VOL. 4, NO. 9 • NOVEMBER 2018
“...my strength is made perfect in weakness… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” —2 Corinthians 12:9–10
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Fundraise For Good
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love has an army
Spiritual Life Development Desarrollo de la Vida Espiritual Since its inception, the Salvation Army’s duel mission of saving souls and serving suffering humanity has been undergirded by the spiritual lives of soldiers and officers serving in its ranks. The International Spiritual Life Commission (ISLC), convened by General Paul A. Rader (R) in 1996, called Salvationists worldwide to recognize that any outward movement of love for the world requires an inward movement from each Christian towards God. The vitality of our spiritual life as a movement will be seen and tested in our turning to the world in evangelism and service, but the springs of our spiritual life are to be found in our turning to God in worship, in the disciplines of life in the Spirit, and in the study of God’s word. One of the aims of the USA Eastern Territory’s 20/20 Vision is to “Focus on Spiritual Life Development (SLD) and discipleship for all people.” Accordingly, one will find indications of spiritual formation all across the territory such as: ■C amp staff discipleship programs that engage them in spiritual disciplines ■ Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) holiness retreats ■C orps prayer meetings and community prayer walks ■D esignated spiritual formation days for officers ■ S oul Care retreats for soldiers ■W ord & Worship retreats ■ Intentional focus on deeper discipleship in ongoing programs ■ R eflective retreats for officers ■ Cultivate Territorial Spiritual Formation courses for soldiers and officers ■ T erritorial Holiness Institute for Soldiers ■ T erritorial Holiness Symposium for Officers As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, we will be successful in transforming communities in the power of Jesus Christ, one life at a time. — Lt. Colonel / Tte. Coronela Patricia LaBossiere Territorial Secretary for Spiritual Life Development Secretaria Territorial del Departamento de Desarrollo de la Vida Espiritual
Desde su comienzo, la doble misión del Ejército de Salvación de salvar almas y servir a la humanidad sufriente ha sido respaldada por los soldados y oficiales que sirven en sus filas. En 1996, el ahora jubilado General Paul A. Rader convocó la Comisión Internacional de la Vida Espiritual y pidió a los salvacionistas alrededor del mundo que reconocieran que cualquier demostración externa de amor hacia el mundo requiere una demostración interna de cada cristiano hacia Dios. El vigor de nuestra vida espiritual como movimiento se verá y se probará cuando vayamos al mundo a evangelizarlo y a servirlo; pero el desarrollo de nuestra vida espiritual se encuentra en la adoración a Dios, en las disciplinas de la vida en el Espíritu y en el estudio de la Palabra de Dios. Uno de los objetivos de la Visión 20/20 del Territorio Este de Estados Unidos es el “Enfoque en el Desarrollo de la Vida Espiritual (SLD) y el discipulado de todas las personas”. Por consiguiente, usted encontrará indicaciones de la formación espiritual a través del territorio, como las siguientes: ■ P rogramas de discipulado para el personal de los campamentos que participan en las disciplinas espirituales ■ Retiros de santidad en los Centros de Rehabilitación para Adultos (ARC) ■ R euniones de oración en los Cuerpos y caminatas de oración por la comunidad ■D ías designados para la formación espiritual de los oficiales ■ R etiros para soldados “Soul Care” ■ R etiros con la Palabra y la alabanza ■ E nfoque intencional en un discipulado más profundo de los programas en curso ■ R etiros de reflexión para oficiales ■ Curso Cultive, formación espiritual para soldados y oficiales ■ Instituto territorial de santidad para soldados ■ S imposio territorial de santidad para oficiales A medida que crezcamos en la gracia y en el conocimiento de nuestro Señor y Salvador Jesucristo, tendremos éxito en la transformación de las comunidades con el poder de Jesucristo, vida por vida.
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Hurricane Michael caused catastrophic damage to Floridaâ€™s Mexico Beach and surrounding areas. During that time and even now, The Salvation Army is hard at work, providing food, shelter, and hope. In the aftermath of such an aggressive hurricane season, these devastated areas will need the Armyâ€™s ongoing help.
After the unspeak able,
we speak hope. DONATE NOW
to The Salvation Army relief effort
$10 feeds a disaster survivor for one day. $30 provides a box of staple food to feed a family of four. $1,000 keeps a Salvation Army canteen fully operational for a full day.
The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts.
contents VOLUME 4 | NUMBER 9
in every issue 1 vision perspective 4 from the editor 5 relevents 6 army jargon 30 wholly living
departments 7 an active army
Major Victoria Edmonds says timbrels are an instrument of praise.
23 movie review
“Indivisible” is a true story about courage and faith.
Danielle Beckvermit, singing sensation, thanks The Salvation Army for her rise to stardom.
A New Mission
Beverly Franklin lost her son, Michael, to PTSD. But a miracle reminded her that, spiritually, Michael and the Lord Jesus would never leave her side.
Lieutenants Brennen and Allison Hinzman attracted children to their ministry in Red Bank, N.J.
Veterans in Prison
Captain Frenie Antoine and Lieutenant Charmaine Romano help veterans, who are inmates, reenter society.
C AST & ‘Godspell’
The story behind the scenes and between the lines.
Para leer más artículos en español por favor visite SACONNECTS.ORG/ENESPANOL
28 Q & A
Singer/songwriter Josh Wilson performed at his first Salvation Army event.
32 to your health These simple steps will cut the fat and sugar from holiday meals.
from the editor the magazine
A tribute to
Cross the bridge!
— Warren L. Maye Editor in Chief / Editor en Jefe
October 22, 2018— Eugene Peterson, theologian, pastor, and author of The Message, has passed at age 85. His family released the following statement.
¡Cruce el Puente! El personal de nuestra revista SAconnects está preparando la última edición del año para todos ustedes. Este número cubre diciembre 2018 y enero 2019, y nos servirá como “puente al futuro”. En el proceso, hemos disfrutado de discusiones apasionadas sobre los retos que el mundo enfrenta y hemos debatido vigorosamente el modo en que nosotros, como escritores y diseñadores, podemos comunicar que el Ejército de Salvación frecuentemente representa un puente de esperanza para cruzar los horribles problemas que a menudo parecen insuperables. Para mí, cruzar puentes puede ser una experiencia emocionante, pero también aterradora. Me fascina recorrer un camino elevado, aunque a veces temo caer; por lo que mantengo la mirada enfocada en el otro lado. Les invitamos a cruzar este puente con nosotros, nos enfocaremos en historias acerca del voluntariado generoso, la literatura bíblica, el evangelismo audaz, la lucha contra el tráfico sexual, contra el azote de la indigencia y contra el abuso de sustancias; la salud mental, espiritual y física, y la recuperación de los desastres a largo plazo. En lo que respecta a la satisfacción de las necesidades humanas después de una tragedia, en particular, el maestro de la administración Peter Drucker llamó al Ejército de Salvación: “la organización más efectiva de los Estados Unidos”. Cruce el puente al futuro con nosotros. Permita que nuestras sinceras y maravillosas historias le muestren el camino.
Our SAconnects magazine staff is diligently preparing the final issue of this year for you. It covers both December 2018 and January 2019 and will serve as our “bridge to the future.” In the process, we’ve enjoyed passionate discussions about the challenges that face the world and have vigorously debated how we, as writers and designers, can best tell how The Salvation Army is often a bridge of hope over the horrific problems that frequently appear insurmountable. For me, crossing bridges can be an exhilarating but also scary experience. I’m fascinated by being on an elevated path through the sky, but I sometimes fear I’ll fall. So, I keep my eyes focused on the other side. We invite you to cross this bridge with us as we focus on stories about generous volunteerism; biblical literacy; courageous evangelism; anti–sexual trafficking; social justice; fighting the scourge of homelessness and substance abuse; mental, spiritual, and physical healthcare; and long–term disaster recovery. When it comes to meeting human need, particularly in the aftermath of tragedy, management guru Peter Drucker called The Salvation Army “the most effective organization in the United States.” Cross the bridge to the future with us. Let our amazing and heartfelt stories show you the way.
“During the previous days, it was apparent that he was navigating the thin and sacred space between earth and heaven. We overheard him speaking to people we can only presume were welcoming him into paradise. There may have even been a time or two when he accessed his Pentecostal roots and spoke in tongues as well. Among his final words were, “Let’s go.” And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently. In such moments it’s best for all mortal flesh to keep silence. But if you have to say something say this: “Holy, Holy, Holy.” It feels fitting that his death came on a Monday, the day of the week he always honored as a Sabbath during his years as a pastor. After a lifetime of faithful service to the church—running the race with gusto—it is reassuring to know that Eugene has now entered into the fullness of the Kingdom of God and has been embraced by eternal Sabbath.” SAconnects magazine thanks you, Pastor Peterson, for your service to God and to Bible readers worldwide.
