From the days of apartheid to now; the Salvation Army's role in racial healing.
VOL. 7 NO. 2, 2021
A mother and daughter reunite through the ARC program. p. 27
Good mental, physical, and spiritual health is just a bike ride away. p. 30
FAITH BEHIND THE BADGE p. 16
WHO WE ARE
The Last Hopeless Day
Chris Farrand knows the importance of recharging one's soul.
Gloria Carney didn't want to become like her father, but alcoholism overwhelmed her. Find out how Christ saved her from that desperate life.
Programs A Sunday school in Brooklyn lets kids be kids. Plus: Tips for a successful Sunday school class. page 9
History To make things right, we must first acknowledge what went wrong, says Bishop Desmond Tutu. Learn how forgiveness was the key to reconciliation in the 1990s and how it can help improve your relationships today. page 10
Faith in Action
Spiritual Life Development What do you really want? Read on to get tips that will help you finally answer that question in your life.
A Day at the Park
Spiritual by Nature
Are you planning a day at the park? Find a new outfit and accessories to match at a Salvation Army thrift store in your area.
A bike ride through the country can be inspiring and invigorating. Discover how it can also reveal the wonders of God.
Rescued for a Reason LaTanya Carter lived a harrowing lifestyle until she found the Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). Today, she is the assistant supervisor at a thrift store. page 27
Rev. Carmen Rivera In New York, a reverend works with The Salvation Army to reach out to victims of human trafficking. page 32
Captain Darell Houseton sees many spiritual parallels in his hobby of woodworking. page 12
See how police officers of color reflect God's love and, when necessary, use words. page 16
David McNew/Getty Images
There’s always a Great Deal in store for you!
THRIFT STORE Donation Center
When you donate and shop at The Salvation Army, your contributions fund our Adult Rehabilitation Centers, where people whose lives have been turned upside–down find hope and a second chance. Call 800‑SA‑TRUCK or visit SATRUCK.org to learn more.
FROM THE EDITOR
TERRITORIAL LEADERS Commissioner William A. Bamford III Commissioner G. Lorraine Bamford CHIEF SECRETARY Colonel Philip J. Maxwell SECRETARY FOR COMMUNICATION Lt. Colonel Kathleen J. Steele EDITOR IN CHIEF Warren L. Maye MANAGING EDITOR Robert Mitchell EDITOR / HISPANIC CORRESPONDENT Hugo Bravo ART DIRECTOR Reginald Raines PUBLICATION MANAGING DESIGNER Lea La Notte Greene GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Keri Johnson, Joe Marino, Mabel Zorzano STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Lulu Rivera 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.
Member since 2015 Award winner 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020
SACONNECTS is published six times per year by The Salvation Army USA’s Eastern Territory. Bulk rate is $12.00 per issue for 25–100 copies. Single subscriptions are available. Write to: SACONNECTS, The Salvation Army, 440 West Nyack Road, West Nyack, NY 10994–1739. Vol. 7, No. 2, 2021. Printed in USA. Postmaster: Send all address changes to: SACONNECTS, 440 West Nyack Road, West Nyack, NY 10994–1739. SACONNECTS accepts advertising. Copyright ©2021 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.
www.saconnects.org | @saconnects
What to wear? WARREN L. MAYE Editor in Chief
We have emerged from what has been the most stressful year of our lives. So, it’s understandable why a recent survey of U.S. consumers indicates that, as this pandemic winds down, most of us who have the option will dress “more comfortably” when we return to work.* Perhaps such clothing will help ease our anxiety and conceal our suffering. What we wear may seem trivial, but the psychology behind it runs deep. For instance, Adam and Eve were definitely under stress after they sinned in the Garden of Eden. They ate from the Tree of Knowledge and suddenly saw more than they ever wanted to see. Surprisingly, their first thought was, What to wear? as they covered themselves with fig leaves to hide their nakedness. Today in contrast, there are amazing pandemic survivors who continue to wear their clothing proudly as an outward expression of a God–ordained purpose, rather than to cover their vulnerabilities. In this issue of SACONNECTS, we show you a few inspiring examples. On our “Thrift Store Finds” page, you’re going to see a mother and daughter in affordable outfits as they enjoy a delightful day in the park. In a feature article, you’ll see a young carpenter, clad in a cool– looking, multi–pocketed shop apron, make exquisite furniture and help build character in men. In our “Volunteer Spotlight,” a reverend dressed in her ministerial robe and collar strives to defeat sexual trafficking in communities. In another article, a cyclist equipped in colorful gear appreciates God’s creation during a rigorous country ride. In a story that looks back on history, Salvation Army pastors in uniform inspire racial healing in South Africa. Our main feature shows several armored police officers of color as they strive to keep the peace as well as share their faith during mass protest marches. The coming days, weeks, and months will challenge us still. We are still deeply hurt from all that has happened to us. But be encouraged. God still has work for us to do. So rather than get dressed to be comfortable, have faith and—dress on purpose.
