In uncertain times, you can be certain of this: Your generosity will make a difference.
Today, thanks to donors like you, The Salvation Army is helping those a ected by COVID-19. We are there for the most vulnerable in our community. For those whose wages are gone, for those who need food, for those who have no place to call home, and for so many others who desperately need help and hope in this time of crisis. To see how you can continue to make a di erence in your community, give today at SalvationArmyUSA.org.
The ministry and legacy of the late Lt. Colonel Lyell M. Rader Jr., inspires men
Red River Revival
William and Catherine Booth founded The Salvation Army in East London. However, the principal figures of the Second Great Awakening also influenced the Army’s early beginnings. Read about the Red River Meeting House revival in rural Kentucky.
3 from the editor
5 an active army
30 wholly living
in every issue departments
6 what’s the digital?
An AI expert who wants to win Iran for Christ fights a battle for souls in cyberspace.
26 FAITH in ACTION
T he late Joanne Small is a beloved figure at the Boston Kroc Center.
Leslie Marthone went from shelter resident to shelter volunteer.
32 to your health
Take care of your immune system in the midst of COVID–19.
your connection to The Salvation Army
USA EASTERN TERRITORY
Commissioner William A. Bamford III
Commissioner G. Lorraine Bamford
Colonel Philip Maxwell
Lt. Colonel Kathleen J. Steele
EDITOR IN CHIEF Warren L. Maye
MANAGING EDITOR Robert Mitchell
EDITOR / HISPANIC CORRESPONDENT
KOREAN EDITOR Lt. Colonel Chongwon D. Kim
HISPANIC EDITOR Minerva Colon–Pino
ART DIRECTOR Reginald Raines
PUBLICATION MANAGING DESIGNER
Lea La Notte Greene
Keri Johnson, Joe Marino, Mabel Zorzano
STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Ryan Love
CIRCULATION Doris Marasigan
THE SALVATION ARMY MISSION STATEMENT
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.
This magazine comes to you in the midst of the horrific COVID–19 pandemic. In our area of the country, healthcare professionals put themselves in harm’s way as they work desperately around the clock in hospitals, nursing homes, and elder care centers. Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services volunteers deliver food to high–risk individuals who shelter in place to stay alive.
Because of this national crisis, many changes have occurred in recent days to our magazine’s method of operation. For example, rather than work side–by–side in our offices, editors, writers, and designers work from home on their laptop computers. Complex conversations and revealing interviews now happen via email, phone calls, and during video conferences. This issue is being distributed in print as well as digitally via email and on our website where we’re also posting news stories daily.
But what remains the same is our commitment to serving and staying connected to you. In this issue, we’ll tackle some of the most challenging problems related to the pandemic, such as maintaining our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Medical doctors, clinicians, and ministers will share their own stories and tips on how you and your family can stay healthy.
We’ll also talk about spiritual revivals. Join us as we reflect on the great first and second awakenings in American Christianity that helped form today’s Salvation Army.
When this crisis is over, I believe we’ll experience another great awakening. With God’s help, we’ll rise from these ashes.
Jennifer Groff, the community engagement director at The Salvation Army of Greater New York, talks about how social journalism became her path to fighting human trafficking, why Christmas starts early with the Angel Tree program, and life lessons from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Benjamin Franklin.interview by Hugo Bravo
Ralph Waldo Emerson says that to succeed in life, you must laugh often and much, win the respect of intelligent people, the affection of children, the appreciation of honest critics, and leave the world a bit better through what you do. I think that’s such a beautiful way to define the meaning of life. But I also like how Benjamin Franklin put it; “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
When Major Sue Wittenberg was tasked with creating a new awareness of human trafficking, we collaborated on what would become Pearl Essence, an outreach to the women in Brooklyn, N.Y., who are forced to work in massage parlors. While talking to these women or offering them gifts, we saw joy and gratitude reflected on their faces. It’s a spiritual connection. In the process, I could feel myself becoming a messenger of light. We hope to expand this program to other Salvation Army corps (churches) outside of Brooklyn. There are volunteers at the Queens Temple who are excited to take on this ministry.
I was honored to be chosen to attend CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Social Journalism program. Most of the students were fresh out of college while I was a mom with work responsibilities. As a class assignment, I learned how human trafficking had moved from overseas to towns in the United States. I traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to meet with human trafficking victims who used writing as a way to cope with their pain. The social journalism program lasted ten months, but it had a great influence on my work today. As I look back, I can see it was God who led my steps and helped me discover my ministry to fight human trafficking.
Christmas starts in September when we’re working with the Army’s Angel Tree program. That’s when we reach out to corporate partners and share Christmas wishes from 40,000 children in New York. We collect gifts in our “toy shop” on West 14th street in Manhattan. When December comes, we have about 300 volunteers who prepare thousands of toys. People always want to be part of this program; they love the direct connection with children and being able to give them exactly what they want. The thought of children not having a gift under their tree for Christmas is unimaginable, but for many families, it’s very real.
My seven–year–old son Ryan is the most empathetic person I know. He’s always asking me about the well–being of others and wants to know how he can help them. It’s amazing how much I learn from him. Work, life experiences, and traveling the world can get me far. But as a parent, I learn new lessons in unconditional love.
DONUT DAYby Hugo Bravo
On the first Friday of June, National Donut Day is celebrated by store chains, supermarkets, and Salvation Army corps (churches) across the country. A tradition since 1938, the holiday honors the Salvation Army “Donut Girls” who, during World War 1, made them fresh for American soldiers in the foxholes of France. Along with the delicious homemade treats, the women provided writing supplies and stamps to help soldiers stay in touch with their families back home, and offered to clean and service their uniforms. This ministry continued during World War 2 and the Vietnam War.
Donut Day has become an opportunity to educate the public on Salvation Army history while serving the classic treats.
Last June, The Salvation Army of Wadsworth, Ohio, hosted its first Donut Open House. Dressed in donut–themed T–shirts, the corps staff decorated the multipurpose room with balloons and served coffee
and donuts provided by the Giant Eagle grocery store chain.
“We wanted to find a way to bring Wadsworth to our corps,” says Lindsey Kercher, director of education at the corps. “We also reached out to people who wouldn’t necessarily need the services of The Salvation Army. This was an event for everyone to learn about Donut Day and the Donut Girls.”
This year, Kercher hopes to get the corps advisory board members to attend the open house and to learn more about this tradition. “We feel like we’re constantly asking our board members for help,” says Kercher. “This time we want to give them something back for being part of the corps.”
In Newark, Ohio, last year, The Salvation Army kept the Donut Girl tradition alive by giving away coffee and donuts directly to veterans. The corps partnered with Entenmann’s baked goods and with Warriors, Amazon’s program to help veterans, and visited a local veteran’s clinic.
“After doing that, we gathered
THE SALVATION ARMY DONUT LASSIE RECIPE
(makes 4 dozen)
2 large eggs
5 cups flour
2 cups sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
¼ tablespoon salt
1 ¾ cup milk
1 tub lard
• Combine all ingredients (except for lard) to make dough.
• Thoroughly knead dough, roll smooth, and cut into rings that are less than ¼ inch thick.
