Good News

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.

Sweet Relief

Alicia, a full-time candy store employee and mother of four, had her hours cut drastically when COVID-19 struck the U.S., causing her to fall $2,000 behind on her rent. With no other options left, Alicia turned to The Salvation Army. Alicia received $1,000 to help with rent, and she was able to pay the other $1,000. The Salvation Army also helped her with food assistance to further ease the financial burden.

“This helped me out a lot,” Alicia said. “Without The Salvation Army, I don’t think we would be able to continue to stay in this house that we’re in now. Anyone looking for help – The Salvation Army is your best bet. They work with you, and when they say they’re willing to help you, they follow up, step by step.”

Alicia is now back to work full-time and is continuing to work with The Salvation Army to earn her GED and high school diploma.

self sufficiencyBy: Antoinette Vitale

Fred enrolled in The Salvation Army’s Towers Center of Hope Men’s Transitional Housing program, Hope Crossing, in Jacksonville in April of 2019. His goal was to find permanent housing with wheelchair accessibility.

Hope Crossing provides transitional housing to men at The Towers Center of Hope and helps break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, situational and chronic homelessness through strength-based case management, community collaboration, and data-driven support. For those experiencing a recent eviction, domestic breakup, addiction issue, or any other housing crisis, The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida’s transitional housing provides homeless individuals with food and lodging, while equipping them with the resources and support needed to regain stability.

Fred previously lived in sub-standard housing before arriving at The Salvation Army shelter. At the time, he was using a walker that was not sufficient for his mobility needs. Fred is disabled due to a lower extremity amputation. Fortunately, a Salvation Army case manager assisted him in obtaining a motorized wheelchair, giving him mobility freedom.

After many months on the Section 8 waiting list, Fred received his Housing Choice Voucher from HUD in June of 2020. The social services team assisted him in finding housing by taking him to see apartments, completing the application process, and The Salvation Army provided the deposit and first month’s rent. His case management team secured furniture donations, including bedroom and living room furniture along with other household items to aid in Fred’s transition into permanent housing with necessary items.

Today, Fred has successfully achieved self-sufficiency in his own apartment that is ADA accessible. This is what success in Hope Crossing looks like.

Fred summed up his experience with The Salvation Army as a positive experience and stated, “you helped me with everything.”

 

The Salvation Army Modifies Service to Continue Providing Meals in Northeast Florida

break the cycle of povertyAfter a challenging and tumultuous period in her life, Crystal checked in to The Salvation Army’s family shelter at the Community of Hope in Lakeland, Florida. Upon arrival, her central goal was to build a stable home for herself and three children, especially after a recent eviction.

Just a few weeks into Crystal’s maximum 90-day stay in the family shelter, she enrolled in the Pathway of Hope program and quickly secured a job at a local restaurant. From there, Crystal opened a bank account to embark on her plan to save money in order to transition out of the shelter and into stable, secure housing.

“We could tell right away that Crystal was ready for change, and that is really what Pathway of Hope is all about,” said Cristina Coulson, Social Services Program Coordinator. “She was really ready to break the cycle of poverty that she had been experiencing for years, and to do it for her children. The program was a great fit for her, and everything worked well, in part because she was so on board with being held accountable.”

With visible and clear motivation to improve her circumstances, Crystal continued to progress. Eventually, she signed a lease on a house, with The Salvation Army providing some financial assistance and Crystal contributing in a significant manner from money saved through her new employment. Ultimately, Crystal’s housing situation is now secure, with her dwelling fully furnished and comfortable for herself and her school-aged children.

Crystal remains active in the Pathway of Hope initiative, including weekly case management meetings with Coulson to help her navigate the coming days and months. Crystal also plans to continue her education by pursuing her GED, and she aims to secure a driver’s license. Her journey continues with an eye toward a better future, and her story stands as an illustration of what hard work and persistence can bring.

“Pathway of Hope works because it is a partnership between the case manager and the client,” Coulson said. “We purposefully work at the client’s pace, meeting them where they are. I think Crystal’s story is really a perfect reminder that, through Pathway of Hope, we can really break the cycle of poverty for people that have faced hardships for large portions of their life. I think she’s a shining example of someone who really wanted to put in the work, and we were able to come alongside her in the journey.”

Find out more about The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope Initiative.

By: Brad Rowland

Ronnie Samuel - Anxiety Alleviated

61-year-old Ronnie Samuel felt as though his problems were piling on top of each other and that his life was too much to bear. After taking time off work as a security guard while he recovered from kidney transplant surgery, he tested positive for COVID-19. During his recovery, bills began to stack up, reaching a total of $4,000.

That’s when Ronnie turned to The Salvation Army, where he was assured that everything would be alright. He explained his experience working with his caseworker, “She was very professional. She was helpful. The Salvation Army grabs you and pulls you back in. It was a huge help to me. It was awesome. I just want to thank them so much.”

The Salvation Army is continuing to work with Ronnie to help ease his burdens.

love thy neighbor

During the darkest times of the pandemic, Amy was driving back from the grocery store with a car full of food and supplies for her and her family when she spotted a line of people waiting for food at The Salvation Army. She called the location and learned how many people were out of work and in need of basic resources.

“It broke my heart,” Amy explained. “I live a mile down the road, and these are our neighbors. There had to be something we could do.”

Amy organized a massive community food drive and brought the food to her local Salvation Army food bank.

“This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for being able to contribute to The Salvation Army’s work.”

Spanish Flu

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.

As a truck driver for The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in his community, Richard Alvarez typically spends his days collecting donations of furniture, clothes, and household items from the homes and businesses of generous donors. But for the last several weeks, Alvarez has been delivering much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) in his Salvation Army truck to hospitals and essential workers.

“I was proud to be asked to deliver PPE for of The Salvation Army,” said Alvarez. “It’s good to know what I’m doing is helping staff in hospitals and other locations who look after people and save lives.”

The Salvation Army is partnering with emergency management to provide transportation of essential PPE in cities throughout the state. Deliveries are made to strategic locations including hospitals and other essential services directly affected by the increased demands caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alvarez has a deep appreciation for places taking care of people in their time of need. He is a graduate of The Salvation Army’s 180-day rehabilitation program and vividly recalls walking through the doors of the Adult Rehabilitation Center on Feb. 5, 2017. “I came in broken and in desperate need of help,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about The Salvation Army other than they rang bells at Christmastime and I saw them on Thanksgiving Day with the Dallas Cowboys. But walking in here on that first day, I knew it was the right place for me.”

The day after completing the rehabilitation program, Alvarez was hired as a full-time truck driver responsible for collecting donated items and stocking his local Salvation Army Family Stores. “My mom shopped at the stores when I was growing up,” he said. “It’s now come full circle. Instead of shopping in the stores, I’m now the one stocking them.”

Social distancing protocols and shelter-in-place orders resulted in the temporary closure of The Salvation Army Family Stores, putting significant financial strain on operations. As a result, most of the workforce was laid off. Alvarez is one of the few remaining drivers, working fewer hours and at a reduced rate.

“I might be making less money right now, but I can put gas in my car, pay my rent, and look after my kids. God will take care of me,” said Alvarez. “I really believe in the ministry of The Salvation Army and am thankful for all they have done for me. The PPE delivery is a great way for me to give back during this crisis. Each day I put my armor on and do my part.”

Salvation Army ARC Graduate Celebrates Sobriety by Providing Emergency Services

By: Philip Burn

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 illness 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 and physical health 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

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.