* Klarna survey of 1,140 U.S. consumers age 18 to 45 conducted May 2021; Klarna shopping index
T H E S A LVAT I O N A R M Y ’ S O T H E R S P R O G R A M O F F E R S F L E XI B L E J O B S A N D FA I R WA G E S S O P E O P L E I N O T H E R C O U N T R I E S H AV E A C C E S S T O D E C E N T E M P L OY M E N T. T H R O U G H YO U R P U R C H A S E S , W E P R OV I D E LI F E C H A N G I N G O P P O R T U N I T I E S T O O V E R 1 2 0 0 A R T I S A N S IN D I F F E R E N T PA R T S O F T H E WO R L D. T O S E E A L L O F O U R H A N D M A D E , QUALITY PRODUCTS AND LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR MISSION, VISIT
WHO WE ARE
PEOPLE PROGRAMS HISTORY FAITH IN ACTION
How did The Salvation Army get its name? Having been founded as the East London Christian Mission in 1865, the name The Salvation Army developed from an incident in May 1878. Its founder, William Booth, was dictating a letter to his secretary, George Scott Railton, and said, “We are a volunteer army.” Bramwell Booth heard his father and said, “Volunteer, I'm no volunteer, I'm a regular!” Railton was instructed to cross out the word “volunteer” and substitute the word “salvation.”
The Salvation Army’s war on human trafficking began in 1885 when Bramwell Booth and his wife Florence
The Salvation Army operates
10 SUMMER CAMPS across the USA Eastern Territory. For more information and how to find a camp near you, visit easternusa.salvationarmy.org/ use/camps-recreation
Soper Booth exposed the act of “buying” women and girls in Victorian England. Today, through programs such as “The Well” day center in Portland, Maine and “Pearl Essence”
21 million meals were served from March 2020—2021 by The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division thanks to its Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) team. Read more in this issue on the work that EDS accomplished during the COVID–19 pandemic.
Work as if everything depended upon work and
in New York City, The Salvation Army continues the fight against “modern–day slavery.”
SCAN ME to read more about the Salvation Army's fight against human trafficking.
pray as if everything depended upon prayer.”
–William Booth Founder of The Salvation Army
‘ A voice of science and God's love.’ As COVID–19 vaccines become more accessible to the general public, Salvation Army continues to team up with local health care professionals to get shots into people’s arms and to educate them about the pandemic. In Camden, N.J., The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center officials hosted live sessions through social media and featured medical professionals. They answered questions and informed the public. Captain Keith Maynor, the center’s administrator, says the Church can play an important role in erasing fear and doubt about the vaccine. “It has been a profound blessing to deliver this ministry from the voice of both science and God’s love. We want to be a bridge of hope during this pandemic. Through the Lord, we’ve been able to do that.”
WHO WE ARE SNAPSHOT
Scan here for more stories on the Salvation Army vaccinating the community.
WHO WE ARE PEOPLE
Recharging the Soul interview by HUGO BRAVO
Chris Farrand, the Salvation Army's regional Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) director for Massachusetts and Southern New England, talks about recognizing a sign from God, visiting COVID–19 patients in hotels, and lessons he learned from shepherding in England.
Chris Farrand (right) coordinates relief efforts in Texas after Hurricane Ike in 2008.
In my twenties, I lived in Northern England with my parents. They were stationed in the military. My mother’s office assistant was married to a man who ran a sheep farm, and through him, I got work as a shepherd. Every day with my shepherd’s crook and rifle, I’d go out to beautiful, rugged pastures, bordered by 100–year–old walls and tend to the sheep. I learned that being called God’s sheep is not always a compliment to us; sheep can be helpless creatures that require a lot of care. When left alone, they can literally suffocate each other for warmth. A shepherd has to be aware of his surroundings to get his sheep safely asleep at the end of the day. Just like those sheep, “the pastures” I face in my life can be overwhelming. I may not always be aware of every danger, but I always remember that I am led by the Great Shepherd— Jesus Christ.
