Florida men stand strong at The Salvation Army’s Camp Keystone  By: Maria Matheus

“Men’s Camp.”

When Major Henry Morris, The Salvation Army’s divisional secretary for program in Florida, uttered those two words and invited me to participate in it, I dutifully accepted the assignment of reporting on it. I pulled myself up at the bootstraps, quite literally in combat boots, placed my hair in a baseball hat, and quietly slipped into the background of the 2022 Men’s ‘Stand Strong’ Camp, taking care to give the guests and attendees the space they needed to convene in fellowship. I was determined to understand how Men’s Camp differs from a women’s retreat, at the least to get a distinct point of view.

With previous reporting on the Florida Women’s Retreat, I noted that though the focus of both the men’s and women’s retreats challenge one in their Christian walk, the men’s retreat is set apart by the competitive nature of sports built into the event program, and there were a ton of sports and game activities the men could choose from. It was a matter of deciding which one appealed to them at a given time.

In between sports, worship and sitting down to eat in fellowship, there were many special guests present throughout the weekend at Camp Keystone, like Lt. Colonel James Seiler, territorial business administrator, Atlanta, GA, Captain Damon Graham, ARC Officer, Hampton Roads, VA, recording music artist Damien Horne, and Lt. Colonel Ken Luyk, divisional commander, each one providing special testimony that touched the hearts of the men, mine included.

The first speaker of the weekend was Emaniel (E.B.) Brifil, representing the Tampa Corps, with a moving spoken word testimonial, poetic in its delivery, which stirred at the core of one’s heart, if not the minds of the men in attendance.

“What are we doing daily to grow in Him?” he asked. “This weekend is more than about the fun and the games… Men who will be more focused on the Glory of God than friendly banter and competition.”

He further illustrated divisive times that should not separate one from another by putting more effort into building the Kingdom of God, then into an ideology, a right wing or a left wing. “Men who will have an allegiance to God and not to a particular nation.”

Brifil encouraged the men to know about their fellow brother in Christ, to stand strong with them, “in times of joy and congratulations, but also in times of trials and tribulations.”

Lt. Colonel Luyk followed up by referencing the strength of retired 1992 Olympian British sprinter, Derek Anthony Redmond, who despite not finishing a four hundred meters semi-final because of a torn hamstring, became the face of hope, humanity, and perseverance. “When things do not end up the way you planned, when you messed up, when you went the wrong way, when you made some bad decisions, does anyone know the impact it may make?” Colonel said. He then invited everyone to bring their brokenness into the sanctuary, to find healing and redemption.

On Saturday, the next speaker up at bat was the lively, spirited testimonial given by new soldier, Pablo Lanes, Naples Corps, who drew a bit of laughter from the camp attendees. He talked about making some bad choices in life, he also mentioned how at three points in his youth he could have gotten into more serious trouble, but God had a plan in his life, and he survived unscathed.

“The Lord had a plan,” Pablo said. “The truth is, the way I lived my life, I should not be here talking to you today. On three separate occasions, I have been shot at, by some miracle I have never been hit. I always wondered why, but I can tell you with certainty the Lord had a plan.” He continued, “Through the Corps I was introduced to a life of selflessness, servitude and filled with the Holy Spirit, that, my brothers, was the Lord’s plan.”

“I don’t drive an old school Chevy with the 20’s, I drive the Corps bus with twenty screaming kids.” Pablo humorously continued in referencing the behavior of his youth, “There is only one thing that would make me go back to the ‘old’ me, that is if anyone ever hurt my kids,”

Pausing a moment, he said, “Sorry, that was just meant for my daughter’s boyfriend, who’s here today,” drawing more welcome laughter in the room.

“I know now what it means to be a real man, it is to stand strong against the lies of the enemies and to find peace and strength in Jesus Christ, which is where you will find fulfillment and the life that He planned for you.” Pablo finished his witty, engaging testimony by succinctly adding “God has a plan for my life, and He has a plan for yours as well.”

