SAconnects, Volume 5, Number 1 — February 2019

Page 1

the magazine VOL. 5, NO. 1 FEBRUARY 2019

#everychildmatters in Canton, Ohio, where Salvation SAL shares love and encouragement



N rth

“...This is the way; walk in it.”

People everywhere are talking about God and who He is, but do we ever get confused and wonder if what we’re hearing is the actual truth? Everyone is saying “live your truth,” but shouldn’t we be searching for God’s truth? True North is more than a Bible study— it’s a combination of resources designed to help us in thinking critically about the so–called truths that we have accepted from our culture. Geared toward younger women, but open to everyone.


contents VOLUME 5 | NUMBER 1

in every issue 3 from the editor 5 an active army 7 relevents 30 wholly living


awakening ARISE! UNITE! GO!

departments 6 to your health

Guard your heart from attack.


Two beneficiaries from the Cleveland, Ohio, ARC share their stories of recovery from addiction.

26 At “Empowerment 2018: Awakening,” elders pass the ministry baton to a new generation.

28 Q & A

Salvationist Damien Horne went from being homeless to becoming a country music star.

8 My Three Fathers

One woman tells her amazing and unlikely story of how the love of three fathers changed and ultimately saved her life.

32 20/20 vision highlights A new series focuses on how local ministries are changing lives in the USA Eastern Territory.

12 #everychildmatters Weary of an epidemic of youth suicides, leaders of the Akron (Citadel), Ohio, Corps decided to dedicate 35 percent of its budget to youth programming. The results have been amazing.

19 Mike Lindell

MyPillow founder Mike Lindell was once so addicted to cocaine his dealers intervened. Today, he has the personal relationship with Christ he always wanted.

Para leer los artículos en español por favor visite SACONNECTS.ORG/ENESPANOL



Why work at camp? Grow in your faith Earn and save money Develop as a leader Meet new people Have fun in the great outdoors Apply to a Salvation Army Summer Camp today and share the life–changing love of Jesus with campers. For more information about Summer Camps in the Eastern Territory please visit

from the editor the magazine

your connection to The Salvation Army

USA EASTERN TERRITORY 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, Joe Marino, Mabel Zorzano STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Ryan Love 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, 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. 5, No. 1, February Issue 2019. Printed in USA. Postmaster: Send all address changes to: SAconnects, 440 West Nyack Rd., West Nyack, NY 10994–1739. SAconnects accepts advertising. Copyright © 2019 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.

R–E–S–P–E–C–T In 1967, Aretha Franklin, music diva and longtime friend of The Salvation Army, released the song “Respect.” It emerged as an “anthem” for women around the world. The Queen of Soul, who passed away last year at 76, had altered the original lyrics to include actually spelling the word respect. “I thought I should spell it out because everyone needs respect. We all want it, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity,” she said. In a recent interview, Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, the Salvation Army’s World Secretary for Women’s Ministries and World President of SA Scouts, Guides, and Guards, elaborated on the need to respect women. “All around the world, it’s the same in many ways. Respect is a big thing; women want to be respected,” she said. In our next issue, we’ll honor Women’s History month with a story you’ll only read here; one that shares the testimonies of women who’ve successfully climbed the ladder in academia and have become presidents of Christian colleges. Colonel Janet Munn, principal of the Army’s College for Officer Training, is among them. In an era of the “#MeToo” movement, we’ll explore how the Army continues to be a beacon of hope. Said Peddle, “To provide programs and resources to let women know they are loved and respected in the workplace, at home, and in society, I think is a huge issue.”

— Warren L. Maye, Editor in Chief



There’s always a Great Deal in store for you When you donate and shop at The Salvation Army, your contributions fund our Adult Rehabilitation Centers, where people whose

lives have been turned upside–down find hope and a second chance. To learn more, call 800‑SA‑TRUCK or visit

FAMILY STORE Donation Center

an active army



When the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Ashland, Ohio, opened its doors a decade ago as the Eastern Territory’s first Kroc Center, it became the face of The Salvation Army in Ashland. Still, city residents wondered what this new facility would offer. “We were a whole new experiment for The Salvation Army and debuting in a small community like Ashland,” says Debbie Cooper, the center’s business manager. “Many saw the Army shield and thought this was a building only for people in need. Our challenge was to show what we were capable of.” Even today, people who walk into the Ashland Kroc Center expecting just a community facility or just a church are shocked to see what a Salvation Army Kroc Center offers. Along with the more common features that are a staple in Army corps (churches), such as daily meal services and a food pantry, the Kroc Center also has a working spray park, and a basketball court that can double as a roller–skating rink for birthday parties or host dances by the Kroc

Center’s own Big Band musical group. The center also has an indoor field house for winter soccer leagues and bounce house space for families with toddlers. “There’s something magical about our field house,” says Cooper, who has been a part of the center since it opened. “Anyone who walks into it is amazed. It’s special to see green turf ready to be played on—even during a cold harsh winter.” In the summer months, the center’s splash park is open to the public and is ready to be enjoyed by families for whom summer vacations might be too expensive. The spray park is an attraction that one would find within a public park and maintained with taxes. For the center, it’s a “thank you” gift to the community for investing and believing in The Salvation Army. Cooper says that the center’s upcoming 10–year anniversary will be an opportunity to reintroduce it to the community. “Our anniversary weekend is going to be called ‘Back to the Future’,” says

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Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray Kroc, began a legacy of hope when she entrusted The Salvation Army with $1.5 billion to build community centers all across the country. She dreamed of a network of “Kroc Centers,” each providing opportunities in arts, education, and athletics for children, adults, and families in underserved communities. These centers remove the financial, geographic, and social barriers typically standing in the way of people realizing their full potential. Additionally, Mrs. Kroc envisioned these centers as bastions of peace, social justice, and service to others. Joan Kroc passed away a little more than a year after the archetype San Diego Kroc Center opened in 2002. However, her dream is being transformed into reality each and every day at the 26 Kroc Centers serving communities across the United States and in Puerto Rico. Cooper. “We are looking back at our 10 years, but also looking forward to what we have coming. This version of the Kroc Center has run its course; it’s time for the next phase and the next 10 years.” Even as a weekend party location or an escape from the summer heat, the center will continue to meet the need of every member of the community, regardless of social class or income. “We have our social services department in front of the building, so that anyone who needs help has access to it as soon as they walk in. We will always make sure the Ashland Kroc is a good steward of the mission of The Salvation Army,” says Cooper. “But just because you don’t need help feeding your family, it doesn’t mean that you can’t come in to enjoy what we have to offer. There is something for everyone inside a Salvation Army Kroc Center.”



to your health

Silent Heart Attacks Chest pain, shortness of breath and cold sweats are typical heart attack signs. But many Americans have heart attacks without symptoms—and when they do, they are three times as likely to die from heart disease. Here’s why:

Symptoms of a silent heart attack can be so mild they’re barely noticed. They’re often mistaken for indigestion, nausea, muscle pain, or influenza.