Derek W. Lance, territorial music secretary and bandmaster of the Salvation Army’s New York Staff Band (NYSB), talks about lessons learned from the book of Psalms; playing trumpet for the United States Military Academy, West Point; and the warm welcome the NYSB received in Japan. interview by Hugo Bravo
For years, I’ve held on to the words of Psalm 139. The words are a reminder that, even in my worst days, God is with me. In 2001, I lost my mother to cancer. During that painful time, I was part of a Star Lake Music Camp performance called “The Eternal Presence,” which was based on Psalm 139. I cannot flee from the Lord’s presence, no matter how angry or hurt I may feel at the moment. Knowing that God is everywhere and has never left my side, has been a powerful anchor in my life.
After graduating from the Julliard School in 2005, I accepted a position as a trumpet player for the West Point band. After 10 weeks of military boot camp, I enrolled as a staff sergeant. As part of the band, I played at football games, funerals, Veterans Day parades, and for Generals and U.S. presidents. But graduations were the most memorable performances. When students would graduate earlier or later than others, the band would play for only 2 or 3 graduates and their families at those ceremonies. Those audiences were very appreciative; you can’t discount what it meant to them to have a band at that special moment.
My wife Lorena also plays in the NYSB. Most couples go on vacations; we go on Staff Band trips together. Our two daughters, Isabelle and Caroline, are also involved in our life as musicians for The Salvation Army. They enjoy participating in music camp and Old Orchard Beach ministries. They understand that we are musicians in service of the Lord. I’m happy that my work does not separate me from my family. In a different type of music career, I would be working months on end without being able to spend time with them.
This is my third year as bandmaster of the NYSB. For five years I had worked under the former bandmaster, Ron Waiksnoris. I enjoyed being part of the band and helping Ron behind the scenes. Today, my role as bandmaster has been a new experience. When I’m playing an instrument in a band, I really only have control of myself. When I’m finished, I’m proud of my performance. As bandmaster, I’m focused on the performances of 35 band members, and when the Thirty years from today, I’ll still be talking about the Staff Band’s 2018 trip to Japan. performance is over, I’m proud of The country is not like the ones in Europe or South America; it can be difficult to find any each of them. English–speakers in Japan. But as soon as we arrived, we were treated like rock stars. On our first night in Osaka we were in a beautiful venue, in front of the most enthusiastic crowd we’ve played to in years. Later in the trip, in a small town near Tokyo, we did a joint concert with a local school band made up of children ages 7 to 12. Those young musicians were absolutely amazing. It was one of the most joyful nights of music I’ve ever experienced.
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ARMY jargon by Colonel Richard Munn the magazine
your connection to The Salvation Army
USA EASTERN TERRITORY
FIRE A VOLLEY DISPARA UNA SALVA “Praise the Lord!” “Amen!” “Hallelujah!” These congregational shouts can warm a preacher’s heart. Indeed, they may even be solicited with a coaxing, “Fire A Volley!” The concept touches on military imagery while the words Hallelujah and Amen are universal. • “ Praise the Lord” is a Hebrew phrase, used almost exclusively in the Old Testament. • “ Amen” is spread evenly throughout Scripture, and is the last word in the Bible. • “ Hallelujah,” interchangeable with “Praise the Lord,” is only used four times in the NIV Bible. Remarkably, all instances are found in Revelation 19. This back–and–forth pedigree is biblical, consistently present in the choreographed and antiphonal responses of God’s people in worship. Through the centuries, this interplay has evolved into a recognized art form, “call and response,” present in jazz, high liturgy, and in African–American preaching. “Can I get an Amen?” In The Salvation Army, the custom reflects both our formation in rowdy revival and our music hall heritage. Here, working–class audiences were expected to exuberantly participate in the performance, for good or ill. Raucous, boisterous, even bawdy attendees interreacted with the actors, comedians, and dancers throughout, with the master of ceremonies actively goading and prodding, down to a fine art. “Is anyone in the house tonight?” Brengle warns against artificial response as “all noise,” but then adds, at the end of time, “The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout” (1 Thess. 4). The final volley.
“¡Alabado sea el Señor!” “¡Amén!” “¡Aleluya!” Estos gritos congregacionales pueden encender el corazón de cualquier predicador. Es más, pueden hasta suscitarse con gritos persuasivos como: “Dispara una salva”. El concepto apela a una imagen militar; y las palabras aleluya y amén son universales. • “Alabado sea Dios” es una frase hebrea utilizada casi exclusivamente en el Antiguo Testamento. • “Amén” aparece uniformemente a través de las Escrituras y es la última palabra de la Biblia. • “Aleluya” intercambiable por la frase “Alabado sea el Señor,” fue utilizada solamente cuatro veces en la Biblia NVI. Lo sorprendente es que todas aparecen en Apocalipsis 19. Esta costumbre repetitiva es bíblica y está presente constantemente en las respuestas coreográficas y antifonales que hace el pueblo de Dios en su adoración. A través de los siglos, esta interacción se ha convertido en una modalidad de arte reconocida como “llamado y respuesta”, utilizada en la música de Jazz, la alta liturgia y en la predicación afroamericana. “¿Cuántos pueden decir amén?” En el Ejército de Salvación, la tradición refleja su formación tanto en el bullicioso avivamiento como en nuestra herencia musical. Aquí, se esperaba que la audiencia de la clase trabajadora participara en el espectáculo tanto para bien como para mal. Asistentes escandalosos, bulliciosos y hasta maleducados del público interactuaban con los actores, los comediantes y los bailarines mientras el maestro de ceremonia incitaba y animaba activamente hasta desarrollar un fino arte. “¿Hay alguien aquí esta noche? Brengle nos advierte en cuanto a las respuestas artificiosas, como “puro ruido”, pero luego nos recuerda que en los últimos tiempos, “el Señor mismo descenderá del cielo con un grito” (1 Tesalonicenses 4.16 NTV). La última salva.
TERRITORIAL LEADERS Commissioner William A. Bamford III Commissioner G. Lorraine Bamford CHIEF SECRETARY Colonel Kenneth O. Johnson, Jr. COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY Major Tonie Cameron EDITOR IN CHIEF Warren L. Maye MANAGING EDITOR Robert Mitchell EDITOR / HISPANIC CORRESPONDENT Hugo Bravo KOREAN EDITOR Lt. Colonel Chongwon D. Kim ART DIRECTOR Reginald Raines PUBLICATION MANAGING DESIGNER Lea La Notte Greene GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Keri Johnson, Karena Lin, Joe Marino STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Ryan Love CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Brenda Lotz, Major Young Sung Kim CIRCULATION Doris Marasigan COMMAND NEWS CORRESPONDENTS PENDEL Major Kathryn A. Avery EMP Jaye C. Jones GNY Major Susan Wittenberg MASS Drew Forster NNE Cheryl Poulopoulos PR & VI Linette Luna SNE Laura Krueger WEPASA Captain Kimberly DeLong Territorial Music Liaison Derek Lance Territorial Youth Liaison Captain Gillian Rogers
THE SALVATION ARMY
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. SAconnects is published monthly by The Salvation Army USA’s Eastern Territory. Bulk rate is $12.00 per month for 25–100 copies. Single subscriptions are available. Write to: SAconnects, The Salvation Army, 440 W. Nyack Rd., West Nyack, NY 10994–1739. Vol. 4, No. 9, November Issue 2018. Printed in USA. Postmaster: Send all address changes to: SAconnects, 440 West Nyack Rd., West Nyack, NY 10994–1739. SAconnects accepts advertising. Copyright © 2018 by The Salvation Army, USA Eastern Territory. Articles may be reprinted only with written permission. All scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV) unless indicated otherwise.
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an active army
TIMBREL by Hugo Bravo
When Major Victoria Edmonds was 16 years old, a school assignment required her and every student to be graded on a performance. Victoria decided to put on a timbrel show for the class. Since Victoria was nine years old, she had participated in such performances. After watching a timbrel group minister at a Sunday service, she immediately wanted to learn more about the tambourine—a small, round musical instrument that has been part of the Salvation Army’s tradition since its earliest days. Along with Carol, the daughter of a corps officer at the Army’s Harrisburg (Citadel) Pa., Corps, Victoria took one of their familiar drills and put it to music for her class. “The students and teachers said they had never seen anything like that before,” remembers Edmonds. As an officer, Major Edmonds has traveled internationally to see timbrel brigades accompany Salvation Army bands and choruses during Sunday services. “In places like Africa, Australia, and South America, timbrels have been part of their cultures for centuries,” says Edmonds. “It’s a tool of praise, as it was in the Bible, not just for performances.” At the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden, N.J., where Edmonds teaches timbrel classes, she laments that some young people don’t see timbrels as real musical instruments, or learn how to play them as they would a guitar or drums. “To me, a timbrel is an instrument, just as a flugelhorn or a set of drums are instruments. Timbrels and drums are both members of the percussion family. Their drills are very similar.” Like anything one does or practices, says Edmonds, it should always be
done unto the Lord. To her, even creating a music lesson plan is an act of worship in God’s name. “When I write a new timbrel drill, I will sit and review it for hours. I want it to coordinate and flow to the beat of the music. That precision is another way of giving glory to God.” As a child, Victoria was inspired by seeing an older generation play the timbrel. Today at the Camden Kroc Center, the roles are reversed; it’s the children introducing the timbrel to adults. “Adult women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s were watching the young soldiers play at the Kroc, and they asked to be taught the timbrel too,” says Edmonds. “Seeing these women, most of whom have not played an instrument before, will encourage others to try something that they may have never thought they could do.” The next step for the adult women timbrel group, says Edmonds, is to raise money to make their own timbrels. Just as some guitar players have their instrument fitted to them, the group wants their instruments fitted for their hands. “It gives these women a sense of pride to have their own timbrel that they can carry with them,” says Edmonds. She says the timbrel, which the Salvation Army continues to use for worship and performance, can also serve as a powerful recruitment tool. “I would love to see a community timbrel group in a place like the Camden Kroc. They could all learn the same drill, so on Sundays, they could all perform as one,” says Edmonds. “No matter if it’s men, women, younger folks or older—a group that plays the timbrel well together is one good–looking group.”