With that said, Captain Damon Graham, approached the pulpit to give his seat rousing message, titled “I want to be strong, but you don’t understand” chest thumping exhortation, speaking to the men in the WAC about character and excellence, especially when it comes to the unsupervised areas of their lives.

“Character is who we really are in the unsupervised areas of our life,” he said. “It is not what one does in the dark, but what one does in the light.”

Captain then asked what being ‘strong’ looks like by reflecting on the first miracle of Jesus, when Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, a story about what takes place in each individual soul as it begins to hear one’s spiritual calling. The invitation of union with our higher self, union with God is key in the miracle of turning water into wine.

“If you do what the Word says it is important because you do not know at what point in the process your water is going to turn into wine.” He continued, “You do not know at what point in the process you will be healed.” When God causes miracles, He does not want us to just believe in miracles, he wants us to believe in Him. The point is not the message but the messenger.

Standing at the pulpit, Lt. Colonel Seiler gave heartrending testimony of his lovely wife, Karol, whom despite having health challenges is healing and improving because of the power of prayer. Focusing on Matthew 7, he turned to the men and said, “I don’t know what the need is, but knock on the door, gentleman.”

Later in the evening at Vespers Cross, Lt. Colonel Seiler reminded everyone again to lean on each other in prayer, reflecting on John 15, 1-8, saying no branch cannot bear fruit by itself, and challenging the men to spend time in God’s word, that way we show God’s glory to others.

The rewarding experience of a Christian open-air retreat, like Men’s Camp, is that it can help to transform lives, providing an opportunity for the men to decompress, sharing fellowship, vigorously competing in sports as evidenced by the winning teams that came out on top, like Winter Haven winning at basketball and football, or Miami Sunset winning in softball.

The bonus of men’s camp also highlights fostering friendship too. That point could not be more succinct than in a video message conveyed by Major Mark Satterlee.

He asks, “Can you name six men who will one day carry your casket into church?”  He then reminds us, like one’s mother may have said, ‘to have a friend, you must be a friend,’ referencing scripture in Ecclesiastics 4:9-10, “If either of them falls, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Men should stand strong, but not stand alone, especially in Christ. Men, like women, should lift each other up. We need to enable our sisters to help their brothers stand strong, we need to support one another in their walk in Christ, by being an example and allowing them the space to do so.

In closing out the weekend retreat, Major Morris said, “My prayer is that we do not leave here the same way we came, when we leave here, the Holy Spirit is in us, and working through us, and changing us in a mighty way, that God is using us, and will use us in a mighty way.”

Florida women gather for ‘Celebrate’ retreat   By: Maria Matheus

Colonel Susan Bukiewicz, U.S. Southern Territorial Secretary for Ministry to Women, was a special guest at the Florida Division’s Celebrate Women’s Gathering in Orlando. More than 400 attendees traveled across the state to spend time considering the theme ‘Celebrate’.

The Salvation Army’s Florida Division held the 2022 Women’s Gathering at the Calvary Orlando Church on the weekend of March 18-19, two years after the Pandemic stopped them from coming together in person. The theme of the conference was one of celebration, aptly titled ‘Celebrate,’ and focused on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Hundreds of attendees from near and far engaged in worship services and breakout sessions, while also listening to a variety of speakers in carefully prepared spaces that enabled the women to celebrate, pray, and give thanks to God through their experience.

Major Benita Morris, divisional secretary of women’s ministries, in charge of organizing her first women’s gathering for the Florida Division, not only curated the colorful, festive ‘Celebrate’ theme but also vetted the keynote speakers for the retreat, Colonel Susan Bukiewicz, territorial secretary for ministry to women & officer development secretary, Jeniffer Dake, motivational speaker and guest teacher, and Apostle Laequinla Hunterthe cousin of Major Henry Morris, all whom brought equal measure of excitement and enthusiasm to the attendees over the weekend.