• Drop the rings into the melted lard, making sure the fat is hot enough (320˚– 330˚ F) to brown the donuts gradually. Turn the doughnuts slowly several times.
• When browned, remove donuts and allow excess fat to drip off.
• Dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon. Let cool and enjoy.
more volunteers to travel to the police and fire departments in the county to deliver donuts to all of them,” says Lieutenant Kaitlyn Haddix, corps officer at the Newark Corps. “We turned Donut Day into a day of outdoor ministry, giving around 2,000 of them to our veterans and public safety workers.”
Along with the donuts, members of the Newark Corps gave away printed World War 2 flyers and information on The Salvation Army and the Donut Girls. They also included another piece of history—the original donut recipe that The Salvation Army used during that war.
“By today’s standards, the original donut recipe is a little bland,” says Lieutenant Haddix, laughing. “The United States was going through a sugar shortage during World War 2. So now, we add sugar or cinnamon to make them taste better.”
what’s the Digital
Today’s cyber wars include those that involve spreading the gospel to nations where restricted access to internet, radio, and TV is government mandated. So, when Dr. Hormoz Shariat received his Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence, he put it to work to help bring God’s word to his people in Iran.
Iran for Christ
Transforming a nation in this generationby Warren L. Maye
Hormoz Shariat gave his life to Christ when he was a 26–year old Ph.D. student studying Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the University of Southern California. He loved science and problem solving. The idea of programming computers fascinated him. A promising career loomed, and life was good.
However, in 1984 shocking news from his mother in Iran set Hormoz on a radically different course. “I was a new believer when my brother was killed,” he recalls. Hamraz, a member of the Mujahedeen, had been arrested at age 16 for a minor political incident. “They kept him for 2 years. During this time, the government told our mother that he was doing fine, and they would eventually let him go. But one day, they called her and said, ‘Come, get your son’s body. We just executed him.’” The humiliation brought upon the family was staggering. “They made her pay for the bullets used to shoot my brother before they would release his body to her,” said Hormoz.
SMALL STAFF, BIG JOB
Although Hormoz completed his studies and graduated, he struggled spiritually to make sense of what had happened. “Ph.D. studies taught me how to research, look at problems, and find solutions,” said the now Dr. Shariat. But it was a clear revelation from God that turned his scientific mind away from AI and pointed it instead toward Christian evangelism.
Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Shariat moved to Dallas, Texas. Despite heavy Iranian government restrictions and intentional internet blackouts, he started Iran Alive Ministries, a broadcast that would use the airwaves to reach Muslims and Christians deep within Iran. “This is a technological war,” he says. “They want to stop us, and we want to find ways to connect with the people.”
Shariat used satellite television and radio to accomplish this goal. “This way, we go over their heads and into peoples’ homes and living rooms.”
Today Network 7, his Alive’s 24/7 TV broadcast, reaches 5–6 million Farsi (Persian)–speaking Iranians. It also extends far beyond Iran to a potential 130 million Farsi–speaking viewers in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and other Middle Eastern nations.
Shariat says his team uses secured and encrypted social media platforms. The broadcasts are recorded and sent via computer, 24/7. “We have 10–12 people who do follow–up and respond to requests. I’m there twice a week. We plan it, schedule it, and let it go.” New York Times award–winning writer Joel C. Rosenberg in his book Inside the Revolution, wrote, “Satellite television has been a game–changer in Iran, and Hormoz Shariat is at the forefront of that.” Shariat says, “We have a small staff, but they do a big job.”
How big is that job? “We want to transform Iran into a Christian nation,”
Shariat says, but is quick to point out, “This is not my idea. It is recorded in Jeremiah 49:38, ‘I will set my throne in Elam,’ which is completely inside Iran. This is more than having a number of believers or some churches. Jeremiah is talking about a transformed nation where Jesus is known and obeyed by every segment of society. We are moving in that direction. Millions of Iranians have rejected Islam and are open to the message of the gospel.”
A HISTORY OF TOLERANCE
Recent political turmoil belies Iran’s centuries–long history of religious tolerance. “The first human rights were written by King Cyrus of Persia,” says Shariat. “When Cyrus freed the Jews, most of them chose to stay in Iran. His edict (Ezra 1:1-2) made it possible for the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. This is the temple where Jesus proclaimed His Truth (John 7:37–38) and cleansed its courtyards of money changers (Matthew 21:12–13; Isaiah 56:7). The church in Iran was born on the Day of Pentecost. In Acts 2, different nations were represented in Jerusalem and the first three people groups to come to faith were Persians.”
Iran is the burial place of the Prophet Daniel because of his influence on the Persian people (Elamites). Daniel’s tomb has served as a church, synagogue, and mosque, which speaks to the religious diversity that is prevalent in Iran. He was also a contemporary of Zoroaster, an ancient Iranian spiritual leader who founded what is now known as Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic pre–Islamic religion of ancient Persia, a system similar to that of the ancient Israelites. The country is also believed to be the birthplace of the legendary three Wise Men who were told by God to visit the baby Jesus. “Magi is a Persian word,” says Shariat.
What does Iran Alive Ministries do?
Satellite broadcast reaches 6 million viewers daily
412 schools currently train 710 ministry leaders
Ministry TV partnerships help spread the gospel message beyond Iran 24/7
Calls from Muslims are answered with compassion and prayer
800 underground churches planted
Online media and digital resources
400,000 Bibles distributed in Iran since 2001
36,000 documented decisions for Christ since 2001
21 million media downloads
PEOPLE OVER POLITICS
But can the desire of the people be separated from politics in a quest to make Iran a Christian nation? “The government of Iran and the people of Iran have totally different mindsets,” says Shariat. “I can boldly say that there is no country in the world where people love America more than Iranians.” As proof, he says that Americans are extended warm invitations to visit homes. He also points to a recent incident where massive American and Israeli flags were spread on the ground by the government so that Iranians could trample them underfoot. “Instead, the people walked around the flags to show respect.”
Shariat says the youth of Iran are ripe for the harvest. “They are skeptical about the concept of God, be it Christian or Muslim. Through our television programs, the message of Christ is becoming attractive to them. The older people are harder to convince, but the younger generation is already done with Islam. Jesus gives them identity, value, and a high calling to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Him.”
Facilitating Mental Wellnessby Warren L. Maye
The following excerpts are from statements made by Christian mental health professionals during a recent panel discussion in New York City and with one–on–one interviews with SACONNECTS. They offer heartfelt testimonies and suggestions on how caregivers and their family members can survive as they find a path to wellness during these challenging times.
SPEAK PURPOSE, BE PRESENT
“Right before I gave my life to Christ, I was on the verge of committing suicide,” said Rev. Freddy Baez, a licensed clinical social worker for Full Circle Health and a college professor.
“But at the appointed time, my cousin knocked on my door. When I answered him, the first thing he said was, ‘God told me what you’re going to do and it’s not right in His sight.’ My cousin began to speak purpose and hope into my life. The amazing thing is, my cousin is developmentally delayed and has a mind of a child.
“Yes, God takes the foolish things to confound the wise. When my cousin said, ‘I’m going to pick you up tomorrow and take you to church,’ I closed the door, looked to the ceiling, and said, ‘I don’t know who You are or what You are, but You’ve got my attention!’
