A Salvation Army Christmas DECEMBER 2020
“ Somehow or other, it came just the same!” How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The need has always been there.
This year, it happens to be greater.
As more people face poverty, you can help rescue Christmas with a monthly gift of $25 that provides food, shelter, and hope to the most vulnerable this season. Enlist in Loveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Army at SalvationArmyUSA.org.
A Christmas Message from the General of The Salvation Army
BURKINA FASO CALIFORNIA
Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” —JOHN 14:27
The year 2020 has been unique, interesting, and challenging. We have lived through a global pandemic, the ramifications of which continue to impact our lives. We have witnessed the best of humanity as communities came together and helped to care for the vulnerable and those who needed to shield. We have seen the worst of humanity as racism cost lives and led to violent protests by demonstrators from varying viewpoints. All of this has combined to both exhilarate and exhaust us throughout this year. It is into our messed–up, complex, ever–changing, uncertain, and perplexing world that Jesus comes as the Prince of Peace. Jesus was familiar with prejudice, oppressive political regimes, institutionalized religion, and suffering. So, although the man Jesus lived 2,000 years ago, His words still have relevance because He, as the Son of God, has an eternal perspective. So, what did Jesus teach us about peace? In the Sermon on the Mount, as He began His teaching ministry, Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Then, in preparing His disciples for His departure and the arrival of the promised Holy Spirit, Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). This is the same Jesus who spoke to the wind and waves, saying, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39 King James Version). To the woman who anointed His feet at Simon’s house, Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50). After explaining many things to His disciples, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Peace distinguishes the earthly existence of Jesus. In announcing His birth, the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14). As Jesus appeared to His followers after the Resurrection He would declare: “Peace be with you!” (John 20:21). If Jesus was so intent on sharing the peace of God with others, we must do the same, but we cannot share with others what we do not first have for ourselves. Consequently, we need to ensure we are living in relationship with God and receive His peace that is beyond our understanding, yet which keeps our hearts and minds secure in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). It is from this position of peace, of keeping our focus upon God (Isaiah 26:3), that we are able to experience the peace of God in the storms of life and share that peace with others. We are called children of God when we are peacemakers, peace–bringers, and peacebuilders because we share the very essence and nature of God with others. So, in this Advent season and beyond, let us be people of peace. May our very presence bring peace into rooms, situations, and lives because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. May our words be words of peace because we share the words of God. Wherever you are and whatever situation you find yourself in, may you experience the peace of God today. —Brian Peddle, General
Except where mentioned otherwise, scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
photos providec by The Salvation Army IHQ
A People of Peace
Facts about The Salvation Army by Robert Mitchell
William and Catherine Booth founded The Salvation Army in England.
Church The Salvation Army is a church and its message is based on the Bible. The churches, which can be found in nearly every community in the United States, are called “corps.” A corps is typically led by a married couple who are both ordained pastors and referred to as “officers.” There are almost 27,000 of these officers around the world. There are 14,528 corps, outposts, societies, new plants, and recovery churches around the world.
Caring Globally, The Salvation Army operates 234 children’s homes, 150 senior homes, 38 homes for mothers and their babies, 39 maternity hospitals, and 30 hospitals.
Rehabilitation 1.8 million All people are welcome to attend the corps (church). The Salvation Army has 1.8 million followers.
Since its inception, The Salvation Army has helped people fight and recover from alcoholism, drug misuse, and other addictions and their side effects. Adult Rehabilitation Centers, commonly called “ARCs,” are where this work is conducted. There are 36 ARCs in the USA Eastern Territory where people live, perform work therapy, and receive counseling. Chapel services are also provided, if desired. The Christ–centered program is highly successful in helping to transform lives. The ARCs are funded by approximately 200 thrift stores in the territory called “Family Stores.”
Today Salvationists, Army employees, and volunteers minister in 131 countries worldwide. The international headquarters is in London and the Army is led by General Brian Peddle. 2
—All statistics from www.salvationarmy.org, 2019.
The Salvation Army/Ryan Love
Kicking off Christmas!
