To Battle We Go: Eating warrior food

To Battle We Go: Eating warrior food

By: Dr. Steve Kellner

Standing in the chow line in basic training many years ago, I watched as a couple of fellow trainees ahead of me reached for a dessert, some kind of pie or cake as I recall. Just as they were sliding the plates onto their trays, one of our drill sergeants swooped in out of nowhere and guided the plates back to the dessert display, commenting tersely, “That ain’t warrior food.”

It wasn’t the extra calories he objected to. We packed in a tremendous amount of food at every meal in basic training. The joke going around was that every meal was a “Last Supper,” as if we would never eat again. We had to eat so much because we were burning so many calories. The training day began at 4:30 a.m. and ended around 10 p.m., and during those hours we either marched or ran to and from every training activity. We ran many miles a day, to say nothing of the endless physical training that we did. I would guess that I easily burned 5,000 calories a day.

No, what our drill sergeant didn’t like was the lack of nutrition the desserts provided. We could eat as many calories in meat, bread and vegetables as we wanted, but he knew that nutritionally empty calories wouldn’t provide the strength and energy we needed to become soldiers, or “warriors,” as he put it.  

Similarly, we Salvationists need to eat nourishing spiritual food in order to have the strength and energy to do the difficult work we are called to do.  This begins, of course, with daily time in God’s Word, and the Bible helpfully makes the connection between temporal and spiritual food explicit.  Job says that he “treasured the words of his (God’s) mouth more than my portion of food,” and Jeremiah says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” Jesus himself quoted Deuteronomy, saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Father.”

And there are many other ways that we are spiritually nourished – meaningful corporate worship, fellowship with other believers, listening to Christian messages and music, reading Christian books and a host of other activities that build us up. We can even be spiritually nourished by things that are not overtly Christian, as Paul reminds us when he says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

In the flood of experiences and activities that tempt us with daily, it can be difficult to sort out what is spiritually nutritious and what isn’t, and that’s where the Holy Spirit is so helpful. He helps us choose between what is truly nutritious and what are “empty calories,” as my drill sergeant did so many years ago, albeit in a much kinder and gentler way (By the way, the Holy Spirit can help with our physical health too, i.e., diet and exercise, which greatly affects our ability to minister effectively). So let’s commit to eating the kind of spiritual “warrior food” that will enable us to fight effectively in the war for souls.


Southern Territorial Bible Conference 2021: Dates, speakers announced

Southern Territorial Bible Conference 2021: Dates, speakers announced

The Southern Territorial Bible Conference is set to return to the calendar of USA South events this summer after being postponed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is scheduled for Aug. 8-14, 2021, at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, and is themed “Christ for the World.”

Speakers for the SBC were also announced: Chief of the Staff Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham will be joined by Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, world secretary for spiritual life development. Also speaking will be Dr. Carla D. Sunberg, general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, and Dr. Dan Boone, president of Trevecca Nazarene University.

The special guest for ARC Night will be Steve Carter. Carter, a familiar face at Salvation Army gatherings, is a noted Christian author and teacher.


The Salvation Army providing food and hydration to Alabama students during pandemic

The Salvation Army providing food and hydration to Alabama students during pandemic

By: Karyn Lewis

The Salvation Army of Walker County, Alabama, has assisted the Walker County, Marion, Winston, Coleman, Marshall, and Blunt communities during the pandemic by helping with rent and utility payments, delivering meals to the elderly and grocery services.

But the most unusual service the Army has provided has been partnering with the Jasper School System to deliver snacks and hydration to students without water. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, all school water fountains are off-limits, leaving many students who do not bring water dehydrated through the school day.

“We have a relationship with the school district, so I reached out to see what could be done for students doing the pandemic. It’s great to be able to help our neighbors,” said Cynthia Smith, Walker County Service Center director.

Nearly 87 percent of students are below the poverty level and have no parent participation. After a Stuff the Bus school supply dropoff, Smith asked what The Salvation Army could do to assist these children in need. The school principal asked for the Army to provide water and juice. Teachers have provided these supplies in the past, but the expense of doing so adds up over time.

The Salvation Army has received a grant to supply hydration and snacks the entire school year. Water deliveries began in October, and hundreds of cases have been given to schools since then.

Reprinted from the blog of The Salvation Army Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Division. Karyn Lewis is an ALM media relations specialist.


