Maryland-West Virginia Division battles to change lives of its neighbors
By: Captain Lorraina Crawford
In a place where struggle is a way of life for many, the Maryland-West Virginia Division can easily see The Salvation Army’s purpose. What is often hard for others to see is salvation, the goodness of God, hope for tomorrow and a heart of encouragement while they are struggling. As a result, we have shared and re-emphasized our Soul-saving WHY across the Maryland-West Virginia Division with thought and purpose. The outcome is that the story of individual lives is changing.
Throughout the division, many canteen ministries have started and are tackling both food scarcity and spiritual need. Accounts of families and individuals being saved right by the canteen have ignited new passion.
The Frederick, Maryland, Community Care Ministries team started a canteen outreach into the community twice a month to serve and minister to anyone they encounter. They have reached many people over the past year, praying with them for an impact on their lives. One person they met named Rick, was an addict who shared his struggle by showing his bottle of whiskey. His concern was that he would never be able to let go of the addiction and that he would never be accepted into church because of it. Five CCM members surrounded him and showered him with encouragement through testimonies and prayer.
One soldier couple through the Feed More program in Baltimore, Maryland, literally saved a homeless man’s life. While out serving on the canteen, the couple found the gentleman unconscious from a drug overdose. They were able to get help and save him from dying alone on the streets.
The Huntington, West Virginia, canteen ministry has led souls to Christ at the canteen. “The crew does a wonderful job of starting deep conversation with the community that come to eat each Sunday,” Lieutenant Liz Blusiewicz said. “They are seeing fruit to this ministry, but the team is needing reinforcements as it is work intensive, and very physically tiring.” The Huntington corps cadets brigade decided to contribute. They saw making and distributing food boxes in their area as a way to help those struggling and deliver the gospel. Their work was even recognized by the governor of West Virginia.
We see many at-risk youths set to continue in the same struggle they witness at home. Our Boys and Girls Clubs across the division are seeking to place youth on a different path. Among 236 in attendance at youth councils in 2019, there was a group of at-risk Baltimore Boys and Girls Club youth. This group was under the ministry of corps officers and club directors who have intentionally tried to bridge the gap between the two worlds. All weekend, they wrote notes and shared them with Major Becky Hogg of the Central Maryland Area Command on what they gleaned from the speaker, Steve Carter. Several made decisions for Christ that weekend and attend the corps on Sundays.
Across the division we celebrate that junior and senior soldiers’ enrollments have taken place in Weirton, Havre de Grace, Middle River and Clarksburg. We praise God that at women’s retreat, many women made decisions or sought a deeper relationship with Christ with 111 seekers, some for the first time.
Many of our women’s ministries are participating in women’s evangelism outreach events. The Annapolis, Maryland, women went “glamping” (glamorous camping) at the corps. They invited women from the community to join them for an indoor camping experience, with air mattresses, air conditioning and stories by the electric fire. Other women’s ministries are completing a study of “This Invitational Life” to help revamp the purpose of their ministries. The women in Beckley, West Virginia, have been inspired by the study to make laundry bags. They filled laundry bags with quarters and laundry supplies and distributed them at the local laundry facility to help start meaningful conversations in their community.
Many people struggle here. They need to see salvation from addictions, that there is a way out of hopelessness and how a relationship with God gives strength for the daily struggles they face in life. Rising up in our division is an army of compassion that loves God and its neighbors enough to do something. We see soldiers who are partnering with God to change the story of people’s lives. For every victory, no matter how small, we praise God!
Captain Lorraina Crawford is the associate divisional secretary for women’s ministries in the Maryland-West Virginia Division.