For 26 years, Leslie Marthone passionately worked as a licensed practical nurse in a bustling city. One of her greatest joys was helping to shepherd new lives into the world and ensuring the health and safety of expectant mothers.

After a rewarding and challenging career, Leslie retired her stethoscope. She and her family decided to forego the hustle of city life in exchange for a quieter, slower, and easier pace in the country. Little did she know that just one year later, right around Thanksgiving no less, she and her kids would be homeless.

“I had never been in a position that vulnerable before,” Leslie says. “We were being evicted from our home and had nowhere to go. Every agency in town turned me away—except The Salvation Army.

“Being homeless humbled me more than I ever thought possible,” Leslie says, choking up. “At The [Salvation] Army, I was welcomed with big, warm, open arms. I was impressed with how the knowledgeable staff found available services in [my area]. This is a very needed and useful program.”

Today, you can find Leslie volunteering five days a week as an administrative assistant at The Salvation Army’s shelter. She does whatever is needed. She answers phones and uses her 26 years of nursing experience to educate and empower the shelter’s residents.

“First and foremost, I have to give back to show my appreciation to The Salvation Army,” Leslie says, smiling. “They not only helped me get back on my feet, but treated me with dignity, respect, and compassion. They’re all very special. Just lovely.

“I also like to feel needed. It makes me feel good to help people. Plus, (she continues with a wink) it gives me something to do.”

Shelter Program Director Cymanda Robinson said, “I will always remember the day Leslie came through that front door. I could tell she was tired, overwhelmed, and just feeling hopeless. I told her ‘to just breathe.’”

Leslie entered the shelter program just after Thanksgiving and was placed into permanent housing the next March.

“We helped give Leslie guidance and made those connections for her,” a beaming Cymanda said. “She did the rest. She just hit the ground running. Nothing was going to stop her.”

Leslie said she would like to change people’s preconceived notions about the homeless.

“Everyone has a picture in their head of a homeless person,” Leslie says. “We see the pictures and videos that the media shows of the homeless. But I want everyone to look at me. Do I look homeless? No, but I am the face of homelessness. This is the face people need to see.

“It’s the same for mental illness. We see pictures of people’s behavior, screaming, and yelling. Not everyone who struggles with mental illness displays those characteristics. Our society needs to stop putting people in a box. We are all in the same place, just one step away from homelessness. Everyone has a story and most importantly, one should not be judged.”

by Cari Friend

Original Article

I am one of four children. My mother is a recovering alcoholic and my father struggles with a heroin addiction. I know they both love me. However, their problems created what I can only describe as a destructive lifestyle. As a result, our family has been spiritually and emotionally devastated.

From as early as I can remember, we were evicted from apartment after apartment. At age 15, I started working to help pay the rent and other bills so our home could have some semblance of stability and security. Eventually, we moved into a house.

That house was the first time we were able to plant some roots, so all things considered, it was a happy time in my life. I had school friends and even a crush on Carly, a girl who lived a couple of houses down the road.

Evicted again

But just like always, that stability and happy time was short-lived. My father started to secretly keep our rent money to support his addiction; the same destructive cycle raised its ugly head again.

In time, all our utilities were cut off and we received yet another eviction notice. Having no money and nowhere else to go, my father broke into the basement of the house so we could have a place to sleep.

As we slept one night, we heard a knock on the door. It was a police officer. He immediately escorted us out of the house; he forced us to leave behind everything that we owned. I left little of real financial value, but a lot of sentimental items from my childhood. Later, I found them in a dumpster—broken and destroyed.

When I reflect on that night we were evicted, I remember something else the officer did. He paid for a hotel room and a pizza so we could eat and stay together. In the midst of the most demoralizing night of my life, his amazing act of selflessness would later impress me greatly.

At the time the officer evicted us, I viewed him as someone who was destroying our lives. But when I became a man, I began to see his selfless act of compassion as something that dramatically redirected the course of my life.

I am forever grateful for the kindness that officer showed my family. I can only assume that he was also the person who gave my dad contact information for The Salvation Army Family Caring Center because that’s where we found ourselves the next day.

Food to eat, a place to sleep

To be completely honest, I hated the circumstances that found us living in a homeless shelter. Back then, it was easy for me to feel ashamed and victimized. Now as an adult, I see what my child’s eyes missed; thanks to The Salvation Army, I had food to eat. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Much to my surprise, the food tasted good and the meals were hot. I had a sense of security knowing that the constant threat of eviction was behind us. Rather than dread people knocking on the door, I looked forward to it.

Someone else held my father accountable for his behavior, which lifted a huge burden off my young shoulders. I was able to see the benefit of a structured schedule. Our lifestyle shifted completely from the chaos that I knew.