The Salvation Army Red Kettle Mascot Challenge is a yearly Christmas tradition for the Army in Massachusetts. Mascots from local sports teams, including “Patriot Pat” (New England Patriots, NFL football), “Slyde the Fox” (New England Revolution, soccer), “Blade the Bear” (Boston Bruins, hockey), “Arthur the Pirate” (Massachusetts Pirates, indoor football) and “Boomer the Cannon” (Boston Cannons, Lacrosse) become Army bell ringers and delight people in downtown Boston. They are joined by the Salvation Army’s own mascots, “RJ Kroc” and “Captain Redd,” to collect donations for the kettles, pose for pictures, and even show off a Super Bowl ring or two.
This year, the COVID–19 pandemic will unfortunately keep the mascots from taking center stage with their bells and kettles. That’s why The Salvation Army needs your help more than ever. Consider making an online donation at
Check out the photo gallery from last year’s event at saconnects.org and search “Kicking Off Christmas.”
Gifts Under the Tree
by Robert Mitchell
“ Today, I think there’s a stigma that says, if you’re on any kind of social services, it’s like, ‘What did you do to put yourself in that position?’ Because that’s not always the case, we need to look at it from a different point of view. We still need to help and love our neighbor because when we uplift people, we’re lifting our community.”
manda Strandburg knows what it’s like to see Christmas approaching, but have nothing under the tree. You might say “The Ghost of Christmas Past” visited her every holiday season. Today, as the 4th runner–up in the Mrs. Pennsylvania International Pageant earlier this year, Strandburg is determined to redefine her present and future. Amanda and her two siblings were raised in Clearfield, Pa., by a struggling single mother. “There were a couple of Christmases when we didn’t have any gifts,” Amanda said. “My mother received food baskets from The Salvation Army. I remember one year our heat was turned off and she got heating assistance from The Salvation Army. I am forever grateful.” When Amanda was 8, and as the days dwindled down to Dec. 25, she wondered if there would be a Christmas at all. “It was a few days before Christmas and there was nothing. Then, we got two gifts each from The Salvation Army. “To this day, I can remember what I got,” says Strandburg, now 32. “It was a bracelet–making kit and a sand art kit.”
She’s a giver Strandburg now lives in State College, Pa., and has given back to The Salvation Army over the years in both Clearfield and Punxsutawney, Pa. In Clearfield, she has spoken at the annual Kettle Kickoff event and has helped with the toy program. When COVID–19 hit, she and her husband, David, helped serve breakfast and lunch to schoolchildren for two months until she was called back to her job with the U.S. Department of Defense. “The Clearfield Salvation Army is like my new adopted family,” Strandburg says. “We’re really close. They’re so great and this is truly what family and community are about.” In Punxsutawney, she met with
students in the after–school program at the corps and created a community service award through the Mrs. Pennsylvania International Pageant. In fact, she got involved in the pageant in April 2019 to bring attention to The Salvation Army through her platform of community empowerment. She doesn’t believe people are defined by their past and can overcome it through being in community.
First–time contestant With COVID–19 and social unrest tearing the country apart, Strandburg said her message is a timely one. “Now, more than ever, we need community empowerment,” she says. “We need to rely on our neighbors. We need to help each other.” She took the local title of Mrs. Clearfield International and finished as the 4th runner–up in the state pageant. “I’m still excited because I had never done a pageant before,” Strandburg said. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just wanted to get my message out there, and like anyone, I do like to occasionally dress up. “I did the pageant to simply convey my message and talk about the importance of helping others and serving my community through Christ. It’s amazing how a platform elevates my message. I have more of an audience. People are truly listening. I’m able to get out there and talk about my story and the impact The Salvation Army has had on me.” The Mrs. Pennsylvania International Pageant is based more on a contestant’s interview and platform than on physical beauty, Strandburg said. “To me, that really meant something,” she said. “It was my way of having a larger audience to share my message that we need to help other people and that their circumstances may not be their fault. “The reason I entered the contest was
courtesy of Amanda Strandburg
lifting our community.” Looking back, Strandburg said she realizes her mother did all she could and “it wasn’t her fault” that the family struggled financially. “She tried. The Salvation Army lent that extra hand. They said, ‘We’re here for you, we’re going to be your family, we’re going to be your community.’ That’s essentially what The Salvation Army was to me. They were like my extended family. Without them, I wouldn’t have had a Christmas.
