Dear Salvation Army – A Parable Of US…These are OUR People!!

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…”  -Matthew 25:35

The Story:

In the frosted air of mid December, where ice is forming, melting in the midday sun, only to refreeze in winter’s kiss at dusk; a man zips up his camping tent for the night.  It will be another bitterly cold attempt at sleep, which has proven elusive and wrought with lingering aches in limbs and ligaments.  The man wraps himself up in multiple blankets of mismatched colors, extinguishes the insignificant blue flame from the juniper green propane camp stove, and settles in for another volatile night of shivering slumber as the constant freeway noise clambers on.  tent

As dawn slips past the horizon of the army green tent flap, which has been frosted and now baptized in a hopeful light; the man untangles himself from the layers of blankets and additional coats laid down in the middle of the night, a stop gap that offered little to no help.  Having survived yet another night languishing in hypothermic rest, the men unzips the tent and stretches out the pain of cramping muscles and battered tendons.  Shivering noticeably through the noise of his chattering teeth, he moves as quickly as his lumbering joints can move as he seeks out somewhere to warm his tired bones.

A few blocks away, the crimson glowing lights of a red shield inscribed with the words “Salvation Army” calls out to him.  The backdoor to the gymnasium has been opened, and there will be warmth within.   As he steps inside, the man encounters the soup kitchen cook, draped in a white billowing apron and a broad smile.  “Good morning friend!”  The cook says in a deep gravelly voice by way of greeting, “would you care for some coffee?”  The shivering man nods and shuffles towards an open chair as others also begin to arrive.  They too have anticipated this moment, and their search for warmth, food, coffee and conversation is at an end.
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The homeless man, still shaking off the bone-seeping coldness in his body, has finally found a safe haven, and with it – his dignity and hope once more…

…The Rest of the Story (As Paul Harvey used to say) 
This is just a glimpse into the lives of those we serve.   Some have had it better than others…
I have sat in our gym and listened to the stories some of our patrons can tell.
Some of them have truly been through hell on earth.
Some battle with constant addictions.
Some with physical or emotional trauma.
All are God’s…they are His…and He speaks to us through their stories of brokenness, pain and sorrow.
He also prods us to do something about their suffering.

homelessYes, Dear Salvationist, it seems like an impossible and never ending task because poverty, addictions and homelessness seem to be constantly knocking on our doors.  The situations are the same, but the faces change over time!   The question is – are we available to help and are we receptive to the Holy Spirit’s leading?  Are we here to be a light when the rest of the world has turned the light off, given up and walked away?  Can we still provide hope and love even if that person is stuck in the cycle of crisis?  Can we offer it without judgement?  Yes, we ought never put a band-aid on deep wounds, but can we serve first then minister?  Or can ministry truly be found IN the service and care of others?

Here is a reality check:  Some may never darken the doors to our sanctuaries on a Sunday morning, but are they not still a member of our congregation if they are at our facility EVERY DAY for a warm meal and a safe place to sit and rest?  I think we miss a far greater opportunity that can be found on Sunday morning if we don’t engage during these moments feeding and conversing.  Dear Salvationist, these are our people too!  They come to us because we are the harbor and they have been shipwrecked by life.   What we say, how we show love, and what we do – MATTERS!

The story I shared with you today, is real.
This man came to our corps and community center years ago, homeless, suicidal and at the end of his rope.  And because the doors to our gymnasium were open, and he found warmth in the company of people in our corps, he is alive today.  His life (literally his life) was saved!  I know that there are many more stories just like this one wherever a Salvation Army facility is located.   Doing the most good isn’t some prideful declaration to the public, instead is ought to be a phrase we ask ourselves every day both personally and organizationally – “Am I/Are We – Doing the most good”?   good

Make a difference in the lives you reach for Christ, and know that our “congregation” is so much larger than just our soldiery on Sunday mornings!

 

The Salvation Army Responds to Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War II

The Salvation Army Responds to Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War IIStaff and volunteers on the ground serving physical, emotional and spiritual needs in Europe
ALEXANDRIA, VA (September 16, 2015) – The Salvation Army is providing food, shelter, medical aid, legal assistance, and emotional and spiritual care to refugees and migrants in 13 European countries. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 360,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea in the first eight months of 2015, representing more than a 63 percent increase over the yearly total in 2014.

“It’s our ethical and humanitarian responsibility to provide support to individuals and families fleeing their homelands in crisis,” said Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bowers, National Secretary of The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO). “In partnership with our International Headquarters and the help of staff and volunteers in local communities, we have been able to meet refugees with compassion and hope.”
With a significant presence throughout Europe, The Salvation Army is uniquely positioned to provide support to refugees and local residents. Active relief efforts are taking place in Greece, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany and Finland. The Salvation Army also is working to provide support to refugees and migrants in Romania, Russia and the United Kingdom.
In the United States, President Barack Obama has asked his administration to receive additional Syrian refugees. The Salvation Army in the United States is preparing to meet the increased demand on social services. “Our number one priority is to meet human need wherever it exists,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ron Busroe, National Community Relations and Development Secretary for The Salvation Army.
To learn more about our humanitarian effort to support refugees and migrants, or to make a contribution to support our services, please visit sawso.org.
Monetary donations are the most critical need to help refugees and migrants. The Salvation Army has set up a designated fund for relief efforts in Europe. During times of disaster, 100 percent of every dollar donated supports response and relief efforts. To give, visit salar.my/RefugeeGive or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). Check donations to Salvation Army World Service Office (designate “Refugees in Europe”) can be sent to:

International Relief Fund 

P.O. Box 418558

Boston, MA 02241-8558
In-kind donations are not being accepted for the refugee crises, however; your local Salvation Army is always in need of gently used items for resale in our Thrift & Family Stores. For the nearest location, please go to satruck.org .

Occasionally, conditions in the field may alter relief activities. If this occurs, The Salvation Army will direct funds to our International relief efforts in the region

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