Posts

Registration opens for Commissioning Weekend 2021

Registration opens for Commissioning Weekend 2021

By: Brad Rowland

Commissioning Weekend 2021 arrives on June 4-6, with Salvationists from across the USA Southern Territory gathering at the Atlanta Temple Corps. This year’s event features the commissioning and ordination of the Messengers of Grace session of cadets, as well as the Reconciling Grace Forum taking place throughout the weekend.

Captains Nesan and Cheryl Kistan are special guests for the forum, and they are appointed to National Headquarters. Captain Nesan is the chair of the National Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Commission addressing racial bias and tensions facing Salvation Army officers and soldiers in the United States.

The opening session is at 9:30 am ET on Friday, June 4 with the commencement of the Messengers of Grace session. Following an invitation-only Silver Star Luncheon, the opening general session of the Reconciliation Grace Forum will begin at 7:00 pm ET, with the theme of “Reconciliation with God.”

On Saturday, attendees will take part in outreach to the community, beginning in the early morning hours and visiting local neighborhoods across Atlanta. In addition, Saturday morning’s general session takes place at 9:00 am ET, following the theme of “Reconciliation with Others.”

Reconciliation stories will be featured in Saturday evening’s general session, titled “This Is Us.” That is followed by Sunday morning’s ordination and commissioning service for the Messengers of Grace session.

Atlanta Temple Corps will host the general sessions, and each session will be streamed via the official USA Southern Territory YouTube channel.

Click here for more information. To register for Commissioning 2021, visit https://events.sauss.net.

Source: southernspiritonline.org

Messengers of Reconciliation Summer Assignments Announced

Messengers of Reconciliation Summer Assignments Announced

On behalf of the Territorial Commander, Commissioner Willis Howell, we are very pleased to announce the Summer Assignments of the Cadets of the Messengers of Reconciliation Session.

Please be in prayer for these Cadets as they prepare for what God had planned for them this summer.

Cadets Marcos & Lyla Baca — Bryan (College Station), TX

Cadet Karen Burton — Marietta, GA

Cadet Michael Duelley — Atlanta International Corps, GA

Cadets Victor & Myranda Estudiante — AOK DHQ (Youth Department)

Cadet Roy Fisher — Huntsville, AL

Cadets Anthony & Angela Fox — Hickory, NC

Cadet Allison Hamilton — Leesburg, FL

Cadets Samuel & Shania Mhasvi — Henderson, NC

Cadet Rashad Poole — Waynesville, NC

Cadet Andy Rowe — Jonesboro Citadel Corps, GA

Source: southernspiritonline.org

Faith, perseverance and The Salvation Army help to lead Charlotte woman out of homelessness

Faith, perseverance and The Salvation Army help to lead Charlotte woman out of homelessness

By: Brent Rinehart

While Michelle Wingo’s life is in order today, there was a time when it would’ve been easy for her to lose hope. Today, she has a successful accounting career, a brand-new apartment, and a warm, friendly smile. But it wasn’t long ago that those things seemed too far away for her to grasp.

For many people in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, the start of Michelle’s story will sound familiar. She had a good job in the financial industry until her company merged with another bank and eliminated her role.

Living in Atlanta at the time, which was reeling economically in the 1980s and early 1990s, Michelle was struggling to find her way. She felt a fresh start in a new city was in order, so she headed north on I-85 to Charlotte where the financial industry was growing at a breakneck pace.

Michelle quickly found that the job market was tougher than she anticipated, and her financial resources were in short supply.

Eventually, she had nowhere to turn but to The Salvation Army.

“When I first came to Charlotte, I was at The Salvation Army,” Michelle said. “I’ve been in and out of the homeless situation for a couple of years. From the shelter to hotels, from hotels to the shelter, back and forth, back and forth.”

Throughout this time, Michelle was able to find some work, mostly in contract or temporary positions. She even landed a full-time job from one of those positions, but reminiscent of what transpired in Atlanta, she lost it when the company downsized. Over and over, she was forced back to square one.

Like many others, she was being squeezed by the affordable housing crunch, unable to afford rent on a single income, and staying in hotels became too expensive.

“There was one particular time that the situation was so bad in Charlotte that The Salvation Army was full,” she recalled. “I actually had to stay on the square [Trade and Tryon] for about two or three weeks. On the street. That was very difficult because I never experienced that before. That’s a whole different level to homelessness.”

One of her lowest points came as she sat outside a restaurant, hungry, but with no money to get something to eat.