Burying the past Amanda (right) receives her 4th runner–up plaque at the Mrs. Pennsylvania International Pageant.
truly to talk about my experience as a child. I also wanted to reduce the stigma associated with people who receive help.”
Overcoming the odds Amanda’s parents divorced when she was a baby and she had no relationship with her father. Her mother, Sherry, worked three jobs to provide for her children. She received little support from family members, many of whom were in and out of jail or struggling with alcohol. “I give Christ the credit that I never went down those paths,” Strandburg said. “In His calling, I was able to rise above that. It’s really hard sometimes to rise because society can be brutal. That’s extremely heartbreaking to me when it happens. “Today, I think there’s a stigma that says if you’re on any kind of social services, it’s like, ‘What did you do to put yourself in that position?’ Because that’s not always the case, we need to look at it from a different point of view. We still need to help and love our neighbor because when we uplift people, we’re
“Some people are too proud to receive help, so they and their children continue to struggle. People shouldn’t be too proud. I think it’s a reawakening moment, like a rebirth, when you ask for help and people help you. That’s something to truly be cherished.” While Amanda has struggled with her family’s past, she was determined that it would not define her. “I said, ‘That doesn’t deter me from my goals and my dreams. I’m not going to let my family’s past pull me back or hinder me in any way.’ “Not having the money to fit in or have the most expensive clothes was really hard on me as a child. I really had to rely on my faith to push past all of that. I want everyone to know, and especially children, that their background does not make them who they are. They can rise above it. My message is, ‘Don’t forget where you came from, but you can certainly become something better.’” Amanda did overcome her past by earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in business. Nine years ago while earning her associate’s in business, she saw a flier for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard (ANG) and joined.
Big plans ahead Strandburg is just as comfortable in combat boots as she is in high heels. She recently became a warrant officer in the ANG. “It’s like two different ends of a spectrum,” Strandburg says with a laugh. “I joined the National Guard as another way to give back to my community. I really do enjoy helping people. I always feel like I’m indebted to give back.” In February, she started a benefit ball for a homeless shelter in DuBois, Pa., and to help ANG members in financial need. As for the future, she plans to compete in the Mrs. Pennsylvania International Pageant in April 2021. As a certified personal trainer, she and her husband also hope to open a health center and small café someday. They have a blended family that includes her 12–year–old son, Beau. Strandburg, who regularly attends a Methodist church with her family, gives Christ all the glory in leading her down a better path in life. “If I didn’t have Christ in my life to show me the way and to live by His values, I just honestly don’t think I would be where I am today,” she said.
Christ is life “Christ is my hope. When we pray, I feel like my prayers are answered and that gives me a sense of being home.” A spiritual longing was in Amanda from an early age. Her family lived about a half hour away from a church so she and her siblings held their own Christmas services. “We would talk about God and the different things we appreciated Him for,” Strandburg said. “I attribute all of that, including wanting Christ in my life, to The Salvation Army. They opened my spiritual eyes.”
In Uncertain Times by Hugo Bravo
Jonathan Jackson* talks about his first musical instrument, the childhood friend who brought him to The Salvation Army, and how he remains hopeful during uncertain times. I had always wanted to play drums, and it was at The Salvation Army where I first held a bass drum mallet in my hands. I saved $150 and bought my first drum set. It was an old, low–end Pearl set from a yard sale, but I quickly learned to play it. I kept that set for 12 years and bought new pieces and gear to make it sound better. Over time, I’ve played in Salvation Army bands and even taught professionally in inner city schools. Teaching music is powerful; seeing children learn to play instruments brings out an emotional and spiritual feeling in me. My first real job was doing maintenance at The Salvation Army’s Camp NEOSA when I was 15 years old. That’s when I learned how much I enjoyed working with young people, one on one. I came back to camp almost every summer after that. I eventually became the camp’s caretaker. I also became a Sunday school teacher and a corps community center helper. I know how important it is for young people to have someone to believe in them and to invest in their lives.