“I do not know about you, but the last two years felt like life was being controlled by fear, and for a believer that is just not right,” said Colonel Susan Bukiewicz, encouraging everyone to party and celebrate in a video message taped earlier before the gathering. “The enemy of our soul uses fear and discouragement to cause us to walk in defeat. But in Christ there is nothing to fear, and there is everything to celebrate.”

“Just the fact that we had been locked down for two and a half years, for me, seeing the faces of the ladies in person, being able to come together once again, it did my heart good,” said Major Benita Morris. “One could see they were hungry; they were hungry for fellowship, they were hungry for the ‘word,’ and they were thankful to be present. All the planning we did was to see the women at the gathering go away fulfilled, happy, full of the Word, pleased in fellowship, pleased with the reception.”

One attendee, Geurdie Joseph, 22, Orlando, said, “I really, really love seeing people of all ages, women of all ages, worshipping God. I look at the older women and imagine being, when I come to that age, setting the same example to a younger generation. Regardless of one’s pain, or one’s struggle in ‘their walk,’ one may still give as much as they can to God. You are never too old; you are never too young to worship and give yourself to God.”

Apostle Hunter encouraged women to look out for each other, referencing Mary and Elizabeth in the First Chapter of Luke in the Bible, whom were each pregnant, one with the Messiah, the other after being infertile for many years, by simply being present for one another as sisters. Like Mary, who went to stay with her cousin Elizabeth for three months, Apostle Hunter appealed to God to send people to bless and inspire the women present, and to come alongside them as they celebrate and support one another. 

The opportunity to come as one at the Celebrate Gathering was not missed as Apostle Hunter’s sermon brought more than forty attendees from varied backgrounds to stand at alter call together, perhaps a testament to the necessity of humanity coming together in Christ, transitioning back to normalcy after a prolonged absence from one another and Him in His light.

Similarly, Dake also encouraged and inspired the attendees by asking them: “How do you celebrate the Lord?” before sharing the anecdote of her friend ‘Katie’, who by carrying the “weight of a dead dog” in a travel suitcase could not think about celebrating Christ when she was too preoccupied with the ‘burden’ she was carrying.

“If you give it to Jesus, you can walk freely in any direction, trust in God to take your burdens away, leave it here with you, don’t take it home.”

Bearing this in mind, Dake encouraged others to celebrate Jesus by giving up their concerns to Him.

Opportunities to celebrate the Lord were interweaved throughout the women’s gathering weekend as attendees were treated to a carefully prepared program guide, featuring both active and educational breakout sessions ranging from Dance and Art to Self-Care and Improvement to choose from. One could also support the Mexico Children’s Home by shopping unique vendor items, in addition to selecting a scrumptious lunch provided by local food trucks onsite. The sunny, warm Florida weather was a perfect backdrop to a long-awaited reunion in sisterhood, a gathering centered in celebration, rejoicing in His light, guided by the shining lamps of the speakers, in His steadfast love for all.

As we prepare for the upcoming Christmas season, here’s a look back at the 2019 Christmas Message from General Brian Peddle, The Salvation Army’s International Leader

By Brian Peddle, General

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child (Luke 2:17).

When you experience something good, you just can’t help talking about it. That may be a memorable meal, a good book, an enjoyable film, stirring music, dramatic theater or beautiful countryside. Whatever the experience, it leaves such an impression on us that we want to share it with others. We have to share it! Good news needs to be shared.

These days, when people discover they are expecting a baby, many find creative ways to share the news; some hold parties to reveal the gender of the unborn baby; some have parties and—when the child is finally born—they announce it loud and clear.

Jesus’ birth was announced through a new, bright star that appeared in the sky. An angelic choir burst into song to communicate the great news.