Most silent heart attacks are discovered accidentally, with the damage showing on an EKG or MRI during a regular exam or before surgery.

When silent heart attacks go undiagnosed, people don’t get the treatment needed to prevent another heart attack.

Although silent heart attacks are more common among men, women are more likely to die from them.

Are you at risk to suffer a silent heart attack? Check with your health care provider if you have one or more of these risks factors:

❑ Smoking or chewing tobacco ❑ Prior heart attack ❑ Age 45 and older ❑F amily history of heart disease ❑ Diabetes ❑ Obesity ❑ High cholesterol ❑ High blood pressure ❑ Lack of regular exercise

BURSTING DIET MYTHS by Cara Rosenbloom, RD Search for “diets” and you’ll end up with thousands of results. With so many diets to choose from, you may be wondering which is best. THE ANSWER: The ideal diet is the one you can stick to in the long term. It’s a plan that contains foods you enjoy, doesn’t cause deprivation, and isn’t filled with costly ingredients or supplements. The key is what works best for you, whether you have certain dietary preferences or must avoid some foods. Many diets are considered fads because they don’t last long and simply don’t work. So, choose one that can become a normal part of your life. If you go on a diet, eventually you will go off a diet. Make permanent changes instead, and learn the truth behind these diet myths: MYTH: You’ll gain weight if you eat after 8 p.m. FACT: It’s fine to have a snack between 8 p.m. and bedtime, as long as you’re not grazing all evening. Eating too many treats will lead to weight gain. What matters is what and how much you eat. MYTH: You can’t eat protein and carbs at the same meal. FACT: Your digestive tract was built to handle a mix of foods at the same time. There’s no scientific proof that eating meat and bread separately helps with weight loss. MYTH: Going on a diet is not the best way to lose weight. FACT: If you restrict calories, you’ll lose weight in the short term, but it likely won’t last. Instead, change the way you eat for the long term. Design a diet that becomes a lifestyle.

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

© 2018 Ebix Inc. dba Personal Best. All rights reserved. Not intended as a substitute for professional care.



—PROVERBS 4:20–22


Lieutenant Chakanaka Watch, commanding officer of the Harlem (Temple) N.Y., Corps, talks about witnessing the Salvation Army’s global ministry, choosing the Church rather than pursuing fame, and how radio became one of his first ministries. interview by Hugo Bravo

When I was young, I wanted to be a celebrity and God was kind enough to fulfil that desire. In Zimbabwe, I had worked as a radio DJ, a musician, and a professional athlete. I became famous, but it was God’s way of saying, “I let you sample the fame that you thought you wanted. Are you done? I have another path for you.” Today, I can say I have only achieved real success by being in His service.

After I had finished playing a season with CAPS United F.C., a Zimbabwean soccer club, I was invited to a nightclub as a New Year’s Eve VIP. But my mother said I would bring in the New Year in church with her. I agreed to stay for the service, but then go to my As a radio DJ in Zimbabwe, I hosted a program called “Beat with a party. At the corps, Captain Musafiri’s sermon Message,” which played Christian and gospel music. At first, the station talked about the mistake of following a path of manager thought no one would want to hear a Christian radio program. destruction. “If we are committed to God, we But it became so popular, he increased the show from one hour to three. will be with Him every Sunday,” he said. I cried, Gradually, I began to see “Beat with a Message” as a ministry. Its message knowing that I had not been to church in eight to people was about God, and it taught me to think carefully about every months; Sunday was when soccer games word I used on the air. On live radio, you never get to take your words back. were played. After the service, I told the team that I would leave soccer. Freddie Mukwesha, the manager of CAPS United F.C., personally came to my job and asked me to come back. But I said no The Peekskill, N.Y., Corps, where I served as to him, because I had already said yes to God. an envoy, had full Sunday services, active soldiers, and a wonderful advisory board. I wondered, should I leave it all for two years in training? But I was reminded Even though I had grown up in The Salvation Army, the that “God knows the plans He has for you, and you scope of its presence in the world only became clear to me will prosper and have a future” (from Jeremiah 29:11). as a teen. The first time I boarded an airplane, I went to Cape As an officer, I’ve had the joy of helping to change Town, South Africa to represent my country for the Army at lives and bring souls to the Church. Today I wonder, an International Youth Forum. That forum changed my life. I if I had said no to God when He called, what would met 500 other young Salvationists from all around the world. have happened to those lives and souls?

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my three FATHERS by Erin Geddes


rom as young as I can remember, I was told that I had come from a specimen cup; that my “father” had been anonymously selected and financially compensated by a fertility doctor to supply a “donation,” at the request of my mother. Children are typically asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For kids who are adopted, a deeper question is frequently, “Do you want to meet your birth parents when you grow up?” But for people like me, a more urgent question is, “Will you ever find out who is responsible for 50 percent of your biological make up?” From as early as the 1700s, medical sciences have brought forth different fertility interventions. Today, many couples and individuals who never thought having a family would be possible for them, now have numerous options available to make their dream come true. In comparison to many of my peers, growing up was distinctly different for me. For example, Father’s Day did not hold any real significance in my life. As far as I was concerned, it was just another Sunday, except for the fact that it came with the expectation that many of my neighborhood friends would be somewhere else enjoying their dads. I knew exactly why I had no dad to give a handmade card, thanks to my mom. She was a real rebel in her day—an early “Murphy Brown” kind of woman. She had wanted to become a mother, even if it meant raising a child without the support of another parent. Her plan was clear; the donor would legally stay anonymous. Even



