TSA Outdoors provides avenue for ministry through nature

TSA Outdoors provides avenue for ministry through nature

By: Brad Rowland

This summer, an 11-member group from the USA Southern Territory ventured to Bridger-Teton National Forest, outside of Jackson, Wyoming, to take part in the American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS). The Salvation Army’s delegation, sponsored with a grant from Safari Club International, arrived through the TSA Outdoors program, and a meaningful, week-long journey was in the offing.

TSA Outdoors began in the USA Central Territory and, beginning in 2017, the Southern Territory adopted the enterprise with an eye toward making holistic outdoor opportunities available to individuals through camping, character-building and community center programs. In an overall sense, the initiative seeks to offer practical support and ideas for the interconnection of outdoor education and corps programming already in existence.

While TSA Outdoors initially centered on camping programs, that focus has expanded, and the early returns are encouraging.

“We are noticing how TSA Outdoors is bringing families together” said Captain Valentina Cantu, assistant territorial youth secretary. “There are no barriers to this. It’s really cool that everyone can be involved, and we see a lot of ministry opportunities that the Army can utilize in the present and future.”

Leaders from across the territory took part in the 2019 visit to the AWLS, and their trek included archery, fly fishing and other active undertakings. Beyond that, were plenty of opportunities to take in God’s creation through nature and, while AWLS operates beyond The Salvation Army, the training was specifically tailored to what the Army has to offer.

“We’re slowly seeing fewer and fewer children spending time outside,” said Captain Cantu. “The whole idea that is that nature is a wonderful thing, and we should be passionate about sharing that idea. Our passion goes beyond camp. This can be a 365-day kind of thing where we really push to get youth, and even adults, out in nature and growing closer to God.”

The TSA Outdoors program includes several key components, such as the concept of learning by doing, building positive habits, enjoying supervised activity and experiencing the outdoors in a fresh way. Camping curriculum is a natural fit, but progress is already being made in the South to incorporate the use of outdoor programming through other corps activities. Archery clubs are emerging in multiple corps and, soon, Kroc Centers, Boys & Girls Clubs and after-school programs could reap the benefits from expanded use of the program.

The 11-person delegation in 2019, made up of local and divisional leaders, was the largest from the Southern Territory in the three years since the partnership began and, in the future, the group could expand.

“If you’re passionate about getting kids to learn, love and explore the outdoors, this is a great opportunity to learn and to be inspired on how to do that,” Captain Cantu said. “It’s a chance to learn about resources that are available and there are so many things the Army can implement at various levels that involve the outdoors and beautiful ministry.”


Community programs trigger growth at Dallas corps

Community programs trigger growth at Dallas corps

The Pleasant Grove Corps in Dallas is experiencing a wonderful time of growth. A complete remodeling of the corps building was recently completed and that progress has been more than matched within the congregation of the corps. Within the last six months, 47 new soldiers have been enrolled at the Pleasant Grove Corps under the leadership of Majors Angel and Valerie Calderon.

Majors Jon and Barbara Rich, area commanders for the North Texas Area Command, conducted the most recent soldier enrollment on Sunday, Sept. 8, that saw 17 senior soldiers and two junior soldiers commissioned. In February 2019, seven junior and 21 senior soldiers were enrolled.

The corps offers a diverse range of programming to the community that includes a performing arts school, ballet academy and sports programs such as soccer, basketball and volleyball. The corps recently started adult soccer leagues for men and women.

An after-school program is available where school-age children can receive homework assistance, and a Friday youth night engages young people in activities, all in the safety and friendly Christian environment found at The Salvation Army.

“Our corps activities and outreach programs have provided our soldiers and church members the opportunity to invite their friends and neighbors to get involved at The Salvation Army,” said Major Angel Calderon. “Even more than becoming a place to relax, make friends and enjoy sports activities, our soldiers are also evangelizing and bringing new souls into the kingdom. We praise God for all that is taking place at the Pleasant Grove Corps.”