Unsuspecting shepherds were looking after their sheep, like any other night, when the sky lit up and they heard the most astonishing news in a most spectacular way. An angel appeared to personally deliver a message to the shepherds (Luke 2:9-12). This was a detailed message—the angel clearly described who Jesus was (2:11) and how they would find him (2:12). So the shepherds journeyed to the manger and found Jesus “just as they had been told” (2:20).

Such was the impact of their experience on the hillside and in the stable, they just had to tell other people about it. The news was so joyous and tremendous that they couldn’t keep it to themselves. The news about Jesus brought light into the darkness of a shattered world. Like the shepherds, we need to realize that this good news is not just ours—it needs to be shared.

In my message to Salvationists and friends, employees and supporters this Christmas, I’m calling us to have a renewed confidence in the gospel. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance and prepared the way for Jesus. God sent his one and only son into this world to save it. Jesus then sent out his disciples to preach the good news, perform miracles and make disciples. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to share the gospel in a myriad of languages and empowered the early church to spread the story of the Savior to new lands and new people.

The apostle Paul declared: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). We are a Salvation Army—the gospel is the saving message we preach in words and express in actions.

The good news of Jesus brings hope to those who are lost, light to those in darkness, joy to those in despair. It offers real transformation to the person who is caught in addiction, disillusioned by materialism or seeking purpose and direction. We share the gospel because we have experienced its truth and power for ourselves, and we know, personally, the “author and perfecter,” so we have confidence in the gospel’s transformative power on others.

This Christmastime and beyond, let us follow the example set by the angels and shepherds. Let us use every opportunity and every means possible to spread the word about who Jesus is while showing people where they can find him so that they too can have a saving, personal relationship with the living Christ. It’s not just good news—it’s the best news. Let’s share it!

The post Good news needs to be shared appeared first on New Frontier Chronicle.

This past Thanksgiving was our family’s fifth without my mother-in-law, ninth without two sisters and a brother, and sixteenth without my grandmother. We felt the ache, mourned the loss, and wished with all our hearts they were still with us.

The holidays are coming and with it a slew of family gatherings. Unless you’ve been unusually fortunate, you’ll have an empty chair or two at your dining room table. It’s unrealistic to think you won’t miss your loved ones, but holidays are for celebrating, not for grieving. As you prepare for the holidays without your precious loved ones, here are a few ways you can honor them.

1. Do something your loved one would approve of.

My grandmother loved to dig in the dirt and make things grow. Wherever she lived, she always planted dianthus. I remember visiting her shortly after she moved to an independent living facility. She no longer had a place to garden, but as I walked into her new building, I saw evidence of her green thumb. She’d tucked a tiny patch of dianthus into a square of dirt near her doorway. To honor her, I planted dianthus in my flowerbed. Every time it bloomed, it reminded me of her.

One friend and his family are faced their first Christmas without their father/grandfather. Knowing that his dad loved Italy, my friend took his family on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rome in his honor.

Your memorial activity will probably be less extravagant, but it can be equally memorable. One friend honors her daughter’s memory every season by watching her favorite Christmas movie, the Patrick Stewart version of “A Christmas Carol.” Another friend and her family meet at Waffle House at midnight on Christmas Eve to continue a long-standing tradition their late father began.

2. Include your loved one’s favorite food in your holiday meal.

My mother-in-law and I shared a love for lemon crème pie. She’d often tell the story of how she and a friend of hers liked it so much that they’d buy a pie, draw a line down the middle, and eat every bit of it. My mother-in-law liked her pies extra tart, and if I made the recipe just right, she’d nod her approval. “Mmm,” she’d say, “that’ll lock yer jaws.”

Lemon crème pie was one of the last foods I fed her before she passed away. Confined to a hospital bed and pumped full of medicine, she hadn’t eaten much in days. We wracked our brains trying to think of foods that might stimulate her appetite. My brother-in-law brought her a hot dog from her favorite greasy spoon. I brought a bowl of juicy watermelon. The day I brought her a slice of lemon crème pie, however, was a day to remember.