before I was conceived, my right of ever having this inforMARRIED WITH CHILDREN mation released to me was signed away. I married a Godly man and we had our first child. At that As the years went by, I was plagued by the question, point, I broke the cycle of single mothers in my family. We “Who made the rest of me?” I had to leave countless named our daughter Eliza, which means “God’s Promise.” doctor’s application forms blank when it came to recallI also gained a precious father in law, who I called my ing my father’s health history. In fact, I left a blank for my “Father in Love.” I felt blessed. For the first time in my life, father’s side and my maternal grandfather’s side of the this sacred title flowed from my lips, free of even an ounce family, as my mother had been a product of rape. of awkwardness. He was also a Salvation Army officer Being raised by my mother and my late grandmother, who became my earthly father; I became the daughter he I was everything but girly. You could find me around the never had. neighborhood with mostly friends who were boys. We God heard all my cries and my desire to have a built tree forts, played video games, and jumped our bikes complete family; one where my children would know off small homemade ramps. both their parents who also walked with Jesus. I thought, I was awkward, heavy set, had short hair, was a late God is good, God is great! developer, and frequently dressed in boys’ attire. At times, I would sort of try to bond with my friends’ fathers HE’S IN MY DNA while they tooled and tinkered on stuff in their garages. I A few years later, God shook my world. My husband and wanted to call each one “dad,” but it always felt awkward I had recently moved into our first home and were kept to pretend. My heart ached for a fatherly relationship; I pretty busy, raising three children. We also learned that looked for it from whomever would give me any attention. my Father in Love had been diagnosed with cancer. In my middle school years, I accepted Christ. However, Thanks to a thoughtful Mother’s Day present from the concept of what it my husband, I had been meant to have a personal eagerly awaiting t he relationship with my results from an ancestry Heavenly Father wasn’t DNA test. I hoped this I could keep chasing an imaginary natural to me. In my would give me an opporlove, with the hope that finding him personal walk, it was a tunity to at least see what struggle to feel His presmade up the other half would fulfill the ache I carried for so ence, love, and desire to of my genetics, which long, or I could finally embrace a be a part of my everyday had to be in a database life. somewhere. Could I also father who had been there all along While in college, I find any half siblings? I and who desperately wanted to be realized the time had wondered. come for me to make a Other countries have an everyday part of my life. choice. I could keep chasstrict laws governing the ing an imaginary love, frequency a person can with the hope that findmake a genetic material ing him would fulfill the ache I carried for so long, or I donation in a given geographical area. But the U.S. has could finally embrace a father who had been there all fewer restrictions. This meant there was a greater likelialong and who desperately wanted to be an everyday part hood of other successful pregnancies from a single donor. of my life. Being an only child, I had always longed for a sibling. So, I chose my First Father. I grew to feel His presMy husband, who is also an only child, had wished for ence in my life and the direction He was taking me as the same. We always thought we’d marry someone with a I studied to earn my bachelor’s degree. I was falling in large family, hoping to experience what we longed for. We love with my Abba. He accepted me with all my impersoon learned that God has a real sense of humor. fections, struggles, and inner ugliness, which only I saw. When my DNA results arrived, I browsed through the My relationship with Him really made things more than geographical areas of my heritage and explored possible a religious lifestyle; it was a real personal walk in faith family matches. with my Creator. Right off the bat, I discovered six matches and every



Courtesy of Erin Geddes

Major Wesley Geddes holds his first grandchild, Eliza Ruth Geddes.

Erin Geddes and her biological father hold Alden, her youngest son, during a sibling reunion.

one of them had 100 percent certainty of being from close family. Within 30 minutes after sending a general interest message, a response came. This woman knew exactly how we were related. We quickly moved our conversation to the phone where I learned I had 13 other half–siblings. This was surely news enough. But then my half-sister dropped the biggest life–changing bomb. After having conducted further investigations and collecting general info on donor and birth locations, she had found our donor! He had donated where he grew up and later served in the Navy. In addition to donating, He also had seven naturally–born children, most of whom had accepted their recently–discovered half siblings.

A FAMILY REUNION Now, I was about to view his Facebook profile; about to stare at a portrait of my biological father. I had seen pictures of my mother as a child; I never looked much like her. But there was no doubt that this man was my other 50 percent. The next morning, I got the courage to call him. I had come this far, so why not keep going? He accepted my call with open ears. He called me “daughter.” We shared our interest in power tools, home improvement, and ADHD connections. To each other, our personalities were open books. In less than a month, I flew to a sibling’s reunion, thanks to the generosity of my new family who chipped in to pay my airfare. This was a trip I couldn’t miss. It was

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also a chance to meet my father and give him a hug for the first time in my life. Through the modern marvels of technology and social media, I’ve been able to video chat with my new–found siblings. To date, the number is now up to 20. I’m learning just how much we share quirks, interests, and looks. Despite about half of us living apart from each other, there is something to be said for nature vs. nurture.

MY FATHER IN LOVE At the same time that I discovered my new family, God was calling my Father in Love home. The man my children called “Grandpa,” a title I had never been privileged to say in my own childhood, was losing his battle with cancer. The Lord knew my heart and blessed me to be present with Grandpa during his final hours in hospice care. How much he knew of my presence that night will remain a mystery, but I read Scripture to him and carefully rubbed his dry feet with lotion. In the morning, I watched Major Wesley Geddes pass from this life into the presence of his Creator. I mourn the loss of my Father in Love. I also grieve having lived a life void of my biological father. These men are wonderful and have influenced my life greatly in different ways. But God is my strongest Father. His arms have reached out and have comforted me in my darkest hours. He is so good and will always be there for me.



#everychild “ Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” —PROVERBS 31:8–9


by Robert Mitchell photography by Jason Miller

in Canton, Ohio

“Somebody has to do something.” The staff at the Canton, Ohio, Citadel Corps grew weary of hearing that phrase each time a student committed suicide in Stark County. During the 2017–18 school year, 12 students took their lives in separate incidents. One of the tragedies hit close to home for Heather Morris, the administrative assistant at the Canton Corps. In February 2018, a middle schooler brought a gun to class and killed himself. The incident happened at the same school where Morris’ two children attend. Majors Thomas and Debbra Grace, the corps officers, called a staff meeting to brainstorm ideas on what could be done about the epidemic. Initially, the corps decided to dedicate 30 percent of its $2.5 million annual budget to youth programming and launched #everychildmatters, a hashtag movement. “It motivated all of us,” Grace recalls. “It came out of the reality that



there have been continual school shootings. To a person, we decided we’re going to do something and we’re going to put our energy behind it, 100 percent. It all starts with committed people.” Their first challenge was to reopen the community center. “It had been closed for years,” Grace said. “When I put the budget together, that figure ended up being 35 percent of our operating budget going to youth programming.” They named the center “The SAL,” which stands for Safety, Availability, and Love. “Those are the things that we see as foundational to the maturation of children,” Grace said. “We make ourselves available to kids. We need to hear what they’re saying and act on what they say. Across the board, this is a loving and compassionate team here.”

