sarasota church in a box covid19 2Churches across Florida are temporarily closed to follow increased COVID-19 safety precautions, causing pastors to get creative to continue ministering to those who worship across more than 40 Salvation Army churches in the state.

Lieutenants Will and Veronica Conley, pastors at The Salvation Army’s church in Sarasota, Florida, delivered ‘Church in a Box’ to their members to make sure they stayed connected.

“We first saw the concept of ‘Church in a Box’ from a Facebook post and we immediately knew this was something we wanted to do for our congregation,” says Lt. Veronica Conley, Corps Officer (Pastor).

Boxes were packed with doughnuts, hand sanitizer, tissues, worship guides, Sunday School materials, devotionals, as well as activities and games for adults, teens, and children.

“Not everyone is active on social media, and we liked the idea of offering a ‘hands-on’ approach to a worship experience,” says Conley. “Breakfast and fellowship are such a special time for our people on Sunday mornings, and you just can’t have Salvation Army fellowship without doughnuts!”

The ‘Church in a Box’ project is just one way The Salvation Army is letting people know how much they are loved and cared for, even during this season of social distancing. Several locations in Florida are live streaming weekly church services, Bible studies, and support groups.

Click here to learn about The Salvation Army’s national response to coronavirus COVID-19.

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.

delivering meals in lakelandIn trying times associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools, churches, and community programs across the United States are closed and, as a result, many young people are in search of nourishment to replace missed meals. In Lakeland, Florida, that is certainly the case, and The Salvation Army is stepping into the gap.

While The Salvation Army Lakeland Corps (church) did not have scheduled services on Sunday, March 15 in order to maintain recommended social distancing, members from the church came, as they do each week, to prepare breakfast.

This meal was then delivered to children that depend on it, with three families that regularly attend weekly activities currently living in hotel rooms.

“Knowing that many of our children rely upon school and corps feeding programs, it became apparent that we would need to step in and fill the food gap for a while until the COVID 19 situation improves,” says Major Barry Corbitt, Administrator for The Salvation Army serving the Lakeland area. “We are grateful for caring church members who go the extra mile to care for our kids.”

The Salvation Army plans to continue this service, beginning on Wednesday evening, in an effort to meet human need.

preparing meals lakeland

*NOTE: These resources are currently only being provided to individuals previously enrolled in The Salvation Army’s programs.

Click here to learn about The Salvation Army’s national response to coronavirus COVID-19.

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.

General Brian Peddle, International leader of The Salvation Army, has issued a global call to pray for women and girls in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which identified 12 critical areas of concern for women and girls.

“I’m asking you to join me in a cry for justice,” said Peddle in a special video message. “A heartfelt longing to deal with the wrongs of this world.”

In the video, Peddle describes “probably the greatest injustice of our age”: the fact that half the world’s population start life at a disadvantage simply because they are female.

In his call to prayer, Peddle cites up-to-date statistics that illustrate the scale of the issue: 71 percent of all trafficked people are female. A third of all women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Women do three times more unpaid care work than men – currently valued at $10 trillion USD per year.

“But even that huge number,” said Peddle, “still doesn’t capture the full extent of women’s lost economic potential.”

Spearheaded by The Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission (ISJC), the year of prayer will also include practical action. The Commission on the Status of Women, held at the United Nations’ New York headquarters from March 9-20, will include reports on The Salvation Army’s ministry with women and girls.

The Salvation Army is also leading or hosting a rich series of parallel events for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders. These include coordinating sessions entitled “The Girl Child,” “Sisters for Sale” and “Women in Power” as well as hosting discussions at the ISJC headquarters run by other NGOs, such as “Using Data to Drive Inclusion and Accountability in Technology” (AnitaB.org), “Empowerment of Refugee Girls Through a Network of Education Opportunities” (Embrace Relief) and “Shoulder to Shoulder: Men and boys supporting women and girls to achieve gender equality” (28 Too Many).

The ISJC has added resources to its website on “How to Pray for Justice” and “Women and the Sustainable Development Goals” from UN Women, in order to help focus and inform prayers.

Participants are encouraged to sign up to show their support. An online discussion space invites those who pray to share how God is speaking to them, how they are responding and to share any Bible verses or other resources that others may find helpful.