The Salvation Army / LuLu Rivera
I grew up in Akron, Ohio, where I had a friend who lived with his grandmother. Dwayne’s family was one of the few white families I knew in Akron. Every weekend in the fall, a van would pick him up and take him to The Boys’ Club. He’d be gone for about three hours. I asked my mom for permission to go too. The next week, Lieutenant Phil Engle, an Army officer, took Dwayne and me to a building where we and other young men played football, baseball, indoor hockey, and video games. We also participated in a prayer devotional. After three months, Dwayne asked me to come to church with him. When the van pulled into the corps parking lot, I recognized the building; my mother and I had been there to get help with paying our bills and to pick up Christmas gifts. On those days, I always waited in the lobby. But on that day we walked into the chapel, and I was embraced and welcomed by old, young, black, and white Salvationists. That day, my life changed, and I made the Akron Temple Corps (which was later absorbed into Akron Citadel) my church home. If basketball is being taught somewhere in the Eastern Territory, I need to be a part of it! Sports helps you develop a sense of identity and form bonds with others. I loved to run the community centers and to introduce kids and adults to sports through pick–up games and tournaments. It pointed me toward my own ministry. When I discovered what I was good at, I couldn’t run from that. It became a part of me.
I believe that where God places us, God always has us. In these difficult times, we need to remember that fact. I had felt nervous after my appointment in Connecticut. I thought, Where would God direct me? Would I be able to serve and do my best? I didn’t want to walk into uncertainty, but I trusted that God was listening to me. Now, that I’m in Newark, N.J., I look forward to another chance to serve. Even this Christmas, we’re trying to find new ways to raise money for the Army, in case it becomes harder to do kettles in our current situation. I’ve learned to trust God’s plan and to be in His presence, wherever He places me.
*Major Jonathan Jackson is the divisional secretary for The Salvation Army’s New Jersey Division.
From the Editor’s Desk
The worth of families A by Warren L. Maye Editor–in–Chief
few years ago, Worth magazine did a study on wealthy families in the United States and concluded that something other than money was primarily responsible for making them well–off. Extensive research revealed a surprising pattern; it was actually a family member’s personal dream that had made the difference. Even in the midst of what might have been dire circumstances, the vision of that person had become the family’s “constitution” as each succeeding generation inherited their “mission statement.” At the heart of that bold dream was the framework of a multigenerational plan. The preservation of financial resources occurred as a consequence of that plan, which included the expansion of their spirits and minds, “the primary wealth of our families,” said the writer. As a result, the family, its business, and its philanthropic interests grew. The writer said, “Such a plan reveals much broader nuances of meaning to the patterns of life.” When I read this, I thought, That’s great, but there has to be much more. What about today in
the midst of COVID–19 and nationwide social unrest? How easy is it to come up with a family mission statement when the patterns of life have shifted so dramatically? Loved ones have perished, jobs and homes have been lost, and the value of families has seemingly diminished in the scheme of things. In such an environment, people are tempted to succumb to fear, isolation, and depravity. So, I think we need to take this “family mission” idea a step further and spiritually deeper. Today more than ever, we’ve got to focus our attention on the will of God, which transcends anything that’s humanly possible. In Him we’ll find those “nuances of meaning.” How much is your family worth? I hope your answer is, “priceless!” This Christmas, may we realize that we’ve made it this far because God provided someone who laid a plan for us. By the way, if you’re struggling in your relationship with them, then let this be your year of extraordinary reconciliation. You too can make a difference for generations to come.
Published by The Salvation Army. Special Issue December 2020. Printed in USA. Postmaster: Send all address changes to: 440 West Nyack Rd., West Nyack, NY 10994–1739. Copyright ©2020 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.
WE’RE HERE TO LISTEN. Emotional & Spiritual Care HOPEline Emotional and Spiritual Care counseling is vital during a crisis. If you’re struggling right now, please call us. We’re here to listen.
Thanks to your generosity, Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re on the front lines. The Salvation Army has helped survivors of every major natural disaster in the USA since 1900, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing the same for those affected 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 national crisis. For 120 years, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve rescued people in need and supported them on their journey of recovery.
The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts.