Messengers of Compassion called to action

Messengers of Compassion called to action

By: David Ibata

Bringing a message on compassion to the Messengers of Compassion and others at Sunday morning’s Ordination and Commissioning service, Commissioner Willis Howell spoke of the photographer who took the heartbreaking picture of a starving child in Sudan.

In 1993, Kevin Carter traveled to Sudan to photograph the famine. He came upon a little girl too weak to stand, struggling and whimpering as she crawled to where food was being distributed; a vulture lurked on the ground behind her. “If the sight of this child crawling to be fed, if that doesn’t stir the world to action, nothing will,” he thought.

“Once this picture was taken, he stayed there 20 minutes or so, waiting for the bird to fly away,” Commissioner Howell said. “When it didn’t, he finally shooed it away. Once that was done, he sat under a tree, watching this child struggle a little longer.”

The photo won Carter a 1994 Pulitzer Prize. But when word got out that he had done nothing to help the child, “what had been praise and recognition … quickly turned into disbelief, condemnation, scorn.” Less than a month after accepting the prize, Carter committed suicide.

“Is there anyone in this room who thinks Kevin Carter didn’t feel compassion for this girl?” Commissioner Howell asked. “What bothers you and bothers me is that he didn’t do anything. He didn’t act on his compassion.

“Regardless of how strong the feeling may be, compassion that doesn’t lead to action is worthless. I can’t think of the Kevin Carter story without asking a question of myself: How am I different from him when I feel compassion for those who hurt, when I feel compassion for those who ache, when I feel compassion for those who are suffering, and I do nothing about it?”

The territorial commander urged the Messengers of Compassion to not let their session title become just a label. Warning he was about to speak bluntly, he said, “Hell is going to be full of people who felt compassion in their lives. … Feelings alone change nothing of this world’s pain and suffering.

“The world needs people who are actively and intentionally spreading the message of compassion – those who will roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and actually deliver the life-changing, lifesaving compassion of the loving God. Is that you? Is that our territory? Is that our Army? Oh, I wish to God it is. Please, God, make us like you.”

Cadet Lindsey Galabeas, session representative speaker, said, “God’s compassion can burst through the darkness in an instant and remind us we are never alone. This is a transformative power of compassion. One of the great privileges we have as believers we share this power with others by imitating God through acting compassionately.”

“We can all be messengers of God’s compassion by showing kindness to others,” Cadet Galabeas said. “We are compassionate through acts of kindness, service and humility toward others. When we choose to be compassionate, we are sharing light and hope with a dark and dying world. This is what it means to be a Messenger of Compassion.”

In the final gathering of the weekend, the Now Go! meeting Sunday afternoon, Commissioner Howell and Major Ray Cooper announced the 2019 World Services Ingathering, The Salvation Army Southern Territory’s gift to overseas programs: $10,809,525.

Commissioner Howell also presented the second Commissioner Ruth Osborne Fellowship Award, a $2,500 fellowship to encourage leadership development in young adults. The recipient was Emaniel Brifil, missions program coordinator for the Florida Division.

Returning to the theme of the weekend, Lieutenant Cornelius Walton, the session speaker, spoke of a Christian man who forever regretted not having offered a cup of hot coffee to a homeless person he encountered on a cold February morning in Chicago.

“Jesus said in the Book of Matthew that whatever you did for the least of these homeless brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” Lieutenant Walton said. “If God has given us the ability to be his Messengers of Compassion, we cannot ignore the physical and mental needs of others. … Being a Messenger of Compassion requires more than words. It requires actions.”

Lieutenant Walton told those in attendance God had not called them to an easy assignment.

“If we didn’t experience suffering, how can we ever relate with those who are going through it?” he asked. “We have been redeemed by Jesus Christ to let others know there is hope in the midst of their suffering. In this world we will have trouble, but Jesus Christ has overcome the world.”