The Salvation Army and Boys & Girls Clubs of America set to partner on ‘Better Together’ summit

The Salvation Army and Boys & Girls Clubs of America set to partner on ‘Better Together’ summit

By: Brad Rowland

With a big-picture goal to unite attendees in mission, methods and movement, The Salvation Army and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America come together for a first-ever summit later this month. On Jan. 21-22, the summit, titled “Better Together,” commences virtually from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET, with all sessions available for a singular fee of $20.

Registration is open to anyone, regardless of affiliation or history, and registration is available until Tuesday, Jan. 19. Additional information is available at

Scheduled speakers include Commissioner Willis Howell, territorial commander, and Jim Clark, president and chief executive officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Recording artist Damien Horne, who attended The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs in Hickory, North Carolina, as a young person, will render a musical performance, with additional speakers including Lt. Colonel Eddie Hobgood, territorial secretary for program, Captain Rob Dolby, territorial mission specialist, Major Tim Gilliam, territorial youth secretary, and Lorraine Orr, chief operations officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

In addition to general sessions, targeted breakouts are offered on myriad topics. They include leadership, team building, best practices, local planning, club advocacy, resource development, government relations and more. From there, the ultimate focus centers on the united partnership between The Salvation Army and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and how more than 70,000 children in the United States are impacted.


Lewisville, Texas, Service Center offers a unique spot for prayer, meditation

Lewisville, Texas, Service Center offers a unique spot for prayer, meditation

A beautiful prayer garden filled with more than 100 plants at The Salvation Army now stands at the entrance to Old Town Lewisville, in suburban Dallas, Texas, thanks to the vision, dedication and hard work of a volunteer.

“As the pandemic shut down the regular activities of my life, I wanted to use that time doing something special,” said Jimmy McAfee, Flower Mound resident and Salvation Army volunteer. “The idea for a prayer garden grew out of the desire to share with my community how incredible God is and how much he loves us. The beauty of the garden reflects the love and motivation behind The Salvation Army’s ministry here in Lewisville.”

Measuring 1,000 square feet, the garden is a place where anyone is welcome. It includes a range of Texas-native plants, five hand-poured concrete benches, an olive tree and a bubbler rock at the foot of the cross that stays lit throughout the day and night.

“The construction of the prayer garden was a community effort. I’m an engineer at heart and as far as a garden is concerned, I don’t know a grass from a tree!” said McAfee. “I called in family and friends who could dream big and have vision. I sketched things out, and at every point I needed someone who knew how to complete a specific task, they were always right there to help.”

The garden has been met with huge community acceptance. Those who come to The Salvation Army regularly for lunch have enjoyed eating beside the garden. People walking and even driving by have stopped and spent a moment in the garden enjoying the plants, bubbling water and the peace and quiet.

“My hopes are that it just physically changes the city. I think it is powerful that as you come into Old Town Lewisville the first thing you see is a cross that reminds you what Jesus did for us, and then you get an invitation to be still and spend time in prayer,” said McAfee. “I’m excited about the future of the garden because of The Salvation Army and the impact they will have on the thousands of people who pass by every day.”

The prayer garden has already become a favorite spot for Salvation Army staff, volunteers and clients. “I’ve seen people I don’t recognize out there in the garden. We’ve also had community and city leaders visit, and their response has been amazing,” said Stephen Thomas, director of The Salvation Army Service Center in Lewisville. “This used to be a forgotten corner of our property, and it’s now a place of reconciliation, restoration and communion. It’s hard to believe the transformation that has taken place.”


Center of Hope rescues Shreveport family living in a cemetery

Center of Hope rescues Shreveport family living in a cemetery

The Salvation Army of Shreveport has provided a second chance for a homeless woman and her three granddaughters. They turned to live in a graveyard when faced with homelessness at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. They now live at the Merkle Center of Hope, where they’ve celebrated Christmas and are being assisted in building a safe, independent lifestyle.

Twyla was living in Arizona when her daughters contacted her, saying that they could no longer care for their children and wanted her to take custody. She quickly arranged to move to Shreveport, Louisiana, to care for her three grandchildren.

“Their mamas weren’t acting right. They told me I better come get them, or they’re gonna just walk out,” Twyla said.

