Dr. Linda Burkle's
accomplishments and influence have affected not only Salvation Army social services in Nebraska, South Dakota, and western Iowa; they've had an impact on the world.
Linda's motivation for pouring out her
life is reflected in the life verses she
has chosen from the Bible-Isaiah 61:1-3, which talks about the Spirit of the Lord being "upon me" to serve the poor, to free captives and those in prison, to bind up the broken-hearted. (See sidebar.)
"I love the Lord with all my heart," says Linda
, who believes God opened doors for her
over the years so she
could use, for His
glory, the natural talents and spiritual gifts He
For the last 15 years, Linda has been the director of social services in the Western Division of the Salvation Army's USA Central Territory.
began working for the Omaha-based division 22 years ago as director of the Army's Booth Maternity Program after working at several faith-based agencies (including the famous Boys Town facility).
"I didn't realize until later that the birth mother of my adopted son had been at Booth Manor," Linda
When the maternity home concept became culturally dated, Booth Manor eventually became an adolescent residential and educational services program.
Linda supports the social services work of 50 Salvation Army officers (clergy) and more than 180 employees throughout the division's three states.
She also oversees the renowned Lied Renaissance Center, one of the Army's largest and most respected social service centers in the nation.
In addition to being a social worker, Linda is a licensed mental health practitioner and holds a doctorate in international relations.
doctoral dissertation focused on human rights; she
conducted a quantitative and qualitative study on international religious persecution and the United States' response.
studied five countries identified by the U.S. as being the most egregious violators of human rights: Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan. (A key link she
identified across all five was oil.)
study concluded that the US's
treatment of China was unique in the limited sanctions imposed against it, the dramatically few Chinese receiving
asylum due to religious persecution, and the growing trade imbalance in China's favor.
has seen the conclusions and prognostications made in her
dissertation, written 10 years ago, prove true.
"China has prospered within a free-enterprise, capitalistic economy interfaced with its communist rule, and the U.S. has become increasingly indebted to China while dramatically expanding government regulation in banking and industry at home," Linda
has spoken on a broad spectrum of topics, from biblical to academic, at conferences and ministry events in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, China, India, Kenya, The Netherlands, and Republic of Congo.
recently presented "From Fear and Frazzled to Belief and Bedazzled" at a women's ministry event in Detroit.
During the last decade, Linda has taken an activist role on behalf of Israel.
Inspired by numerous visits and what she
sees as "God's love for His
chosen people and His
purposes for the nation," Linda
arranged for visiting Israelis to meet with several U.S.
senators and representatives in Washington, D.C., in 2008.
This past spring, Linda
was chosen to attend a prestigious leadership seminar in Jerusalem.
was one of 22 applicants selected from hundreds of global submissions to attend the first Christian leadership seminar held by the International School for Holocaust Studies
The seminar was held at Yad Vashem, the nation's foremost Holocaust memorial, during the week Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Its purpose was to educate Christian leaders so the Holocaust can never happen again.
"The seminar was intense in every way," Linda
She says she felt the Holy Spirit's power as she absorbed the teachings of world-renowned history, theology, and political science professors and was humbled to be among the "VIP" guests at a nationally televised ceremony commemorating the Holocaust and featuring Israel's president, prime minister, and Holocaust survivors.
While in Israel
was interviewed for a news story about the seminar by the Christian Broadcasting Network
, which has a satellite audience of more than 300 million.
Addressing anti-Semitism (which Linda reports is on the rise internationally), she
said, "This isn't a time for cowardliness.
It's not a time for apathy or to be ill-informed. [We] will be held accountable… We'll not be able to just sit back and be bystanders."
is also a proponent of public reconciliations and restoration through "compassion ministries.
been involved in public reconciliation services held in South Africa and Israel
and participated in restorative ministries in Albania, Israel
, Nigeria, and at New York City's Ground Zero.
Roots of caring
Not bad for a North Dakota farm girl who attended a one-room country schoolhouse for eight years.
says that when she
began attending a small regional high school in Minot, N.D., it was a shock to deal with "bells going off between classes, lockers, and, for the first time, gym classes!"
Linda traces her
passion for international affairs and zeal for underdogs back to her
great-grandfather was a Lutheran minister, and she
was raised in that denomination.
Even as a child, Linda
remembers loving Jesus and knowing He
mother and grandmother as big influences on the development of her
faith, and she
says that her
family consistently had devotions.
"Home life wasn't perfect, but I'm so grateful for the Christian legacy I received," says Linda
, who, with her
husband, Lyle, raised their own family in the Lutheran faith.
developed a deep concern for disadvantaged children and orphans. (Linda has ministered to orphans in a number of countries.)
father asking, "Why would he
listen to you?"
The irony wasn't lost on Linda
when years later she
attended that nation's first church-sponsored multiracial reconciliation service and witnessed firsthand the public apologies for apartheid from South Africa's Christian leaders.
"God has allowed me incredible opportunities to be part of historic events," said Linda
Among the honors and awards Linda
has gathered during her
career (which she
considers synonymous with ministry) is the Gandhi Award for her
contributions to humanitarian efforts in distressed areas of the world.
The award, presented by the University of Nebraska School of Social Work
, recognizes the efforts of individuals or organizations that embody Gandhian principles of nonviolence, social action, and justice.
Living out God's direction
describes herself as "living consciously" as possible in awareness of God's daily direction on her
"It's not about me; it's about what God wants to do in and through me," she
bathes each day in prayer and depends on the Holy Spirit to "fill me up and pour me out!"
"I ask God for my roots to go deep and branches to droop heavily with the Fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23]," she
describes the close relationship she
feels with her
heavenly Father as "that's just who I am!"
three grown children chide Linda
intensity and constant "God talk.
One day Linda
realized God would prefer that she
"not talk to them about Me but talk to Me about them!
jokingly adds, "I've learned to stick invisible duct tape over my mouth when temptation strikes to preach at them!"
has an ethnically diverse family: two of her
three children were adopted, and now she
and Lyle are grandparents to five.
Early in their marriage, the couple cut their teeth on parenting by caring for nine Boys Town youngsters.
As if she
weren't busy enough, Linda
also manages to fit involvement with civic and ecumenical endeavors into her
"I'm honored to represent Christ first and The Salvation Army
second," says Linda
, who serves on a City Transformation Roundtable in Omaha with civic and religious leaders, on the board of directors for Omaha Rapid Response
, and on the executive planning team for "Embrace the Heartland with Prayer," an ecumenical initiative that sponsors and coordinates prayer events throughout metropolitan Omaha.
Linda also served on the leadership team of "Healing Hearts," which combats the effects of abuse.