Commissioner Barbara Howell gave the charge to the newly commissioned lieutenants, Salvationist Services Corps teams heading to summer postings and officers going overseas.

“We serve under our Blood and Fire banner of transformation, believing as this great Army family we are all stronger together, and each of us can be a transformational influence right here where God has placed us,” Commissioner Barbara said. “So, let us march forward with confidence, knowing if we apply the values of the Kingdom we will forge a path to victory.”

She cited 1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. “My dear Messengers of Compassion. My dear missionaries. My dear summer service team members. Let’s not just talk about love. Let’s practice real love. This is the only way to show we are living in God’s reality.”

“Go and make disciples. Go and change the world for God. Just go, go and go!”


Florida contingent discovers blessings in Barbados

Florida contingent discovers blessings in Barbados

By: Brad Rowland

In early May, the Florida Divisional Band and Creative Arts groups embarked on a weekend of ministry and mission in the Barbados Division.

“Barbados was a great trip for our Florida Divisional Band and Creative Arts groups,” said Tom Hanton, divisional music director. “We went in the name of the Lord to bless those that would hear the gospel and ended up being blessed right back by the people of Barbados. We were able to enjoy comradery and music together as we joined with members of the Barbados Divisional Band at many of the meetings.”

The journey began with the accompaniment of an advisory board meeting and dinner in the region, as the group’s musicians aimed to support local Salvation Army work. From there, a small ensemble accompanied the reopening of the Speightstown Corps, and the full groups, both band and creative arts, took part in concert settings, ministering alongside soldiers in Barbados.

Sandwiched between artistic endeavors, though, was an important opportunity for service. A project of painting the local corps was undertaken, with dozens from Florida pitching in to accomplish what was a helpful and missional task.

Perhaps the highlight of the weekend was a march of witness and open-air concert in Bridgetown, with ensembles from Barbados taking part in the festivities. A combined praise team worshipped alongside the assembled crowd, with dance and timbrel brigades from the Barbados Division.

“Our trip to Barbados was an awesome opportunity and a humbling experience,” said bandsman Terry Wood. “As we joined in their worship and celebration, I could feel the presence of the Lord with us. The Army is clearly alive and well in Barbados.”

Finally, the group from Florida stood alongside their brethren from Barbados in supporting Sunday morning worship and performed a finale concert on Sunday afternoon, in which Commissioner Devon Haughton, Caribbean territorial commander, delivered the message.

“It was great to hear the territorial commander speak about God’s calling on all of our lives and how we can respond to that call,” Hanton said. “In addition to painting a building, playing for a building dedication, and marching through the streets of Bridgetown, we were really blessed by the worship and grand finale presentations done by the Barbados Salvationists! It was a true privilege to be a part of the 120 years celebration of The Salvation Army in Barbados.”


Financial planning class helping shelter residents get their affairs in order

Financial planning class helping shelter residents get their affairs in order

By: Emily Fleisher

Every night, over 140 people stay in the emergency homeless shelters at The Salvation Army of Greenville, South Carolina. When these individuals arrive at The Salvation Army, they are likely to feel lost and unsure in their new situations. However, thanks to a dedicated group of women, they may soon find a sense of community.

Since being established in 2014, The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary of Greenville has worked to create a home-like environment for the men, women and children living in the emergency homeless shelters. The women’s auxiliary works with the shelter residents to provide stability and comfort through holiday meals, homemade blankets for the children and educational classes.

One women’s auxiliary member, Laura Cook, volunteers regularly to teach a monthly financial planning class for the women in the shelter. During the class, Cook invites the residents to take notes about the course material and to eat snacks provided by the women’s auxiliary. She also encourages discussions about budgeting, saving and understanding money. Asking questions and sharing experiences can only make financial planning classes more meaningful, she says to the women at the start of the lesson.