Twyla immediately filed for full custody of her three grandchildren, ages 9, 8 and 5, when she arrived in Shreveport. She was told that she could stay in one of her daughter’s homes to care for the children, and her daughter would move in with a boyfriend. After getting settled, Twyla’s daughter changed her mind and stated that she and the boyfriend would be living in the house, so Twyla and the children would have to find elsewhere to live.

The family ended up sleeping in the woods and abandoned houses, but Twyla couldn’t find comfort in those situations.

“I have no family here except two daughters who are only about drugs and thugs. We had no place to go, so I started thinking about the safest places for us to live,” Twyla said.

“I thought to stay in a graveyard because we’d slept in abandoned houses with no windows, mostly in bad areas. I didn’t get any rest. I’d sit up because I was scared. One time we slept in the woods, and it was the same thing because there are so many drug addicts and alcoholics out here roaming all night, hunting people to prey on. I knew this graveyard was over here, and I thought, ‘You know, most people are scared to walk through a graveyard at nighttime.’ That’s where we went, and that’s where we felt the safest. We never saw anybody except the groundskeeper and we didn’t let him know we were staying there. We left in the daytime with our backpacks and came back at night. Most of the time, we’d go to the gas station across the street and just sit on the curb at the side of the building,” Twyla added.

Twyla used her food stamps to grab food from the gas station. She added herself to the waiting list for a suite for her and the girls at The Salvation Army. When she received the call that there was a vacancy, she immediately headed over to secure her space.

“It was hard, but my grandbabies are my life. I have to speak for them. I don’t want my babies in the system. Once they get in the system, it’s hard to get them back. I live for them. I’m going to take care of them until I have my last breath. Regardless of what I have to do,” Twyla said.

Twyla and her grandchildren have been living in transitional housing since March 2019. She’s working with Hope Connection to set up permanent housing. Everything is in place but moving slowly since COVID-19 cases are increasing.

“As long as my babies have a warm bed and aren’t relying on gas station food, I have all of the time in the world to wait. We do not lack anything here,” Twyla said.

“If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army, I really couldn’t tell you where we’d be. This place has really blessed us. This place is a blessing. People need to keep doing what they’re doing. Keep donating. If you’ve never been homeless or walked in my shoes, then you don’t really know what it’s about,” Twyla said.


Job Posting: Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Job Posting: Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Corps mission associate

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

This position subscribes to, adheres to and shares the doctrines, mission and positions of The Salvation Army. Serves as an evangelist to the community and constituency of the corps; develops and leads worship services and ministerial programs; provides spiritual guidance and leadership to the same. For questions about the position, please contact Pam Strawser ( To apply, please visit The Salvation Army Careers website at


‘Gaming for Good’ taps popularity of online game play

‘Gaming for Good’ taps popularity of online game play

By: David Ibata

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting its Red Kettle campaign, The Salvation Army in Augusta, Georgia, was searching for fund-raising ideas for the new year.

“We said, OK, we’ve got to do something different,” said Derek Dugan, development director for the Augusta Area Command. “We thought, kids are home from school; they’re sitting playing video games online all day. Let’s get them to do something good – ‘Gaming for Good.’”

That became the theme of the Red Kettle Cup Charity Tournament, an online, multi-player competition unfolding over six weeks this winter: “Fortnite” on Jan. 2, 9 and 16, and “Rocket League” on Jan. 23 and 30 and Feb. 6. The initiative makes use of the online gaming craze to benefit a charitable cause.

“With Fortnite, you’re dropped on an island with 100 players, and your goal is to eliminate each other” – in the game’s family friendly format, tagging each other using toy guns or nerf guns – “until you’re the last person left on the island,” Dugan said. “Rocket League is basically soccer; it’s a sports game.”

As with many online tournaments, Red Kettle Cup participants pay a $15 entry fee and play for prizes ranging from T-shirts and stickers to cash awards; first prizes are $150 to $250 each, depending on the number of players. Yet as a charity game, money that’s left after expenses goes not to the bottom line of the event host, but to a nonprofit. To sign up to play:

Dugan said he got the idea of game-playing for charity watching his own kids’ gaming activity.

“My son, when he was younger, played in a tournament that raised $3 million,” Dugan said. “I did some research to find out how it was done, and we reached out to the company that we’re using, BattleFy. It’s a Canadian company that manages tournaments worldwide.”