“As we seek justice together, we do so in the knowledge that Jesus promised that, for those who cry out to him day and night, God will see that they get justice,” General Peddle said in his video message. “Not only that, but he told his followers that God will grant this justice quickly. So don’t wait! Sign up now and join me in this wave of prayer that will sweep around the globe.”

Watch the General’s video message, find out more and get involved at http://sar.my/cryforjustice.

OK…this is not another New Year’s resolution pep talk, but a “let’s-get-down-to-what-really-matters” boost. Here are some meaningful steps to a more purposeful new year. Maybe God is speaking to you through one of them.

  • Live like you’re loved by God. Make this the year you sit right down in the middle of that love and soak it into your soul.
  • Act like you’re truly free. This year grab onto true freedom with both hands and don’t let anyone or anything wrench it away – not your job, not toxic relationships, not unsettled sin, not even religious expectation.
  • Walk like you’re righteous. When you accepted Christ, God declared you righteous. You can walk into life this year like you have nothing to feel guilty about – because you don’t! You can stop clinging to past mistakes and failures and start walking out the truth of your position in Christ.
  • Step forward confidently like you’re victorious. You can expect battles and trials this year. God never promised unending ease. But He did promise you victory for the battle.
  • Rest like your power Source is infinite. On those days when you feel your humanness most deeply, rest in the God of all grace who gives His abundant grace.

Remember, these godly mindsets take time. Be gentle with yourself as you move forward your endeavor to be more Christlike.

written by Major Lauren Hodgson

You’re invited to worship services at your local Salvation Army church! Click here to find your nearest location. 

Original Article

by Eliana Park

Among all the fears out there, one sticks out as one of the greatest in this generation: the fear of missing out or FOMO. Is it one of yours?

The fear of missing out on people to meet, places to travel to, events to attend, likes to generate.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the FOMO on the simple things. I’ve been thinking about whether this optimistic approach to soaking in the best of what life has to offer is over-complicating what life has to really offer—the bare, unfiltered, uncurated life.

Cooking meals for loved ones. Sitting quietly in the morning under the forming sky and being content with the clouds hovering above. Taking time to do things well, without haste. Doing things not for the sake of it being the most efficient way to do it—doing things that might require a time or distance commitment for things that are worth it.

And where did all of this stem from? I believe we have many voices fighting for our attention, telling us that we ought to, or that we could, or that we should, or that we owe it to him or her or the world to do whatever big and wonderful thing it is. But, who said that wonderful things are only in the big things?

Let’s go back to the very beginning. What is it that we ought to or could or should do? I think we often forget that it means loving God and loving others well. And doesn’t that look like a million different, wonderful ways? It’s a simple call to our lives that get muddled and stretched into something so un-simple. We un-simplify this simple call to our lives because we focus on the details of what it looks like rather than what it loves like.

Did you know The Salvation Army is a church? To join us for Sunday worship services, weekly Bible studies, and more, click here to find your nearest location.

Original article

breakthrough BREAKTHROUGH is based on the incredible true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s 14-year-old adopted son John falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as he lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires people around her to pray for John’s recovery—even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction.

From Producer DeVon Franklin (MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN) and executive producers, Pastor Sammy Rodriguez and Stephen “Steph” Curry, and adapted for the screen by Grant Nieporte (SEVEN POUNDS) and from Joyce Smith’s own book, BREAKTHROUGH is an enthralling reminder that faith and love can create a mountain of hope, and sometimes even a miracle.

DeVon Franklin, Pastor Jason Noble, and John Smith recently sat down with The Salvation Army to talk about the movie, their ministries, and building deep relationships through faith in Christ.

John, how did this event influence your relationship with Pastor Jason?

John SmithI actually didn’t know Pastor Jason; we had never formally met. He was new at the church and had only been there for three months. But when the accident happened, he stuck by my family’s side and by my side. There were moments when I knew he was called to mentor me and ever since then, he’s been doing a great job of it. It’s just been a growing brotherhood throughout all of this.

Pastor Jason, what surprised you about this event and the way it has affected your ministry?

Pastor Jason Noble: Afterward, we had 150 healing miracles in our church. God just started us on fire. This crisis has brought families, church members, and communities together. Since last February, we’ve been going full–time on the film.

The movie is absolutely mesmerizing. How does it match what really happened?

John: That person Marcel Ruiz portrayed is what I went through. It was really accurate. From the point of the crisis to everything else, what he portrayed was true.