Though the class focuses mainly on financial facts and advice, Cook also includes an empathetic and compassionate angle in her teaching. She takes time to reassure residents who may have previously made poor financial decisions or investments.
Everyone makes bad decisions with money, and it’s normal to feel ashamed after that, she says. Start creating a better relationship with money by forgiving yourself and taking advice from others.

“Learn to listen and do better the next time,” Cook told the women at the April 2019 meeting. “But don’t beat yourself up over past mistakes.”

Near the end of the class, the residents begin trading stories with Cook about their very first experiences with money. She says these experiences are likely to shape your entire relationship with money, and by re-examining them, you can help understand your current situation better. Her friendly, calming presence allows the residents to feel comfortable, and soon, the stories quickly have the room laughing about stolen (but returned) quarters and high expectations of the buying power of a single dollar.

Because of these monthly classes, the women in the shelter are able to take advantage of a free educational resource and find community with each other and with the volunteers. The Salvation Army of Greenville is thankful to the women’s auxiliary for planning the classes and to Cook for her willingness to give her time and talent.

Emily Fleisher is the marketing and special events coordinator for the Greenville, South Carolina, Area Command.


Jackson (Tenn.) Corps puts wheels on fight against hunger in community

Jackson (Tenn.) Corps puts wheels on fight against hunger in community

By: David Ibata

Say “food desert,” and the first thing that comes to mind might be an impoverished, inner-city neighborhood in a major metropolitan area. But places where people without transportation struggle to obtain decent, healthy food also can be found in smaller cities and rural areas.

Lieutenants Cheryl and David Moynihan, Salvation Army corps officers in Jackson, Tennessee, received a vision from God last summer about the food deserts in their community.

For residents of one of the low-income areas they serve, Lincoln Courts, “it’s a good hour to an hour-and-a-half round trip walk for people to get to the closest grocery store that sells fresh produce and foods they can make meals with,” Lieutenant Cheryl said.

“Even for those who have been given food stamps, it’s really difficult for them. Many are single parents with young children. The roads don’t have sidewalks, and it’s not an easy trip to get back and forth to the store with kids in tow.”

So, the Jackson Corps applied to West Tennessee Healthcare’s “Well Tank,” a “Shark Tank”-like competition for nonprofits and others seeking to improve health and wellness in their communities.

The corps made its pitch to a panel of judges and last summer was awarded a $10,000 grant for a “ Community Canteen.” An Emergency Disaster Services mobile feeding vehicle, loaded with fresh foods, visits neighborhoods with few easy grocery options.

The corps gets fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh milk, frozen meat and occasional bakery goods through a partnership with the Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis, Tennessee, and donations by local retailers like Sam’s Club and Target.

The Community Canteen started rolling last August. Since then, it’s distributed 100,000 pounds of food at two sites. Upwards of 1,000 individuals benefit each week, with 275 to 300 families served.“We go out once a week, on Wednesdays,” Lieutenant Cheryl said. “About 11:30 a.m., we head to Lincoln Courts. We’re there for maybe an hour and a half or two hours, giving out food until it’s gone. Then we come back and load up the canteen again and in the afternoon go to Allenton Heights, which is right across the street from our building.”

With children home from school in the coming summer months, the corps also will be starting a sidewalk Sunday school, a ministry to youngsters while their parents are shopping for food. “We are getting partners to adopt a day to do cooked meals for the children,” Lieutenant Cheryl said.

The canteen also ministers spiritually to the grownups.

“We’ve noticed a huge difference in the countenance of the people, the way they respond to us, and their willingness to open up and have conversations,” Lieutenant Cheryl said. “We’ve had probably 100 people pull us aside and ask us to pray with them, or have expressed interest in volunteering.”

The Jackson Corps is starting a media campaign to rally community support. The corps serves a seven-county territory, and the hope is eventually its canteen can visit a different area each week.

“We want people to know we’re out in the community to help,” Lieutenant Cheryl said, “because that’s what Jesus called us to do.”