Tournament hosts know how to market on behalf of for-profit entities, like a Red Bull or a Coca-Cola, but charity fund-raising is different, Dugan said. “We had to educate them a little bit how a nonprofit works. Charity tournaments are relatively new to the industry; adapting them for The Salvation Army was a little tricky, but we put it together.”

The Augusta Command has three Red Kettle Cup partners: BattleFy hosts the games and monitors play; Alison South Marketing Group of Augusta markets, promotes and runs the tournaments locally; and Hawk Law Group of Thomson, Georgia, is providing seed money.

“We’re staying completely family friendly,” Dugan said. “BattleFy is certified to allow play by people of all ages – that’s why they monitor. Anyone who curses in the course of the game, for example, is eliminated.”

The first round of gaming, Jan. 2, drew only a handful of players. That’s no cause for discouragement; like anything that’s never been done before, it’s all learn-as-you-go. New strategies are being tried to bring in more participants as the tournaments continue.

For instance, Dugan said he was surprised to learn many high schools have “e-sports” coaches and online gaming teams of students. “We have high schools here in the Augusta area with e-sports teams that play Rocket League, and they’re excited about joining us for the last three rounds of games.”

That’s 60 players across two schools. An outreach is underway to other schools, as well as to church youth groups. The Salvation Army also invites its community partners to sponsor kids at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Augusta by paying their entry fees.

“The ultimate goal is to turn this into an annual fundraiser,” Dugan said. “In Augusta, we do not have an annual fundraiser outside of the kettles. We need to establish something for the community, something that gets kids involved.”


Job Posting: Palm Beach, Florida

Job Posting: Palm Beach, Florida

Area command business manager

Palm Beach Area Command

Palm Beach, Florida

This position provides administrative and managerial support to the officer in charge; supervises, monitors and evaluates the work of the administrative, financial, budgeting, bookkeeping, computer systems and property management. For questions about the position, please contact Margaret DeMaio ( To apply, please visit The Salvation Army Careers website at


Special needs child supported by tender and loving care

Special needs child supported by tender and loving care

By: Major Frank Duracher

Sebastian Boatman is a lucky 9-year-old boy – he is surrounded by love. Discount the fact that Sebastian was born with Congenital L1CAM—a rare disease that affects only one in 30,000 boys (girls are even more unlikely) – he is a happy kid who is tenderly and carefully watched over by his mom, Captain Lauren Boatman, and big sister Alexis (12).

“I went for a routine ultrasound at five months of my pregnancy,” Captain Boatman said. “The ultrasound showed that my son has a condition called hydrocephalus.”  In addition to mental and physical deficits, a major organ somewhere in the body is likely compromised. In Sebastian’s case, it is his colon.

This has not been an easy decade for Sebastian’s mom. Serving as a single parent-officer in The Salvation Army is tough enough, but one would think raising a medically-fragile child would be extraordinarily hard.

Not really, mom says.

So how does she do it? How does she fulfill her dual obligations as a mother of two, one of whom needs constant care – and faithfully man her post as a corps officer in Alabaster, Alabama?

Turns out, she has three distinct advantages that makes her dual role bearable, if not easier than most in this situation.

First, her faith is strong. She is bolstered by “God moments,” like when Sebastian rolled over for the first time. “These moments remind me that God is in control and everything will be O.K.,” she said.

Second, “and this may sound corny,” she said, “but practically speaking, a strict daily routine is important. For instance, on the first day of each month, Sebastian’s mom reviews his therapy and doctor appointments for the coming weeks. It is important that each day presents a predicable system of doing things: Sebastian’s exercises; his daily schooltime at a special-needs facility; his bedtime, etc.

“The third coping mechanism we have really depends on where I’m serving as a corps officer.” With every move The Salvation Army appoints her little family, it takes a few weeks for the adjustments to kick in. New doctors must be located. Routines adjusted. And the corps people in each of the captain’s appointments have really been loving and helpful.

Sebastian’s mom considers these modifications as being equal to learning the new appointment itself.

As a single-parent officer, Captain Lauren reminds herself that she is never alone. Besides the obvious faith-driven assurance of God’s direction in their lives, she said that notes of encouragement, support from her DHQ; going to the local driving range to hit a bucket of golf balls; and an occasional “girls night out,” goes a long way.

With more than 14 years so far of service as a Salvation Army officer, two-thirds have been done performing this dual role of pastor and a mom to a medically fragile child.

But she would not change that for anything. And neither would Sebastian.