shakerah and boyfriend, now husband Wayne. Six years later their son Shane was born. Even though life brought its challenges, Sharlene persevered because she has always believed that …with God all things are possible, Matthew 19:26.
In January 2009, she was at a crossroad where she wasn’t feeling quite fulfilled in what she was doing for God, as she wasn’t very active in her Corps. In her birthday testimony that Sunday in January, she made a declaration that she would love to empower women and young girls with the skills she had been acquiring and the passion she had to help this demographic. That summer at The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division Women’s Ministry camp, Girlfriends Unlimited was launched. This was her first time attending the Metro Women’s camp, and she was excited that this was being launched as a special interest group to revamp women’s ministry. When she returned home from an exciting and life changing weekend, her Corps Officer, Major Felicia Rapley, seeing her leadership qualities, asked her if she would like to take the lead with this group. The rest is now history and she’s been leading this group of ladies ever since and many more girlfriends have joined over the years. She is always thinking of new ways to reach women for God and is very passionate and unapologetic about it.
Sharlene is on fire for God and is passionate in reaching others for Him, she detests social injustice and stand up and speak out for those who are marginalize when the opportunity presents itself. She finds reading and studying God’s word very fulfilling and rewarding as she draws closer to Him. She finds joy not only in reading but in teaching God’s word. She taught corps cadet classes at the Evanston Corps for two years and knows that to be successful in turning out graduates in this youth leadership program, there needs to be consistency and dedication from both the leader and the corps cadets. In 2017 her Corps Officers encouraged her to lead a discipleship class, where they studied how to be a kingdom disciple from Dr. Tony Evans, Kingdom Disciples Bible Study series. It was evident that some Corps members lives were changed as they grew in their faith. Everyone who knows Sharlene, know her passion for God’s work. She is thankful and humbled for this new opportunity to serve Him and pray that many women will come to faith in Christ or re-commit their lives to God as they attend Arise 2022. The scripture verse for this season of her life is Galatian 2:20.
Captain Leta Marin
Corps Officer of
The Salvation Army
Milwaukee (Cold Spring), WI
Captain Leta Marin grew up in the state of Kansas. She was raised in a Christian home, as one of five siblings. It was during her freshman year at Kansas State University that she began to study Spanish and soon fell in love with the Spanish language. She had the opportunity to study abroad in Ronda, Spain, and she later spent a couple of years working internationally in both Guatemala and Bolivia.
Leta is a life-long learner and has an MA in English from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She specifically loves the way literature can help us to reflect on and grow in faith. George Herbert and C.S. Lewis are among her favorites.
In 2014, Leta completed an MPA in Nonprofit Management at the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Bloch School of Management, where she also worked as a graduate assistant at the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership. Leta is particularly interested in strategic management.
Leta married her husband Abraham, a native of Chile, in 2015 and was commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in 2016. That same year, she and Abraham welcomed their son into their family, while serving in their first appointment, to East Chicago, Indiana. They were appointed to the Milwaukee Cold Spring Corps in June 2021.
While Leta once dreamed of being an English professor, she soon found that God was calling her to something different. Her time serving internationally helped her to hear God’s call to serving “the least of these.” When she met The Salvation Army in 2012, she realized that Officership was God’s plan to use her passions and gifts in ministry. She is passionate about inter-cultural ministry, especially work with immigrants.
A recovering perfectionist, Leta is learning every day to know and rely on God’s grace more fully.