“We want those dollars to be used creatively,” he said. “Traditional Army programming is the foundation of everything we do, but the fact is, the community around us is vastly different than it was even 10 years ago. Rather than just roll the ball out and say, ‘Physician, heal thyself,’ we’re going to do more. “We want this place to be as seamless as possible. While we have multiple departments here and our delivery of services is different, depending on what the department is, we all need to reach for the same thing, and what we need to reach for is positive change in the lives of the people the Lord brings to our door.”

DEDICATED STAFF One of those team members is Chris Brown, a former Pathway of Hope case manager. As the community center director, he exemplifies the “Safety, Availability, and Love” mission. “That’s something we want people to feel when they come here,” Brown said. “We went from having a gym that was closed, to having a gym that is full several times a week. It means a lot to these kids because there’s not a lot of opportunities here.” Brown said two Canton–area high schools recently consolidated. That cut the number of basketball players who can make the school team. “A lot of kids got left out and we’re providing some opportunities for those kids,” he said. “Kids need a place to play.” Basketball leagues now dominate the gym, including a junior NBA team and a diversion program known as “Taking the Crown.” The corps also built a partnership with the Canton Charge, the G–League affiliate of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. The team’s players have held clinics with local kids. The corps mascot, Salvation SAL, has appeared at Charge games. The mentorship program is known as “Points of Reference.” The teens involved produce lemonade called “Dare to Dream” and Grace expects it to be on local supermarket shelves in the future. While that may seem a longshot, Grace says a locally produced Salvation Army donut made it on shelves last year. “We’re really at the beginning of a long road of fun and creative programming,” Grace said. The 35 percent budget figure for youth programming goes largely to staffing and equipment for programs, Grace said.



EVERYONE ON MISSION Grace has eight grandchildren, but he and his wife are empty nesters. “I don’t have kids running around my house, but these folks do,” Grace said of his staff. “Their children are the ones facing the very issues that we want to cry out against. Every person in this building has brought something to the table. Where did it come from? It came from their life perspectives. They’re out there leading the charge more than I am.” His philosophy when someone raises an idea is, “It’s a ‘yes’ until it’s a ‘no.’”


(Clockwise from top left): Heather Morris, Major Thomas Grace, Chris Brown, and Juan Gonzalez demonstrate how every child matters.

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Major Thomas Grace said The Salvation Army’s “The Whole World Mobilizing” campaign “radically changed” the Canton, Ohio (Citadel) Corps. “When then–General André Cox said he wanted the Army to be mobilized, we took that very seriously,” Grace said. “We traveled to a different community once a month.” Heather Morris, the administrative assistant at the corps, said, “Mobilizing changed our whole corps and our place in the community.” The corps sponsored or co–sponsored several community events, including a “Summerbration” that involved a partnership with radio station WHBC in Canton. Grace, an admitted introvert, likes to joke that he sits in the proverbial leather chair, but he joined the outreach effort and found himself blessed. The corps distributed food and engaged its struggling neighbors. “If you really want to do ministry, you need to know that people are dying from heroin overdoses in their car while their kids are sitting there when that’s happening,” Grace said. “You should know that 53 percent of the kids in our community live in poverty. That should break our hearts—and it does. “If Salvation Army officers are going to have a perspective on the field that they’re supposed to minister to, then they better get up from their leather chairs. They better get out into their communities, lead the charge, and mobilize.”

“It may seem strange to somebody else, but it may be just what the doctor ordered for our young people,” Grace said. “There has yet to be a ‘no’ because it’s coming from the hearts of kids. We’re not going to tell kids what they need. We’re going to let kids tell us what they need. We want to hear them, but not just hear them; we want to act on what they tell us. “Committing 35 percent of our operating budget to youth is an incredible investment in the future and has the potential to change culture and the conditions of culture in this community and that’s why we did it.” It’s clear the #everychildmatters hashtag and spirit permeates everything the corps does. “That has sparked things,” Brown said. “We’ve seen a great increase in our presence in the schools and in the community.” Grace said other churches are also taking action, but he wanted the corps to be different. So, Grace ordered a Dalmatian costume on and “Salvation SAL” was born. The corps mascot goes to schools and to other community events, including the NFL’s Hall of Fame Parade. “When Salvation SAL goes anywhere, he is loved by the kids,” Grace said. “He also draws the parents. We’ve gone into some of this community’s most difficult neighborhoods (see sidebar, p. 15). As a result of our mobilizing, we’ve seen new people in the corps and in a lot of our programs.”

SALVATION ARMY BASICS Salvation SAL and other staffers go into two rough elementary schools to share their love, and with bracelets and trading cards in hand. Brown sometimes wears the Dalmatian costume. “You can tell there’s a need,” Brown said. “If a kid will come up and hug a stranger, it shows that, not only do they feel safe, but there’s obviously a need there.” The mascot sits at lunch tables and helps the kids open their juice boxes. Sometimes he’s there to just talk or give them a high–five. “There’s nothing profound about that,” Grace says. “I tend to believe that’s what the Founder and his team did to birth the Army. We didn’t even have chapels back then. We went into the community. We made ourselves available. “You have to show people that they matter, and you need to believe that to work here. People matter and if

they don’t, we should just close the doors. I think William Booth, if he were here, would say ‘Amen’ to that. If we look at who William Booth targeted in his ministry, it was people who others thought didn’t matter.” The ideas come from the youngest to the oldest. Ozell Williams, who works with seniors at the corps, suggested holding a corps community night, which drew several new people. “That was Ozell’s idea and it came out of his heart,” Grace said. “That’s what goes on here. I don’t have all the ideas, but we have a whole lot of people who do. It’s the whole team. It’s everyone here.”