“Good?” I asked as I spooned bites into her eager mouth.

“Mmm,” she said, nodding her approval. “That’ll lock yer jaws.”

I ate a piece of lemon crème pie at Thanksgiving in her honor. It wasn’t quite tart enough, but I think she’d still approve.

Like eating my mother-in-law’s lemon pie, “sharing” our loved one’s favorite foods helps us feel connected with them. This Christmas we’ll eat sweet potato casserole to honor my sister Cindy and deep-fried turkey in my brother-in-law Luther’s name. And with every bite of lemon pie, I’ll feel my mother-in-law’s smile.

3. Talk about your loved one, shed a few tears, but don’t let grief steal the joy from your family celebration.

Remember that the greatest way we can honor a loved one who has passed away is to live every day in thanksgiving and joy. Reflect on the happy memories. Talk about the fun times and shared experiences. Thank God for the time you had rather than mourning the time you’ve lost.

4. Donate to an organization, charity, or cause your loved one felt passionate about.

If your mother had a soft spot for children, sponsor a child in her name. If your father loved baseball, donate a scholarship to a local league to help a child in need play ball next spring. If your aunt had a soft spot for animals, give to a nearby no-kill shelter.

Remember, too, that donations of time are infinitely valuable and honoring to a departed loved one. One friend helps serve Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter in memory of her father. Another fills a two-hour slot as a Salvation Army bell-ringer.

See also: 10 Reasons you should Volunteer to Ring a Bell this Christmas

Holidays can be hard, but with God’s grace and a little intentionality, we can celebrate in ways that honor and include our loved ones, even when they are no longer with us. If you’re facing the holidays without someone special, ask the Lord to wrap you in his love and help you feel the joy of his presence. Take comfort in the promise of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

by Lori Hatcher, originally appeared in the War Cry.

When my son was 14 years old, he exhibited many outstanding qualities, except a yearning for hard work. That changed when he took a two-week mission trip to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. He spent much of his time digging trenches, laying cinder blocks, and installing barbed wire fences.

When he returned, I asked what stood out most during his time there. He thought for a moment, then replied, “Americans complain too much.” He went on to describe a visit to a nearby barrio where he met a woman with four children.

“Their whole house could probably fit in my bedroom closet. They had one bed, a two-burner stove, a few pots and pans— and that was it. And they were happy to have us visit.”

The day after he returned from the DR a huge storm passed through our neighborhood, uprooting trees and knocking out power for days. In our temporary discomfort, our son kept things in perspective. “If this is the worst we have to live with, we are still incredibly blessed,” he said. “I don’t know why God favored me over the kids at the orphanage, but I’m thankful for what he’s given me.” The experience opened his eyes—and mine—and has given us a new sense of thankfulness.

That attitude of thankfulness is something we all need to cultivate daily. By practicing it regularly, we are less likely to ignore our blessings or take them for granted. The Bible says, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:17). God provides all the benefits you and I enjoy. Have you thanked him? He is the one who makes life satisfying, full, and complete, and he wants to increase those joys. That happens when you dedicate your life to Christ. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).

Have you let him begin his work in you? It starts when you ask Christ to take the primary role in your life. Say to him, “God in heaven, I need you very much. Please save me today. I gratefully acknowledge you as my Lord and Savior.”

by Jim Kraus, originally appeared in Have a Good Day

Did you know The Salvation Army is a church? You’re welcome to join us for worship services across Florida every Sunday! Click here to find your nearest location.

In 1918, The Salvation Army was at the height of its international popularity. Its war work during the Great War (WWI) was exemplary and recognized by governments across the globe. United States National Commander Evangeline Booth received the Distinguished Service medal from General John J. Pershing for all of the work that The Salvation Army did in France. The combat was soon to shift to an unseen enemy. The Great War had prepared The Salvation Army for a new challenge.

The Spanish flu was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it is considered one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.

In New York, Lillian Wald, a pioneer nurse, called for help and The Salvation Army answered. Wald mobilized a multitude of nurses, organizations, church groups, municipal bureaucracies, civic entities, and social agencies into a Nurses’ Emergency Council. The group assembled volunteer nurses and enlisted women who could support them by answering phones, accompanying nurses and doctors on home visits, and arranging for and driving automobiles to carry linens, pneumonia jackets, and quarts of soup.

Homeless shelters became makeshift hospitals and new cleanliness protocols were enforced. The Salvation Army had always believed that “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” but a new emphasis was placed on disinfecting the crowded city shelters.

The Salvation Army also began food distribution to the poorest of families in the major centers of operation, like New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. The “war work” continued as thousands of AEF soldiers began returning home from France. Many were crowded into temporary camps and the flu swept through the ranks. Salvation Army personnel wrote letters home, served coffee and doughnuts, helped nurse sick men, cleaned hospitals, and provided encouragement to the soldiers. Naturally, Salvationists (Salvation Army church members) offered to pray and read the Bible to those in the hospital.

Like most flu strains, the Spanish flu quickly mutated, and illness levels dropped dramatically in 1919 and 1920. The “roaring twenties” had begun and people soon forgot about the flu epidemic. It wasn’t until the 1990s when new flu strains began to affect the world population that interest in the Spanish flu was revived.

Through it all, The Salvation Army served and continues to serve suffering humanity throughout the world.

The post The 1918-1920 Spanish Flu appeared first on War Cry.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Mental Health concerns are on the rise in the United States due to environmental and genetic factors. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • One in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness.
  • 44,965 Americans die by suicide every year.
  • In 2016, an estimated 10.4 million adults (4.2%) in the U.S. had a serious mental illness (SMI).
  • In 2016, an estimated 16.2 million adults (6.7%) in the United States had at least one major depressive episode.
  • Each year, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the U.S. aged 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population.
  • An estimated 31.1% of adults in the U.S. experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

Although these statistics are alarming, there are things we can do to foster good mental health. One of those things is to bring our stress under control. Yes, we live in a fast-paced world where stress is part of life. Stress can be a motivator, and it helps us fine-tune our survival mechanisms that are critical to responding to danger. However, long-time exposure to stress can undermine our mental health and physical wellbeing and become harmful. It is also true that profound physical and emotional erosion takes place when we do not take time to refuel. When we fail to do refuel, we can experience:

  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Loss of meaning
  • Hopelessness
  • Isolation
  • Loss of empathy
  • Poor self-care


Don’t just be good to others, be good to yourself! Self-care doesn’t just happen, and it is not a passive process. It requires intentional actions to care for your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Here are six ways to maintain positive mental health.

1. Eat Well

Don’t treat your body like a trash can. A healthy diet is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health.

2. Go Outside

Stop and smell the roses – literally. Take a break, get some fresh air, and feel the sun on your face.

3. Sleep

Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health and physical problems. Make sure you get enough sleep every day.

4. Be Active

Exercising your body can help in many ways. Get your blood flowing and stretch your muscles.

5. Talk About Your Feelings

It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to talk about your feelings. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. Do not be afraid to.

6. Seek Professional Help

We are not superman or superwoman! We all get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. For example:

  • Join a support group like Weight Watchers or Alcoholics Anonymous to help you make changes to your life.
  • Find a counselor to help you deal with your feelings or make a fresh start.
  • Tell your primary physician and ask him/her to refer you to a counselor.
  • Talk to your pastor/rabbi/imam.

Today make it your mission to prioritize your mental health. No matter who you are, we all need a daily dose of TLC to thrive!

