A message from General Brian Peddle, International Leader of The Salvation Army

Surely he took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(Isaiah 53:4-6 Berean Study Bible)

The Easter message is the most profound, true, life-changing, life-giving message we can ever hear, respond to and participate in. In short, the Easter story is the culmination of God’s plan of salvation for the redemption and restoration of humanity. Such unconditional sacrificial love unleashes the mercy, grace and forgiveness of God. We should be experiencing boundless joy, caught up in awe and wonder, celebrating our new-found freedom and living in a new dynamic relationship with the Almighty.

We see in these verses from Isaiah just what God has done for us in Jesus. In going to the Cross, Jesus does something extremely positive, yet it involves him being subjected to pain, ridicule, brokenness and separation from the Father with whom he has shared a deep intimacy for all eternity. Jesus takes on everything that is negative, destructive and painful. This display of genuine, unconditional and sacrificial love is unparalleled in human history.

Even as we read and consider what Jesus takes on himself, we sense a release, an unburdening and a freedom. Jesus takes on our infirmities and carries our sorrows. Yes, there is a glimpse of the humanity of Jesus here as the Word that became flesh (John 1:14) – fully human while fully divine – understands the frailty, weakness and imperfection on a personal level. Having said that, we need to recognize that there is much more going on.

Jesus is doing more than identifying with us. He is taking on our weaknesses, infirmities and sorrows so that we don’t have to carry them. Link that opening statement to Philippians 4:6-7 (Do not be anxious about anything …) and 1 Peter 5:7 (Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you) to better understand what is offered to us in Jesus. Look again at what happens to Jesus – he is pierced, crushed, punished and wounded. Why would Jesus accept all of that? Why would God allow his only Son to endure all of that?

Another read of the verses from Isaiah illuminates what we receive through
this sacrifice – peace and healing for ourselves. The punishment inflicted upon Jesus brings us peace. We experience healing because Jesus was wounded. It is almost beyond our understanding, but a horribly painful moment brings us healing and a horrifically violent act brings us everlasting peace.

There is something of an unfair transaction going on that demonstrates the extravagance of God and his unmerited favor that we call grace. There is also something profoundly theological, sacrificial and covenantal taking place.

The sacrificial code and practices we find in the Old Testament are there to atone for our sins and imperfections. Here on the Cross, the spotless Lamb of God pays the ultimate sacrifice once and for all, ushering us into a new dispensation of grace and deliverance.

We have peace with God because of all that was accomplished by Jesus, and this peace is experienced by having faith in Jesus (see Romans 5:1: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ). Yes, it’s that straightforward – we don’t have to complicate it!

The Easter story doesn’t end with Calvary. Easter Sunday is about resurrection and new life. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are reminded that, If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! The old reality of being held captive by sin, of death being our final enemy, is gone! On Easter Sunday, we rise to new life in Christ – that new life is eternal life, it encapsulates victory over sin and death, it includes our healing and wholeness, it is a life of deep peace.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

This Easter, you can experience healing and wholeness in Christ. It’s why Jesus came to earth. It’s what God desires most for you.

We hope you will be blessed by ‘And Can It Be’ from The Salvation Army’s Southern Territorial Songsters (Choir): https://youtu.be/Yy5G0j5T7_Y

When we think of those on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, we think of our much-needed medical professionals and first responders. Still, thankfully in St. Petersburg, Florida, one neighborhood also thought of The Salvation Army.

Pam and a group of her neighbors had seen the call to make washable, reusable facemasks from fabric to help cut down the spread of the virus.

Knowing those that live and work at emergency shelters can be vulnerable populations, the group of neighbors sewed more than 100 colorful and most importantly washable face masks, enough for each staff member and resident at The Salvation Army.

“Every day we are working with staff and residents to practice social distancing and increase daily cleaning measures to keep everyone safe and healthy,” says Lt. Colonel Gary Haupt, Salvation Army Area Commander in St. Petersburg, Florida. “But when you have a group think of you and bring you a gift like these masks, you are reminded you are not alone, we are all in this together, and we will get through this as a community, helping each other.”

Click here to learn 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.

The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida assembled and delivered care packages to 50 families, providing food and supplies to 184 children and adults. A fellow concerned citizen partnered with a local school to identify the community in need.

The elementary and middle school students residing in this neighborhood are unable to get free school meals due to the parent’s inability to take off work and lack of transportation. The families served are primarily immigrants and refugees who severely lack access to proper care, hygiene, updated information, and medical resources.

The care packages included fresh produce, meat, canned goods, juice, bread, snacks, hygiene products, stationery items, and low- and no-income resources. The Salvation Army and Feeding Northeast Florida collaborated to provide the items.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to serve those in need during this crisis, and it’s only because of the generous support of our friends, donors, and partners in ministry, we’re able to provide food for the hungry. The Salvation Army will continue to be on the frontlines of doing the most good during these unprecedented days,” says Major Keath Biggers, Administrator for The Salvation Army serving Northeast Florida.

Click here to learn 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.

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91104234_2809029459166273_5129621351627227136_n palm beach The Salvation Army in West Palm Beach, Florida held its monthly food distribution with a few safety modifications to continue service during the coronavirus pandemic.

The drive-through service was made possible through donations to the food pantry from the community, Palm Beach Harvest, Whole Foods, and FitTeam Ballpark.

“We are grateful for the community support of businesses such as the FitTeam Ballpark, who donated food that would have been used for the many Spring Training games that were canceled,” says Major Chip and Leisa Hall, Administrators for The Salvation Army serving Palm Beach County. “We are also grateful for the many volunteers, including Port of Palm Beach Commissioner Katherine Waldron, who withstood the midday sun to help others.”

More than 100 families (327 individuals) were served in one day, with an expectation of that number increasing over the coming months.

The Salvation Army in Palm Beach County is seeing an increase in requests across their three social services offices from individuals and families struggling to make ends meet.

Those wishing to support their local Salvation Army food pantry are asked to drop off boxes of non-perishable food items to their local unit or visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/give to make a gift online.

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While The Salvation Army Child Development Center in Naples, Florida remains closed to ensure the health and safety of families and staff, the teachers are providing daily lessons online.

The child care center offers developmentally appropriate programs and specialized curriculum to make sure children are ready to enter Kindergarten. Before it closed temporarily due to COVID-19 precautions, it served 80 children ages 1-5 and provided a meal and two snacks each day.

Through a Facebook Group, families at home are remaining engaged and benefit from the dedication of the teachers.

“We are also seeing more activity on our page particularly between families who are looking to connect with one another and support each other,” says Captain Ben Bridges, Administrator for The Salvation Army in Naples. “Children who miss seeing their friends every day have found a new way to connect and make their time at home a bit more enjoyable!”

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.

91402590_10163332654935333_1102329134912110592_n sanfordIn these days of social distancing, The Salvation Army in Seminole County (Sanford, Florida) is still committed to connecting with their community.

Over the course of several days, Salvation Army pastors and employees dropped off care packages on the doorsteps of church members and program participants, and even took boxes to a local assisted living facility for seniors that may be feeling the effects of isolation more acutely than others.

The care packages included food bags, water, snacks, activity books, cards, and other personal items.

“We have loved our people from afar,” says Major Julia Tarnue, Administrator for The Salvation Army serving Seminole County. “Smiles, hand waves and “hugs” through windows are not the norm, but I feel we are more connected than ever!”

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.

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As a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, The Salvation Army in Manatee County (Bradenton, Florida) temporarily suspended its traditional community dinner offered weeknights.

This meal has always been free to anyone in the community in need – regardless if they are homeless or not.  Knowing this is a vital service, the decision was made to hold the community dinner outside and serve meals in to-go packages.

“Initially, we saw a drop-off in our numbers,” stated Tom Giglio, The Salvation Army’s Food Services Manager in Bradenton.  He added, “but now, with so many people losing their jobs and not knowing when they will see a paycheck again, we’ve seen a spike of new people coming for food.  We are seeing many more families than normal now.”

Since so many of the dinner patrons are not homeless, this gives them the opportunity to pick up meals for their family, while staying within the CDC social distancing guidelines and eat that meal in the comfort of their own homes.

Didi, a regular at the community dinner, is appreciative to be able to have a hot meal each evening.  She said, “I am so grateful that The Salvation Army is there to serve this dinner. I worried about what would happen when all of the restaurants had to close, but you are still here to help people like me.”

Mobile handwashing stations have also been put in place to give people a chance to wash their hands before handling their own dinner.  Clients staying at the shelter are also directed to wash their hands when they reenter the building.

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.

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After spectators for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg were barred from attending the race due to COVID-19 precautions, food vendors were left with an abundance of items.

With prepped cook-on-demand food, vendors could not travel home with the supplies and thankfully sought local charities to bless.

The men, women, and children at The Salvation Army shelter in St. Petersburg, Florida received salmon, seasoned pork loin, seasoned chicken, bacon, olives, and fresh fruit to enjoy on their weekend menu.

The Salvation Army is grateful to all of the community partners and donors helping continue service to individuals and families in need.

Donations of non-perishable food items, sanitizing supplies, and paper goods are needed across all Salvation Army pantries. Click here to find your local office.

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.

 

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In order to comply with CDC recommendations for social distancing, The Salvation Army Orlando Area Command has erected a 5,200 square foot tent with 50 sleeping cots to accommodate emergency shelter guests. This tent is for current male shelter occupants who would otherwise have nowhere to go because of the additional space needed in the current shelter to abide by updated safety guidelines.

“Through this effort, we are keeping people safe and continuing to provide our regular services to those who are experiencing homelessness during this time of crisis in our community,” says Captain Ken Chapman, Administrator for The Salvation Army’s services in the Orlando area.

The temporary shelter for men was provided by the City of Orlando along with electrically powered fans. For those unable to stay in the shelter or tent, The Salvation Army is providing referrals to other resources and partner agencies.

The Salvation Army in Orlando is also still providing food assistance and clothing vouchers, and has modified community meals to be served in to-go containers for pick-up.

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.

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.