Early during the pandemic, t he C om monwea lt h of Massachusetts had many homeless people who tested positive for COVID–19 and had no place to go. They were eventually quarantined in empty hotels. I used my garage to store the food we took to them. I went into the hotels knowing that I was always only 20 or 30 feet away from someone who was infected. There are only a handful of times when I was scared to do my job; that was one of them. But it’s important to never feel paranoid or overwhelmed by a disaster. For 12 years, I have gone to meetings with emergency managers. I’ve responded to everything from five–alarm fires to storms and earthquakes. All of these smaller single events have given The Salvation Army EDS the foundation to execute the high–level work we’ve done during the pandemic.
I slow down to find God and listen to Him. Ten months into COVID–19, I was feeling the weariness of the situation in my bones and in my soul. But one day out of the blue, a member of my team said to me, “Chris, today the Lord put you in my heart, and I just wanted to know if you are doing okay.” This gentleman and I weren't talking for the sake of catching up. His words were a sign from God; He had put this person in front of me to remind me of His love.
No matter how busy I am, I have to take time to share a dinner with my wife or help my seven–year–old son unlock new characters in his video games. Matthew 6:34 says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” It’s important to take time, no matter how busy we are, to step aside and recharge our souls. Being outdoors is one way that I recharge mine. I love taking my son and set of triplets hiking. I introduce them to hidden trails, wooden bridges or frozen ponds that wait for us to crack them with rocks. Doing these activities clears both my head and my heart.
I don't fear the future because I know how God has orchestrated the past. While living in Chicago, I worked my way up from a dishwasher with no cooking skills to manager of my own events for up to 300 people. I remember rollerblading to work in my tuxedo while thinking, Is this really a blessing in my life? I see now that it was, because those jobs led me to the work I do. Today, I deploy and manage feeding operations for even larger groups than in my past. It’s fascinating to look back on my life and see how God has prepared me.
Volume 7 Number 2, 2021
WHO WE ARE PROGRAMS
When Children Can be Children
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS
by HUGO BRAVO
STUDY YOUR BIBLE. The centerpiece of your lesson will always be the Word of God. Before each class, spend time reading passages and researching ideas and lessons. Pray that God will guide you as a teacher.
Like many grade schools, high schools, and colleges, Sunday schools have adapted to significant changes due to COVID–19 restrictions. They have fewer meetings and far shorter time periods than do other schools, and some have gone virtual or have been canceled. “We wanted to avoid going full virtual in our programs because children are already involved in so much virtually, such as for school and extracurriculars,” says Jennifer Pizzirusso, ministry assistant at the Salvation Army's Bedford Temple in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Screen time seems to be the majority of their time nowadays.” Even before the pandemic, they had seen their Sunday school numbers decline. The smaller numbers of students on Sunday, combined with ample space at the church, made social distancing and mask wearing easier to manage. In November 2020, the leaders started a program called “JAM” (Jesus and Me) on
Thursdays. They used lessons, games, and songs that would normally be reserved for Sunday. Children from the afterschool program made time for homework and studying and JAM. “We see firsthand how children are craving social interaction,” says Pizzirusso. “We are glad to be able to safely provide that for them, even for one afternoon a week.” Sunday lessons come with questions from students that are relevant to a COVID–19 world. The pandemic is on their minds as they relate their lessons to today’s circumstances. “Our students know that the building where they attend Sunday school is home to a food pantry and a soup kitchen. The same leaders who teach them are also helping their neighbors during this pandemic,” says Pizzirusso. “They know what we do, and what we all ask of each other.” Pizzirusso says that teaching Sunday school during a pandemic has made her realize how much children need to be in each other’s presence, and to see an adult there who can guide and teach them. “We have a child in our Sunday school who tells us Sunday school is the only time he’s allowed to leave the house,” says Pizzirusso. “If it was up to some people in our church, we’d do everything on a screen, and wouldn’t meet at all,” says Pizzirusso. “Pandemic or not, our world is getting more and more digital, and there are benefits to that. But children need interaction, and they need us to provide a safe space where they can be kids.”