“My cousin became my ‘burning bush.’ I could not explain him away. If you had knocked on my door and said the same thing, you would’ve gotten a debate from me. But I knew him. I couldn’t explain how the mind of a child could speak to me about meaning and purpose.”
Things you can do
Be a presence. You don’t need to be a professional to be in the room with someone who is crying. Family members and friends who are survivors, what do you say to that person? What do you do? It’s simple. Just be in the room. You don’t have to say anything or come up with any words. You just need to sit there and be a presence. Take the pressure off yourself. The person may not want to speak to you. But your presence indicates to them that they are not alone. When people rail against God, let them. I have learned not to be God’s attorney. He is not going to say to them, “You’re not supposed to say that!”
Ask, “What do you think you need from me today?” You will be amazed at how that simple question will make people think. They may typically respond by saying, “Just be around until I need you.”
Overcome the dynamics of shame and secrets. Therapy is designed to lower the shame so that we can talk about the secrets. When you’re able to get into the secrets, there is healing.
Form a care team. Strategize to determine what kind of mental health programs are needed in your area. Hold a health fair and involve the community.
ASK, ‘HOW ARE YOU?’
“I’m a clergy person who has pastored churches along the way,” says Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT, a licensed mental health counselor and family therapist in New York City and president and clinical director of Seeking Shalom in New York and the Bronx.
“But, let me tell you about something that happened before I was trained to be a therapist. I studied at a school in Wales and our school was based in a castle right off the coast. I had a quiet space to go down to spend time with God. I learned later that another student and I used the same space, but we never bumped into each other. Only God helped us to do that.
“One night, I was in a foul mood in my dorm room. Then, this voice inside of me said, ‘We need to go down to our quiet space.’ I have to be honest with you, my first response was, ‘Get lost, God. I just want to stay right here.’ But the voice would not go away.
“I went down to the quiet space, which was a balcony in the castle overlooking a cliff. There stood my classmate. Tears were just pouring out of her eyes. She was obviously in great distress. At the time, I thought I’d ask the best question, which was, ‘How are you?’
“As it turned out, she was ready to throw herself off the cliff.”
Things you can do
Do not be afraid to ask, “How are you doing?” or “What are you thinking?” Ask the question that will help the person get to the point where he or she sees the need to get help.
Know the difference between tattling on someone and seeking help for yourself. Having spoken with someone who is contemplating suicide, you need to speak to someone for yourself. That is a clear distinction from tattling when someone shares in confidence their personal desire to commit suicide.
Talk about the trauma. Doing so helps to take the power away from it. Suppressing trauma deepens it. So, with the help of a therapist, work through all the layers of trauma and unpack them before they erupt.
Set short–term and long–term goals. What will you do today? What will you do next week?
BE A BEACON OF HOPE
“Indeed, we have a hidden cultural and public health crisis in our community with respect to mental health and mental illness,” says Brett Scudder, president of the New York City Suicide Council and Suicide Institute in the Bronx. “I have seen four–year–old children show signs of anxiety, depression, and wanting to die. I’ve gone to church leaders who’ve tried to convince me that the problems are caused by ‘demon posession’ and a lack of faith. If we can break down the stigma toward mental illness and barriers to mental health, we can truly help suffering people. We are seeing more cases of suicide and depression—even in our churches.
“Which pain do you think is worse, physical pain or mental pain? With physical pain, you know where the pain is coming from. With mental pain, your entire body hurts. I am a living example of physical pain. I have scars from my head to my toes; multiple times I could’ve died.
“However, the time that I attempted to kill myself was not because of physical pain. It was because I was going through grief that I couldn’t manage.”
Things you can do
Distinguish mental health from mental illness. Mental health is our ability to function with the ups and downs of everyday life. Mental illness is a completely different thing. We need to know the difference. If we fail to make the distinction, people will feel reluctant to discuss mental health issues. People will begin to “self–diagnose” and label themselves “bipolar,” “depressed.” This creates a stigma.
Find a way to intervene in the person’s life so you can be a beacon of hope that will help deter them from suicide. Do not focus on being afraid of them committing suicide. It is your job to be a beacon of hope.
Do not be ashamed of your child having a mental illness. Mental illness is not something to play with or to hide. Get them the help that they need.
Say, “I am here to help you.” People who suffer from suicidal thoughts are in a special kind of darkness. It is an experience that is different for every person. When they wake up in the darkness, they are at a loss as to what they should do. Be the light in that darkness.
Remember the critical times. The suicidal experience usually takes place between 11 o’clock at night and 5 o’clock in the morning when people feel most alone.
FOCUS ON THE NEED
“I have a daughter who is bipolar,” says Delia Farquharson, a licensed clinical social worker and city councilwoman in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. “It started in college. But she was able to complete her course work and graduate. She’s still going through it. It is painful for me to see her struggle. But at one point, I decided it really isn’t about what I am feeling. It is about what she needs.
“So then, I took the focus off myself, my sadness, and my heartbreak. I had to get over my disappointment and accept that she is not going to be and do what I had anticipated. Once I got over my disappointment, the question was, ‘How can I help my daughter be the best that she can be—even with her mental illness?’
“Now, my focus is on making sure she goes to the doctor, making sure she gets to her therapist, and making sure she takes her medication so she can manage the mood swings. So, when she gets angry, I know it is not about me. Her cursing has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the fact that my daughter is blessed with a mental illness and we need to support her through that with the therapy that exists. So, that is where I am. It was heartbreaking, but I am past that now. It is about her getting what she needs.”
Things you can do
Thank God for the miracle of medication. Some people can function fairly well without it. With others, if they miss a single dose, you can see the negative talk and psychosis creeping back in. In order to maintain balance, you must reconcile that this is something you need to do. You need to take medication. It’s not about what anybody else says.
Practice your faith in a way that supports your mental wellness and the wellness of others. Is it meditation, prayer, reading the Bible or all of the above? What does our faith tell us about how we should treat others who have been diagnosed with mental illness? These questions should be included in our conversations.
TAKE ‘A TIME OUT’
“I knew God was calling me to work with at–risk women,” says, Ann White, founder and executive director of Courage for Life, a ministry outreach designed to bring God’s word primarily to incarcerated women in the United States. “I’d be walking behind prison walls, hearing those doors clang, seeing the razor–wire above my head, but working with women just like me; women who are trying to mend their broken past.” White believes that prisons have become our mental health hospitals. “The majority, if not all of those inmates, have mental health issues,” she says.
“I come from a dysfunctional family, a broken childhood, emotional abuse, and some other abuses I went through during my earlier years, that really impacted my life. One day, I was vacationing with a church group in Israel with my oldest son. We were in Tiberius overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It should have been the happiest time of my life, but I was about to fall completely apart. That evening in my room, I was just devastated. I cried out to the Lord, ‘I just can’t do this anymore!’ No one knew what was going on in my internal being. I hit the floor and I said, ‘God, you’ve got to tell me what to do.’ At that moment, He said, ‘I want you to write down the reality of what’s going on in your life and take it to your pastor and his wife.’ I went through several drafts, and I handed them the truth of what was going on in my life. Had I not done that, I would not be where I am now. So, God brought me through a process of healing during the past 12–14 years. Today, I am a mother and a grandmother of 3, and a wife of 34 years.”