Something else that seemed small at the time but impacted me later were all the trips The Salvation Army provided. I went to baseball games, museums, and parks. These outings allowed me to be a child; something I so desperately needed.

For sure, the biggest blessings The Salvation Army gave my family were renewed relationships with each other. Without the Family Caring Center, we would have surely been put into foster care. I can only imagine the inevitable cycle and rift of separation that would have taken place among us all. But because of The Salvation Army, my father received helpful resources for housing. This helped us remain the strong siblings we are today.

Sharing our story

At present, my wife and I have recently started sponsoring monthly birthday parties for the children at the Family Caring Center. Throughout the past three months, we’ve had the privilege of getting to know and seeing firsthand what an amazing job Envoy John Barnett, his wife Envoy Nancy Barnett, and all the staff are doing at the center. The amount of compassion and heart they have for each family who enters the building is truly remarkable.

We continue to share with parents and children our personal testimonies of how God transformed our lives. In life, everyone is faced with mountains, giants, and storms. Actual trials and circumstances will look different, but the One who brings us victory over them remains the same.

I stand here today because of the grace of God and my faith in Jesus. God used what I once saw as the most devastating and terrible times in my life, to save, strengthen, and bless me more than I could have imagined.

My story is just a tiny paragraph in a giant book full of testimonies that tell how God uses The Salvation Army to shine a light on people who are living in spiritual darkness. I give all glory and honor to God. It is only by His grace that my eyes were opened.

Unconditional love

I also thank Carly, the girl who lived down the road from me when I was 15. Although we lost touch with one another when I went into the shelter, we later reconnected in our 20s. Today, I am honored to call her my wife. She has stood by my side through the worst storms and when circumstances seem impossible. Her love is truly unconditional.

Then there are my children, Elijah and Isaac. Because of them, I am reminded daily to be a better man. I know they are looking to me to lead them.

And finally, I thank The Salvation Army Family Caring Center for giving my childhood family the help, resources, and opportunity to stay together during hard times.

by Josh Linder

Original Article

Prayer-100

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

“Pathway of Hope is the evolution of what The Salvation Army has provided since its creation,” says Cheryl Wilson, Salvation Army case manager.

“The Salvation Army has existed for over 150 years as an organization that serves basic emergency needs. But today, we know that we can address the root causes of what keeps a person in need,” says Wilson. “Transactional provision of food and resources are great, but the change that Pathway of Hope can offer is goal and action-oriented; it’s made to impact this and future generations.”

Wilson gets to know the people she helps and addresses the root causes of what keeps them from achieving stability and self–sufficiency. Housing, childcare, reliable transportation, and gainful employment are all part of a stable living situation. “Every part impacts the others,” explains Wilson. “If your car breaks down or you don’t have someone to watch your kids, you might not be able to work.”

The most common aspect of generational poverty Wilson sees is the lack of basic job skills. But even when those skills are present, there can also be other unavoidable barriers.

“We don’t really say it or even think about it, but when we’re working with young, single mothers in their 20s, the lack of family support is a big cause of multigeneration poverty,” says Wilson. She remembers a client, Dee Dee, who was in nursing school. When her child’s father broke up with Dee Dee, she had nowhere to go.

“Dee Dee is an amazing person, but she didn’t have support. She couldn’t live with her family. Her car had broken down and she had no one to take her to work. She finally came to our food pantry for help,” says Wilson.

The first thing Wilson did was to take Dee Dee’s car in for repairs. While the car was in the shop, Wilson drove her to nursing school. “My children studied medicine, so I know what that training is like. You simply can’t miss those classes,” says Wilson.

Wilson also helped another client, Marquita, a mother of three, get child support from her ex–husband. In addition, Marquita obtained a full–time job, a deposit for an income–based apartment, and child care for her youngest.

“In this job, you see things from the client’s perspective. Even free childcare requires a lot of waiting and paperwork,” says Wilson. She took documents for Marquita to daycare and to family court so she would not miss work. “Some days, you just have to be an advocate,” says Wilson.

Meeting with car mechanics, landlords, and court officials has become part of the job for Wilson. It’s the “hope” in Pathway of Hope: helping clients get ahead by doing what they can’t do for themselves—because they are trying to maintain jobs and other essential aspects of their lives.

“When you’re in a crisis and you don’t know where to turn, take a deep breath, and know that someone has your back at [The Salvation Army],” says Wilson.

by Hugo Bravo

 

See Also: Pathway of Hope families see success in self-reliance


What is Pathway of Hope?