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Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. Psalm 149:3
Building a Children’s MINISTRY
from the ‘solid’ ground up
by Sylvia Kuzmak
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” —MATTHEW 7:24, NLT
n 2014, when Lieutenants Brennen and Allison Hinzman arrived at their first assignment as corps officers in Red Bank, N.J., they were surprised to see that there were no children in church on Sundays. Allison recalls, “It was weird, maybe because we grew up in larger Salvation Army churches, and we’ve always had kids in church. As new officers, we’re told we should wait a year before making any drastic changes, but we thought, this can’t wait a year! So we began to also think, how do we get some children coming to our church on Sunday?” After studying the needs of the community more broadly, the Lieutenants Hinzman decided to adopt as a top priority the work to grow the after–school program at the corps with an emphasis on teaching about Jesus and His gospel. From that experience, they hoped that some of the children and their parents might come to attend Sunday services. There had been a small after–school program at the corps, with typically four children attending two days a week, but missing a strong Christian education focus. The Hinzmans had passion for and experience in youth ministry, and both were graduates of the Salvation Army’s former Railton School for Youth Worker Training. At first, they planned to lead the new program themselves, living out the Gospel with love and caring for the children. In January 2015, they kicked off the new program by distributing flyers, working through the Red Bank public school system and charter schools. Today, three years later, the Red Bank Corps has a thriving and growing after–school program as well as a broadened children’s ministry, led by Ministry Assistant Annabel do Santos Concha and supported by the corps officers. During the school year, four days a week, there is an after–school program. It includes programming for Bible study, music, health & fitness, and drama & timbrels, with 23 children attending. During the summer, a four– or six–week day camp for 6 to 12 year olds takes place. It can be
described as an extended Vacation Bible School with weekly field trips. Twenty–seven children attended last summer. Throughout the year, children have participated in divisional events including Star Search, music camp, and family camp. As many as 12 to 20 participants regularly attend church, where they contribute to the service by ministering in song and drama, help collect the offering, pray, and share testimonies. It is a delightful transformation within the Red Bank Corps that is certainly pleasing to the congregation and to God. Considering the program’s impact since its start, Lieutenant Brennen Hinzman said, “One of the most uplifting things that I’ve noticed with our children’s growth, is that all of the kids, whether they’ve stayed with us for the whole time or we’ve lost them for a period of time, have all experienced Jesus. They are learning Jesus in everything we are doing!” The children’s ministry continues to grow on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ. As a delighted member of the congregation who is experienced in knowledge engineering, I sat down with the Hinzmans and Ministry Assistant do Santos Concha, to gain insight into how this transformation was accomplished. From our discussion, we’ve gleaned 10 contributing factors and included them in this article. We hope that this guidance will help other children’s ministry leaders. In June, the Hinzmans became corps officers at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden, N.J. Lieutenants Giovanni and Lilybeth Otero replaced them and continue to enthusiastically support the children’s ministry at Red Bank, with Lilybeth having also graduated from the former Railton School for Youth Worker Training.
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TURN THE PAGE FOR A 10–POINT GUIDE TO BUILD YOUR OWN CHILDREN’S MINISTRY
1. Have leaders with passion and experience work with children.
5. Teach about Jesus and His gospel.
Allison: : “You definitely need someone passionate for children, because if you don’t have a desire to work with the kids, it will be a struggle.”
Brennen: “I think that the growth that we’ve seen in all of our programs has a lot to do with the fact that the kids are learning about Jesus, and that is such a priority for all three of us.”
2. Pray and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. Allison: “You need a lot of prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Anything we do in ministry has to be done in the Spirit.”
3. Be open minded about how the ministry will take form. Allison: “Every corps is not going to have the same youth ministry. For example, some corps have a flourishing preteen ministry, but here, we’ve got mostly young 7 to 8 year olds—so our teaching style is different, and learning styles can be different, and also the kids’ capacity to sit and pay attention.” Annabel: “When I came, I didn’t bring a formula. I came from a successful program, but I didn’t come saying that is what I am going to do here. I came and observed and learned the community and what was already existing in the church and built off of that.”
4. Be guided by the needs of the community. Allison: “The needs of the community are important. When we first walked around our neighborhood, we realized there were lots of Hispanic families. So when we were looking to hire a ministry assistant to lead the children’s program, a requirement was that the person be bilingual Spanish–speaking.” Annabel: “And when I arrived, there was one Hispanic family that already liked The Salvation Army, but it was just the language holding them back. So when my husband Felipe and I began to talk to Rosa [mother] in Spanish, she soon decided that she and her children would become soldiers and they were enrolled.”
Annabel: “Yes. For example, one of the parents with a child in day camp told me that their child liked the Salvation Army day camp because ‘the kids are nice.’ I explained to her that that’s part of what we do, we’re not just watching the kids during your work hours, we’re teaching them to be Christ–like, to love each other, and follow Jesus. Kids who have been here longer have grown to be an example for new kids coming in, so it’s not just me teaching them, but it’s seeing the example of other kids. At the end of day camp, many kids said that learning about God was their favorite thing. Those are simple words, but I take it to mean that they understood how great God is, and what real love is—that Jesus died on the cross for you. They learned something that speaks to their heart, makes them feel good, and gives them hope.”
6. Love the kids as in a family and in a home. Annabel: “People go where they feel loved, and where they feel they belong. And the way you make people feel loved is to love them. Following Jesus, we don’t pick and choose whom we love, it’s everybody across the board. So providing a safe place where children feel loved means that I need to love them. So when I look at a child, I tell myself to care, because at the beginning, we are strangers. I look at them in a much more sensitive way, and they pick up on that. That helps to make the group strong, a family that belongs together. And if someone else comes in, ‘you are welcome to our family!’” Allison: “Yes, relationship is key, because, even something as simple as knowing everyone’s name sends a message that we care. We learn their names, about their families, what they love to do, and how they like school, or don’t like school. That’s what makes the difference between what we do here and what other organizations provide.” Annabel: “And it’s not just building relationships with the children, but also with their parents. For example, there is an opportunity to talk to parents at pick–up time, or at any moment that we’re standing in the same place at the same time. I say, ‘How’s it going? How is he or she doing in school?’ Over time, we’re building a relationship with the family, so we are an extension of home for them.”
7. Be realistic, don’t be afraid to start small, and avoid burnout. Allison: “I think there is no shame in starting small. Burnout is a hot topic in youth ministry. If you start with a large program and you’re the only one running it, you go all out, you’re fully invested, and it’s exhausting. Then you end up hating it, because you’re exhausted. And the kids see that. So it’s important to avoid that. You need to plan realistically. There’s only so much that you can do. Don’t compare yourself to other corps that may be more established and have more staff. Just start where you are at, with what you have. In time, it will grow.”
9. Go the extra mile to help kids who are especially involved to stay involved. Annabel: “Along the way, we’ve had to overcome obstacles. For example, during day camp, one junior soldier was coming every day, and then didn’t come for a few days. I called and found out that the mom got a new job. Her schedule didn’t allow her to bring her daughter during our drop–off and pick–up times, so the child was at a babysitter all day. Now, we didn’t have the capacity to provide transportation for everyone, but because the child and her mother were so involved, we started to pick the child up in the morning and take her home again to the babysitter to allow the child to stay involved.”
8. Set short–term goals, have a vision for the future, and always listen to the Spirit. Annabel: “We have a vision, from prayer in the Spirit, of children learning about Jesus, growing in faith, coming to church, and being part of a church family—and we needed to stick to it. Sports activities are very popular in this county. We’ve had suggestions to start sports leagues. We have to ask, ‘What is the purpose?’ Is it just to say we have more people in the building? Or is our goal to grow strong Christians?” Allison: “From our vision, we set short–term goals. In January 2015, we started with one day a week of after–school programming in music and arts, with the support of the divisional music staff. With plans in progress to hire a ministry assistant, in September 2015, we expanded to two days a week, adding a day for Troops, which is Bible–based and covers life skills. And then after Annabel arrived, by March 2016, we had expanded to four days a week, with the support of divisional staff in music and drama. Members of our congregation also pitch in, for example, providing homework help and serving snacks, and that has been a goal, to involve our church family.”