MAKE YOUR CLASS INTERACTIVE. When Jesus shared Truth, He used miracles. For instance, He fed a crowd of 5,000 with just a few fish and loaves of bread. He turned water into wine for wedding guests. Use your imagination to create a teaching opportunity out of something a child can hold in his or her hand. Use a mirror to show how we are all created in God’s image. Inflate a balloon to show how His love can grow inside us. Have children write their own unique prayer to carry with them. THERE IS POWER IN STORIES. Stories are how children learn and listen. They’re also the reason why Jesus taught in parables. He knew that a good story could visualize a lesson in the minds of others. After reviewing a Bible lesson, tell a story that shares how you’ve experienced that lesson in your own life. Let the students tell their stories that are related to the lesson. SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES. If the students feel that they are an integral part of the class, they will be more engaged. Make responsibilities a part of the Sunday school experience. Allow your students to help you collect papers, keep the classroom tidy, or take attendance. KEEP PARENTS INFORMED. Make sure that the contact information on your students’ parents is current and keep them updated. Let them know in advance if any special materials are needed for an upcoming class. Ask parents to sign their children’s Sunday school homework or schoolwork. This may encourage more conversation between students and parents at home.
WHO WE ARE HISTORY
Rise from the Ashes
To grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. — ISAIAH 61:3 (ESV)
Recent national and world events with respect to social, racial, and political unrest have in some ways hindered and in other ways helped the spirit of reconciliation among our diverse populations. So, a burning question is, “How do we actually rekindle a sense of hope and restoration among people and rise from the ashes of pain and sufering in a post– COVID–19 world?” By sharing an overview of the history of racial healing in The Salvation Army, this article will reflect on the initiatives that have brought The Salvation Army to where it is today, and hopefully enlighten and inspire you to do even greater, more effective work for the Kingdom.
The tumultuous 1990s Racial reconciliation swept across the world in the 1990s like a mighty tsunami. Cape Town, South Africa, was its epicenter. After 27 years as a political prisoner there, Nelson Mandela emerged a free man and ultimately the nation’s president. Although most people rejoiced, others feared that black South Africans would seek revenge for the years they suffered under apartheid. But then the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu, an Anglican cleric and Nobel Peace Prize winner, shook the world. The spiritual tsunami he unleashed swept hearts when he said, “Before Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962, he was an angry, relatively young man. He founded the ANC's military wing. When he was released, he surprised everyone because he was talking about reconciliation and forgiveness and not about revenge.” Tutu went on to further define what reconciliation would look like. “True reconciliation is never cheap, for it is based on forgiveness, which is costly. Forgiveness in turn depends on repentance, which has to be based on an acknowledgement of what was done wrong, and therefore on disclosure of the truth. You cannot forgive what you do not know.” Tutu’s words washed over nations, cities, communities, churches, and homes everywhere. One of his most
by WARREN L. MAYE
memorable statements will remain, “Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but, in the end, it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.”
The Salvation Army weighs in World leaders were deeply moved. General Paul A. Rader, then the international leader of The Salvation Army, was among them. During a heartfelt speech, he publicly admitted the organization's failure to “stand up and be counted” during the years of apartheid in South Africa. Then in 1998, Rader made another historic move. He appointed the then–Colonels Israel L. and Eva D. Gaither, an interracial couple and ministers in The Salvation Army, as leaders of the Southern Africa Territory. Mandela’s recent presidency had radically changed the political climate and helped make Rader’s selection to this post possible. The appointment of the Gaithers signaled to the world that the Army would now stand strong on racial equality.
Breaking racial barriers Breaking racial barriers was nothing new for the Gaithers, who in their earlier years, had helped open doors for other interracial couples to step into Salvation Army training colleges in the United States. But they knew that this appointment would be daunting. Israel Gaither later said, “Following the initial shock on receiving word of the appointment, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. It was at that point, as it has happened on previous occasions when we have received our ‘farewell orders,’ we again gave
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ourselves to the Lord in renewal of our covenant and commitment.” Eva Gaither described her conflicting emotions: “I am anticipating, with great excitement, the opportunities for ministries which will be mine; and yet, I cannot help but have feelings of sadness over leaving family and friends in this great [Eastern] territory.” Nonetheless, she expressed her assurance in God’s word. “I will enter my new responsibilities confidently, believing that the same God who has equipped me in the past will continue to be with me in the future.” Eva took strength from the book of Jeremiah. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to give you hope and a future,’” (29: 11). She added, “And I believe it!”