The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative provides individualized services to families with children. These families desire to take action to break the cycle of crisis and vulnerability that repeats generation after generation. The Pathway of Hope’s focus is to seek to address the root causes of poverty while continuing The Salvation Army’s history of compassionate serving. By helping families overcome challenges such as unemployment, unstable housing, and a lack of education, The Salvation Army leads families down a path toward increased stability and self–sufficiency.

Through Pathway of Hope, The Salvation Army introduces families to services that are available within their community. These services offer a network of support, a sense of belonging, holistic programs, and spiritual guidance. Families also receive a connection to job training, health services, childcare and education, housing options, legal services, and much more.

For more information on where The Salvation Army has instituted the Pathway of Hope initiative in Florida, please click here

Original Article

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

“Overcomer” is a production of Affirm Films, the faith division of Sony Pictures World Wide Acquisitions and is produced by Stephen Kendrick and Aaron Burns and is directed by Alex Kendrick.

In 1999, Kendrick became associate pastor of media at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. He took his brother’s sermons and made them into movies.

“The Lord gave Alex story lines, while at the same time, He gave me scriptures about that same topic,” said Stephen. “So, the Lord gives him the ‘Fireproof’ story line while I’m studying marriage, covenant, and love; the Lord gives him the ‘Courageous’ story line, while I’m studying fatherhood at the time. When I was leading the prayer ministry at the church, the Lord gave Alex ‘War Room,’ and so, we’re working together.”

“Flywheel,” their first movie featuring a used car salesman, came about after church goers donated $20,000 and volunteered their time and talent. The Kendrick brothers have since produced six films.

“On ‘Overcomer,’ I’ve been studying Ephesians 1 and 2 for the past few years,” said Stephen. “Then the Lord gave Alex the story line about identity.” Two years in the making, the project is all about what it means to have an identity in Jesus Christ. “The more we understand what it means to have our identity in Christ, the richer our relationship with Him becomes,” said Stephen at a recent showing of the film. “When you know who you are, it settles a lot of other things.”

Personal impact

“There’s quite a bit that I actually drew on,” said Cameron Arnett (“Meet the Browns,” “Stand Your Ground,” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) who plays an amazing supporting role in “Overcomer.” “My father, who is now deceased, wasn’t there for me in my young age.” The Haitian–born actor continued, “I had to chase him down, which is the opposite of what happens to my character in the movie.

“When I finally got to my dad, the reception wasn’t exactly what I had wanted. So, I pulled back from him. But then, he died. So, in that process, I realized that I had that opportunity to get to know him when the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, but I wasn’t listening.

“Today, I tell young people that regardless of what’s going on or how painful it may feel right now, make sure you keep your relationships intact. I keep a special bond with my mother. I make sure we have that connection.”

A tool to reach souls

Stephen Kendrick said, “We try to include the gospel in all of our movies because we know that non–believers are going to see them. We want to make every movie a tool that the church can use to reach their communities and neighbors and friends for Christ. We’ve seen thousands of people come to Christ through the films.

“Secondly, we hope you will enjoy and be impacted by the emotional journey, and that the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart while you’re watching the movie. We’ve prayed, ‘Lord, will you put Your hand on this so that, regardless of where people are in their journey, the Holy Spirit will speak to their hearts?’

“I think that at this time, people desperately need to discover who they are in Christ. We’re facing harder and harder opposition; we’re being attacked at every level. Regardless of what’s happening in our culture, we need to come back and say, ‘I know that I am my heavenly father’s beloved child. I’m adopted, and chosen, and forgiven, and sealed, and equipped, and empowered—by His Holy Spirit.’”

by Warren L. Maye

Original Article

MyPillow founder Mike Lindell was once so addicted to crack cocaine that his three drug dealers ran an intervention and refused to sell to him.

“I went up and down the streets of Minneapolis and couldn’t buy anywhere,” Lindell recalls. “I had been up for 14 straight days.

“One of my dealers said to me, ‘You’ve been telling us MyPillow is just a platform for a much bigger purpose for God and that you were going to come back and help us all someday when you quit. Well, we’re not going to let you die on us.’”

Lindell didn’t die and eventually pulled his life together after dedicating it to Christ. Today, he runs one of the world’s most successful companies and is a self–made millionaire who helps former addicts like himself. He believes The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs) are a model for the world in battling addiction (see A Model for the World below).

Lindell’s own battle began in 1982. He used cocaine then, but by the late 1990s, he was into crack.

“I was a cocaine addict, a very functioning addict, for 20 years,” Lindell says.

Lindell, whose parents divorced when he was seven, developed a “spirit of rejection” and “unworthiness.”