“I saw people going in and out of the restaurant and they were eating and enjoying and drinking and talking and whatever,” said Michelle. “And, yet all of us are sitting on the street and nobody cares. Nobody cares. And that’s difficult. It’s just you feel very bad, self-esteem is very low because you are an adult, and you find yourself in that situation. And it seems like you can’t get out. Like you are on a treadmill. You are constantly running that race, but you never get ahead. It’s a hard situation to get out of. It seems like it’s easy to get into. But it’s hard to get out of it.”

Relying on Faith and Persistence

“You become angry because you are saying to yourself, ‘Why me? How did I get myself in this situation?’ And it seems like nobody’s helping and nobody cares,” Michelle said.

But, today, Michelle exhibits a quiet, calm strength. Her battle-tested faith fortified from preserving through difficult times on her own.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, you are single; you can take care of yourself,’ and, ‘You should be able to,’” she said. “But in the economy as it is now, with the value of a dollar, it’s hard. And a lot of people are making minimum wage … it’s hard.”

Without a social support network, Michelle said she relied on her faith.

“You cannot lose hope. If you lose hope, you know, that’s it,” said Michelle. “My faith in God, that is what has kept me, that has brought me to this place that I am now. He’s always kept me. But I had to keep the faith and I had to keep hope and I had to keep praying.”

At The Salvation Army Center of Hope, things started to look up for Michelle. She found a good job working in accounting, and she had her eye on a new apartment — a brand-new complex she watched as it was being built from the ground up. She dreamed of being able to land one of those units, so she put her name on the waiting list. She talked to her case manager, who also told her about The Salvation Army’s rental subsidy program. They filled out the paperwork, and Michelle was accepted into the housing program. She then found out that a unit had become available, and they would accept Michelle’s application. Her dreams were starting to come true.

“Now I’m in my own place thanks to The Salvation Army’s assistance and my persistence,” Michelle said. “You have to be persistent. If you want something, you’ve got to go after it. The programs are there, but you have to be persistent in trying to find what it is that you need that can help. No one is going to bring it to you and put it on the table. You’ve got to the do the leg work. Which is what I did. Looking back on it now, I had made up in my mind that the last time I was not going back into a hotel. That I wanted my own place, I wanted to be stable. I wanted to be self-sufficient.”

The Salvation Army walked alongside Michelle on her journey, giving her access to the tools she needed to accomplish her goals and move into her new apartment.

Now, Michelle is setting her sights on bigger things, including exploring ways to help others who are going through the same things she suffered.

“I hope to go higher,” Michelle said. “Perhaps maybe one day be a homeowner. My own business perhaps — a nonprofit to help others [experiencing] homelessness because it’s such a big problem here in Charlotte, and there’s so much to do. Although The Salvation Army does quite a bit, they can’t do it all.”

Brent Rinehart is the Director of Communications for The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte and this story was originally published here.

Source: southernspiritonline.org

The Man In The Mirror

As a member of the upcoming Reflectors Of Holiness Session of cadets, Micah Gallagher’s countenance now reflects the redeeming love of God.

The Man In The Mirror

By: Major Frank Duracher

As Micah Gallagher once peered into his mirror at the height of his addiction to crack cocaine, he did not recognize the man in his reflection. Today, the image he sees is quite the opposite — through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, Micah has become a reflector of holiness.

Micah grew up one of four boys, with two older brothers and one twin. But his home life in those early years was anything but happy. His addict father abandoned the family early on. In fact, Micah has little memory of him.

“I had no male role model to trust,” Micah says. “My house was loud and chaotic and I learned a lot of bad habits and experienced a lot of things no kid should endure.”

They moved often, adding to young Micah’s growing instability. By age ten, he began smoking and by age 13 he was a regular marijuana user. By age 19, Micah reached two “graduations” — one from high school, but the second to cocaine.

“I was hiding my addictions very well,” he said. “If I could be around people, I wanted to be the life of the party. I was usually on my own and when people took me in, I would do whatever it was they were doing,” he says.

Conversely, when he was alone, he became introverted, preferring to be by himself in his thoughts and growing depression.

By the time Micah turned 30, he was a full-blown meth and crack addict. His appearance was reflecting his destructive lifestyle.

“One day I looked in the mirror and broke down crying,” said Micah. “I had no clue who that was in the mirror. It was an eye-opening moment. I saw that I could no longer hide the effects of my addictions.”