SENIORS HELP KIDS Williams and his band of seniors hooked up with Tara Brown, the wife of Chris Brown and the social services director at the corps. They’re working on an intergenerational project to provide “weekender bags” for the poor children in Canton. Nearly 100 percent of the students qualify for a free or reduced lunch. Corps members pack 300 bags a week for distribution at two elementary schools. The bags include two breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and drinks, as well as candy and produce. “The seniors put all their love into the bags and we pack them up and take them to the schools every Friday,” Tara Brown said. Brown said she also enjoys interacting with the children. She recalls talking to one young girl who said she was sad because her 4th–grade classmate had committed suicide. “It opened my heart that it’s not just the social services clients I serve, but it’s bigger than that,” Tara Brown said. “Any step I can take to get into the school or into the community to touch them on a one–on– one basis, I will do over and over again. “We have lots of children who come from broken homes and it’s an unfortunate, but common scenario.” Meanwhile, Juan Gonzalez, who leads a Hispanic service at the church, is active with a food pantry and is teaching kids soccer. In the fall, the corps provides backpacks for school and tries to help the Spanish–speaking community feel safe. “For us, every child matters because he or she is the next generation, be they English or Spanish speaking,” he said. “We want them to know the peace and love of Jesus

Christ. Many come from violent areas and see sex, drugs, and violence on television. We form a relationship with them. We plant our values in them.” Darlene Williams, the youth ministries assistant at the corps, said the children who come on Sunday mornings can attend Orange Sunday School and a music & arts

They want to know ‘Is there anyone else out here who loves me?’ I can tell them, ‘Yes, Jesus does.’ — Darlene Williams, youth ministry assistant

program after service. The corps also offers a Friday night youth program for grades 6–8. “It’s a time when they can be with someone with whom they feel safe to talk to. They also get a little bit of spiritual guidance while having some fun,” she said.

THE NAME OF JESUS Williams said Canton is a city plagued by poverty. Single parents there work long hours. That cuts into family time and increases the kids’ indulgence in social media. To combat these problems, Williams and Brown are involved in the mentoring program. “I feel the community is in need of a lot of mentoring,” she said. A former preschool educator, Williams is happy that she can now speak freely about her faith when counseling young people. “I would see a lot of need, but I couldn’t really speak about Jesus and what He could do in their lives,” she said


of her former job. “I could have been fired for doing that. What motivates me now is, I don’t have to teach a curriculum of just basic ABCs. I can teach kids about Jesus and how He’s there during troubles and during happiness. “A lot of these kids don’t go to church. A lot of their parents don’t go either. Having a kid just curious about


church, that’s the first step. They’re open to it. That’s what gets me up every day. I know it’s worth it. They want to know ‘Is there anyone else out here who loves me?’ I can tell them, ‘Yes, Jesus does.’” Morris, who said everyone at the corps supported her after the shooting at her children’s school, is happy to be part of the solution. “It doesn’t matter to me that it involved my children,” she said. “It was happening, and we needed to do something, and we did, and I’m so proud. Everyone knew we needed to do something before that day. But once this happened, everyone agreed we needed to stop talking about it and do something. “How can you walk down the halls of a school and tell who will be the next kid to attempt suicide? You can’t do anything about who might bring a gun to school, but we can do this; we opened up a place that’s safe and comfortable and loving and appropriate for children. We offer love, patience, kindness, activities, and an outlet.”

‘I will give you rest’ by Robert Mitchell

Background: iStock; photo of Mike Lindell courtesy of MyPillow

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 sidebar, p.21). 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.

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.

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.


“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.


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

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.”

pro–active 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.

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.”

Courtesy of MyPillow


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.


SOWING SEEDS Genovese sweet basil seeds bloom in a high–tech indoor farm operated by the Akron (Citadel), Ohio, Corps. Akron public school children, as well as kids from the corps, care for the plants and learn about hydroponic farming. “We’re really committed to ending this cycle of intergenerational poverty through education,” said Marian Calvin, director of development for the corps. (For more information, see the September 2018 issue of SAconnects magazine.)

Want to develop your green thumb? Plant a garden!

Even in February, when soil is still too wet and cold in most parts of the country, you can plant seeds indoors and jump–start your garden. Some of the easiest projects are broccoli, lettuce, and tomatoes. You can also start many flowers indoors.




The Business of Change RECLAIMING MY SOUL: ARMEL JORDAN The first time I came to the Cleveland ARC in 1999, I only stayed two weeks. I was not ready to stop being an addict, but I did have some breaks in my addiction. During that time, I went to ministry school and became a licensed pastor. My choices baffled me; how could God allow me to have both the life of an addict and the calling of a pastor? You might say I was a functioning addict. I did cocaine and drank alcohol, but I also had a house, a job as a hotel manager, and a family to come home to. If you ever saw me on the streets, it was because I wanted to be there, not because I didn’t have a place to go. Fifteen years after failing the ARC program, I returned to attend the graduation of a beneficiary who had been under my ministry. The building looked new, and when I walked inside, I felt like a different person. The graduate asked me to give the program a shot myself, so I did. When I spoke to Darnell, an intake coordinator at the Cleveland ARC, I voiced the question that had been eating away at me for much of my life. “How am I a pastor trying to lead others to Christ, yet I remain deaf to my own message?” To my surprise, he responded, “Oh, you too?” Darnell was a pastor like me, and a former drug user. Hearing from someone else who had gone through the same doubts as I had immediately made me feel welcome.

interviews by Hugo Bravo

Jervon Carswell (left) and Armel Jordan (right) walked into the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Cleveland, Ohio, in need of help. Jervon had little more than the clothing on his back and comfort in the knowledge that through God, the best was yet to come. Armel had been blessed with a successful career and a family, yet was filled with agonizing questions about his purpose in life. But both men suffered from addiction.

Photo by Susan Magnano



I learned that rather than sending these men in recovery out and forgetting about them, The Salvation Army instead entrusted them to help other people like

“ I didn’t look like a man searching for help. I looked like a man who A HEALER REBORN: JERVON CARSWELL

was there to sell drugs.” —Jervon Carswell

themselves. The day after I graduated from the program, I also began working for the ARC as a resident assistant manager. After a year and a half, I went back to school and became a counselor. My own confusion was what kept me an addict. I was fortunate to have what I needed in life regarding possessions. But the Gospel of Mark tells us, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Even with a home and a family, I didn’t have my soul. The Salvation Army gave me my soul back and my relationship with God. We need to understand and accept God’s permissive will, not just His perfect will. I once asked God, “Why do I smoke crack and drink, when I could have been addicted to something else?” I heard Him say that He chose this for me, because something else would have been too much to withstand. If I was addicted to gambling, my family might be left homeless. If I had suffered from depression, I may have taken my life. God knew the outcome of my addiction, and that I would return to His grace. Being an addict can be isolating. Many addicts have been exiled from their families and from society. They think they have nothing to offer. That’s why those little words, “Oh, you too?” were so powerful. That’s what many of our addicts just need to hear; a reminder that they’re not alone in this world. You may be unique in your addiction or in your life experiences, but you are not so unique that Christ didn’t die for your sins, as He died for mine.

Having been an alcoholic since I was 26, I finally heard the Lord speak to me at 55. He said that if I would stop living that life of a drug–dealing, drug–using, gang member profiting off the bodies of women, He would lift me up, make me a healer, and meet my needs. I rode on a bike with patched tires to The Salvation Army Cleveland ARC. I was wearing a fur jacket and hat, leather pants, and gold chains around my neck. I must have appeared so awkward to the men there. I didn’t look like a man searching for help. I looked like a man who was there to sell them drugs. A counselor at the ARC told me that God had something great in store, echoing what the Lord had said to me when I decided to turn my life around. I had to get clean as soon as possible so God could use me to do His will. The Second Mile Award is the highest recognition that The Salvation Army can give an ARC beneficiary. Receiving it was proof to me that God acknowledged my life. After finishing the program, I continued to volunteer at the ARC, while also participating in a new program called The Railton House, which focuses on independent living. For the first time in my life, I now had a chance to become self–sufficient. Today, I’m a Salvation Army soldier and a counselor at the Cleveland ARC. God has turned me from a pimp and a pusher, to a preacher and a praiser! He and The Salvation Army are in the business of changing us to be our best selves. God loves moving the heaviest mountains,

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cracking the hardest nuts, and there was no nut harder to crack than me. I was blessed to help save a beneficiary from dying of an overdose, thanks to the training I received as a counselor. I’ll never forget that look of death in his eyes. As I saw life trying to leave his body, I realized how he could have been me. God was showing me the path I could have taken, and He was fulfilling His promise to make me a healer. Personality–wise, I haven’t changed much since my days in the streets. But now I’m promoting and advocating for the Word of God and for redemption. When I go back to the streets to meet the men there, I never judge, but I ask that they let me pray for them. I also invite them to church on Sunday. When I talk to the men who seek help, some say I’m strict, others call me nasty names for telling it to them like it is. But weeks and months later, they write to me and say thank you for being honest with them. These are men with broken souls, bodies, and minds; no faith in anything except the streets. It is my obligation as a soldier to share my story and remind them that Jesus never chose the good, tidy folks to follow Him; He chose the sinners and the unclean. I’m thankful to The Salvation Army for allowing me to be what God called me to be. I’m forever in debt, which is why I put on this uniform every day.





awakening ARISE! UNITE! GO!

by Warren L. Maye

W And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. —ROMANS 13:11–12



hen the Salvation Army’s USA Eastern Territory convened its biennial Empowerment Conference recently in Scranton, Pa., the event marked the passing of the proverbial baton from the baby–boomer to the millennial and Z generations. Inherent in that metaphorical wand are cultures rich in music, history, spirituality, and national diversity. As elders passed on their passion for ministry, young men and women embraced those valued gifts. “The conference made me appreciate the diverse make–up of our territory even more,” said Major Soo Jung Kim, leader of the Mission & Culture Department, which supported the event. She oversees corps leadership development, language translation, cultural committees, Hispanic and urban

ministries, as well as the Others, World Services, and Stewardship ministries. “We are questioned at times for the reason behind an event that appears to ‘separate’ one ethnic culture from others,” she said. Kim, who in 1978 immigrated to the United States from South Korea, knows what it means to juxtapose cultures. “As a female Korean–American attending an event that worships in African–descent style, tone, and elements, this experience has brought me closer to the heart of oneness and unity. Unity begins with appreciation for others and how we treat each other. We can truly love individuals when we learn from them and not by our assumptions of them.” Kim, who speaks Korean and English and loves African–American

blues music, continued, “Greater contributions can be given when I understand myself and have the space to strengthen that identity. This Empowerment Conference provided the opportunity for both. It was about celebrating, learning, and acknowledging the heritage, history, and contributions of Salvationists of African Descent, and entering into this context to fully appreciate the image God has given us is true worship.” Envoy Kenneth Burton, director of the Army’s Phil Ramone Orchestra for Children in Harlem, said, “Every two years, it is with great anticipation that I attend the conference. It never fails to be a mountaintop experience as I soak in the pearls of wisdom and enjoy the songs that resonate in my spirit and speak to the depths of my soul.”

IMAGINING HEAVEN Burton, who has received the Order of the Founder, the highest award of excellence given to a Salvationist, said that the event, which began in 2005, also results in practical and long–lasting transformations. “We’ve recruited officers (pastors) from these seminars. The conference is a place of learning and enriching God’s Kingdom. “As I sat in the meetings, I closed my eyes and was transported to what I imagine heaven to be like. We will continue to register people of all nationalities. Just as in heaven, we will sit, stand, and worship together in complete harmony,” said Burton. Colonel Damon Rader, a Caucasian officer whose legendary ministry in Africa has inspired many people to make a difference in the world, led members of his family as they fellowshipped and prayed with delegates. “People always perceive that this conference is just for people of African descent, but it is not,” said Patricia Wood of the organizing group, the

Territorial Committee For Salvationists of African Descent. “That was never our intention. It is for everyone to come and experience the culture.”

UNCOMMON VALOR Lt. Colonels Abraham and Louise Johnson, who have mentored many of the Army’s soldiers, received an “Empowerment Life Achievement Award,” which recognized them in particular for their intrepid support of the New Sounds for Christ, a singing group started in 1976. At that time, the group revived African–American gospel music in the Army. “These two stood up for us,” said Burton of the Johnsons. In 1880, the Army had used then– popular gospel music to inaugurate it in the United States. However, with the 1900s came the brass band movement, which swept Europe and ultimately became the Army’s signature sound. Long retired now from active service, the Johnsons reflected on their years of ministry and offered advice to future generations. “Don’t let anyone discourage you,” said Lt. Colonel Abraham. “You belong in The Salvation Army.” He continued, “I was saved in the Army and I will be buried in the Army!”

TIME TO ‘WAKE UP’ “After you finish dreaming, you have to wake up,” said Captain Darell Houseton, corps officer (pastor) of the Chapel at Worthington Woods in southwest Ohio. He was one of three guest speakers, which included Corps Sergeant Major Lydia Mills and Envoy Tony Lewis. Houseton said, “For too long, we’ve had Christian dreams, Christian plans, and Christian hopes, but without any Christian follow through. We’ve been set upon by opposition, we’ve been taken down by discouragement and fear, and in many cases, excuses,” he said. “But today, our Scripture tells us in Romans 13:11–12, to wake up.”

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Mills, a corps sergeant major (deacon) at the Newburgh, N.Y., Corps, echoed those sentiments as she referenced the story of Gideon in Judges 6:1–16. “God is calling us to rise up and do something; to be warriors like Gideon. God will help you carry out what He’s called you to do,” said the wife and mother of five. Lewis’ booming voice and unbridled enthusiasm “woke” everyone, spiritually and literally as he joined the chorus of

We are Christians who need to share an intense care and empathy for others.

— Commissioner William A. Bamford, territorial commander

voices reiterating the theme, “Awakening: arise, unite, go!” Said Lewis, “The Holy Spirit enlightens us and with His revelation, expects from us a spiritual revolution in our corps (church), homes, schools, and community.” He and his wife LaVerna have ministered to the west Philadelphia community since 1999. The father of three adult sons continued, “In meeting this way, we bring our own empowerment to the table. People are reminded that they are not alone.” Years ago Houseton, now a husband and father of three daughters, received a wake–up call. As a teenager coming home from his first Salvation Army summer camp, he learned that 29 of his neighborhood friends had been killed in random incidents. “It is time for us to wake up and to do more than what is expected of us. To just be what you are expected to be, is not what God has called you to be. “It’s time to wake up and get to work.”



Q  & A

Damien Horne

Last summer, the crowds at the Old Orchard Beach Pier may not have been aware, but one of the singer–songwriters on the stage had performed with Faith Hill, Bon Jovi, Kid Rock, John Legend, and Hank Williams, Jr. His name is Damien Horne, a quiet and unassuming artist who grew up playing basketball at a Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. He later spent several years homeless on the streets of Hollywood before landing a record deal in Nashville. Today, Horne does a lot of solo work and is a member of The Farm and Nashville’s MuzikMafia. Horne took a few minutes between shows at the Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings to chat with SAconnects magazine about his journey.

interview by Robert Mitchell

Tell me about your early life. I grew up in Hickory, N.C. I’m from a blended family of 12 children and raised by a single mom. At an early age I lost two of my older brothers to the streets and two of my younger brothers ended up in prison. That was kind of the environment I was growing up in. I understand you found The Salvation Army fairly early in life. When I was a pre– teen, I ran across the Boys & Girls Club and it was a big part of helping me get off of the streets. Our club was connected to a Salvation Army church. I would go to the club and play basketball and pool and all those kinds of things. The corps officer would come over and shoot ball with us. He invited me to church and that’s how I got connected to The Salvation Army. From about age 14, I grew up going to the Army. I went to youth councils and the summer camps. I had only known them before because the Army aided our family at Christmas with food and clothes and toys. I came to find out the Army was a whole church organization. How did you end up homeless? When I graduated from high school, I packed up everything I had and moved to Hollywood because I thought that was where I needed to go to get discovered. I got a one–way Greyhound bus ticket out there and it was a two–and–a–half–day bus ride. I had $400 in my pocket. I didn’t know it at the time, but $400 was not enough to even get started there. Within a week, that money was gone and I didn’t know anyone. I was clear across the country. I was shocked to find out really quickly that Hollywood was a whole different culture from Hickory, N.C. I ended up living



on the streets for the next couple of years there— missions, squats, shelters, things like that. What did you do during the day? When I was in that situation, I was trying to find a place to sleep. All the dreams I was thinking about kind of went to the side and I started thinking about the necessities like, where am I going to sleep? Where can I get food? How am I going to get a job? That became my mission. How did your faith sustain you during that time? That’s kind of where my faith grew. It actually got stronger. It was in me when I was younger, but it grew more during that time because I had to rely on God so much. It just became more and more real to me. I was faced with moments like, Am I going to eat today? Because faith was introduced to me when I was younger, I knew I needed to ask God. His Word says, “Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.” How did you get out of that situation? I was able to get a job and save enough money to go back to North Carolina, but kind of defeated. I said, “There’s no way I can make it here [in Hollywood]. It’s too expensive.” I had no help or anything like that. I went back to North Carolina and I ended up making my way to Nashville to play music. It all kind of took off from there. Tell us about your big break in Nashville. I fell into that whole world of music. I originally moved there to be a writer. I used to play on the side of the street. If you go down there, you see

people busking. I used to do that for hours. One night, this guy walked by with a big black cowboy hat and a handlebar mustache and he threw $100 into my guitar case. We started talking and playing back and forth. I later found out he was John Rich from a country duo called Big & Rich and he introduced me to some friends of his who were part of this collection called MuzikMafia and we started touring. I got my first publishing deal in 2004 and was later signed to Warner Brothers with a country trio called The Farm. We toured for five or six years. Who are some of your musical influences? I grew up on old country and old soul music, everything from Don Williams to Sam Cooke and everything in between, including Charley Pride, DeFord Bailey, and Ray Charles. Those worlds between country and soul was the music I was creating and that got me a deal with Warner Brothers and I toured with a lot of huge country acts. I’ve done that for the longest time. Some of my friends in country music now, Jimmie Allen and Mickey Guyton, are black country artists. What is your spiritual life like today? I’m still a Salvationist. I attend the Nashville Citadel Corps whenever I’m in town. I’m usually on the road on weekends, but I attend there when I’m home. My spiritual life is just one of progress. It’s always a relationship in progress. Like any relationship, I’m trying each and every day to stay connected to God and His Word and learn more about Him, which ultimately helps me learn more about myself and what I’m here to do and stay tapped into that purpose.

Learn more about this rare artist—a black country music singer—at .

Do you have a message you share on stage? My message and my mantra is to always shine. I always talk about purpose, discovering purpose, and living it out. I think whether you’re a believer or not, everyone has a sense of “Why am I here and what am I here for?” I think when you tap into that it always leads back to God because He’s the deliverer of life and the deliverer of purpose. I create music that reflects the way I’ve felt and the things I’ve been through. What do you think of the Pier Ministry? I love it because I feel like it’s getting back to the basis on what the Army was founded on. This is how the Army did it back in the 1860s and ‘70s in London. From what I know of the history, William and Catherine Booth were like, “We’re going to meet them where they are. If they’re hungry, we’re going to feed them. If they need clothes, we’re going to give them that and we’re going to give them music that connects and then we’ll be able to reach their hearts.” I love being a part of it because I think it’s right on line with how the Army started, but I haven’t seen it in this magnitude, probably ever. Do you consider performing here your way of giving back? Absolutely. The Salvation Army has been instrumental in each part of my life. Before I knew what the Army was about, it was instrumental in getting food to my home. Now, The Salvation Army is a part of my ministry—the giving back aspect. It’s actually been weaving cohesively throughout my whole life.

wholly  living

the heart of

Worship by Major Lauren Hodgson

IN THE ROLE OF A PASTOR, I always felt it was important to let members of the congregation know that, if they were absent from a Sunday worship service, they were missed. Their responses varied from elaborate explanations to straightforward ones, such as: “It’s the only day I have to sleep in.” “I can worship at home.” “My mom always made me go to church.”