“I was shy and wouldn’t talk to people,” he said. “That followed me throughout my life. You can’t get rejected if you don’t talk to people. My addiction masked my rejection and feeling unworthy.”

Lindell would later develop a popular infomercial for his famous MyPillow. However, the producer of his first campaign texted someone and predicted it was going to be a disaster.

Overcoming the past

“I couldn’t talk,” Lindell said. “I was very shy. Even when I was on drugs, I couldn’t talk to people. I lived in Las Vegas for two months and never met a soul.

“I couldn’t talk to anyone. When I owned a bar, my worst nightmare was that somebody would come in while no one else was in there and I would be sober. When that happened, I would just wait on them and say, ‘Let me know if you need anything else.’ I think a lot of addicts have that fear of rejection. Addictions mask pains. They also mask inner fears.”

Lindell developed MyPillow in the early 2000s and had communicated well enough to make the company somewhat of a success, but his drug problems persisted.

The year 2008 was the beginning of his turnaround. The intervention by his drug dealers occurred in the spring. In December, a friend and former crack partner announced that he had found Christ and had been clean for three years.

“I could relate to him,” Lindell said. “I had all kinds of questions for him. That relationship planted a bunch more seeds.”

However, Lindell knew the window was rapidly closing if he wanted to take the company to the next level. On January 16, 2009, he said a prayer.

“I said, ‘God, I want to wake up in the morning and never have the desire again for crack, for cocaine, for alcohol, for anything.’ It wasn’t a complete surrender. It was more of a transformation,” Lindell says. “I woke up the next morning and thought I was going to have the weight of the world on my shoulders, which was why I was addicted in the first place, but it was a peaceful feeling and all the desires were gone.”

Two months later, Lindell went to an outpatient clinic and told his counselor of his plans for a book and to use MyPillow as a platform for God. The counselor went home and told his wife, “I think [Lindell is] still on drugs.”

“Everything I told him that day has come to fruition,” Lindell says.

Lindell’s self–published book, What are the Odds? comes out this year.

It’s a relationship

Lindell says his girlfriend, Kendra, whom he met in 2014, changed his life by challenging him to have a personal relationship with Christ.

“I would say, ‘Well, I believe in God.’ But it was different with her,” Lindell says. “I was watching her, and I said, ‘Wow, I want what she has.’ I didn’t have that relationship with Jesus that she did.”

In 2017, Lindell attended a spiritual retreat where he found that relationship.

“I went in there with the hope I would get what Kendra had, this relationship with Jesus,” Lindell said. “I totally surrendered. It was the most amazing thing for me. Since that time, I can now talk about Jesus Christ in the same way I used to talk about a pillow. I talk about it with the same passion.”

Kendra also urged Lindell to remain in prayer and study his Bible. Then he began to see miracles.

When MyPillow needed $30,000 to stay afloat, he miraculously found last-minute investors.

When he needed $300,000 to film his first infomercial, he, his family, and friends cobbled together the money.

“I used to only pray when I was in trouble or for God to get me out of this situation or that,” Lindell says. “Now, I am proactive in my prayers, I’m staying in the Word, praying, having the Holy Spirit, and being led by Him.

“Every day I’m reading the Bible and journaling and praying. I’m in prayer groups. During the day, any decisions I make, I pray about them at MyPillow.”

When you see Lindell on one of his late–night infomercials, you can’t help but notice the large cross around his neck.

Crack house to White House

In 2016, Lindell attended the National Prayer Breakfast and was picked to pray with Dr. Ben Carson, then a candidate for president.

That same year, Lindell had a dream he was in the same room with Donald Trump, as president. Soon, Lindell received an invitation to visit Trump Tower to talk about MyPillow. A year later, Lindell received another invitation, this time to the White House’s “Made in America” summit. Trump, now president, requested that Lindell sit next to him.

“All of my friends who have quit crack said, ‘This has to be a miracle. This has to be Jesus. There’s no way this crack addict from Minnesota could be sitting in the White House next to the president.’ For me, these miracles kept happening,” Lindell said.

Last year, Lindell was invited to Pulse, an event for young Christians at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. He led 50,000 people in prayer.

“That wasn’t me,” Lindell says. “That was all Jesus.

“It’s one thing to go to church or to pray when things are bad, but to have that relationship with Jesus, that’s where it’s at. That’s what changes everything.”

by Robert Mitchell

A Model for the World

Mike Lindell has donated thousands of his MyPillow creations to bell–ringers and homeless clients of The Salvation Army in Minneapolis, Minn., which he calls home.

Lindell, a former drug addict who formed the Lindell Foundation and the Lindell Recovery Network, is a strong believer in the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs).