Things you can do
Get counseling from Christian psychologists who practice Christianity in their practice. You need someone who is able to combine the Word, prayer, and what God says foundationally with their psychology. Psychology alone can pull you away from God if you’re not careful and are focused too much on that.
Learn what your emotional triggers are that cause a fear or anger reaction that puts your mind into a chemically induced fog.
Learn to take a strategic 20–minute pause when you are triggered. Say, “Let’s come back to this (conversation) in about 20 minutes.” Go for a walk, meditate, listen to music, and then come back feeling better.
BE CONCERNED, BUT NOT CONSUMED
“I look at issues such as addictions and substances of misuse like alcohol and cocaine,” says, Rev. Donald Coombs, Ed.D., director of program development for the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command for the Salvation Army’s USA Eastern Territory. He also addresses unhealthy relationships such as codependency. “Have I seen that be devastating with people in my life? Oh, yes.” Nonetheless, Coombs remains optimistic. “I’ve also seen people find tremendous freedom when they become abstinent.” In his private practice as a clinician, which is separate from his work for The Salvation Army, he’s helped many people with mental issues find freedom. He’s also helped save their caregivers from being consumed by the heavy emotional and practical responsibilities that come with struggling through a challenging situation. “It’s a real honor and privilege to walk through an individual’s journey of their relationship with somebody who has an unhealthy attachment,” says Coombs.
Things you can do
Get educated, professional feedback to better understand the personal dynamics that are happening between you and your loved one.
Learn how to be concerned, but not consumed by the relationship. Practice self–care, engage with a healthy church or corps, find a support group for yourself or engage in an activity or sport with friends.
Form a partnership with your loved one. Realize that at the foundation of mental health and safety is the survival of the caregiver as well as the person who is mentally challenged.
Dive into your personal relationship with God. See what God is doing in and through you and what He is doing through your loved one.
Finding a path to wellness is complicated and complex and can take years of searching. But with God, anything is possible if we remain faithful.
Lyell’s Houseby Hugo Bravo
The bright, well–maintained, two–story brick home near the corner of Madison Avenue and Linden Street in Bethlehem, Pa., could be mistaken for a typical family residence or even a college fraternity house. However, the men living in the Lyell M. Rader Jr., Memorial Lodge aren’t bound by blood or fraternal life. The bonds they create and the lessons they learn help them walk a path to recovery from addiction and return to normal life.
Men in recovery can live at the Rader Lodge for up to a year as they search for a permanent place to live. They are trusted with their own rooms, TV, and internet access. They can enjoy books, video games, and exercise equipment. In turn, every man shares the responsibility of doing chores and maintaining the lodge. They do monthly prayer breakfasts together, community service, and on Sundays attend the Salvation Army’s corps in Bethlehem for church services.
The Rader Lodge is not a recovery clinic; it does not have the staff nor the medical supplies to treat a substance misuser. But what it does provide for someone in recovery is brotherhood, stability, a sense of structure, and an opportunity to return to God. “Those are crucial to someone in recovery,” says Derek Pascavage, director of the lodge. “An addict feels like he has none of those things in his life.”
Pascavage came to Pennsylvania in 2000 from New Jersey. For years, he had battled addiction and experienced subsequent incarceration. When he was later paroled, the conflicting rules of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania parole boards kept him from ever being able to return to his home state. “Today, I can look back and say that being stuck in Pennsylvania turned out to be a blessing,” says Derek.
Pascavage rebuilt his life and even became a single father of two sons, all while going through addiction rehabilitation. In 2015, after a parole violation resulted in his return to jail, he was sent to a work release program in Lehigh County. He was one of 20 inmates who qualified, but the program lacked the funds necessary to
reintroduce these men to society.
“The city had no way to help us find work or get us around. We were basically told to go walking and just see what we could find or maybe visit a church,” says Derek.
The church that Derek came across was the Salvation Army’s Bethlehem Corps. Corps Officer Major Fran Rader offered him a meal, and afterwards, supplied him with bus passes, a cell phone, and work boots. Feeling indebted for the opportunity to start fresh, he offered to do repairs, landscaping, and other work around the corps. He went to Sunday services there and learned about Faith/Works, the corps’ house for men in recovery.
“It sounded better than any work release program,” remembers Pascavage. “I stayed at Faith/Works for seven months. Six months later, Major Fran asked me to come back and be one of two new resident directors of the lodge.”
SAVINGS AND RULES
As director, Derek noticed that two other men in the house had not been able to move on as well as he had; they were now past their allowed limit and had not saved any money. “We allowed them to stay extra time without paying the mandatory contribution, and encouraged them to just save their money,” says Derek.
To avoid this happening to future occupants, Derek and Jeff Kulls, the second resident director, focused on making personal finance management a requirement of staying in the house. Under the new rules, a third of the men’s monthly contributions to the house would go into a savings account, which is returned to them when they move out. Residents would also be encouraged to open a bank account and present proof of financial planning. Derek and Jeff wrote and rewrote the house’s handbook with ideas to make the home different than any halfway house or rehab clinic.
Derek, now the sole director of the newly renamed Lyell M. Rader Jr. Memorial Lodge, says, “I’ve been in rehab centers where 50 men were cramped in a space the size of our dining room. Everyone is angry in there, yelling and frustrated from always bumping into each other. You can’t focus on your rehabilitation like that. How do you expect to heal? How can you open yourself to God if you’re so angry?”
The Rader Lodge allows its residents to maintain a level of personal space and privacy, as long as they follow the rules, which include random breathalyzer and drug tests, shower and laundry schedules, and a mutual respect for each other.
“The structure of the lodge is based on consideration for everyone’s space, situation, and individual schedule. I don’t want to be anyone’s warden or parole officer. Just because I’m the director, it doesn’t mean I’m different than anyone else here. I pay the same fees, work from the same chores chart, and follow the same rules and curfews. I’m also in recovery, like anyone else in here,” says Derek. “It’s not me telling them what to do. It’s us telling ourselves what to do.”
RECOVERY OF THE SPIRIT
Michael C., a current resident of the lodge, says that although living with other people does bring up occasional issues, such as bathroom sharing, it teaches everyone to work together and to look out for one another.
“Going to meetings, volunteering, doing chores, and praying together creates a bond. That bond is based on our similar pasts as addicts and the work we are doing today in recovery,” says Michael.
“When I first arrived, I wasn’t very religious, but I was open to the idea of God in my life,” says Michael. “The focus on developing a close relationship with the Lord became one of my favorite things about being here. The ‘recovery’ is more than just from addiction; there’s also recovery of the spirit.”
Mario R. heard about the Rader Lodge in 2019 while in rehab as he fought an addiction to meth. He now lives at the lodge but still attends rehab as an outpatient.
“My worst year was 2019. So many times, I felt like my life was about to end,” says Mario. “But even through my addiction, I prayed to God. He was always the best thing in my life, and He’s the best thing about being here. I have a lot of responsibilities now, such as finding a job, focusing on my recovery, and giving back to the community. But God will lead me through it.”
For Pascavage, rehabilitation was a puzzle that The Salvation Army helped him finally solve. Working as the director of the Rader Lodge has been key to fighting his own addiction.