Doing what God wants At their farewell service in New York City, Israel Gaither said to hundreds of colleagues, “I will be candid with you. We prefer not to leave. We haven’t finished our work here. But we have to yield to the will of the Lord. We cannot deny that this is what He would have us do.” Gaither also pointed out that he believed reconciliation was also something necessary in the United States. He called on The Salvation Army to continue its own movement toward racial healing. “You must not allow forward movement to become strangled! I call on you to come together in unity and in love. Let reconciliation really happen—in this territory!” It was clear Gaither’s message resonated with many Salvationists who faced their own struggles. People came forward in a steady stream to the altar. The Gaithers, in obeying the call to go to South Africa, set an example of what it means to, as a song often used in The Salvation Army says, “Go in the strength of the Lord.” The Gaithers prepared themselves to enter a land of rich diversity, where people had come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including Zulu, Bantu, Xhosa, and Afrikaner. The Afrikaners were white descendants of Dutch, German, and French settlers. At that time, the Southern Africa Territory included the nations of South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, St. Helena, and Swaziland where the gospel was preached in 11 languages (today, Mozambique is its own territory). Israel Gaither, who served as The Salvation Army's first American–born black territorial
commander, said, “Day by day, we are being confirmed and affirmed that this is what the Lord wants us to do.”
Launching a ‘Journey of hope’ On Oct. 29, 1998, Bishop Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission presented its report to President Mandela. The report was the result of nearly three years of exhaustive investigation. The tsunami of racial reconciliation rippled across the Atlantic and crashed against U.S. shores. Salvationists wrote letters to their church, divisional, territorial, and national leaders asking the Army to initiate a day of reconciliation in the United States. At the College for Officer Training graduation ceremonies for the Builders of the Kingdom session, Commissioner Ronald G. Irwin, USA Eastern territorial leader, called for every Salvationist in the territory to repent of the sin of racism. His request came during the “Journey of Hope” program. Irwin said the time was right because of “our long record of organizational and personal prejudice; our overt and subtle discrimination against other cultures and races, and particularly against people of color; our penchant for stereotyping, for making sweeping generalizations, for making judgments about people of other races and cultures; our ready tendency to give glib lip service to equality for all people and love for one another while harboring hatred in our hearts—all of this is shameful, a disgrace which cannot be tolerated, for it is blatantly unchristian, an embarrassment to God, and grieves the Holy Spirit!” Irwin concluded, “And so I call upon Salvationists to join me in repentance, that we might be reconciled to God and to each other in Christian love so that our Army can be sacrificially involved in the creation of a world, free of racism and strife, making our Army an example of a communion of spirits in which such barriers no longer exist.” Some thought Irwin had overreacted. Others said he had hit the mark. In any event, Lt. Colonel R. William Hunter, then secretary for program for the East, said “‘Journey in Hope’” was “the beginning, not the destination.”
* See The Salvation Army mission statement on page three. Portions of this article are from the book Soldiers of Uncommon Valor: The History of Salvationists of African Descent in the United States by Warren L. Maye (2008).
TAKING DECISIVE ACTION Today, the struggle for racial reconciliation is an ever–present challenge. Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, now retired from active service, says, “The long journey to racial reconciliation continues. It’s messy—and it can be a dangerous undertaking when there is a refusal to believe that God created humankind, in His image, and with the intention that we represent what He is like for the good of every human, regardless of race or ethnic identity.” Gaither also offers the following steps. •A cknowledge what is offensive with a willingness to do something to bring correction. But if the heart is not transformed, behavior will not change and talk of reconciliation is received as nothing more than hollow words. • C onsider the implications of the words we choose. Some terms that are invoked reveal an intent to categorize, diminish, and devalue individuals. Change is required in the way we think and speak of others created in the image of God. • C reate opportunities to speak to one another—rather than at each other. Deeper conversations are urgently needed now. Silence is no longer acceptable. • S peak and listen with a true desire to understand and be understood. When we do this, then acknowledgement of wrong, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation is possible. There is hope.
WHO WE ARE FAITH IN ACTION
Hitting the Sawdust Trail Most young men first learn about woodworking in their high school wood shop class, but Captain Darell Houseton, a pastor in The Salvation Army, discovered a different path.