Pastor Jason: We’re thankful for DeVon. He told us from the beginning that we were going to do the best we can to maintain the integrity of the story and that’s exactly what happened. The timeframe may have been a little different, or in a different context.

The movie shows Joyce and I had a tense relationship, but we really never had an argument. Those were composite characters designed to show what we were facing as a 90-year-old Assemblies of God church with a 39-year-old pastor coming in and trying to change things around. At the end of the movie, a teacher says to John, “My husband died, but you lived. Why?” Some people say, that didn’t happen, but it actually did.

DeVon, your work as a studio executive, Christian author, and now movie producer has most recently included live clips of you praying on social media. How has this influenced your ministry?

DeVon: In the movie, you see Joyce Smith go into that emergency room and she prays and her son, John, comes back to life. She demonstrates the power of prayer. Throughout the whole experience, prayer is an integral part of John’s recovery. We portray that in the film.

So, organically and ironically, as I’ve been praying for people through Instagram, Facebook, and other social media, the response has been unbelievable. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve gained more than 100,000 followers. A lot of it has to do with the power of prayer.

I’m not saying this as a judgment, but so often our prayers are self-centered. So much of social media is “me, me, me” or “selfie, selfie, selfie.” But my prayers are about other people, rather than about me. I think people are deeply moved by that because so few people in their lives are concerned about them, are praying for them, and praying over them. I think that is where I’ve seen the power of prayer and social media come together. It wasn’t intentional. It’s just something that started organically. I’m just so grateful. In many ways, I’m subconsciously inspired by Joyce because she is a praying mother—every time I’m around her, she prays!

John, when you realized that the whole church and community was praying for you, how did you react?

John:I was in awe because, at that time, people were seeing Missouri in two lights; as a destructive light, and as a beacon of hope. The Michael Brown tragedy in Ferguson, Mo., was happening around the same time Breakthrough was taking place. So, they saw the destruction in Ferguson, but they also saw the hope coming from St. Louis. Families came together to pray for me; all of St. Louis came together with open arms, praying for me. From churches to schools to everybody in this community, people were praying for me.

During that time, I was struggling with thoughts like, what if I don’t get all my strength back? What if I’m not 100 percent anymore? But having St. Louis, my church, and my family pray for me and tell me it’s going to be okay, and walk with me through that, made the difference.

If there was anything else you’d want in this movie, what would it be?

John: I think DeVon captured the key points that needed to be told to make this story complete and to make BREAKTHROUGH what it is today—and that’s family. Within the film, you see everybody experience their individual breakthroughs: from my mom to me to Tommy to everyone. I think that’s so important because, if I would have seen heaven, it would have been just about me. But the story is about everybody’s individual story within the story—their own breakthrough. That’s what you see, and I think that’s what’s truly amazing throughout the film.

It’s interesting how in a breakthrough, something or someone has to be broken.

Pastor Jason: That’s the hardest part of it. Everyone wants a miracle, but to get to one is hard. There has to be something you need a miracle for. All the stuff God took Joyce through really happened. A month into my pastorate, we had a long conversation.

What would be your advice to a young pastor coming into a church?

Pastor Jason: I would have more advice for the congregation: give him grace, take time to know him, give him the benefit of the doubt, and give him a clean slate. Churches have many expectations, but the reality is if we don’t replace the pastors who are retiring with young pastors, who do we have? So, back him up 100 percent and give him grace—be his cheerleader!

John, how do you think this event will impact your future?

John: I don’t know my future, but I do know that God has a great plan for my life. He’s brought amazing people into it, from Pastor Jason to Pastor Sammy Rodriguez to President Scott Hagen to DeVon Franklin. He’s brought all of these great mentors into my life. We’ve been building relationships, building a brotherhood, and building a family. They’re going to walk me through this because God has brought me here for a reason.

So, is college your next step?

John: Yes, I’ve met Scott Hagen, president of North Central, a Christian university in downtown Minneapolis, Minn. That’s where I’ll be attending this fall to study to pursue life as a pastor.

DeVon, what do you want people to take away from this film?

DeVon: It releases April 17 all across the world and in time for Easter. We’re excited to see what God wants to do. My hope is that their faith will increase and that they’ll tell people about it. I want them to walk out of the theater saying, “you gotta go see BREAKTHROUGH! It was amazing and here’s why.” We, as producers of the film, have done all we can. It’s on the people now!

by Warren L. Maye

Original Article