Sylvia Kuzmak, Ph.D., is an adherent member of the Salvation Army’s Red Bank, N.J., Corps. She helps in the after–school program, providing homework help for the kids. She also leads the adult Sunday school and the women’s Bible study. She is semi–retired, and does part–time consulting, and writes on psychology, education, and Christianity.
10. Invite, invite, invite, to encourage children and parents to increase their involvement over time. Brennen: “We purposefully have a Family Sunday once a month, with the sermon geared to children and translated into Spanish. The children participate in the service, performing the Bible–based songs, music, and drama they have learned after school. We invite their parents to attend, to worship with us, and to see their kids participate in the service. We also have a community meal after the service, an opportunity to get to know each other better. We are continually inviting the kids and their parents to be involved in the corps programs, our church, and divisional activities. We want to welcome all to be part of our Christian community and our Salvation Army family.”
When vets are prisoners by Robert Mitchell
“… I was in prison and you came to visit me.” —MATTHEW 25:36
Captain Frenie Antoine and Lieutenant Charmaine Romano are not veterans of the U.S. military and they’ve never served jail time. On the surface, the single women officers from the Blue Point, N.Y., Corps, would seem an unlikely duo to take the gospel into a county jail and minister to men, but God has blessed their willingness to help these U.S. war veterans, who happen to be inmates, prepare themselves to reenter society. “We knew nothing about veterans before we started,” Antoine says. “We’re just a couple of single ladies.” These women regularly go into the Yaphank Correctional Facility on Long Island, N.Y., and minister to veteran inmates who are about to return to society. The program is so successful, officials there want them to minister to both women inmates and men older than 55. Antoine and Romano teach inmates the biblical story of Joseph, who also spent time in jail. The inmates read the Bible and memorize Scripture. In the process, they find hope in a Christ who overcame the world. “Often times those imprisoned feel forgotten, ignored or simply nonexistent,” says Romano. “We wanted to go in there and tell them they are not forgotten and ‘We are here for you.’ We wanted to provide some spiritual guidance and some encouragement as well. Although we didn’t start this ministry, we wanted to see it through.”
Two years ago, Suffolk County Legislator Bill Lindsay asked The Salvation Army to be a part of Sheriff Vincent DeMarco’s Veterans Re–entry Program. It was a perfect fit, since The
Salvation Army had managed the Northport Veterans Residence on Long Island for 18 years. DeMarco created a jail pod specifically for veterans at the Yaphank Correctional Facility. “The idea was that having this pod and putting the veterans together would allow for camaraderie and help the veterans through this difficult time, as well as later on, to reduce recidivism,” says Susan Park, former senior project manager for the Greater New York Division’s Social Services Department. Park said the division saw the program as a “great opportunity to begin a relationship with a new generation of veterans.”
Captains Felix and Irna Padilla were among the first officers to go into the jail, minister to inmates, and provide Bibles for them. Last year when the Padillas retired, Antoine and Romano took over with the occasional support of Long Island–based officers Lieutenant Luis Ocasio and Major Patrick O’Gara from the Hempstead, N.Y., ARC. Antoine, the corps officer in Blue Point, said she and Romano work with a group of about eight men and offer an optional Bible study, which has grown to include emotional and pastoral counseling. “We’re excited because the original goal was it would be a Bible study, but it became much more,” she said. While initially “standoffish,” the inmates warmed to Antoine and Romano when they shared details about their lives.
Captain Frenie Antoine and Lieutenant Charmaine Romano minister to imprisoned veterans and to their families.
“They saw that we were human,” Antoine said. “That allowed them to open up.” Antoine said the officers wondered how the inmates would take to two women, but the diverse group includes a Buddhist, an atheist, and one prisoner who believes only in a “higher power.” The Buddhist knew nothing about the Bible or Christ before joining the study. “Now he’s constantly reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. We’re encouraged by that,” Antoine said. Romano said the Bible stories have focused on the story of Joseph, who spent time in prison. The inmates had a bevy of questions and the officers encouraged them to talk. “We really toiled with it,” Romano says. “We were able to show them how Joseph came out of prison on top, as a ruler. They were able to take the story of Joseph and relate it to their own story. “Being in the military and doing the things they did for their country that they would not have normally done has been hard
on them. There are times they can’t sleep at night. They’ve been open with us.” Romano, the assistant corps officer at Blue Point, said some of the veterans suffer from anxiety and Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She and Antoine have had to educate themselves on the condition. “Not only are we single ladies, but we’re not veterans,” Romano said. “Not being veterans, we can’t relate to some of their issues, but we’ve still been able to make a great connection. “It has been impactful, not only for the prisoners, but for us as well. We’ve been able to understand their world a lot more and they’ve been able to understand ours.”
Romano said she has “been amazed at what God has done” with the veterans. “Through this group, they’ve become friends,” she said. “In the past, they were in the prison in a small pod together, but
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We’ve basically made the Bible alive, made it relevant, and made them see that the stories in the Bible are not just stories. We’ve given them living proof that they too can get through their circumstances and situations. It has been powerful.
—Lieutenant Charmaine Romano
they really didn’t speak. This group has formed a group outside of our group and they protect each other and they encourage each other. They have meals together now. They speak about the story of Joseph when we’re not there. “It’s powerful. They see greatness in each other. I think you need that in prison. They don’t have to worry about protecting themselves from fighting with each other. They show each other the compassion Jesus Christ showed the world.” Romano said the admonition to help the “least of these” in Matthew 25 is one of her favorite passages. She said the jail visits have stretched her spiritual life and caused her and Antoine to grow through the experience. She noted how one inmate closed each night’s session by reading his favorite, Psalm 23. At a recent Bible study, the inmate recited the Psalm from memory. “He did it all on his own,” she said. “Spiritually, it was incredibly uplifting. We couldn’t believe it. “We’ve basically made the Bible alive, made it relevant, and made them see that the stories in the Bible are not just stories. We’ve given them living proof that they too can get through their circumstances and situations. It has been powerful.” Antoine said she and Romano are not intimidated inside the jail because the men look out for them. “There’s this sense of protection because we’ve built this relationship,” she said. “We’ve become like a little family. We’re excited. It’s been a lot more successful than we originally imagined.” In keeping with the family spirit, the officers have also taken it upon themselves to help the families of the inmates. “A lot of times, we’ll go visit their family because they can’t,” Antoine said.
BEYOND THE BARS
Antoine said the families often struggle if the inmate was the primary breadwinner. The Salvation Army helps with food, utilities, school supplies, and whatever else they may need.
“We let the families know they’re not alone and then we report back and let the inmates know how their families are doing,” she said. “It helps alleviate the stress.” Park said some families have come to the corps’ food bank and received Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas gifts for their children. “It’s a big piece for the veterans to get assistance because when the veterans go into jail, some of them get their VA benefits cut,” Park said. “When that happens, it has a huge impact on the family. We help them with their sustainability. “It sounds pretty small, but it’s a huge thing for the veterans to be able to do for their families. It’s symbolic. It’s touching.” Sometimes, the veteran inmates are quickly moved. They are transferred to prisons upstate, while others are released. “We let them know that, when they are released, they can go to any corps near to them for help,” Park said. “The Salvation Army has such a presence across the Greater New York region and nationally that they can come to us at any time. “We’re providing emotional and spiritual care and also helping them in their future planning and letting them know we can help them outside the jail as well.” Park said the Greater New York Division is working to help local veterans get transportation once they are released. The division is also working with mental health officials on Long Island to get PTSD therapy for the veterans at the Yaphank Correctional Facility. Antoine said there hasn’t been much crossover to the corps for Sunday worship because many of the released inmates are from places other than Long Island.
GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES
The Blue Point Corps is a former service extension unit and is in cramped quarters. As the church worships in a small garage, it makes sense to minister by going out to such places as the Yaphank Correctional Facility and nearby apartment complexes and senior centers. “A lot of our ministries are on the go,” Antoine said. “We don’t really have the space. That really helped us go into the prison. It was an opportunity and something we had never done before.” Romano agreed, saying, “In going to people, we’ve been effective. We’re excited to go. The way they’ve received not just us, but the gospel, is amazing.” Dating back to the World War I “Donut Girls,” Park said The Salvation Army has always gone wherever and to whomever needed help—and that included veterans. “It’s part of our mission and they are a vulnerable group,” Park said. “We have a long history of helping those who are incarcerated, as well as veterans. It’s part of our DNA. It’s part of our tradition.”
Pain, miracles, and a new
by Hugo Bravo
The first thing that Beverly L. Franklin will tell you about her son Michael is that he had a strong sense of right and wrong. She remembers her child, who grew up to become a U.S. Army sergeant and a two–tour veteran of the Iraq War, as a person of great moral character. “As a boy, when Michael did something wrong, he would give me his toys—without me even asking for them. How do I punish a boy who chooses to punish himself first?”
Beverly, who attends the Salvation Army’s Newport, R.I., Corps, has been a Salvationist since she was 12 years old. She says her faith in God helped her deal with the tragedy of September 26, 2010. That was when Sgt. Michael Timothy Franklin shot and killed his wife Jessie Ann, and then turned the gun on himself, after an episode triggered by Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Their two children were asleep on the second floor of the couple’s home at the Fort Hood U.S. military base in Texas. The deaths of Michael and Jessie Ann made national news. Franklin was the 20th suicide victim from Fort Hood that year, and the 6th case in three days. All the victims were veterans with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. It was only after Michael’s death that the base made stronger efforts to check every soldier for symptoms of PTSD. “After Michael died, I needed to cling to God, and I did so hard, to the point that I was leaving ‘marks’ on Him,” says Beverly. “Without Him, I knew I wasn’t going to make it.”
EYES OF PAIN
Michael had graduated from Salve Regina University with aspirations to become a teacher. But unable to find a full–time teaching job, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005. As a college graduate, he had the option to enroll as an officer, but turned down the offer. “He said he wanted to earn that honor, not have it handed to him for what he had done before,” said Beverly. “When Michael joined the infantry, I knew that anyone who enlisted at that time was going to see danger. I knew we were at war.” In 2008 in Iraq, Michael survived an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack. Within three months after the attack, fifteen soldiers died in battle. In the next four months, thirteen more died. Michael returned home to Rhode Island with 28 fewer troops than when he had started. Beverly immediately saw a difference in her son. “His eyes had a look of pain that made me stop in my tracks. A mother always knows,” remembered Beverly. “I could tell that something had left a mark on him. When I asked what was wrong, he said, through tears, that he had seen and done things he couldn’t talk about.” Beverly also noticed changes in Michael’s personality. The family used to be regulars on Rhode Island’s beaches. “But now, he said he never wanted his feet to feel sand again,” Beverly recalled. Wherever he went, he sat facing an exit. He asked to leave any event that had fireworks. Even the sound of a chair scraping the floor irritated him. “When a door slammed, Michael immediately hit the floor,” said Beverly. “Jessie had to calm him and remind him where he was. Gradually, we saw his expression return to normal. But for that minute, in his mind, he was at war overseas.”
In April of 2010, after his second tour in Iraq, Michael called his mother from Fort Hood where he, Jessie, and their two children, Mikayla and Byron, lived. Michael told Beverly that he loved her, and to always remember it. “That call gave me chills,” said Beverly. “I reached out to every official I could until I found the Fort Hood chaplain, who contacted the authorities.” They found Michael sitting in his bathroom with a gun to his head. Military police took his weapon and ordered him to meet with Army counselors and doctors. When they asked Michael if he thought this was PTSD, he told them no. Said Beverly, “Soon after, they gave Michael his gun back. No one saw the incident as a warning that maybe he should not have been there anymore. When he returned home in August, he told me he was going back to Iraq. It had been less than five months after that terrible episode. Hearing this from him made me cry.” Three weeks later, on September 26, shortly before midnight, Michael suffered his last flashback. “Afterwards, he made a phone call to someone close to him, screaming that Jessie was dead and that it must have been him because the gun was in his hand but he couldn’t remember anything. He couldn’t take what he had done. He couldn’t face life anymore,” said Beverly, who had read a transcript of the recorded call. Neighbors who had heard the gunshots, called the police. They found both Michael and Jessie Ann—dead in their Fort Hood home.
Beverly doesn’t remember how she managed to board a plane to Texas with a U.S. Army casualty officer to bring her son’s body home. But she does remember what happened when she arrived in Texas. “I had asked for the contacts of the Salvation Army corps closest to Fort Hood. When I landed, a corps officer was waiting for me,” said Beverly. “I also remember reading a Texas newspaper that said Michael was the sixth soldier to kill himself at Fort Hood in three days.” “I had so many questions, and nothing was making sense. Why did it take my son’s death for Fort Hood to close and start doing checks on everybody? Why was nothing done after the first death? Why did they have to see that, if it could happen to a man like Sgt. Franklin, it could happen to anyone?”
MEETING THE ORIGINAL
Beverly’s casualty officer told her that Michael’s soldiers wanted to pay their respects to her at the base. When Beverly entered
the room to meet them, they gasped. “Oh my God. It’s Sarge! She looks just like Sarge,” one soldier exclaimed with tears in his eyes. The others agreed. “No, Sarge looks like me; I’m the original.” Beverly’s spontaneity broke the mood and gave the soldiers a much–needed moment of levity. Then one of them somberly asked, “how are we going to make it without Sarge?” Beverly said, “By doing what he taught you.” Beverly said she was greatly comforted by the soldiers. They told her stories about Michael’s leadership and the many times he had saved their lives in battle. They all agreed that seeing her was like having Sgt. Franklin back again, if only for a few minutes. After Beverly left the room, a soldier approached her. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Sarge,” he said, crying. “I’ll never forget him.” Beverly hugged the soldier and thanked him for his kind words.
MORE THAN ASHES
The day after Michael’s body arrived home, Beverly had to officially identify him. “I almost fell to the floor when I saw his body, but I kept telling myself, I’m strong, because I’m an Army mom,” she said. At the wake, with Salvation Army officers from Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island by her side, Beverly struggled to keep her composure. Four days after his funeral service, the casualty officer gave her Michael’s “Shadow Box.” It contained his medals and the flag that had been draped over his coffin. She also received an engraved, personalized, military–styled keepsake that contained his ashes, as would an urn. Upon receiving it, she fell to the floor, crying; she gently hugged the box. “I had given them my big, strong son,” Beverly remembered. “They gave me back a box of ashes.” A month later when the casualty officer paid a follow–up visit, Beverly asked him to properly open Michael’s box so she could share ashes with someone close to him. While carefully removing the ashes, she felt something solid. It was a dog tag. The officer was stunned and said that this was impossible; the heat alone should have melted it or the grinder should have disintegrated it. Nonetheless, burnt and covered in ash, the tag had survived cremation. Michael’s name and rank were still clearly legible on the metal. After carefully cleaning the tag, Beverly held it and cried. “The next day, I went back into the ashes, and I found Michael’s second tag,” remembers Beverly. “God had covered them both with His hand and had said ‘no more’ to the fire. He allowed them to be nicked by the grinding machine, but then
said, ‘no more’ to it as well.” “It was a miracle. God knew the pain I was in and He allowed me to receive one last gift from my son,” said Beverly. “I could hear Michael’s voice say, ‘I’m OK, Mom. I’m a Franklin; this is for you.” “When I die, one dog tag will go to Michael’s daughter and the other to his son.* These tags are miracles, and you never put God’s miracles underground.” When Michael was a boy, he was always outside, climbing trees and poles. To find him, all Beverly had to do was look up. “Today, a voice tells me, ‘Mom, look down,”’ Beverly said. In doing so, she sees his tags around her neck. When she looks further to the ground, she’s also reminded of him. “I find four–leaf clovers everywhere I go; it’s a sign that he’s still with me,” said Beverly, who has even found rare five– and seven–leaf clovers. Michael was half-Irish, and very proud of his roots. “I save them and give these ‘Heavenly Clovers’ to soldiers and military families that I see are hurting like I was, to remind them that God is with them.”
Veterans account for
of all deaths by suicide among U.S. adults. Veterans Administration (VA), June 2015
THE INVISIBLENESS OF WAR
Beverly is now trained in suicide prevention and is legally authorized to talk to a person who is contemplating such action. She travels across the country, meeting with veterans’ groups and military families. She always wears Michael’s dog tags. Beverly also carries a large, green military backpack decorated with images of four–leaf clovers, military symbols, and the names and faces of young vets who have lost their lives. Through her efforts, Michael Franklin’s legacy is still helping to save others. “The military teaches kids to be soldiers, but they don’t teach them how to shut it off when they come back,” says this Gold Star Mother.** “That’s the invisibleness of war; that more people die after they return from war than die while serving. It’s why, on average, 22 vets, plus one active military serviceman or woman, take their lives every day. To a Gold Star Mother, every day is Memorial Day.” Just as Sgt. Franklin led his team on the battlefield, “Mama Bev” has become a leader too. She is a lifeline and a source of love and guidance to soldiers going through the same pain she saw years ago in her son’s eyes. She also comforts family members who have lost their children to war, through suicide, or who are killed in action (KIA). “When I speak to groups, I always say, ‘if you know a veteran or military family that needs help, please give them my number,’” said Beverly. “When they reach out to me, those families and veterans become my children too.”
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*Today, Mikayla and Byron live with Jessie Ann’s mother in Connecticut. **Gold Star Mothers is a term used to describe all mothers who have lost sons or daughters who served in the United States armed forces. The American Gold Star Mothers is an organization that was created in 1928.
FAITH in ACTION
& Godspell CAST by Warren L. Maye
“The beauty of ‘Godspell’ is what is happening under the surface. There’s a lot going on!” wrote Anna Street, director of the play that has toured the USA Eastern Territory this summer. “What has captured my imagination most are the small but significant moments of realization, revelation, connection, tension, and recognition.” Street saw “Godspell” as an invitation to the audience and members of CAST to personally engage and respond to Christ’s challenge from Matthew 16 where He asks, “Who do you say that I am?” During their tour, which covered venues from Manhattan’s Theatre 315 to Montclair Citadel in New Jersey to the Dayton, Ohio Kroc Community Center to downtown Boston, Mass., audiences responded with visible expressions of love. Sarah Peabody, an acoustic guitar player in the band, said, “The audience was involved. I saw their faces; the laughter, the tears, the genuine concern. I could see how the show was moving people. That was cool to see.” Marcos Lopez, bass player, enjoyed traveling the territory. “It can be a great motivator to get this type of ministry up and running. Interacting with people to provide this kind of service—that’s what excited me the most.”
A CHRISTIAN PRODUCTION
‘Godspell,’ which debuted on Broadway in 1971, has since appeared on numerous stages and has had several revivals. However, CAST’s all– Christian, ministry–focused production is unique. Peter Kochanek, who played John the Baptist and Judas, said, “We had the opportunity to do it with other believers. It’s going to help us in the future and in our performances. The likelihood of us doing it with other believers again is probably pretty low, based on the theater and arts world. We had this experience and it gave us so much more.” Hannah Furman, a member of the ensemble, agreed. “We got to do it with a much deeper meaning and believe that it’s real. It was great to share the Gospel in a deeper and more colorful way and to show our true spirit through worship.”
Perhaps the moment when most CAST members answered the question “Who do you say I am?” came when each one said “goodbye” to Jesus. The question was just one of several that demanded a closer and deeper examination of their personal relationship with Christ. It was a moment that transcended mere “acting” and
reached an extraordinary level of spirituality. For Skyela Bussey, an ensemble member, an oversight led to her embrace of God’s forgiveness. “When I said, ‘goodbye,’ I felt awkward because I had lost an item I was to give to Jesus. But the way Ryan Livingston [Jesus] reacted to me was so brilliant. “When I tried to give it back to Him but couldn’t, He accepted me and forgave me anyway. That wasn’t in the script. It touched me because I thought, how many times do I lose things that Jesus gives me? It was so real. “I saw Ryan surrender his own self; not to ‘acting’ like Jesus, but to letting Jesus portray Himself through him. It showed me that God was going to work amazing things through the show. “We’ve experienced things—the stress of just 10 days to prepare, the tiredness, and the intense emotions—that revealed how the devil really hated this. But we went through it anyway because we work for God.” Director Anna Street had asked Eric Hawkins the question, “what would you say to Jesus if you knew you would see Him for the last time?” “It really hit me hard because, a year ago, I lost my brother,” he said. “I never got to see him before he died. In those last moments, I didn’t know what to do.
“In ‘Godspell,’ I tried to figure out what my character should do in that instance when he says, ‘goodbye’ to Jesus. That’s when I bawled my eyes out. It reminded me of my life. It seemed as though I was talking to my brother, Jesus, and God, all right there. I just lost it. If I could ever get that moment back with my brother or my grandfather or anyone else I have ever lost, I would take it in a heartbeat.” Lucas Urbina explained that “goodbye” moment from his perspective. “That spiritual/ magical moment when each character had his or her ‘goodbye’ with Jesus was sentimental. Our leaders encouraged us to look at that scene and ask, ‘what would I do if Jesus was
actually right there?’ Some of us were speechless and didn’t quite know what to do. Some hugged him, others fell to their knees and just surrendered everything. That moment just opened my eyes in a special way.” Urbina, who had come to CAST wondering if he would make the cut, had been overwhelmed by the love and support he received. “I come from a competitive environment when it comes to the arts because I am in New York City,” he said. “So, I’m thinking, I’m good, but how far can I really get with this?” Urbina said he received so much love from the group that, in just five days, he had fallen in love with them. “I thought, yes, I am worth it. I can do this! “The world is suffering so much pain. So being in the same place with people who are encouraged to see The Light makes me want to give God all I have. We are all worth it and we are all pointing towards Jesus.”
“It became personal for me,” said Megan Pentland, “when I imagined seeing Jesus for the last time and Anna said, ‘make it real for yourself.’ I had to stop and think about it. It was a hard moment to get through because I had grown to love Jesus—on stage and in real life, but I didn’t think I had given enough of myself to Him. As I said ‘goodbye,’ I realized that I couldn’t play games and have fun with Him anymore. It changed how I portrayed my character in the play and who I am in life.” Pentland, who traveled all the way from Ireland to perform with CAST, continued, “It’s a completely personal story for me now. I would rather be honest and show people that it’s real, it’s legit, and that it’s not just a story. I think that moment triggered something in all of us. It was so emotional.” Pentland believes those precious moments happened for a reason. “I said to Hannah, “something’s going to break, it’s going to blow.” Pentland prayed for
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(From l–r, first row) Ian Evans (group leader), Megan Pentland, Skyela Bussey, Hannah Furman, Melyndee White, Shante Christina Wong, Emma Ortiz, Lucas Urbina, and Whitney Bahr. (Second row) Jacob Wiseman, Zachary Smith Michaels, Peter Kochanek, Eric Hawkins, Ryan Livingston, Alexis Duperree, Marcos Lopez, and Sarah Peabody. Kathryn Higgins choreographed the show. Carol Jaudes and Erin Morgan served as co–producers.
God to take control. “He knew we needed a break,” she said. “It’s as if He was saying, ‘I know you’re struggling, but I’m going to help.’ He was there and it was completely Spirit led.”
Kochanek said the audience sensed his portrayal of the tragic figure Judas was unique. “One thing the show does not do is vilify him right out of the gate, which is different from a lot of the interpretations of this messianic story,” he said. “There’s a song in the show called “All for the Best,” a really high–energy, fun number, and classic Broadway–show tune. I sensed that the audience saw Judas just like all the other guys. So when he betrays Jesus, it’s all the more heartbreaking because, in the beginning, he was along for the fun. He wanted to learn as much as he could, but fell from what he believed in. “He was a man who made choices that led ultimately to the crucifixion of Christ. That’s not to say that I’m trying to vindicate him, but, in terms of audience reaction, they saw Judas; a real person who was used for hurtful reasons.” In addition to audience reactions, members of the band also shared moments of emotion and
reflection. Zachary Smith Michaels, band leader, was surprised to discover how “Godspell” spoke to him personally. “We practiced all day and then at the end, we got to come up and see what the cast had been working on. Every time I watched it, I got totally invested in what was happening, sucked into it, to the point where I’d miss cues. I didn’t expect that because I’m so laser–focused on what I have to do in the band. So, I had those moments where I could sit back and watch these people who I’ve grown to love as they ministered on such a deep and personal level to me.”
EXCITED ABOUT ‘GODSPELL’
“This year, we had such a great story and it’s so exciting to see how excited [kids] are to see productions like this,” said Alexis Duperree from the ensemble and who was in CAST last year. Bussey said, “What excited me most about ‘Godspell’ was working in a group of people who were from different places and who had different talents and skills. It opened my mind.” Shante Christina Wong said, “What I loved was the way we were so open and inclusive. It’s a great, lovely group of people. I’m so glad I met all of them.”
tells a soldier’s story by Warren L. Maye
“Indivisible,” now in theaters nationwide, is based on the true story of U.S. Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather. They are the only active duty military family to have a film made about them. At the beginning of the movie, the Turners, with their strong, faith–filled marriage, are ready to follow a call to ministry—serving God, family, and country. But they soon learn how complicated military service truly is. Fresh from seminary and basic training, Turner and his family arrive at Fort Stewart. Yet, before they can even settle into their new house, Darren is deployed to Iraq. Heather is left to take care of three young children—as well as serve the families of the other deployed troops. Despite a desire to stay connected with their loved ones, the harsh realities of war take a daily toll on the battalion. Back at home, mothers give birth, kids grow, and nerves fray with every late– night knock on the door. The soldiers’ long–awaited homecoming is different than any of their families anticipated. Carrying burdens and battle scars their loved ones fail to comprehend, the troops essentially return different than when first deployed. The Turners must decide if they’re willing to face one more epic battle: the fight to save their marriage. “Beyond being a movie about war
and the military, it’s about how to make your marriage stronger,” said David Evans, director and co–writer. “There is no challenge that we face as husband and wife that is too big [for God].” Heather Turner said, “We fully trusted [the studio] to tell the story in a way that would honor the Lord. It feels strange that it’s our story that’s being highlighted because it is such a common story for many people.” Said Darren Turner, “A strong family will produce a strong soldier. But a struggling family will produce a struggling soldier. However, we want people to know that there is hope beyond this crisis that you are in.” “For soldiers to see their chaplain mess up, gives them permission to admit that they need help too,” said Heather. “Indivisible” stars Sarah Drew as Heather (Grey’s Anatomy, Moms Night Out), who is also the film’s executive producer; Justin Bruening as Darren (Grey’s Anatomy, Hawaii Five–O); Jason George as Michael Lewis (Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Station 19, Sunset Beach); Tia Mowry as Tonya Lewis (Sister, Sister; The Game); and Madeline Carroll as Amanda Bradley (I Can Only Imagine). It’s supported by the Kendrick Brothers Studio, which produced “War Room,” “Fireproof,” and “Courageous.”
“As a retired Army chaplain, watching ‘Indivisible’ was like experiencing reality for me, because I lived through much of what it portrayed. I cried at numerous points in ‘Indivisible,’ because the movie tapped into my emotions, experiences, and the tragedies I have experienced and personally helped many soldiers work through. ‘Indivisible’ was indeed true to life, reflecting the experiences of tens of thousands of soldiers. I highly recommend ‘Indivisible’ to all military personnel, and to every family, church, synagogue, mosque, or organization —
Visit Indivisiblemovie.com for a wide range of aids for small group marriage study, family resources, family life, marriage retreats, books, and videos.
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secular or religious.” —Chaplain Major James F. Linzey USA retired, founding president, Military Bible Association
Photo by Johnna Bernard
by Robert Mitchell
HITTING THE HIGH NOTES Danielle Beckvermit is only 25, but the soprano singing sensation has already performed at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera House in the last year alone. She is quick to note that The Salvation Army has played an essential role in her rise to stardom. As a kid in middle school, Danielle’s young life was marred by tragedy when Ted Mikolinis, her step–father, died from injuries suffered in a house fire. Ann Mikolinis, her mom, and five siblings struggled to get by. They eventually found love, support, solace, and music at the Kingston, N.Y. (Citadel) Corps. “The Salvation Army is really where I got started with singing,” Danielle says. “The Salvation Army’s music programs helped shape who I am. I was very active and I just got more and more involved. It was the Salvation Army’s music programs that really resonated with me.”
HER LIFE CHANGES Danielle’s Salvation Army journey began in 2001. Majors James and Deborah Kisser, who had just arrived in Kingston, invited Danielle’s younger sisters to their daughter Rebekah’s birthday party. “My sisters started going to the corps and then the rest of my family started going, including me,” Danielle recalls. “I was involved in everything.” That included Corps Cadets, Sunbeams, Girl Guards, Star Search, Timbrels, and the Greater New York Youth Chorus. Danielle also became a junior soldier and
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Courtesy of Danielle Beckvermit
Danielle Beckvermit outside the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
attended summer camp at Star Lake, where she accepted Christ. “I remember it happened in The Tabernacle where we were all praying as a group,” Danielle says.
LIFE–CHANGING EXPERIENCE Danielle said she found “friends, music, and God” at the corps. She and her older sister, Nicole Beckvermit, who is also an accomplished vocal soloist and has performed with the New York Staff Band, started accompanying their younger siblings to the corps for weekday activities and Sunday worship: Ashley, Allison, Sean, and Ryan Mikolinis. Major James Kisser remembers, “Being very musical themselves, Danielle and Nicole easily learned all the songs. They became involved with the Sunbeams, became junior soldiers, and helped with the
Singing Company. They also invited their friends to the corps.” Then came the fire that changed everything for the family. The blaze destroyed their house and forced Ann and her six children into a hotel for about a year. The corps supported them with food and clothes. “From that point on, it seemed that the four girls and two boys were always at the corps,” Kisser says. “They would stop in before and after school.” After Ted Mikolinis died, the Kissers provided pastoral care for the family. During the funeral, the Beckvermit/Mikolinis siblings stood in the choir loft of the church and sang that year’s Star Search compulsory piece, “Psalm 139.” “There was not a dry eye in the near– capacity crowd that day,” Kisser said. “During our eight years at the Kingston
Citadel, Danielle blessed many at the corps on Sunday mornings with her beautiful voice, either as a soloist or in duets with her sister Nicole or as a part of the Singing Company, which always included their brothers and sisters.” Danielle and her siblings sing. The brothers play piano. She started playing the cello in 4th grade and got involved in chorus in 5th grade. Her first time on stage was in her elementary school’s 5th–grade musical. “I’ve always loved to sing,” Beckvermit said. “I remember singing along to the musical ‘Annie’ with my sister when I was very young. Music has always been an important part of my life and that has never changed.” Danielle grew up listening to contemporary Christian music, most notably Casting Crowns. She also found healing through the song “Don’t Worry Child” by Salvationist Marty Nichols. “His music got me through some tough times when I was younger,” she says.
FINDING HER PURPOSE Beckvermit also enjoys singer–songwriter Josh Groban and opera star Nadine Sierra. Others who helped her develop over the years were Salvationist musicians Gavin Whitehouse, Gordon and Chris Ward, Doug Berry, and Lily Finikin. Danielle graduated from Kingston High School where she participated in chorus, orchestra, choir, ensemble, and several musicals. She then attended SUNY Fredonia, earning a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. It was while performing her first opera in college that she began to believe a career in music was possible. “I didn’t really know what that meant yet,” Beckvermit says. “I just knew I loved music and it was a big part of me. “I didn’t know I could make a career doing that. I think that’s when it all kind of clicked for me.”
THE BIG APPLE CALLS Beckvermit’s next stop was the Mannes School of Music, a conservatory in The
New School. She earned a master’s degree in voice performance. While in New York City, she lived at The Salvation Army’s Markle Evangeline Residence. “It was about 200 feet away from my college,” Beckvermit says. “It was like a sign that this was totally meant to be. A place to live in New York City was huge. Otherwise, I would have wound up at a different school in a different state. “I’m extremely grateful to The Salvation Army for everything from Star Lake to Youth Chorus to Star Search. I’ve made friends and traveled. The Salvation Army also had a big impact on me spiritually. Having someone believe in me and say, ‘You can do anything’ and nurture my talent was obviously huge.” Majors Bethany and Rick Starkey, who were the corps officers in Kingston during Beckvermit’s college days in New York, said she would take the two–hour train ride back to Kingston on Friday to lead the Youth Chorus. “Then she would go back to the city and return on Sundays for church services,” Major Rick said. “She has a great spirit to go along with incredible talents God has given her. “Every time she came home on break, she did whatever she could to help the children’s programs, sing on Christmas kettles, and work around the corps.” Captains Bill and Susanne Geracia, who were Beckvermit’s corps officers when she was in high school, called her “one of the most determined, motivated, and gifted young people” they have ever seen. “Danielle’s dedication to her God–given gift is amazing,” says Captain Bill. “In our time in Kingston, Danielle wanted to lead, sing, and participate in anything that gave her a chance to use the wonderful gifting of her voice or her knowledge about singing.”
HITTING IT BIG In the last year, Beckvermit has taken her talents beyond Kingston and placed in several prominent singing competitions. She was
named a grand finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Beckvermit said she was in awe at the “size, magnitude, and beauty” of the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan. She had come a long way from growing up poor in Kingston. “I got to sing onstage at the Met with the orchestra,” she said. “It was surreal. That was definitely the most amazing experience I’ve had so far.” Two weeks later, Beckvermit found herself onstage at Carnegie Hall as a soloist. She sang Mozart’s Requiem, which had special meaning for her after the death of a close friend. “It’s actually a spiritual piece,” Beckvermit said. “It was a way for me to honor what I’ve been given from God.”
THE NEXT JOURNEY Performing on some of the world’s most prestigious stages can be overwhelming, but Beckvermit’s training with The Salvation Army had taught her the power of prayer. “Singing in front of that big of an audience can be kind of daunting, no matter how good you are or how confident you are,” she said. “I think prayer is definitely a way for me to calm down, center myself, and remember why I’m doing all of this.” Beckvermit recently left New York for Minneapolis to be a resident artist with the Minnesota Opera for the 2018–19 season. It’s a paid gig where she will sing in six operas. She will be there at least one year; perhaps two. “What’s nice about this company is it’s a lot of stage performance time compared to some others,” she said. “I’ll definitely be kept busy. It’s a dream job for me.” Beckvermit also hopes to find a Salvation Army corps in Minnesota. Her busy life has kept her away from church lately. “I do miss that kind of community I grew up with,” she said. “It’s much more difficult when I’m all over the place to keep that community in my life.” Beckvermit said she maintains her spiritual life through
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devotional messages that come to her phone, Bible studies, and by following online spiritual posts from some former corps officers. “Being friends with so many awesome spiritual people through The Salvation Army is a giant help,” she said. “I see their posts and that’s inspirational to me.” Beckvermit said Christ remains at the center of her whirlwind life. “It’s an important part of my life to have this relationship with God and Jesus and to be saved,” she said. “To me, I can take that with me wherever I go and kind of share this message with other people through the gift I’ve been given as a singer. “This gift has been cultivated over the years through people in The Salvation Army, people in school, and people who have believed in me from a young age.”
HELPING OTHERS THRIVE Beckvermit said the life she has chosen is “unsettling” and “full of auditions and travel,” but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I can’t picture myself being as fulfilled and as happy and as whole doing anything else,” she said. “I get so much fulfillment from performing.” W hile she loves per for ming, Beckvermit said her ultimate goal is to teach music at the college level someday. It’s a desire instilled in her as she instructed young people at the Kingston, (Citadel) N.Y., Corps. “People in The Salvation Army have done so much for me. They’ve changed the course of what it could have been,” Beckvermit said. “By doing what I’m doing, I think there’s an element of me wanting to teach younger children that anyone can do this. “The Salvation Army believed in me and gave me faith. I want to instill that in others. It’s fulfilling for me, for example, when I worked with the Youth Chorus in Kingston and taught the kids. Sharing with other people what I’ve received brings my life full circle.”
Q & A
Josh Wilson interview by Robert Mitchell
Christian singer/songwriter Josh Wilson performed at this year’s Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings in Maine. It was his first Salvation Army event. Wilson, who plays many instruments, performed the entire concert solo with only an acoustic guitar and piano. “I’m honored that you would have me on your stage tonight,” Wilson said. Before he ministered to the crowd, Wilson spoke with SAconnects magazine about his career.
Who has influenced you spiritually? My parents were influential in my decision to be a Christian. My dad is a pastor and I grew up in the church. I began to follow Jesus when I was 10 years old. They raised me on Bible stories and worship songs. I’ve also appreciated a number of Christian authors. Two of my favorites are C.S. Lewis and Tim Keller. My favorite book by C.S. Lewis is The Great Divorce. I’ve read everything Tim Keller has put out, but probably my favorite is The Reason for God.
follow the lead of Jesus, who was not too busy or too important to notice normal people. There’s nothing about my life that anyone would make a movie or write a book about. I’m married and we have a two–year–old boy. We’re just ordinary people, but I wanted to use my life as source material. One day, I thought about an orchestra where everyone’s part came together in one symphony. I think that’s how Christian lives can be if we’re faithful to our calling. Our lives are the instrument that we get to play.
Who has inspired you musically? I grew up listening to Jars of Clay and Switchfoot. Those are still two of my favorite bands. With the solo acoustic guitar looping thing, Phil Keaggy is certainly an influence and a hero of mine. David Brandon, well known in classical guitar circles, was an influential teacher. I like to listen to anyone who is a good songwriter. I pay attention to them to hone my craft; anyone from James Taylor to Patty Griffin to Simon & Garfunkel. I just like good songs.
I think people would say your lyrics have such great depth. Where does it come from?I try to write from my life experience and things I observe. Certainly, my faith in Jesus filters what I see. I think songs are important and I take my lyrics seriously. I pine over every phrase. By the time the song comes out, it will have gone through 15 or 20 revisions. I also find inspiration as I watch what God does in the world.
The lyrics to your new song “Dream Small” are amazing. How did the Lord give them to you? The Bible says we’re all different parts of the same body. I thought about that and said, “Those little things really do matter. They add up. They make a difference.” The song is not anti–big dreams. I think big dreams are important, but I think that, on the way to those bigger dreams and goals, we can
Your song “I Refuse” was about the Nashville flood of 2010. I notice many of your songs are about remembering the forgotten people. After the flood hit, there was so much damage in our town. I realized our people needed help. I prayed, “God, please send help to our city.” After about two or three days of prayer, I realized God called me to be the hands and feet of Christ and to seek “the least of these,” the people who have really been through it. I called a friend and said, “Hey, I know your
house is flooded. What can I do?” I helped him tear out drywall in his basement. That didn’t change the whole city or the world, but it certainly changed his day. What is your songwriting process? I’m a slow writer. I jot down ideas as I think of them and as I’m inspired. Song titles or even melodies come to mind. I come back to them when I have time to sit and write. I also try to reignite the original inspiration. Generally, music comes to me before the lyrics do. I play and think, what does this remind me of? I’ll go back through my list and match the answer to one of my ideas. Then I write the lyrics. You’re a long way from retiring, but how do you want people to remember your music?I hope my music will leave people encouraged and more connected to God. You’ve been called the “future of Christian pop music.” (He laughs). That was a nice thing someone wrote a while back. It’s an honor to have someone say that about me. I love pop music and I consider it to be anything catchy. I want to write songs that stick in your head. That way, you think about the lyrics and let them sink in. I’ve been doing this for 12 years. In musician years, that’s a long time. I’m thankful to have come this far. I’m not looking to slow down anytime soon. I’m just taking it a day at a time and seeing where God leads.
A Nativity Advent by Joanna Polarek
A focal point for many of this year’s Christmas decorations will be the Nativity scene. There are so many varieties of it available for display. Somehow, we’ll find the one that will match our family’s culture and the look of our home. Some Nativity scenes are made of intricately detailed ceramics; others are created from wood and have a rustic appearance. Some are delicately carved from exquisite glass. There’s also the inflatable version we typically see on a neighbor’s front lawn. Whatever kind of scene we have, they all tell the same story. Each character in the Nativity has a truth to share that’s part of that bigger story. It’s rich in history and intentionally created by God. How about a Nativity Advent? Most advent calendars cover the period of 25 days, but with the hustle and bustle of activities during Christmas, a Nativity Advent just covers 15 days. Begin the journey with the Nativity Advent anytime in the beginning of December, leading up to Christmas day or perhaps your family will want to focus on the Nativity story the first 15 days of December. Either way, be intentional about the selected days you choose to create this special advent time. The concept is quite simple and walks us through each Bible character and his or her part of the story. Each day, we add a new character to the scene along with a Scripture verse highlighting the significance of that character. This is a family–friendly activity and everyone can participate. If your Nativity doesn’t include some of the pieces mentioned here, then share the Scripture and tell the story anyway. Some of the pieces to be added each day also have Old Testament scriptures as the birth of Jesus was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah.
For a more in–depth look at this idea, use Lisa Appelo’s book, Countdown to Christmas: Unwrap the Christmas Story With Your Family in 15 Days. Each day offers a scripture, a devotional reading, a prayer, and the instructions to add one piece from a standard nativity set. Appelo also includes a suggested Christmas carol that coincides with the day’s scripture.
Your Nativity Advent Devotional Start this season with a new tradition, breathing new life into the meaning of Christmas. Begin your Nativity Advent devotional by considering these questions with your family as you unpack your nativity set. What does the word nativity mean? According to the Merriam–Webster dictionary, nativity means “the process or circumstances of being born” and is the most relevant word for the birth of Jesus. What were the names of the gifts brought by the Wise Men? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What is the significance of each gift? Gold symbolized kingship and royalty. Frankincense was a holy oil and represented godliness. Myrrh was an anointing oil and was used for embalming. They were a reminder that Jesus was a gift from God, our King.* Your next step is to set up the stable and read the verse for Day 1. Leave the rest of your nativity pieces in the box or stored away until the day you unveil the next piece. Then follow the devotional guide for the additional 14 pieces of your nativity set. By the time December 25th arrives you will have shared the meaning of Christmas together as a family. *W hy the Nativity? (2006) by David Jeremiah
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Stable
Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:4–6
Joseph Luke 2:7
Palm Tree Isaiah 11:1–2 Matthew 1:1-6
Manger Luke 2:12
Isaiah 7:14 Luke 2:1–5
Isaiah 9:6 Luke 2:11
10 11 12 13 14 15 Shepherd
Wise Man 1
Wise Man 2
Wise Man 3
to your health
“ 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 (NLT)
Bites t s e B Healthy Holiday Eating
This season, give the gift of tasty yet healthy holiday fare. Simple steps can cut the fat or sugar in your favorite dishes — all without sacrificing taste.
Pour divine drinks
Mix sparkling drinks by adding seltzer or sugar–free soft drinks to juice. Serve low–fat eggnog or flavored seltzer with fruit kebobs.
Reduce the roast
Lean cuts of meat (loin), turkey (white meat) and fish are great choices. Trim visible fat before broiling, baking or stewing. Drain fat from meats after cooking. Baste with low–fat broth, not drippings.
Slim the trimmings
Cook stuffing separately, and replace half the meat with chopped apple, dried cranberries, roasted chestnuts, lightly sautéed vegetables or rice. Use turkey sausage, and omit butter (add broth if too dry). Skim the fat from drippings before making gravy.
Slenderize the sweets
When baking, replace half the eggs with egg whites. Many recipes can be made with three–fourths of the sugar and up to half of the fat (replace with low–fat dairy products or fruit puree). Use powdered sugar instead of frosting. Serve a sliver of angel food cake with berries or fruit salad.
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L ighten up side dishes
Instead of using heavy sauces, top with toasted nuts or sesame seeds, low–fat salad dressings, spices or herbs. Steam vegetables to preserve flavor and nutrients. Sweeten baked yams with apple or orange juice. Use low–fat sour cream or buttermilk to prepare mashed potatoes. To prevent latkes from absorbing too much oil, cook potatoes beforehand, make the patties thin and fry quickly—or bake them.
But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 1 SAMUEL 12:24 (NIV)
FEBRUARY 1–3, 2019 College for Officer Training, 201 Lafayette Avenue, Suffern, NY 10901
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USA Eastern Territory
Commissioners William A. & G. Lorraine Bamford
SAconnects, Volume 4, Number 9 The Salvation Army: SAconnects Your connection to The Salvation Army, USA Eastern Territory