“My high school didn’t offer anything close to wood shop,” says Houseton, who went to Irvington High School in Irvington, N.J., before his days as an officer. Today, the 31–year–old Houseton pastors the Chapel at Worthington Woods in Columbus, Ohio. Once known for his exploits as a Division I track and field athlete at Fairleigh Dickinson University, he is now gaining a reputation in The Salvation Army world as a master woodworker. “I was always known as an athlete, but now I’m more known for my woodworking than anything I did when I was younger,” he says. “This is something I truly enjoy, and for it to become so much of my identity now, it’s nice to share it with others.” Houseton found The Salvation Army when he was younger. Even while his family was homeless and staying in a shelter, he always dabbled in the wood crafts. But his interest really took off while he was a cadet at the Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training (CFOT) in Suffern, N.Y. At
by ROBERT MITCHELL photography by Harry Acosta
age 20, Houseton was younger than many of his sessionmates. “I found things to keep myself occupied and busy,” he said. One of those things was woodworking. Major James Cocker, who was the vice–principal at the CFOT, had a woodshop in his garage. Each week he would invite Houseton over to show him the intricacies of woodworking and how to use power tools. Cocker said he enjoyed teaching Houseton what he knew while he got to know the young cadet. Cocker remembers Houseton’s first project; it was a bookcase for his mother to mark his graduation from CFOT and his becoming an officer. “It was something simple, something basic, but certainly something done with love for his mother for Commissioning,” Cocker said.
A new reputation Cocker, who is now semi–retired and living in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, also gifted
Darell releases wood from a handmade mold prior to finishing.
It’s a process and I think that’s the process with our walk with the Lord. God’s shaping us,
some power tools to his understudy when he graduated. “The moment I left the training college, I also started investing in my own tools,” Houseton says. “I began getting better and honing my own craft. I started making easy and then complex things.” In his younger days when he lived in apartments, Houseton’s access to power tools was limited. He did dabble a bit using hand tools, but he was cognizant of his neighbors and didn’t want to be too noisy. His past appointments at the Ironbound Corps (church) in Newark, N.J., the CFOT in Suffern, N.Y., and the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Boston, gave him plenty of garage space for a woodshop. Houseton now has no less than 20 unique woodworking tools, including a table saw, band saw, and a drill press. The garage of his Salvation Army quarters becomes his woodshop. “I carve out time to be able to complete people’s orders, but also because it is a hobby and not work for me, it’s something I do to relax,” Houseton says. “Where some people go golfing or go different places to relax, I go into the garage and make things.”
More than woodworking Houseton said he makes everything, from detailed fine furniture to craft projects, toys, entertainment centers, and other customized pieces. “People want anything, from bookshelves to dining room tables to coffee tables—all sorts to things,” he said. “One of my most recent pieces was a custom chessboard. If it’s made out of wood, I can make it.” Houseton said his wife of seven years, Willow, has no problems with his hobby. “We have two rules,” he says. “When it snows, I clean off her car and warm it up, and I make whatever she wants.” In fact, the couple’s quarters they share with daughters Winter, 6, and Zion, 3, are decorated with many of the pieces Houseton has made over the years. The hobby also extends into his spiritual life. Besides the obvious comparison of Jesus being the earthly son of a carpenter,
Houseton said he sometimes uses woodworking as an object lesson in teaching and devotionals. Like our spiritual lives, we need God to help us with the imperfections. “I use the visual of what wood looks like in the beginning stages and what it looks like when it’s finished and after it’s been worked on and refined and smoothed out,” Houseton says. “It provides people with a visual of what I look like when I started and the work that went into me and the piece I am when God is done. “I get satisfaction from the sense of completion. As Salvation Army officers, we move so much that oftentimes, the investments we make in communities and in people go unresolved. So being able to finish a project is something I think is good for my own heart; to see things finished and see things through. It’s not always a luxury I’m afforded in terms of my investment in the community.”
God is The Shaper Cocker, who remains in contact with Houseton and follows his projects, agreed that woodworking and Christianity share some parallels. When he finishes a project, such as a recent one where he built a toybox for his granddaughter, Cocker said he asks what he could have done to make the piece nicer. “It’s a process and I think that’s the process with our walk with the Lord,” Cocker said. “It’s a process we’re in. God’s shaping us, molding us, refining us, and finishing us. “I start off with a rough piece of wood and I’m not sure which direction it’s going to go or what I want to create. I think that’s kind of how it is with us and our relationship with Christ. He starts off with a rough person, a rough piece of wood. He forms us. He molds us with His Holy Spirit, but if we don’t go down into the basement and actually do the project, if we don’t allow God’s Spirit to work in our lives, nothing is going to happen.” Houseton, who has further sharpened his woodworking skills by trial and error as well as by reading, said the hobby has evolved into a ministry opportunity for about 10 men in the corps and community.
Darell control torches the wood to give it a rustic look.
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molding us, refining us, and finishing us.”
—Major James Cocker
“We’ve been able to take it from just a hobby to a small learning experience,” Houseton said. “We make Christmas gifts for our corps and other corps. We sell them in the community at craft shows. People reach out to me and make a donation to [The Salvation Army] to raise money.” Houseton gets his wood from a local lumberyard where the owner and sawmiller appreciates the work of The Salvation Army. He helps Houseton and the men obtain expensive and rare wood at a discounted price.
Building something more Houseton said the men’s fellowship built the café furniture in the corps lobby. On Father’s Day, the fellowship made 315 desktop organizers designed to store cell phones, keys, and glasses for the fathers at Worthington Woods and 10 other corps. “We’ve taken it from just a hobby in the garage to getting other men in the community involved and teaching people how to safely use tools,” Houseton said. “Many have gone on to start their own little woodworking, online businesses. It’s fun to see people get involved in the hobby and craft.” In fact, other corps officers have contacted Houseton and asked for tips on how to start their own programs. “It’s become a wonderful little community,” he said. Houseton said he would like to see woodworking become popular at more corps and be used for the Kingdom of God, similar to the Others program. Others is a Salvation Army–owned enterprise where women and some men from various nations sell handcrafted goods overseas. The proceeds help them support their families and create more jobs. “I really like the Others program. I think it’s a model for things we can do here domestically as we create a skillset for people in the community. We could offer a curriculum to officers that could be duplicated,” Houseton said. “We could see people go into business for themselves and build their community. They’ll also be able to give back to the corps from their own successes.”
Read about more unique ministries at saconnects.org/tag/unique-ministry.
by WARREN L. MAYE
“Actions speak louder than words,” is a familiar adage. In police work, actions can mean everything when the stakes are a matter of life and death. In such a demanding world, how does an officer, clad in blue, effectively share the gospel of Christ? This question is a daily challenge for Christian men and women who proudly wear the badge, but who encounter everything from routine traffic stops to heartbreaking high–profile shootings. In addition, recent mass protest marches for equal justice and racial equality cast emotional shadows over police and community affairs.
Speaking truth, protecting the weak Shining a benevolent light is particularly daunting when the officers are of color. Many of them feel challenged to prove themselves loyal to their profession and to the community when addressing problems that are well above their pay grade. “When we talk about community policing, we have to talk about the whole system, which is so skewed from the highest levels of government,” says Graham Weatherspoon, who retired 20 years ago from the N.Y.P.D. and who served with the N.Y.C. Transit Police Department Detective Bureau’s Major Case Unit. “They have been complicit with the program to disenfranchise black and
Latino young men,” Weatherspoon says of the “selective enforcement” policies of many state, city, and district officials. As a born–again Christian, he is active at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and serves as an advocate for men and women of color whose cases are adjudicated unfairly and whose families are the victims of police brutality. “I will do everything in my power, locally and nationally, to help them,” he says. Referring to the controversial “stop and frisk program,” Weatherspoon, who was certified by N.Y.P.D., New York State Police, and the F.B.I. in the areas of homicide, sex crimes, robberies, forgery, fingerprint
David McNew/Getty Images
An African American protester and an African American Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy embrace in solidarity as officers prepare to arrest a large group of people demonstrating past curfew over the death of George Floyd on June 3, 2020 in Los Angeles, Calif. The vast majority of protesters demonstrated peacefully.