Some years before this point, Micah’s mother married Mike Gallagher, today a well-known radio talk show personality. Mike tried to fill the fatherly role Micah so desperately needed — even adopting the four boys and giving them his surname.

“My dad came to visit me and when he saw me, he dropped everything and sobbed, ‘Son, what has happened to you?’”

A few enrollments to rehab centers in Texas and South Carolina followed, but Micah would either drop out or, if he managed to graduate, soon relapse. Each relapse left Micah “worse off than before” in his addictions, he says. On one occasion, he ended up in jail.

“But even in those days, I can now see that God was already working in my life!”

Micah landed a job in a Greenville, South Carolina restaurant. A coworker there befriended him.

“Ross often talked to me about his faith, and always it seems at the right time,” Micah explains. “He told me about a friend of his who came through The Salvation Army’s ARC (Adult Rehabilitation Center) in Washington. Ross began urging me to enter a similar program the Army operates in Greenville.”

Micah eventually entered the program but at first it did nothing to help him address his anger; mostly at himself for the messed he had made of his life. He hit bottom when news came that his mentor, Ross, was killed in a robbery attempt at the restaurant.

During a chapel service at the Army’s Greenville 614 Corps, Micah listened to the sermon from then-Lieutenant Rob Dolby. The Holy Spirit spoke to Micah: there is more for you — give God a real chance.

“A weird peace came over me and I thought of where Ross was, in Heaven with Jesus,” Micah says. “I went to the altar, and told God, ‘I do not know You. I do not trust You. But I will give you a little bit by bit if You change me!’”

With each passing day, God is showing Micah that He is faithful to keep His promises.

“I’m not the wretched person I thought I was. I learned to love myself. I learned accountability and how to apologize. I realized I am not the center of the universe, and that who my dad is does not give me privilege.

“Dealing with myself was the hard part—that’s true for anybody dealing with addiction. Every addict I know also has a traumatic past.”

Micah admits he used to question where God was during all those hard times in his life — “But I can see now that God was there all along working toward my reclamation. God has transformed me now to where I do not see that reflection of an old creature without Christ any longer. I want to help others see a reflection of the holiness God is revealing to me — and I love it!”

Source: southernspiritonline.org

EBC Cadets aim for mission and ministry with 2021 Spring Campaigns

EBC Cadets aim for mission and ministry with 2021 Spring Campaigns

In early to mid-March, Cadets from the Evangeline Booth College ventured to six communities for 2021 Spring Campaigns. The cadets were split into six mission and ministry teams, led by EBC officers, with the goal to provide cadets with field work in preparation for future ministry as Salvation Army officers. In addition, these campaigns aim to encourage the field and advance the kingdom of God in the communities in which they are sent.

“The response from the cadets was incredible,” said Captain Joshua Hinson, EBC director of field training. “Each team shared their testimonies in a reflection and celebration meeting after Spring Campaigns. During that meeting, we celebrated, as a campus, God’s faithfulness to us and the corps during the campaigns.”

During their campaigns, cadets participated in local corps programming tailored to those particular communities. That included food distributions, work projects, visitation and administrative meetings.

“The locations also responded positively,” Captain Hinson said. “Some of the Corps Officers noted how excited they are for the future of the Army based on the hearts and the ministry of the cadets they encountered. Most importantly, lives were transformed as the teams testified of people giving their lives to Jesus as a result of their ministry.”

Photos from Spring Campaigns can be seen below.

Source: southernspiritonline.org

Promoted to Glory: Major Vicki Perez

Promoted to Glory: Major Vicki Perez

Major Vicki Leigh Keith Perez walked into the arms of her Savior and Lord Jesus Christ on April 3, 2021. Vicki was born in Meridian, Mississippi on December 9, 1969 to Milton and Mavis Estelle Keith.

Vicki was a beautiful soul who was loved by all. She touched many lives and spoke truth and life into everyone she met. Vicki served the Lord as an Officer of The Salvation Army for 22 years throughout the Southern Territory.

Vicki was preceded in death by her father, Milton, brother, Mickey, nephew Mitch, and daughter, Kayleigh Victoria Perez.

Vicki is survived by her three children, Zachary Perez, of Atlanta, GA, Caleb Perez of Boiling Springs, SC, and daughter Grace Perez, of Atlanta, GA; mother, Mavis Estelle Keith of Boiling Springs, SC; brothers, Larry DeBerry (Paulette) of Tuttle, OK, J. David Keith (Katrina) and Carey M. Keith both of Panama City, FL; sister, Cynthia Keith Hamrick of Boiling Springs, SC; 8 nieces and nephews; and a host of great nieces and nephews.