Spanish-language album released at EQUIP 2019

Spanish-language album released at EQUIP 2019

By: Brad Rowland

Amid the 2019 EQUIP Conference in Orlando, Florida, an evening of worship and inspiration took place, centered on the work of Ronnie Murchison and a talented collection of musicians. The concert and worship experience marked the release of “Cultura de alabanza,” a Spanish-language album produced through The Salvation Army’s Soundcast network of audio programs.

While much of Soundcast’s work consists of the spoken word through a variety of audio mediums, the impetus for the album’s creation was clear and concise.

“One of the things that is lacking is that there just isn’t a lot of really good, modern Spanish Christian music available,” said Chris Benjamin, Soundcast director of production and operations. “We found ourselves in the position, through the leadership of Major Al Newsome, to commission Ronnie to produce what has now become a two-album project.”

The first album is a studio project, with polished musical production and high-end musicality that is used as a resource for Soundcast, as well as a standalone piece of creative, worshipful content. The followup, scheduled to arrive by the end of 2019, is a live recording that will feature similar song selection in an organic environment.

“As a bilingual ministry, at the heart of who we are and at the heart of what we have a call and a desire to do is to elevate Spanish ministry in whatever way we can,” Benjamin said. “So often, even if just within The Salvation Army, the material and resources we have for Spanish ministry start in English and are translated to Spanish and that isn’t always as authentic as we would want it to be. We have a heart to produce authentic pieces of ministry that share hope to the world in a way that speaks to them and allow people to hear the voice of God.”

Physical CDs are available through Trade South ( and the album is available wherever music is sold.


EQUIP 2019 embraces The Salvation Army’s legacy of outreach to young people

EQUIP 2019 embraces The Salvation Army’s legacy of outreach to young people

By: Brad Rowland

From the opening moments of the conference’s first general session, the concept of legacy permeated the 2019 EQUIP Youth Workers Conference, with hundreds gathering for an intellectually stimulating and worshipful experience.

Though the entire assembly was purposeful and moving in nature, a video engineered by Rob Bridges, territorial youth communications specialist, set a fitting tone for what would transpire during the conference, held in Orlando, Florida, May 6-9.

The video illustrated the legacy of mentoring from the perspective of four different individuals, with a young man named Teatio Cal from the Chattanooga East Lake Corps reflecting on his relationship with Chris Reeder, the corps Blood and Fire Initiative youth director. Reeder then shared of his relationship with Captain Ruth Cancia, Chattanooga East Lake corps officer, with Captain Cancia doing the same in honoring the relationship she has with Major Janice Riefer, territorial assistant secretary for personnel.

With that as the backdrop, Captains Dan and Sarah Nelson, territorial youth secretaries, reflected on mentors and examples from their youth, citing the inspiration they received in embracing their work with young people. “You are already leaving a legacy with the things you do each and every day, and we are so grateful for that,” said Captain Dan Nelson.

The through line of legacy permeated the remainder of the week, with inspiring general session workshops. Amid the educational aspect, a trio of corps were recognized for a legacy award, as the Territorial Youth Department tracked more than 15 years of data to recognize the Fort Myers, Florida; Kerrville, Texas, and Raleigh, North Carolina, corps for excellence in youth ministry.

From a workshop and intensive standpoint, myriad options were available, ranging from job-specific pre-conferences for BFIs and Salvation Army mission specialists, to a week-long fellowship through the lens of Jesus Theater. In addition, qualified leaders from across the territory shared their expertise in dozens of different specialties and, specifically, a LGBTQ+ panel convened on Tuesday afternoon for an open and constructive discussion aimed at helping young people navigate potentially challenging situations.

Andrew Stanley, son of Andy Stanley and grandson of Charles Stanley, both prominent Atlanta pastors, entertained with stand-up comedy during the first general session, while Dr. Krish Kandiah, executive director of Churches in Mission and England Director for the UK Evangelical Alliance, told of his history with The Salvation Army as a young person and emphasized the importance of welcoming others into fellowship with Jesus.