“My true recovery came from being in service to
“Faith does not make things easy; it makes them possible.”
The Salvation Army and to God. I’ve been sober for five years. Before I came to the Army, I had never even been sober for five months,” says Derek. “The more I’m involved in helping others, the less I want to ever fall back into addiction. There’s simply no time for it.”
MAINTAINING LYELL’S HOUSE
Derek and the residents of the Rader Lodge keep the house looking as clean as any house in the neighborhood. The grass is always mowed and the snow is quickly shoveled after a storm.
“I always tell the men here: no loud music; don’t be a disturbance,” says Derek. “I’m happy that I only need to say it once and never again. Learning how to be a good neighbor is also part of being accepted back into a normal life.”
“The house is under an occupancy permit, and the city knows that we are men in recovery living here,” says Derek. “It wouldn’t take too much for someone at a city council meeting to say that they don’t want us here anymore. But the neighbors have all been great; they know the type of work that goes on in here.”
If the outside of the lodge is intended to blend in with every other home on the block, the inside of the lodge is designed to showcase its unique spiritual mission, with inspiring words and Scripture on the walls.
Derek likes two writings posted in the lodge, both in the living room. The first is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Says Derek, “For many years, I didn’t know which voice to listen to. Today, communication with Christ is the only way I get the right answers in my life.”
The second phrase is inspired by the Book of Luke, “Faith does not make things easy; it makes them possible.” “It’s a great message for this house,” says Derek. “Is staying clean and living a normal life going to be easy? No, but have faith in God that He’ll work with you to make it possible.”
A portrait of the late Lt. Colonel Lyell M. Rader Jr. also adorns the lodge’s living room. The love and open communication that Lyell Rader had for everyone is what Derek strives to emulate as lodge director.
“Lt. Colonel Rader never passed judgement on anyone, and he could never turn a person away. He was a mentor to so many people in The Salvation Army, and that’s why we named the lodge in his honor,” says Derek. “When we had the memorial service for him here in the lodge, everyone who came in said the same thing; ‘This is definitely Lyell’s house.’”
In the late 1700’s, a movement took place that would shape the future of The Salvation Army, our country, and Christianity... it all began in Adairville, Kentucky.
t’s quiet now on the grounds of the Red River Meeting House in Adairville, Ky., where, at the turn of the 19 th century, a spiritual spark was lit that became the Second Great Awakening. Today, as the wind whistles through the tall trees on this hallowed ground, it’s a reminder that the Holy Spirit did something amazing here.
“When I walk on the grounds, I just feel the Holy Spirit here,” says Richard Moore, president of the Red River Meeting House Association (RRMHA). “God did something magnificent 200 years ago, and I think some of that’s still here. God’s just waiting for us to get right and He’s going to do something again.”
Envoy Steven Bussey, co–director of the Eastern Territory’s Innovation Department and Heritage Museum, said the log cabin–styled meeting housewith its simple bench–form wooden pews may be small and unspectacular, but Salvationists should visit it because the principal figures of the Second Great Awakening influenced the early Salvationists and spurred the growth of Methodism in America.
“I think returning to places like the Red River Meeting House helps us see the rock from which we are hewn,” Bussey says. “Everything we are built upon as The Salvation Army, our identity and purpose, can be traced back there. The Red River Meeting House is one of the most important places that nobody knows about.
“It’s the Red River Meeting House which lights the fuse that causes the explosion of Methodism. What happens is that American revivalism, fused with Wesleyan perfectionism, becomes the prototype for most of our revivalists.”
A DEVIL OF A PLACE
Today, the grounds of the Red River Meeting House include a 1994 replica of the original structure and a 400–plot graveyard with some markers dating to the late 1700s. A stone monument marks the spot of the original church, built between 1789–1792.
“It’s the most forgotten and the most important place in our entire history as The Salvation Army,” Bussey said. “When I trace everything back in the United States, I trace it back to that house. It’s the most underrated, forgotten part of Church history, but the most pivotal for early religion in America.”
Red River’s revival story begins in 1797 when Presbyterian minister James McGready arrived in Logan County, Ky., known at the time as “Rogue’s Harbor” or “Satan’s Stronghold.” McGready led three churches, including Red River, Gasper River, and Muddy River.
Following the example of Jonathan Edwards from the First Great Awakening, McGready urged his small but dedicated flocks to fast on the third Saturday of each month and to pray on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings for the conversion of sinners.
Revival broke out in 1799 with dozens being filled with the Spirit. In June 1800, several hundred people traveled from a 100–mile radius for a four–day communion service—including more people being filled— that resulted in America’s first camp meeting.
Bussey said William Booth and the early Salvationists studied the camp meeting.
“The Old Orchard Beach camp meetings held in Maine every year are a byproduct of what happened at the Red River Meeting House,” Bussey said.
RED RIVER MEETING HOUSE
this replica of the red river meeting house was built in 1994. the original, built between 1789-92, was the site of a major revival June 13–17, 1800 and kicked off the second great awakening in rural logan county, Ky. the fire would later spread north to bourbon county, ky., and the larger cane ridge revival. the site of the original church is in a graveyard adjoining the buildiing. many settlers from the era are buried on the grounds. the meeting house and revival had a profound impact on the founders of the salvation army.
The revival in Logan County continued in Gasper River in July (drawing 3,000 people) and in Muddy River in August. Visitors would call on friends and find them on their knees in prayer. There were also reports of farmers dropping face down in their fields and crying out to God.
“God’s power and His conviction just fell on everyone in an awesome way,” said Dreama Ruley, another member of the RRMHA. “We need that so badly again.”
The aftermath of the revival resulted in changed lives in Kentucky, which had only been a state for eight years. An area known for alcohol, gambling, fighting, horse thievery, counterfeiting, river pirates, and murderers became a different place.
“When the power of God started falling in the Church, it fell out there too,” Dreama Ruley said. “People that came fully armed to cause trouble were powerless before God. Some of them would fall down where they were and cry out for His mercy and their lives were changed.
“After the Great Revival, this place was known for being kind to strangers and it was the beginning of southern hospitality.”
Dreama’s husband, Tom Ruley, another member of the RRMHA, called Logan County “a very, very rough place before the revival.”
“If you were traveling through here before the revival, you wouldn’t travel alone because you might disappear,” he said. “After the revival, the hearts of the people changed, and it was just a totally different situation around here.”
THE REVIVAL SPREADS
One example was Peter Cartwright, who enjoyed many of the vices of the day but got saved at Red River and became a Methodist circuit rider, taking the gospel to people by horseback. Another circuit rider who saw the Holy Spirit moving at this time was the Methodist bishop Francis Asbury, the namesake of Kentucky’s Asbury College, where many Salvationists attend today.
“Not only is the Red River Meeting House the birthplace of the Second Great Awakening,” Bussey says, “but Francis Asbury sees all the people who are coming and camping out and says, ‘We could replicate this all throughout America.’ When we talk about the baptism of fire and the things John Wesley talked about, Asbury sees these embodied in this experience on the American frontier.”
Presbyterian preacher Barton Stone, who led the signature revival of the Second Great Awakening at the Cane Ridge Meeting House in August 1801, also saw the happenings in Logan County when he visited in June 1801.