The service honoring her life was held at The Salvation Army Atlanta Temple Corps on Thursday, April 8, followed by a graveside service at West View Cemetery. In lieu of flowers the family asks that you make donations to The Salvation Army Atlanta Temple Corps.

Source: southernspiritonline.org

General Brian Peddle shares condolences with Queen Elizabeth II following death of Prince Philip

General Brian Peddle shares condolences with Queen Elizabeth II following death of Prince Philip

International Leader of The Salvation Army, General Brian Peddle, has sent a personal letter of condolence to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, following the announcement of the death of her husband, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Source: southernspiritonline.org

Words of Life answers tough questions in ‘Skeptics Welcome’ series

Words of Life answers tough questions in ‘Skeptics Welcome’ series

On Sunday, April 11, Words of Life will launch an 11-episode series titled “Skeptics Welcome.” Within the series, Captain Ken Argot addresses some of the toughest and most common questions sent in by listeners.

These were questions they had themselves or questions they often get from unbelievers. Each week Ken focuses on a specific question and walks us through finding some of these answers on our own through our own conversations with our Heavenly Father.

Additional information can be found on Soundcast’s official website and listeners can find the audio program wherever podcasts are distributed.

Below is an episode-by-episode listening guide and a short video.

EPISODE 01: DOES GOD EXIST? 

Captain Ken Argot starts off this series with probably the biggest question an unbeliever will have. Does God even exist? 

A: How do we know? 

B: What moments in your life have reassured your knowledge of God? 

For further study: Does God Exist? By Hans Hüng 

EPISODE 02: IF GOD EXISTS, DOES HE CARE?

Following last week’s conversation, Ken Argot continues by asking, “Ok, if God does exist, Does He care about ME?” Ken reminds us of the heartache and trials suffered throughout the Bible and takes us back to Genesis 1 where we see that there is something intrinsic about chaos and creation co existing. 

A: Does God answer every prayer? 

B: How do we react when the miracle doesn’t happen? 

1 Kings 18:16-45 

Genesis 1 

EPISODE 03: WHY DOES GOD ALLOW PAIN? 

In this episode, Captain Ken Argot tackles, probably the most common question we all have, (as non-believers and believers). Why does He seem to save one person from suffering while allowing another to go through many trials? 

A: What have you gained by suffering a trial? 

B: What stories in the Bible give us inspiration for enduring trials? 

James 1:2-4 

EPISODE 04: HOW CAN GOD LOVE MY ABUSER? 

In this episode, Captain Ken Argot addresses a very difficult question we received from a listener. “How can God love someone who has hurt someone who loves God?” The grace and mercy of God is something we’ll never fully understand this side of eternity. But Ken does a great job of unpacking this question and shares a powerful prayer for anyone in this place today. 

Psalm 22 

EPISODE 05: DO ALL ROADS LEAD TO GOD? 

As we continue our series, Skeptics Welcome, today, Ken Argot discusses the question, “Do All Roads Lead to God?”. With many scholars estimating that there are over 4,200 active religions in the world, how do we, as Christians, know that our path is the only one? 

A: What makes Christianity different from every other “faith”? 

B: Does self-actualization deal with redemption? 

Romans 1:20-32 

EPISODE 06: CAN THE BIBLE BE TRUSTED? 

There are over 100 Billion, (yes, billion) Bibles sold or given away around the world each year. While no one can deny the popularity of the Bible, in today’s episode, Ken discusses the question, “Can the Bible be Trusted?” 

A: Why were some books “left out” of the Bible? 

B: What are some ancient, extra-Biblical books worth reading? 

Acts 15 

EPISODE 07: CAN A CHRISTIAN DISAGREE WITH THE BIBLE? 

In this episode, Ken Argot addresses this question, “Can I be a Christian and Disagree with the Bible?” In this conversation we see that, quite often, it’s not scripture we disagree with but rather someone’s interpretation of scripture. 

A: What are some verses you hear often mis-quoted? 

B: How have some Bible verses been used to justify terrible acts? 

James 1:19-27 

EPISODE 08: WHICH DENOMINATION IS RIGHT? 

Continuing with last week’s message, this week Ken discusses denominations. Why are there so many? Who has the “correct” interpretation of scripture? Why can’t we agree? 