The Salvation Army is here for you. You are not alone! If you need someone to talk to, contact The Salvation Army Emotional and Spiritual Care Hotline. Call: 844-458-HOPE (4673)

The post 6 Ways to Maintain Positive Mental Health appeared first on War Cry.

a little timeLooking up from my early morning chores I was surprised to see a man plodding toward me through the small pasture between our home and a busy highway. I could see a pickup on the shoulder of the road. Something was obviously wrong—it looked like a strong wind could tip it over. The man drew close and advised he had just blown the right rear tire and wanted to know if I had a heavy duty jack. His jack would not lift the pickup with its heavy load of hogs.

I was already running behind with my chores and normal morning routine prior to going to my office job, but I located my jack and drove him down to his pickup. My jack would lift the pickup, but we found another problem. After the man laboriously reached his spare by climbing the sideboard and squeezing down between tightly packed hogs, he saw that the spare was flat.


Internal Struggle

At this point I honestly was wishing I had given him some lame excuse and let him solve his own problems. I had several pressing issues at the office that day and I hadn’t even showered yet. However, time was important for this man too, as it was starting to get hot and the tightly packed hogs would likely die if he didn’t get them moved quickly.

The man’s clothes and the shape of his truck gave the impression that he was well acquainted with hard times. However, he did not panic and asked if I could get him to a phone. Before we headed back to my house I noted the make and age of his vehicle. I remembered I had a set of mounted snow tires from an older car I had sold. Since both vehicles were a product of the same company, I thought the wheel holes might match.

We took a wheel down to his pickup and fortunately the holes matched up and we were able to change the tire–mounted wheel and get him on his way. Still thinking of my own agenda for the day, I didn’t get his name, address or even his license number. He had assured me he would return the tire and wheel, but at the moment I was just happy to get him going again.


Giving Thanks

Later in the day, when demands on my time had slowed and I thought of the morning’s activity, I realized I was remiss in not getting at least the man’s name and had no way of checking to see if he made it to his destination safely. I was feeling rather good about having helped the man and not letting my momentary personal struggles of time get in the way.

The Bible tells us: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV). I am just thankful for God’s grace that prodded me to lay aside my personal focus to help the man.

James teaches that if we see someone in need but only wish him or her well without doing something about the physical need, the value of our words is diminished (2:16).

Two days later, when I backed out of my garage, I found my wheel positioned between the two garage doors. With it was a note thanking me and advising that the stranger had made it to his destination without further problems. He had also clipped some money to the note for the wear on the tire.

This experience is a reminder for me that the need to reach out to help others in times of trouble rarely comes at our convenience. If we are praying to be used of God and asking for His direction, we will more likely respond to the needs around us, regardless of the agenda we have set for ourselves.

Walter N. Maris in a writer from Savannah, Missouri. Lisk Feng is an illustrator from China, now based in New York, New York.

This story originally appeared in The Salvation Army publication War Cry. You may also like: Overcomer

The Salvation Army in Ocala, Florida, held a drive-through distribution designed to fill much more than physical needs.

To help ease the burden of grocery expenses, each car received a box of food with non-perishable items, fresh produce, baked goods, and frozen meat, but it didn’t stop there. They also received a hot takeaway meal for everyone in their household.

The Salvation Army recognizes that needs during a crisis go far beyond financial, so each person was also offered an activity bag for children in their family, a Bible (English or Spanish), and personal prayer from an emotional and spiritual care team member.

In total, more than 350 meals were provided to 175 cars that came through the distribution line.

Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19 in Florida.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

During this difficult period, it may be more necessary than ever to practice a little self-care.

Find a quiet place to pause and reflect:

  • What rhythms of rest and work have you found to sustain yourself?
  • What practices, rhythms, or patterns have you adopted to root yourself into the foundation of Christ’s love?
  • Are their friends and colleagues who have expressed subtle or overt fears, anxieties, or cries of lament and doubt? How can you respond?
  • Have you found resources for expressing your own pain, doubt, or limitations?
  • What habits do you have ready-to-hand that can help draw you out of these dark places?
  • Now ask yourself, am I practicing these?

These are not simply questions; they are lifelines.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Original Article