“We know that Stone came down and carried the revival fire back to Cane Ridge, which drew 25,000,” said Frank Jarboe, another member of the RRMHA.
INSIDE THE MEETING HOUSE
the inside of the log–style replica of the red river meeting house includes simple wooden benches for pews. the meeting house is still used for retreats and special services by churches in logan county, ky. the raised pulpit features a bible.
The Cane Ridge Meeting House is about 200 miles north of Adairville in Bourbon County near Paris, Ky., an area settled by Scots-Irish Presbyterians, who were encouraged to settle there by explorer Daniel Boone.
Visitors can see the original 1791 meeting house, which is completely enclosed inside a new superstructure finished in 1957. The original meeting house is touted as the largest one-room log building in North America.
CHURCH GROWTH EXPLODES
Stone is buried in the graveyard outside. Visitors can also experience a two–room museum with mementos related to the revival.
“Cane Ridge wasn’t the first or last revival of that period, but it was the largest of that entire era, so it gets a lot more press than some of the other revivals,” says James Trader, the curator of the property.
“During the revival, there were Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian preachers, but we don’t have any real idea how many there were of any singular denomination, and a lot of the people here weren’t part of any of them.”
Between 3,000 and 4,000 people found new faith in Jesus Christ at the revival.
Cane Ridge, named one of Kentucky’s Top 10 “Must See” landmarks, draws 7,000 people a year and was the birthplace of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Churches of Christ, and the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.
Trader said religion was not a big part of
people’s lives after the American Revolution, but the Second Great Awakening changed that.
“The lack of religion in Kentucky prior to the revival was profound,” he said. “After that roughly 20–year period of the Second Great Awakening, Kentucky became basically the center of the Bible Belt. Church attendance in the country, not just in Kentucky, went from around 15 percent to over 55 percent. It had a profound effect around the country.”
Jarboe said that between 1800 and 1880, more than 8 million people became members of evangelical churches as a result of the revival.
“That’s more than became Christians in the first several centuries of Christianity,” Jarboe said. “We see an explosive growth in faith. That is why the South is known as the Bible Belt.”
A NEW AMERICA
The societal changes were also profound. Black and white settlers worshipped together during the revival and that altered perceptions about race. Children climbed onto wagons and into trees to preach with passion and authority.
“That changed the way people viewed a child’s heart for God,” Dreama Ruley said.
The Second Great Awakening also paved the way for women’s suffrage, the explosion of missionary work, and the temperance movement. The revival also changed the way society viewed the poor and mentally challenged.
“The Wesleyan perfectionism of the First Great Awakening and the idealistic American revivalism of the Second Great Awakening led to dramatic social reform,” Bussey said. “William and Catherine Booth fused those two things together and that became Salvationism.”
The people who look after the Red River Meeting House are aware that the revival started in their backyard and they clearly see the preservation work they do as a ministry.
“That was a fire at Cane Ridge and the beginning of a fire is most always a spark,” Tom Ruley said. “I think what happened here in Red River was the spark and it grew from there.”
Darlynn Moore, another member of the
RRMHA, said area ministers come to the grounds to pray and meditate. One pastor who was considering leaving the work stayed in the ministry after praying there.
“We’re taking care of a place where people hear the Holy Spirit,” she said.
OUT OF KENTUCKY
Jarboe compared Red River to the Old Testament standing stones.
“This is an Ebenezer,” Jarboe said, referencing 1 Samuel 7:12. “The ground’s not holy, but God did a work here. Somebody was standing in the spot I’m standing and was truly affected by the gospel over the life of this church. We hope God will do another work here.”
Dreama Ruley believes that’s why people should come to Kentucky for a visit.
“We want people to come here not only so we can remind them of America’s history, but also our spiri tual history and what God did here,” she said with tears in her eyes. “We want to remind them they need to be in prayer that it happens again. People need to be motivated to pray. That’s why we’re here.”
Bussey said if one “follows the theological breadcrumbs,” the Second Great Awakening didn’t end in Kentucky. The revival spread to upstate New York and spawned the ministries of revivalists like Charles Finney and Phoebe Palmer around the time of The Salvation Army’s founding in 1865. Booth, writing in the Officer magazine, urged his officers to read Finney and the other great revivalists.
“These are the people who influenced William and Catherine Booth and everyone was reading in those days,” Bussey said.
CANE RIDGE PLAQUE
this plaque marks the entrance to the site of the cane ridge meeting house in bourbon county, ky. about 25,000 people attended the revival in august, 1801. the site also features a museum.
CHURCH AT CANE RIDGE
the graveyard and building housing the original cane ridge meeting house. presbyterian preacher barton stone, who is buried in the graveyard and led the revival at cane ridge, witnessed the holy spirit’s work in logan county, ky., in june, 1801. the revival fire followed back to bourbon county, ky., for the cane ridge revival two months later in august, 1801.
Another early influence on Booth was the Methodist evangelist James Caughey.
“William Booth modeled his life after Caughey and met him when he came to America,” Bussey said. “He becomes Booth’s prototype and Booth looks to him as a mentor. It all begins to create this American–Wesleyan revivalism.
“Nearly every person from that movement influenced William and Catherine Booth. That’s the type of Wesleyanism that they looked to and they studied. Pretty much every book they studied was of American holiness revivalists who had been impacted by the Second Great Awakening. They become the blueprints for what we call Salvationism.
“I believe the entire strategy, philosophy, and epistemology of Salvationism is predicated upon the theories crafted in the Second Great Awakening.”
Bussey also believes every Salvationist should visit Kentucky to glimpse the early Salvationist influences.
“These trips are about going back to see what God has done in the past and to remember that if God did it then, He can surely do it today,” Bussey said. “A plaque is just a plaque until a story accompanies it. When the story comes, we understand the value of it. When the value comes, there is significance. When the significance is there, then we’re moved. When we’re moved, we resolve ourselves.
“I don’t think there is an organization better postured for a true global spiritual awakening that is as significant, if not more significant than the first and second great awakenings, than The Salvation Army. We just need to begin to believe it.
“I believe we’ve lost our idealism that the world can be saved and that there can be revival or a great awakening. We need to stir those embers again. We need to stoke the fire if there’s going to be another awakening—and I believe there is. I believe our Eastern Territory is a critical starting point to what God is going to be doing, not just in The Salvation Army world, but the whole world.”
CANE RIDGE MEETING HOUSE
the original 1791 cane ridge meeting house is completely enclosed inside a superstructure built in 1957. the original meeting house is touted as the largest one–room log building in north america. the inside of the superstructure features a series of stained–glass windows depicting the famous revival.
The Red River Meeting House is located at 3008 Schochoh Road in Adairville, Ky., and can be reached at (270) 539–6528 or www.rrmh.org.
The Cane Ridge Meeting House is located at 1655 Cane Ridge Road near Paris, Ky., and can be reached at (859) 987–5350 or www.caneridge.org.
MEETING THE COVID–19 CHALLENGE
Inge Williams of Shoemakersville, Pa., takes information from motorists as they drive through a food pick–up point in Hamburg, Pa. She is in the parking lot of a Salvation Army thrift store. The Army distributed packages of food there during the Coronavirus outbreak with the assistance of Helping Harvest, a food bank based in Reading, Pa. The Army, in partnership with such agencies, is continuously adapting its outreach strategy to respond effectively and compassionately to human need without discrimination in response to this global emergency.
Mother of the Krocby Hugo Bravo
Members of Joanne Small’s community lovingly gave her the title “Mother of the Kroc” because she was a warm, motherly soul with a love for people and boundless energy to help others, whether it be as a teacher, a caregiver or as a listening ear. Her expertly crafted nails and Air Jordan sneakers earned her the nickname “Ms. J.” There wasn’t a job at the Boston Kroc Center that Ms. J could not do, and there wasn’t a person in need who she could turn away.
A PRESENCE IN THE COMMUNITY
When Small and her three children: David, Lakia, and Sadé moved to Charlestown, the oldest neighborhood within the city of Boston, they were only the second African–American family to live in the primarily Irish–American housing development.
David said, “I remember being called racial slurs, having eggs thrown at us by other kids, having our car tires deflated, and having the police harass me when I was coming home. But I was the oldest child and man of the house; no excuses were allowed. We all had to continue living our lives.”
Small knew the environment
to which her children were being exposed. She also understood that to make an impact on that community, she had to engage it. She had to make herself known to those families who treated her children as outsiders. She took a job at the Harvard Kent Elementary School and attended community college to earn a degree in early childhood development.
At Harvard Kent, Joanne’s loving personality and ability to get through to children who no one else could reach became well known; she was the teacher who parents personally requested to educate their kids. Eventually in charge of her own
classroom, she became a popular figure in the Charlestown community. At the same time, David was recognized locally for his skills in basketball. The Small family had gone from outsiders to being insiders.
David remembers, “Seeing that change, and how people treated us differently, was interesting. To this day, people come up to me and tell me that my mom was like a second mother to them in school.”
FRONT AND (KROC) CENTER
Due to budget cuts and a struggling local economy, Small was let go by Harvard Kent. When she applied to work at The Salvation Army Boston Kroc Center, David openly wondered if going from a job as a schoolteacher to a community center employee would be the best thing for her. “My mother was going to do what she wanted to do, but I soon realized that at the Kroc Center, her gift would be taken to the next level.”
Small began working with children in the Kroc’s afterschool program. Soon it became clear that her talent was transforming lives and changing hearts. When she moved to a permanent position on staff at the hub of the Kroc Center, the culture itself was affected by her warm personality.
“Making Ms. J the first face people saw when they entered the Kroc was the best place for her,” says Captain Darell Houseton, who met her when he was transferred to the Boston Kroc in 2016. “When you’re going to someplace new, she’s the person who you want to welcome you.”
From 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Ms. J was on the clock. She was always ready with a hygiene kit and a call to the kitchen for food in case a homeless person came in looking for help. Children in the area, whether they were members of the Kroc or not, knew Ms.
J and encouraged others to go to her if they needed help or advice.
“Ms. J once had a girl run to her saying that her mother was violently angry with her,” says Chris Sumner, the Boston Kroc’s chief operations executive. “The mother actually chased her daughter into the Kroc Center. Ms. J, who physically was much smaller than either of them, snatched both up and took them into an empty conference room. She was in there for three hours calming them down.”
During another memorable event outside of the Kroc Center, a troubled young man took his brother’s gun and confronted a bully. When he fired it into the air, Ms. J ran outside to him, now crying—and still holding the loaded weapon. Nonetheless, she held him close and calmed him as sirens from approaching police cruisers filled the air.
“She was an on–the–spot, and sometimes off–the–spot, mediator,” says Sumner. “Someone once referred to her as the Kroc’s own Mother Teresa, because just like that saint, Ms. J was known by her acts of pure selflessness and kindness.”
Captain Houseton says that Small’s unique brand of kindness made her a model employee of The Salvation Army. When a Kroc patron angrily complained of a negative experience and berated younger Kroc staff members, Ms. J was the one who spoke to the man. She listened to his concerns, but still defended her co–workers.
“She was loving and compassionate enough to hold this man accountable for what he did, but still wanted him to be the best he could be. She loved this man enough to correct him when he was wrong,” says Captain Houseton.
In 2017, basketball star Isaiah Thomas, who was a member of the Boston Celtics at the time, lost his sister Chyna in a tragic car accident. When he visited the Boston Kroc soon after, Thomas’ wife asked if Ms. J could
personally console her husband. Ms. J obliged. “From the youngest child to the oldest, longest–serving officer visiting the Kroc, Ms. J treated everyone with the same love and respect,” says Captain Houseton.
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
On September 29, 2019, Chris Sumner invited Ms. J to talk about expanding her role at the Kroc Center. Just as she had been given her own classroom at Harvard Kent, Sumner wanted Ms. J to train others to be a force for kindness. “We want to make more of you,” Sumner remembers telling a surprised and overjoyed Ms. J.
Two days later, Ms. J passed away suddenly due to underlying health problems. Her funeral was branded a “Celebration of life: the life of ‘Mother of the Kroc.’” It was celebrated by 2,000 of her “children” whom she had influenced as a school teacher and as an employee of The Salvation Army.
The Kroc Center hosted Joanne Small’s repass. Though it was originally only meant for friends and family, many Kroc attendees also came to pay their respects. Some put their gym workout or pickup game on hold to go home, change, and return with a serving of food, all in the name of Ms. J and to pay tribute to her legacy.
“For everyone who says that they were impacted by Ms. J, I hope they know that, beginning with her move to Charlestown to her death, she worked hard to make that impact on the community. She never counted a single person out,” says Chris Sumner.
“I’m honored to be her son, and honored that she had that effect on others,” says David. “Some people are blessed with gifts. If those people find a job using such gifts, it becomes more than a job. It becomes part of who they are. My mother had that kind of a gift for people.”
Impacting the world for Christ
Asbury University and The Salvation Army have a rich history that reaches back nearly 100 years. Now, we soldiers for mission and ministry.
The Salvation Army operates successfully because of its many volunteers. SACONNECTS magazine is starting a new department that will feature inspiring stories on these selfless individuals. If you would like to see someone in your corps, Kroc Center or ARC included, please send us your ideas. If you would like to serve as a volunteer, please contact your nearest Salvation Army. You can locate one by going to www.salvationarmyusa.org and entering your zip code in the search bar at the top of the page.
New life, new homeby Cari Friend
For 26 years, Leslie Marthone passionately worked as a licensed practical nurse in New York City. One of her greatest joys was helping to shepherd new lives into the world and ensuring the health and safety of expectant mothers.
After a rewarding and challenging career, Leslie retired her stethoscope. She and her family decided to forego the hustle and bustle of city life in exchange for a quieter, slower, and easier pace in the Poconos. Little did she know that just one year later, right around Thanksgiving no less, she and her kids would be homeless in East Stroudsburg, Pa.
“I had never been in a position that vulnerable before,” Leslie says. “We were being evicted from our home and had nowhere to go. Every agency in town turned me away—except The Salvation Army.
“Being homeless humbled me more than I ever thought possible,” Leslie says, choking up. “At the Army, I was welcomed with big, warm, open arms. I was impressed with how the knowledgeable staff found available services
in Monroe County. This is a very needed and useful program.”
Today, you can find Leslie volunteering five days a week as an administrative assistant at the shelter attached to the East Stroudsburg, Pa. Corps (church). She does whatever is needed. She answers phones and uses her 26 years of nursing experience to educate and empower the shelter’s residents.
“First and foremost, I have to give back to show my appreciation to The Salvation Army,” Leslie says, smiling. “They not only helped me get back on my feet, but treated me with dignity, respect, and compassion. They’re all very special. Just lovely.
“I also like to feel needed. It makes me feel good to help people. Plus, (she continues with a wink) it gives me something to do.”
Shelter Program Director Cymanda Robinson said, “I will always remember the day Leslie came through that front door. I could tell she was tired, overwhelmed, and just feeling hopeless. I told her ‘to just breathe.’”
Leslie entered the shelter program just after Thanksgiving 2018 and was
placed into permanent housing in March 2019.
“We helped give Leslie guidance and made those connections for her,” a beaming Cymanda said. “She did the rest. She just hit the ground running. Nothing was going to stop her.”
Leslie said she would like to change people’s preconceived notions about the homeless.
“Everyone has a picture in their head of a homeless person,” Leslie says. “We see the pictures and videos that the media shows of the homeless. But I want everyone to look at me. Do I look homeless? No, but I am the face of homelessness. This is the face people need to see.
“It’s the same for mental illness. We see pictures of people’s behavior, screaming, and yelling. Not everyone who struggles with mental illness displays those characteristics. Our society needs to stop putting people in a box. We are all in the same place, just one step away from homelessness. Everyone has a story and most importantly, one should not be judged.”
MENTAL HEALTH and spiritual formationby Lt. Colonel Patricia LaBossiere
My 4–month-old son had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy. In between visits to the hospital and the pediatric cancer clinic, I tried to make time for my 4–year–old son, teach the adult Sunday school class, lead Home League, preach on alternate Sundays from my husband, and everything else that goes along with being a corps officer (pastor) and a mother of two small children.
When it all finally became too much for me, I reached out for help. The pastoral counselor who visited me suggested that I seek professional counseling for depression.
Wait. Christians aren’t supposed to get depressed, right? I thought, Maybe if I just had more faith, I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed. Maybe if I just prayed more, trusted Jesus more, believed God’s Word more deeply. Wrong.
Depression or any other mental illness, is just that—an illness and it may be triggered by a chemical imbalance in the brain and have a physical cause.
There are Christians who have heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and many other illnesses. People see doctors for these issues and treat them with medication, surgery, and ongoing care. Mental illness needs to be treated, just like any other illness. It is not caused by sin or a lack of faith.
However, mental illness can still be a highly stigmatized topic in the Church. Instead of being recognized for the legitimate, clinical condition it is, depression is sometimes viewed as a personal flaw, character weakness, sin or lack of faith.
Dr. Ed Stetzer, author, speaker, Christian missiologist, and executive director at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, writes, “My challenge to the Church is that we might move beyond the whispering, the silence, the shame, and the stigma.
Instead, let us understand and show others that Jesus came seeking, saving, and serving the lost and broken people around Him. We honor Christ when we join in His mission by doing the same.”
For the next year or so, I juggled our lives around chemo appointments and hospitalizations. I did manage to squeeze in some sessions with a therapist, where I began to learn about depression and ways to manage it. I found that talking to someone about my concerns was helpful, as was taking medication.
The thing I have found extremely helpful, though, is reading, meditating on, and memorizing Scripture. God’s Word is (among other things) a treasure trove of comfort, compassion, and assurance when life gets tough. For example, Psalm 40:1–3, says, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”
These verses hit very close to home for me. I can testify now that Jesus has lifted me out of a dark pit and planted
my feet on solid ground. He is the firm place on which I stand.
Another passage of Scripture that acknowledges the difficulties in life is 2 Corinthians 4:8–9, it says we are: pressed on every side by troubles, perplexed, hunted down, and knocked down. But reminds us that we also are: not crushed, not driven to despair, never abandoned by God, and not destroyed.
Copying Scripture helps me to slow down enough to truly meditate on the words. I often write the words of Scripture in my journal, making a list of verses that focus on a similar topic such as “light” or “near” or “hope.” Meditating and memorizing helps me to keep the Scriptures close to my heart throughout the day. Posting specific verses in strategic places also reminds me to focus on the truths of God’s Word.
I’m not claiming that Scripture alone is a cure for depression; I do not deny that God can and does miraculously heal in our day. But for me, God’s Word is a source of comfort, strength, and truth. We can stand on these promises because the God who called us is faithful. As the song says: “All His promises are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen.’”
Creative ways to engage Scripture
› Find a relevant verse and look it up in different Bible translations. That may give you additional insight or a different way of looking at the verse.
› Underlining, circling or highlighting significant verses helps us find them more readily.
› Write the verse in large, block letters and then decorate the letters as you look at and meditate on the words.
› Sybil MacBeth has written a helpful book called: Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God. You may enjoy some of her suggestions.
Sample Scripture Verses
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.”
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
“The Lord God will give them light.”
“Mental illness is an illness, just like any other. It needs to be treated, just like any other illness. It is not caused by sin or a lack of faith.”
Jump–Start Your Immunity
Everyday habits can either protect or weaken your immune system. Poor immunity can lead to chronic allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disorders, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes.
EXERCISE and the mind
Smoking and alcohol abuse are obvious enemies of your immune system. Researchers have also found we weaken our defenses against germs, viruses, and serious illness through many other lifestyle habits.
Poor sleep: It raises your stress hormone levels and inflammation. In general, daily sound sleep (7 to 9 hours) protects your health.
Poor diet: Not eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds robs you of essential nutrients (including beta carotene as well as vitamins C and E) that strengthen immunity. Kick the junk food and eat well.
Excess sugar: Eating or drinking too much sugar reduces the immune system’s ability to fight bacteria, an effect that can last for hours. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit and drink water instead.
Chronic stress: It triggers a steady stream of stress hormones that suppress immunity and lead to disease.
Negative attitude: Have you lost your sense of humor? Practice laughing more; it pushes back stress hormones and raises white blood cells that can curb infection. The takeaway: Take care of yourself.
Loneliness: Having a network of good, close friends can boost immunity by easing stress and elevating your mood.
Exercise does more than boost physical fitness: It affects how you think and feel mentally. Researchers have documented how exercise impacts your brain and emotions. In fact, just 5 minutes of moderate–intensity exercise (brisk walking) can enhance mood, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
That’s because even brisk walking releases endorphins, natural chemicals produced by the nervous system which trigger a calming and feel–good effect that can help relieve depression. Exercise can also help treat and prevent anxiety and panic attacks by soothing an over–reactive nervous system, the APA notes.
Regular exercise may boost memory, too, according to University of Texas research. What’s more, studies show regular aerobic workouts, over time, can improve your brain’s executive function, which is home to skills needed to plan, solve problems, and make decisions.
So, consider taking a walk instead of a coffee break, especially if you have a sedentary job, to lower stress levels, brighten your mood and increase your ability to focus and work well.
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