A: Have you been a part of multiple denominations in your walk? What did you glean from each of them? 

B: “The Holy Spirit not only inspires the writer but the reader.” Have you always believed everything you believe today? 

EPISODE 09: HOW MANY SINS DOES IT TAKE TO LOSE YOUR SALVATION? 

Spoiler alert- Ken doesn’t give a number, but rather discusses the various theologies behind this topic. 

A: Do you worry about your salvation? 

B: Why do you think this question gets asked? 

James 2:14-17 

John 3:16 

EPISODE 10: WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO NEVER HEAR OF JESUS? 

We’ve probably all heard the question, “If there’s an island of people who never hear about Jesus, do they go to hell when they die?” In this episode of Skeptics Welcome, Captain Ken Argot discusses this question along with many that revolve around a seemingly violent God. 

EPISODE 11: WHY HASN’T JESUS RETURNED? 

In this final episode, Captain Ken Argot addresses the questions surrounding the end of days. From what took place in AD 70 to whether you’re a post millennialist or pre, this is an episode you don’t want to miss. 

Revelation 20:1-6 

What happened in AD 70? 

Who was Daniel Whitby? 

Who was John Nelson Darby? 

Source: southernspiritonline.org

The Salvation Army’s Homeless Resource Day Center opens as ‘beacon of light’ in Fort Myers

The Salvation Army’s Homeless Resource Day Center opens as ‘beacon of light’ in Fort Myers

By: Brad Rowland

With the stated goal to provide a respite for those experiencing homelessness in the community, The Salvation Army opened the Homeless Resource Day Center (HRDC) in Fort Myers, Florida. The Salvation Army worked closely with Lee County Department of Human and Veteran Services, and with local authorities, serving a pivotal role in creating the initiative.

After several months of preparing and retrofitting the space, the grand opening arrived on Jan. 26, 2021 and, while the center opened with a Monday through Friday schedule, that quickly pivoted to a six-day week.

“Discussions really began in October and November with the county,” said Terryn Streets, social services ministry director in Fort Myers.“ They provided a lot of the financial support needed to get up and running, and to make sure we were able to set it up in the way we needed to accommodate people. They have been wonderful partners of ours. Whatever we need, they’re right there.”

Streets indicate that the local area is experiencing a “homeless crisis that has only been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” and shares that homeless prevention is a “prime topic” in the community. With that as the backdrop, partner agencies are coming together, and the work to establish the space was speedy in nature.

“We give all credit to our maintenance department because they took what should have been a six or seven-month job and did it in approximately two months,” Streets said. “They transformed the space quickly and made it functional, including the creation of office space and the modification of classroom space. It’s been a huge change because the community was not yet familiar with what we’d be offering. But now we have more space which lets us help so many more people, which is tremendous for the community.”

The center provides wide-ranging services include access to laundry facilities, showers, and a clothing closet, as well as lunch, snacks, emotional and spiritual, referrals, and comprehensive case management. The HRDC operates from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday, with no-cost life skills classes now offered twice a week. The life skills classes cover topics including goal setting, interviewing, and job seeking, with the potential expansion to on-site medical assistance at the center through a partnership with a local provider.

“The Salvation Army aims to walk alongside those struggling with homelessness,” said Major Carlyle Gargis, area commander. “Our hope is that anyone needing assistance can walk through these doors and find it. We want to get to the root of their current challenges that are keeping them from finding stable living.”

All told, the HRDC provides access to wrap-around services via The Salvation Army, and also presents the ability to meet with on-site partner agency representatives. That combination helps to meet the basic needs of individuals and families holistically, with both care and compassion.

“Because the homeless crisis locally is such a hot topic, I believe it’s given The Salvation Army an opportunity for those that either didn’t know what we were doing or perhaps marginalized the work to see the good that is coming out of what we’re able to do,” Streets said. “One of those pivotal things is our emotional and spiritual care, including our soldiers that come on a daily basis to help to bridge the spiritual and the practical, tangible assistance.”

“We want everyone to know that this is a place that we want to be a beacon of light for people. It may take patience, and compassion is key, but we want to be able to meet people at their point of need. That need may be different day by day, and we know that each individual arrives at our doors with their only story, and their own needs. We aren’t cookie-cutter. We take each person as an individual and as their own story… Homelessness can affect many individuals in a matter of circumstances. Many of us are just one crisis away from experiencing similar challenges, and our aim is to meet that need in a targeted way.”

Source: southernspiritonline.org