“You are Jesus’ legacy,” Dr. Kandiah said. “When Jesus was dying on the cross, he scorned the shame of that cross. He saw you and me, and every other lost person. He thought this was worth it. Whatever the cost. He was going to invest in all of us.”

In the general session gathering on Wednesday afternoon, Rev. Dr. John Teter, senior pastor of Fountain of Life Covenant Church and executive director of Fountain of Life Antioch, encouraged those in attendance.

“One of the jobs of a leader is to say thank you,” Rev. Dr. Teter said. “I’d like to say thank you for your work and your ministry. As a parent, I’d like to say thank you. In every way, you’re pouring into the next generation. It is challenging. It is only getting harder, but I want to inspire you and pray over you. Thank you for your ministry. Thank you for your endurance. And I hope and pray that I can encourage you.”

Finally, Lt. Colonel Eddie Hobgood, territorial secretary for program, ministered with the message of the closing general session and encapsulated the overarching mission of what the Army aims to do.

“Your ministry, your influence, can really change the trajectory of a child’s life forever. … Those kids need you more than you can even begin to imagine, and I know that because I was one of them. Keep loving, keep serving, keep giving. You may not see it on this side of eternity but, one day, you’ll see the legacy and impact you’ve left on so many people’s lives.”

The EQUIP Conference will return in 2021 with plans for bi-annual implementation moving forward.


El Dorado, Arkansas, connects with the kettle

El Dorado, Arkansas, connects with the kettle

By: Brad Rowland

In many communities, both across the Southern Territory and nationwide, The Salvation Army is best known for its iconic red kettle. That was the case in El Dorado, Arkansas, when Captains Jason and Elyshia Perdieu arrived in June 2018. After a successful Christmas campaign, inroads are being made, and awareness and embrace of the Army is growing rapidly.

Upon arrival, Captains Perdieu tried to overhaul the kettle program, seeking to staff kettles with 100 percent volunteer participation. This is no small undertaking and, after evaluation of performance in previous years, that led to the strategic cut-down of locations in and around El Dorado. To make this change happen, overtures were made to Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, churches and other civic groups with an eye toward volunteering. The results were staggering.

“Being able to get out and talk to people gave us an opportunity to educate our donors and potential donors of all the services that we provide,” said Captain Jason Perdieu. “We were pleasantly shocked at how fast people began to light up the phones looking for ways to engage. Whenever they would come to sign up, we’d give them a tour, both of the facilities and all that we do, and that helped us to garner partnerships, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.”

Relationships were built, and with communication with leaders across the city, the volunteer-driven kettle operation came together. The Army saw an uptick in net funds raised, based heavily on the removal of worker salaries, and the impact went well beyond fundraising.

“A lot of individuals and groups that volunteered at Christmas are now engaged in other ways, and that goes well beyond the holiday season,” said Captain Jason. “Beyond Christmas, we’ve gotten help in our food pantry and our serving ministry; it has increased donations, and it has also increased our volunteer base.”

Volunteers have attended church services, and tangible growth can be seen within corps programming, including youth ministry. The Salvation Army has also received United Way support from partner agencies, and there are plans to move full steam ahead to the 2019 Christmas season with the all-volunteer kettle initiative.

Plans are in the works for a kettle kickoff event to begin the 2019 season and, prior to the summer, the Army has a community-based “Dancing With The Stars” event on the calendar, stemming in part from the relationships constructed through Christmas outreach.

“We’ve found that if we open our arms to hug this community, the community here will hug us back, and they’ve shown that repeatedly,” Captain Jason said. We’ve grown locally as a result of that, even at the corps level with youth programs and church attendance. This community has rallied around The Salvation Army, and I believe it has brought people together in an overall sense. It’s been really amazing to watch a community come together in support of the Army in such a short amount of time.”