The Salvation Army introduces itself at Atlanta Latino Festival

The Salvation Army introduces itself at Atlanta Latino Festival

By: Chris Benjamin

Soundcast, Multicultural Ministries, the Atlanta International Corps and cadets from Evangeline Booth College teamed up to leave a lasting impact on guests attending Plaza Fiesta’s Mexican Independence Day celebration Sept. 15 in Atlanta. Plaza Fiesta is only minutes from territorial headquarters. This Spanish shopping mall is somewhat of a gateway into the Latino community in Atlanta. As you enter its doors, you are suddenly transported to a little Mexico, complete with shops, a hair salon and incredible food.

Plaza Fiesta hosts many festivals throughout the year. In 2018, the Mexican Independence Day event had over 60,000 in attendance. As The Salvation Army began developing its relationship with Plaza Fiesta, the plan was to purchase a vendor booth and hand out free “Cultura de Alabanza” CDs and water, share information about Salvation Army programs and worship services at the International Corps, and minister to those at the festival.

In August, Major Jerry Friday, territorial evangelism and adult ministries secretary, and Major David Repass of the Atlanta International Corps met with the manager of Plaza Fiesta, Cristina Bolaños, to brainstorm how The Salvation Army can impact this community.

“I often have lunch here on the weekends, and I see many young mothers who are working with their children behind the counter because they can’t afford daycare. How can The Salvation Army help families like these?” Major Friday said.

Major Friday and Major Robert Parker, Metro Atlanta area commander, hope to send at least 75 kids to camp next year from families connected to Plaza Fiesta. This is an under served community in our area, and Plaza Fiesta is welcoming The Salvation Army with open arms.

Major Friday brought youth from his corps, and they quickly took ownership of this opportunity to love on the community. By the end of the day, they had given away over 1,400 CDs and just as many flyers about Salvation Army programs. We look forward to growing this relationship with Plaza Fiesta as these are the families in our own backyard.


Soldiers in New Bern, N.C., celebrate return to corps

Soldiers in New Bern, N.C., celebrate return to corps

By: Major Frank Duracher

Nearly one year to the day following the rude arrival of Hurricane Florence in mid-September 2018, the New Bern, North Carolina, corps family celebrated their return to the historic house of worship at the corner of Queen and Craven Streets. As a result of the hurricane, the Neuse River surged over two feet throughout downtown New Bern, causing extensive damage to the corps building.

Sunday worship services and other corps programs had to be held elsewhere in the interim.

Lt. Colonels Jim and Linda Arrowood, North-South Carolina divisional leaders, were special guests for the Return Celebration during the holiness meeting, which was live streamed over the internet.

Lt. Colonel Jim Arrowood lauded the New Bern soldiers for their resiliency and perseverance, not only to minister to others who had lost so much in the flood, but for their own losses – both personal and as a corps.

“It’s great to be back in this chapel, but these walls do not define us,” the colonel proclaimed in his sermon, “The Body of Christ Is Community.” “Rather, our mission as The Salvation Army remains outside these walls – to a community who remains helpless and hopeless without Jesus Christ!”

Lt. Colonel Arrowood described the position of the New Bern Corps as “unique,” adding, “You were not only responders in the hurricane’s wake, but you were victims yourselves!”

God has brought about healing through your experience, he added, but the work in New Bern is not finished. The divisional commander said that the Army continues to fight for hearts and lives and against injustices all around us. The work is not finished—we are fighting for people’s lives.

“God will continue to use your experience to share with others that in this, too, God is faithful.”

Major Frank Duracher, former writer for The War Cry and the Southern Spirit, is a retired Salvation Army officer living in North Carolina.


National Commander gets a look at Southern operations in Atlanta

National Commander gets a look at Southern operations in Atlanta

By: David Ibata

Patrick O’Neal served in the U.S. Navy 10 years as an aviation electronics technician, but after leaving the military, his life began a slow decline. Outwardly self-reliant, working in manufacturing and most recently as an Uber driver in Atlanta, he abused alcohol to mask symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide.

When O’Neal sought help from the VA hospital in Atlanta, a peer specialist got him to Red Shield Services of The Salvation Army Atlanta Metropolitan Area Command. Red Shield offers emergency and transitional housing with 320 beds for men, women and families; a Harbor Light substance abuse program; assistance to veterans, and other social services.

“Harbor Light is amazing; it’s done a lot for me,” said O’Neal, now living sober after 90 days in the program. Of all the people O’Neal’s shared his testimony with, he’s had a one-on-one meeting with Commissioner David Hudson.

The national commander of The Salvation Army was in Atlanta on Sept. 16 to present an award to its City Council, see Army operations, and speak with consumers like O’Neal. Commissioner Hudson also visited Chicago and Los Angeles to talk about poverty relief efforts and raise awareness of why communities should always consider The Salvation Army a partner in the work.

O’Neal said, “I grew up in a religious home, but I kind of fell away. Doing Bible studies here helped me re-establish a relationship with God. … This program really opened my eyes to how you can have a much better life being sober and substance-free.”

Commissioner Hudson also stopped at The Salvation Army’s Haven Atlanta, serving women victimized by commercial sexual exploitation; visited the Army’s Fuqua Boys & Girls Club; and met with City Council President Felicia Moore and Cathryn Marchman, executive director of Partners for HOME, a group combating homelessness.

The city in July released a federally mandated “point in time” homeless count that showed a 16 percent decline in the total number of chronically unsheltered homeless individuals, due largely to an increase in the creation of low-barrier shelters through the efforts of groups like Partners for HOME.

To recognize such achievements, Commissioner Hudson made a stop at the Atlanta City Council to present it with the Others Award, the Army’s highest commendation.

“The mission of The Salvation Army states we are to meet human need in his name without discrimination,” Commissioner Hudson told council members. He applauded them “for helping meet human need by supporting programs aimed at creating a united Atlanta, a diverse inclusive city that affords Atlanta residents – all Atlanta residents – with much-needed resources and opportunities.”

Council President Moore returned the compliment.

“I love The Salvation Army,” she said. “They’ve done such great things in our community. … In 2009, when the flood came through, it was The Salvation Army who for at least two weeks straight, each and every day, provided hot meals to those who were flooded out of their homes.”


Pathway of Hope families see success in self-reliance

Pathway of Hope families see success in self-reliance

By: Brad Rowland

The Pathway of Hope initiative, launched by The Salvation Army in 2011, arrived in the Southern Territory in 2015 with the goal of providing targeted services to families to take action in breaking the generational cycle of crisis and enabling a path out of poverty.

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, Pathway of Hope is in its infancy, existing for less than one year, but the early returns are strong and inspiring.

“Pathway in Lake Charles has been a wonderful way for our social work to move beyond a band-aid approach to poverty for our clients and into a long-term relationship with a case manager, who is able to meet clients where they are to provide ongoing support and services,” said Lieutenant LeAnna Marion, corps officer.

“We are able through this program to connect our clients with other community resources that fill a gap in our own for a more holistic program,” Lieutenant Marion said. “We have seen success in some of our clients reaching their own set goals with Pathway of Hope.”

Currently, Lake Charles has five families moving through the Pathway of Hope, with success stories both active and recent. One such triumph involves Alexis Pickens, a young mother of three children who came to The Salvation Army needing help and without a traditional support system.

“Alexis doesn’t necessarily have a strong family support system,” said Tina Nehls, The Salvation Army’s case management specialist in Lake Charles. “She doesn’t necessarily know what it’s like to have someone who would understand what she’s going through and have the ability to enable her to help herself. With Pathway of Hope, we’ve been able to do that with her.”

In a short time, Alexis garnered employment, housing and the stability to provide for her family. While her progress was incremental, her humble, sweet persona made an impact on those around her, and Alexis was able to overcome significant adversity, both financial and physical.

“These families, including Alexis, are just amazing,” the case management specialist said. “I’m not doing anything. It’s the families that are doing the work. They just need a little guidance or maybe need to be pointed in the right direction, but they’re doing the work.”

Other individuals and families are working through the Pathway of Hope, including some escaping abusive and damaging circumstances that go well beyond financial need. The Salvation Army is implementing motivational interviewing techniques in the Pathway of Hope, helping to understand where individuals seeking assistance are coming from and using that information to best serve others.

“I’ve always liked being a social worker, and I always felt like I was helping people,” Nehls said. “But this program is so different. The case management aspect is phenomenal. Instead of mainly trouble-shooting, we’re building relationships. We’re
getting to know these families and what they really need.

“We’re diving deeper and really helping to mold these individuals and families for the better,” she said. “I wish I could do it every day.”

Within a recent six-month period, multiple families enjoyed total transformations, from virtual helplessness in some cases to full, maintainable stability. That included not only the securing of stable employment and housing, but also the vital presence of genuine hope for the future.

“It’s amazing how God is working here,” Nehls said. “I’m sure he’s working in other places as well, but every one of my Pathway of Hope families has met every goal and set new ones. Little by little, everybody is enjoying success. Glory to God.”


‘You were created to be full of grace’: Southern Territory welcomes Messengers of Grace session of cadets

‘You were created to be full of grace’: Southern Territory welcomes Messengers of Grace session of cadets

By: Brad Rowland

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place;
He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace;
No work too hard for him; In faith receive from him;
Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.

On Sept. 7, 2019, the Atlanta Temple Corps hosted the public welcome of the Messengers of Grace session of cadets. The 23-member session arrived in August and, while their educational journey toward officership was firmly underway, the Messengers of Grace were greeted with a spirit of worship and reverence, focused on both the hard work ahead and the power that stems from their calling to service.

“We are so grateful for the Messengers of Grace,” said Major Tom Louden, principal of the Evangeline Booth College. “It’s a wonderful time for celebration, but there is something that is just a little more important than celebrating Cadets and their calling. And it is to celebrate the wonderful grace of Jesus. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re The Salvation Army.”

The session, scheduled for commissioning in June 2021, brings with it 15 children and a variety of previous occupations and backgrounds.

“As recipients of God’s grace, we are passionate about encouraging and teaching those seeking the heart of God how to hear his voice and how to walk in his ways,” said Captain Jervonne Hinton, territorial candidates secretary. “We welcome the Messengers of Grace who have responded to God’s call and now come from the four corners of the territory to win souls and to serve their fellow man as Salvation Army officers.”

Within the program, reverent worship was combined with jubilant praise, including a rousing rendition of “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” sung by a men’s vocal octet comprising cadets and EBC staff.

Territorial Sergeant Major Jeremy Rowland, representing the soldiers of the Southern Territory, challenged the incoming session; and Cadet Omar Lugo, representing the session as its designated speaker, set the tone for the group’s two-year mission of training.

From there, artistic worship came to the forefront with a sacred arts dance, accompanied by the band transMission, and the joint sessions of cadets performing the sessional song, “Messengers of Grace.”

Commissioner Mark Tillsley, international secretary for the Americas and Caribbean, then provided an inspirational challenge and message, not only to the Messengers of Grace but to all assembled.

“Increasingly in our world, you will hear people place grace and power in an adversarial position,” Commissioner Tillsley said. “More and more people believe being graceful and powerful are opposites, but they are not. I want to say to you today that many, unfortunately even within the church, are developing a trust in earthly power and the whole definition, I fear, of Christianity being changed into something that might celebrate might and self-exultation. I say to you this afternoon: Don’t mess with power.”

“Do we need more men and women of grace and power? We certainly do, and it can only come through surrender to the Holy Spirit,” said Commissioner Tillsley. “Be ye filled with the spirit. This is my need this afternoon. This is your need this day. And I want to say that it is our need if we are to impact our world.”

In closing, Commissioner Willis Howell, territorial commander, brought things full circle, referencing the song lyrics of “Be Still for the Presence of the Lord,” sung collectively earlier in the afternoon.

“The power of the Lord is moving in this place,” Commissioner Howell said. “He comes to cleanse and heal. He comes to comfort and relieve. He comes to speak peace. He comes to fill. He comes to minister his grace. … As hard as the situation you carry is, it’s not too hard for him. As heavy as it may seem to you, it’s not too heavy for him. Because there is no work that is too hard for him.”

With worshipful attention and zeal, the Messengers of Grace will face two years of intensive study and preparation for a lifetime calling to service. Still, Commissioner Howell made clear the notion that everyone needs to be refilled and restored, and the afternoon concluded with that ringing message of grace in abundance.

“Can I suggest to you that your very soul has a grace meter? You were created to be full of grace,” said Commissioner Howell. “It is God’s will that you are full of grace. Where is that needle pointing in your own life? Are you as full as you once were?

“Because it needs replenishing, you know. It might be that someone, turning their vision inward, realizes that grace levels aren’t what they were, or what they should be. Can I invite you to this place of refilling and restoring? Come and be filled with grace.”


Doughnuts help The Salvation Army tell the gospel story in Danville, Kentucky

Doughnuts help The Salvation Army tell the gospel story in Danville, Kentucky

By: Lieutenant Lindsey Galabeas

“Sprinkle Kindness,” based on Ephesians 4:32, was the theme for our vacation Bible school this year for the Danville, Kentucky, Corps. However, ours wasn’t the typical VBS.

Ours was mobile, meaning we hit the road, reaching children in the community who may never set foot inside our Salvation Army corps building. And, we made doughnuts.

We wanted a program that would take minimal leaders but have a high impact. The doughnut program was a free tool we already had in our back pocket – Bible verse, lesson and so forth ready to go and accessible – as a brigade project at Evangeline Booth College.

The curriculum originally was for a four-week Sunday school preliminary program (graphics, created by Lieutenant Lindsey, are available on Ministry Toolkit). We adapted it for our VBS using one week’s program.

Doughnuts were chosen also because we had a small waffle iron Lieutenant Roger had purchased at a thrift store in Atlanta. It makes seven small doughnuts at a time out of regular waffle mix. With mix donated to the Danville Corps, we made up hundreds of fresh doughnuts on site through the week.

We took our VBS to Salvation Army Family Stores in the Danville area, reaching out to children who came in to shop with Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa, and to area apartment complexes.

We offered doughnut coloring sheets and an opportunity to decorate the pastries. As children decorated doughnuts with sprinkles, we told them the story of the paralyzed man and his four friends who showed him kindness as they worked to get him to see Jesus (Luke 5:17–26).

Then we brainstormed ways with the children that we could “sprinkle kindness” in our everyday lives. All ages were welcome. While we focused on children of any age (truly), adults were able to participate as well. In all, 127 participated through the week.

The following Sunday, we hosted a “Sprinkle Kindness” VBS Sunday/Back to School bash at the Danville Corps. We also told the story of the paralyzed man and his kind friends and decorated doughnuts again, even hosting a doughnut-decorating contest in which children could win Angel Tree toys remaining from last year’s distribution. Fifty-six people attended the event.

Lieutenants Lindsey and Roger Galabeas are corps officers in Danville, Kentucky.


Elfies help The Salvation Army of Savannah, Georgia get a jump on Christmas

Elfies help The Salvation Army of Savannah, Georgia get a jump on Christmas

By: David Ibata

Santa’s elves decked out in red and green and jingle bells are a little off season on a hot July day in Savannah. Yet grabbing people’s attention to tell them about The Salvation Army was the point of a recent “Elfie” campaign in the coastal Georgia city popular with tourists.

The idea was hatched in a brainstorming session with the Savannah Corps’ new media partner, WJCL, the local ABC-TV affiliate, said Larry Haskell, Salvation Army development director.

“We said, why don’t we do something fun in the summertime?” Haskell said. “It’s a notoriously slow period. There are a lot of folks in town, and there’s no other nonprofit working on anything at the time. How do we get something up on social media, get people engaged?

“We said, let’s get some elves on board and make some magic.”

The Elfie campaign – as in, Take a Selfie with an Elfie – was born. It would be part of an overall “Festive Fun in the Sun” effort to spread the word about The Salvation Army’s works and line up support for the 2019 Red Kettle Campaign.

“We started the whole thing the first of July with little news bits mid mornings on WTOC,” the local CBS affiliate, Haskell said. “On Monday, July 8, we started at 5:30 a.m. giving major interviews on WJCL about what we’d be doing. And we had staff members dress up as elves – I was one of them.”

Six elves outfitted gratis by Salvation Army partner Acme Costumes broke loose from the Savannah Theatre (another partner) and were chauffeured around town by Dan Vaden Chevrolet and Cadillac (ditto), with Chatham County Sheriff John T. Wilcher riding herd on the mayhem. (Other partners included SunTrust Bank, Lesley Francis Public Relations, Panera Bread, South Magazine and the Coastal Heritage Society.)

The elf brigade was joined by students from area theater groups as they engaged residents and visitors around Savannah, Pooler and Tybee Island the next four days. People were invited to snap selfies with the elves and upload them to the Savannah Salvation Army Facebook page with the hashtag, #elfieSAV.

Those who did so by 3 p.m. Thursday, July 11, were entered into a drawing to win tickets plus lodging to an Atlanta Braves game. More than 2,000 entries were received, said Major Paul Egan, corps officer in Savannah.

The event produced 11 new sponsors for 22 kettles. As of mid-July, the Savannah Corps had pledges of more than $78,000 in cash and in-kind gifts toward a 2019 fundraising goal of $250,000.


An Outpouring of Love and Kindness Pour into Kingwood, Texas After Imelda

Houston, Texas (September 27, 2019) – After Hurricane Harvey, Richard Abram and his wife, Dawn Abram, 20-year Kingwood residents, joined the Facebook group, Flooding Kingwood With Kindness, and since then they have worked with the group to organize relief efforts to help neighbors after disasters. 

The Abrams’ home was left underwater earlier this year in May after flooding, and now again by Imelda, but Richard refuses to not help his neighbors in need. He has organized a donation drive so large that he had to move it from his driveway to the Elm Grove Community Club Pool Center.

“I have neighbors worse off than I am,” Richard said. “It’s wrong for me to sit at home and do nothing. God has his own way of bringing people together. I’m seeing people that would have never spoken to each other before, cry in each others’ arms. When something like this happens you become aware of each other and you start seeing the other person.”

Abram informed his network of friends and colleagues about his drive and has since received an outpouring of donations, love, and support. His mother was an activist, so he says doing good and being generous is in his blood. But, he stresses that this time isn’t about one person, it is about a community banding together to help each other in their time of need.

“As a community, we’re banding together to make things happen. It’s an US thing, but we need all of the support we can get. I hope we continue to grow. I’ll find us an even bigger place if needed. People have lost everything.”

Abram has collected gift cards, water, clothing, hot meals and cleaning supplies. On the first day of the drive, a friend recommended that he reach out to The Salvation Army for clean-up kits. That same day The Salvation Army delivered three truckloads of cleaning supplies. All of the supplies went quickly.

“The Salvation Army has played an instrumental part in all of this. People saw the clean-up kits with The Salvation Army shield, and they wanted to know who I was and what I was doing. They wanted to help out.”

Currently, The Salvation Army is still helping and providing support for as long as it is needed.

“It’s never a no with The Salvation Army. It’s let me see how I can help; how else can I help? They keep their word and I know we can rely on them to do what they say they will do.”

For more information on The Salvation Army’s current disaster response efforts go to To make a financial donation to support the ongoing relief work please got to or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index ( The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

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