“I heard about all The Salvation Army does with addiction and I was absolutely blown away,” Lindell said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It’s the most amazing program I’ve ever heard of. They are doing so much that I know would match up with changing this country.

“It was an education and I was excited because a lot of the stuff that works in addiction, The Salvation Army is already doing based on Jesus. I’ve talked to people in the field and done my own due diligence and I think they’re the best in the country.”

Lindell said addicts often come out of traditional treatment centers “with more shame than when you went in,” but the faith-based centers get results and help change lives.

“You get out of those secular places and you’re a ticking time bomb waiting to relapse because you don’t have what I believe The Salvation Army gives a person, and that’s an amazing platform of faith and training in life,” Lindell says. “It’s almost like you’re an apprentice while you’re in there getting your life back together.

“You’re coming out with a foundation and mentors. The Salvation Army’s centers should be the model for every center in the world.”

Lindell is such a believer that he sometimes sends his employees to a Salvation Army ARC. “I can usually tell what drugs they’re on,” he said. “I talk to them directly and we get them help.”

Lindell runs MyPillow more like a ministry than a business. The company doesn’t have a traditional human resources department. All the employees have his direct phone number.

“We do not have traditional human resource problems,” Lindell said. “If there is a deviation in behavior, we get them help. Our employees tell on each other to get help. We basically become a big help center.”

For example, when one employee uncharacteristically started showing up late for work, Lindell quickly found out why.

“He was walking 14 miles to work. So, I bought him a car,” Lindell said.

If employees lose a loved one, they can take as much time as they need to grieve, and Lindell pays them. He also pays when they go to rehab with The Salvation Army or another facility.

Find out more about The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers.

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

Catherine Booth (1829-1890), the co-founder of The Salvation Army, talks about achieving true peace, how our hearts can be made perfect, and what a Christian can learn from one of Napoleon’s soldiers.

  • None of our hearts are born perfect by nature, but they can be renewed to be made perfect. For this, first, a heart must be loyal to God. It should be thoroughly given to Him, irrespective of consequences. Second, a heart must be obedient. A perfect heart does not pick and choose which commandments to obey. Hearts that do so are partial, not perfect. Third, at the root of all perfect hearts, is trust. Look no further than Abraham to see a heart perfect in its trust. Abraham believed God almost to the blood of his son Isaac, and God showed Himself strong in his behalf.
  • Our charity must be divine and focused on the soul. Sentiments of pity and acts of generosity towards man is sometimes done all without a spark of divinity in one’s heart. Or worse, it may be simply done to merit one’s own eternal life. Those are examples of nothing but false charity; they begin in self and end on earth. Are we more concerned about relieving temporal distress, in others and in us, than we are about feeding famished souls? Divine charity, such as when Christ fed both the spirit and the hunger of His followers, realizes the value of looking after the soul.
  • Peace is the universal want of man, but true peace is not simply a state of mere quietness or insensibility. True peace only arises out of a reconciliation with God. Where there is sin, there is conflict and misery. God Himself cannot give peace to a soul holding on to sin. But when one confesses and forsakes their sins and casts their guilty soul on Jesus, then He will give that soul true, divine peace. It will abide forever.
  • It is said that one of Napoleon’s men, while being operated on for the extraction of a bullet, exclaimed, “Cut a little deeper, and you will find my general’s name.” Napoleon’s name was engraved on that soldier’s heart. As God’s soldiers, the image and glory of Christ must be engraved on our hearts as well. It is what Jesus Christ demands of us. We must be thoroughly committed to His side; there can be no neutrals in spiritual warfare.
  • Here is great encouragement for those of us who suffer from doubt. Faith, as it is described in the Scriptures, is a voluntary thing. I have known sincere and honest souls whose minds are tormented with doubt, but whose hearts have still inquired about God’s love and truth. I have more sympathy towards them than with those who would profess all and do nothing. God believes in man’s honesty and sincerity. If you are sincere in your heart, He will not abandon you.

Women assume the role of president at prestigious Christian colleges around the country. by Retta Blaney
With a sense that they have been called, and with an appreciation for the groundbreaking role they are assuming, women have been taking over the leadership of Christian colleges and universities in slowly increasing numbers. Religious schools still lag far behind secular institutions in the appointing of female presidents, but the ceiling has been broken in schools across the country that were established in the holiness tradition.
“The idea has been that only one population, gender or ethnicity makes all the decisions,” said Deana L. Porterfield, who in 2014 became the first female president of Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, N.Y. “We’re better when we’re diverse. I do believe it’s what God’s calling us to do. Full representation is important if you really believe all are made in the image of God.”
While being the first woman president is an hono..