Love and acceptance helps Florida man reconnect with hope

Love and acceptance helps Florida man reconnect with hope

Just a few months ago, Ray Kinder could not imagine being clean, being out of jail, being hopeful. When you look at Kinder today, you could not, for one minute, imagine him being anything but.

Kinder grew up in a church-going family, but all was not right. His father was a career criminal, coming and going from prison. When his father was not in jail, he was abusing his mother and modeling the alcoholic lifestyle. He eventually ended up with a life sentence for armed robbery. People would speak over Kinder that he would be just like his dad. It had its effects.

Kinder was in juvenile detention 12 times. He got addicted to drugs in middle school and continued to make bad choices for the next two and a half decades. He was in jail, some maximum-security ones, 23 times. Each jail time was just a pause from his crack addiction, and the pause button would be reset when he got out.

“My reality was too hard to take,” he said. “I knew how much pain I was causing my mom, my family. It just pushed me deeper into addiction. It was the loneliest, most isolating, tumultuous nightmare. I was just a zombie that didn’t care about anything. I stepped off the cliff into hopelessness.”

Last year, while out on bond, Kinder went to visit his aunt. He was totally out of his mind, high and incoherent. His aunt called the police, who took him to First Step. While at First Step, he learned of The Salvation Army. He was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and he was willing to give the Army a try. When Ryan from The Salvation Army in Sarasota, Florida, came to pick him up a few days later, Kinder’s brain told him not to get on the bus. He said something, maybe God, pushed him to get on the bus.

Ryan told him everything was going to be OK, this was a new beginning for him, and he was going to find his purpose and a plan. Ryan was his first exposure to the love and acceptance that he was about to receive.

During December, Kinder volunteered to help pick up Angel Tree gifts and said he “overdosed on the love” that was shown to him at each location. He also realized that at The Salvation Army, he was surrounded by people who truly understood him and
his addiction. He was also among other people who were just like him. He “was not as unique as (he) thought. They showed me there was a way out I could never see before. There is a reason they call this the Center of Hope; I do have hope now.”

Kinder is taking things one day at a time. He remarked that “The Salvation Army gave me my hope back; it saved my life. If God can do this for someone like me, he can do this for anyone.” Kinder is protective of the “precious and valuable gift he has been given and is not going to give it up.”

The biggest challenge for Kinder now is employment. He will commence soon and is praying someone will give him a chance.

His advice in the meantime for others like him: “If you think for one second that your life is gone and you’ve tried everything else in life, but it never worked for you, there is a place, and the name of this place is The Salvation Army. If you are truly ready to live, give this place a try.”


Clarksville community garden yields seeds of hope

Clarksville community garden yields seeds of hope

By: David Ibata

Captains Dawn and Jonathan Whitaker had an inspiration for doing something green at the Clarksville, Tennessee, Corps: a garden to provide fresh produce for shelter residents and the community. But how to do it in an urban campus covered in concrete?

They shared on Facebook, asking for donations of lumber to build raised planting beds, and for hay and soil to fill them. A host of angels responded.

OK, not a host. An angel named Amy Unruh.

“When I first heard Dawn was looking for someone to help with a garden at The Salvation Army, I thought that was just a wonderful idea,” said Unruh, who with her husband Benjamin and their three children own Three Mustard Seeds Farm in the Tennessee countryside near Clarksville.

“It’s actually been a goal of mine, to get us back to more self-sustaining ways of food production,” Amy Unruh said. “A garden is healing in so many ways.”

Captain Dawn agreed: “There’s just something about getting your hands in the dirt. It can completely erase your mind of whatever it is that troubles you, just by working and pulling weeds.”

The Salvation Army emergency shelter in Clarksville is open nightly and can accommodate 24 men and 18 women in separate dormitories; four units are available for families with children. Guests are provided with linens, toiletries and morning and evening meals.