I realized that my best and most sincere reply needed to be, “You don’t have to explain; I just wanted you to know that you were missed.” Corporate worship is an important part of our spiritual growth. We are wired for community and in the Sunday morning worship setting, we



are challenged, receive revelation, and learn how to live together in a way that honors Christ. Let’s also be honest— that setting can spawn a hotbed of controversy. I have found that everyone has an opinion, or two, about that hour on a Sunday morning. Clearly, worship in a body of Christ is an important discipline to our sacred rhythms. What then should our mindset be so that we may receive the most from God and contribute to the spiritual health and wellbeing of our church family?

BE PREPARED It is vital to know that worship begins long before we enter the doors of the sanctuary. Everyone has a role in

preparation for worship on Sunday morning. Just as the messenger of God’s Word prepares and musicians practice to be conduits of God’s blessing on the platform, there must also be preparation by the people seated in the pews. A good way to do this is to ask, “Have I prayed for God’s movement in the meeting? Have I asked God to help me be sensitive to His leading during all aspects of the service? Have I prayed that I and the congregation will remain focused rather than distracted? If you leave the worship service feeling the same as when you entered it, continue to trust God. Know that God is always speaking to us. This can happen even though you might observe something lacking on the part of the worship leaders. God speaks in the midst of the morning offering, during the off–key singing of the worshiper seated next to you or while a baby loudly cries behind you. If you are prayed up and attentive to the Holy Spirit, you can hear God’s voice even in these moments.

KNOW YOURSELF When in corporate worship, it has been helpful for me to know what draws me into Christ’s presence. What lets my defenses down, takes my mind off myself, and centers me on Jesus? Some people are wired for familiarity. By that I mean they honor the tried and true traditions of worship. Those staples offer a sense of security, which can result in an openness that allows the Holy Spirit to speak to us. Other worshipers are wired for adventure. They want to experience the strange and unusual and enjoy a heightened awareness of God. When this happens, they are stirred to go deeper spiritually.

LOOK AROUND YOU The wonderful advantage of being in a community atmosphere of worship is seeing how God moves people. OK,

perhaps an aspect of the service failed to speak to you. That is when you need to look around the room and see how the service is speaking to other people. As you observe them, rejoice in the faithfulness of God as He meets all of us at our individual points of need.

GO TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD Psalm 122 is a song about a person who has decided to go to church and worship God. “When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of God,’ my heart leaped for joy. And now we’re here, O Jerusalem, inside Jerusalem’s walls! Jerusalem, well–built city, but built as a place for worship! The city to which the tribes ascend, all God’s tribes go up to worship, to give thanks to the name of God —this is what it means to be Israel” (1–4, MSG). This is an example of how complex and diverse worship is and is still a perfect instance of what happens when a person is prepared. This is the third in a sequence of Psalms of Ascent. Pilgrims sang them as they traveled to Jerusalem for special festivals of worship. “Psalm 120 is the psalm of repentance—the one that gets us out of an environment of deceit and hostility and sets us on our way to God. Psalm 121 is a psalm of trust—a demonstration of how faith resists patent–medicine remedies to trials and tribulations and determinedly trusts God to work out His will and ‘guard you from every evil’ amid difficulty. Psalm 122 is the psalm of worship—a demonstration of what people of faith everywhere always do; gather to an assigned place and worship their God” (Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction). Worshiping in community is a vital spiritual discipline and we will get out of it what we put into it. It is important that we prepare our hearts, know ourselves, and remember we are in community and that everything isn’t “all about me,” but all about Jesus.

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When the music fades All is stripped away And I simply come Longing just to bring Something that’s of worth That will bless your heart I’ll give you more than a song For a song in itself Is not what you have required You search much deeper within Through the way things appear You’re looking into my heart I’m coming back to the

heart of worship

And it’s all about you, It’s all about you, Jesus I’m sorry, Lord for the

thing I’ve made it

When it’s all about you, It’s all about you, Jesus

—­The Heart of Worship by Matt Redman



20/20 vision highlights Salvation Army corps (churches) are places of worship and social service located throughout the United States and in 131 countries worldwide. Members reach out to people in surrounding communities, offering fellowship, care, and a relationship with Christ. Below are examples of what’s happening in the USA Eastern Territory, which also includes Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


Brenda came to the Army looking for an opportunity to do community service in order to receive state benefits. She had been a radiology technician in Puerto Rico. We invited her to worship with the women’s small group and attend church worship. Recently, she led a part of the program. She has brought her mother and son into the corps. She works full time and has moved into a new apartment.

We enrolled 78 junior soldiers and 84 senior soldiers in 2018. Attendance has increased in Sunday worship, Sunday school, corps cadets, and junior soldier meetings. Soldier Yelin Jimenez says that it has been a blessing to see men and women find the love of God and see their lives changed. Alexi Martinez, recently commissioned as the corps sergeant major, says that he has witnessed the move of God in the corps.



A downtrodden woman called the corps seeking assistance. She had a job, but lived in her car. The receptionist invited her to the women’s program. They prayed for her, encouraged her to return, and referred her to social services. The women called her regularly. She recently entered a new apartment. She now attends the corps, the women’s program, and the Bible study.



The Canton Corps has developed a Health & Wellness Program. Fitness classes include cardio drumming, bar flow exercises, and yoga. These classes are offered to the public, to staff, and to participants of the Learning Zone, Senior, and Summer Day Camp programs. A diverse group of 25 people attended a “Pamper Me Day” event, which included class demos and healthy snacks.

The seniors program serves 200250 mostly retired people, ages 55–99. Some are new immigrants and others lack English skills. The program helps them meet friends, exercise, and resolve daily problems. The Chinese New Year, the Thanksgiving luncheon, and Christmas Angel Tree programs are just some of the offerings.

In every issue of SACONNECTS magazine we’ll update you with new stories from the 11 divisions and the ARC of the USA Eastern Territory.

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