Growing the food they eat can build self-esteem among shelter residents, especially the children, Captain Dawn said. “When you’re not as self-sustainable as you want to be, even if it’s just picking a tomato, there’s some ownership and healing in that, that you’ve made something good come out of the ground.”

“Amy texted me, ‘Let’s keep planting seeds of hope!’ and Jonathan said that should be the name!” Seeds of Hope Garden will have a series of raised gardens made of cedar. The Unruhs are constructing four 3-by-6-foot beds for the main plot, two 4-by-2-foot beds for the side of the corps building, and a single 3-by-6-foot bed with vertical planters for a narrow space behind the building.

The community is pitching in to help.

“We have some wonderful local companies we’re working with,” Amy Unruh said. “The beautiful thing about Clarksville is, we come together as a community to make projects like this a success.”

The Compost Company of Ashland City, Tennessee, is donating soil; and Greenfield Trucking of Clarksville, gravel. As soon as the dirt is delivered, this year’s crops will go in: tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans, okra and collards.

Shelter residents who wish to will tend Seeds of Hope, possibly assisted by volunteers from the community. Principal tasks will be watering, weeding and feeding. A farmstand offering free, freshly harvested produce is a possibility.

“Anyone who’s walking by who’s in need of fresh groceries, who’s not comfortable coming into the shelter for help, will have something available right out front,” Amy Unruh said. “I hope the garden provides joy and peace as well.”


Men of Carolinas welcomed ‘home’

Men of Carolinas welcomed ‘home’

By: Brad Rowland

Come home. Come home.
Ye who are weary, come home
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling
Calling, O sinner, come home.

In late April, more than 450 men gathered at Camp Walter Johnson under the theme of “Come Back Home,” and a blessed time of fellowship and activity occurred. The North and South Carolina Division hosted its annual men’s camp with a wide range of activities, including more than 40 sports and leisure competitions. Good-natured battles occurred on the softball and basketball courts, with others spending time fishing, playing air hockey, or engaging in strategic rivalry with chess and dominoes.

Though the recreational aspect is important and outreach-driven, the centerpiece of the weekend was the worshipful gathering in the camp’s chapel. Special guests Bean and Bailey, a comedic and worship-filled musical duo, and transMission, the Southern Territory’s modern worship outfit, helped to bring at atmosphere of worship and first-person accounts inspired throughout the weekend.

Walton Jeanette of Washington, N.C., uplifted those gathered with an energetic testimony of God’s healing, while Lieutenant Zachary Good of Henderson, N.C., shared intimately about the work of Jesus in his life as a Salvation Army officer. In tandem, Ken Brown of Greensboro, N.C., shared, “I’m so grateful that wherever I go, I have a savior that will always bring us back home. I’m thankful for that.” Michael Mott of Goldsboro, N.C., also provided an engaging time of reflection, sharing his story of overcoming anxiety and alcoholism with an eye toward a call to officership.

Major Mark Satterlee, territorial men’s ministries secretary, served as keynote speaker, challenging the men assembled throughout the weekend to be the mentors and role models needed in the community.

“I just want you to know, you’re more important than you think you are,” Major Satterlee said. “The men that made an impact on my life were the men I looked up to in the corps. It doesn’t have to be something where you decide to ‘mentor’ someone, but you have to know that kids are looking up to you and thinking they want to be like you.”

The overarching focus on the story of the Prodigal Son was poignant, with reflection on the central Scripture from Luke 15:11-32. By Sunday morning, the hundreds congregated sang about coming home in unison, knowing that the opportunity was available to do just that, even for those with checkered histories.

“Our hopes and prayers for the weekend was that men would respond to the Holy Spirit and ‘Come Back Home,’” said Major Don Vick, divisional secretary for personnel and organizer of the weekend. “Our focus on the story of the Prodigal Son was a message that related to many of the men and the response at the altar was evident that the message was timely.”