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classification, and latent prints, said, “There have been more than a million black and Latinos who were illegally stopped this way in New York.” Weatherspoon’s passionate assertions are supported by findings in a new Pew Research Center national survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform, which reported that 60 percent of the public believe that such encounters point to a bigger problem, rather than isolated incidents.* Another officer who is committed to making a difference is Tonzel Prince. He found Christ as a teen while attending The Salvation Army Corps in Hackensack, N.J., under the ministry of Majors John and Anita Stewart. Today, he is a Protective Service Officer (PSO) for the Department of Homeland Security in Dixon, California. Prince says that the trust gap between police and community can make talking about his faith a challenge. “Sometimes when I start speaking about it, what happens is, people tend to get offended.” In those situations, Prince says that, as a police officer, he knows his actions speak louder than words, even actions that seem trivial. “It’s about what I do; things like, if I see that an elderly man is having trouble walking, the first thing I want to do is pull him to the front of the line and have him sit in a chair instead of making him stand. These little things get noticed. People watching say, ‘You guys are so nice to people!’ Yes, it's about being nice, but it’s more about having real compassion for other human beings. That’s the same thing Christ said we should have and do for others.”
Crossing cultures, bridging generations The trust gap caused by criticism of the criminal justice system in general and police officers in particular has taken its toll on many younger men and women in blue, says Dimas Salaberrios. In 2000, he was a counselor at the Salvation Army’s Wayside Home for Girls in Valley Stream, Long Island. Today he is a pastor, social activist, media personality, and writer of Street God, an autobiography. His newest project is the Academy Award–considered documentary “Chicago: America’s Hidden War,” which was released nationwide in May. “The cops in the 90s who became officers after the Vietnam War looked at policing like it was a calling,” says Salaberrios. “Even though they were paid whatever they were given, being a cop was a big part of their identity and they were going to risk their lives. “Gen X and Millennial cops have a different perspective on policing,” says Salaberrios. “Many of them see it as a job for now and have said to me that it's more important for them to go home than to put themselves in harm’s way. So, they'll see a shooting and sometimes they won't even do a chase. They may feel that the political atmosphere is against them.” Salaberrios’s assessment is reflected in the Pew Research survey that says 93 percent of officers have become more concerned about their safety, 76 percent are more reluctant to use force, and 72 percent are less willing to stop and question people who seem suspicious. In “Chicago: America’s Hidden War,” Salaberrios captures
“ Being a Christian affords me more patience in dealing with people’s problems. I am slower to anger; more understanding; more caring; more empathetic; happier; and yes, more thankful.” — SERGEANT KATHY THOMPSON
Neighborhood children in Harlem, N.Y., spend a rare but memorable moment with police officers of the N.Y.P.D., during an outdoor event at the Salvation Army’s Harlem Temple Corps.
several moments on film when Christian officers of color pray with people, even some who have been identified and listed as street gang shooters. “We just created a clergy meeting in Chicago with police officers and members of the faith community,” he says. “They try to represent their faith as much as they can without crossing a line and being fired. They let these shooters know that they have people who care and want to help them get out of this lifestyle,” said Salaberrios. “They have programs in Chicago where they visit shooters’ homes and let them know that they made the list. These are incredible opportunities for ministry.”
Modeling Christ, showing patience Sergeant Kathy Thompson, a 33–year veteran of the Philadelphia Mounted Police Department and a member of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, looks to God for help in establishing personal connections with the people she serves and protects. The black woman officer told the Baptist Press, “I seek to be a very positive role model, especially for other black females who might want to enter the field
of law enforcement.” The lover of horses also uses a soft touch with young adults. “I take the time to talk with teens who are interested in the work I do,” she said, “all the while encouraging them to follow their dreams. I also, without a doubt, let them know that none of what I do and none of what I have would be possible without Christ in my life. “Being a Christian affords me more patience in dealing with people’s problems,” Thompson noted. “I am slower to anger; more understanding; more caring; more empathetic; happier; and yes, more thankful. “I see being a Christian, in addition to being a black female police officer in today’s society, as a bonus. All these things wrapped up in me are blessings all day long, no matter how I look at it.”
Wearing blue, being human Rev. Andy Rubin, an associate pastor at The Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene in New York, says the work of all officers has been complicated by the COVID–19 pandemic. “Since it started, it’s been the number–one killer of police officers,” he says. Dying and being stricken by the virus
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has necessitated frequent redeployments to fill the void. In other instances, changes in management have affected the consistency of community outreach, Rubin says. As a field operator at the New York State Chaplain Task Force, Rubin points to the work of the 47th Precinct in the Bronx as a case in point. “There has been several changes in leadership there,” he says. “In 2017, Inspector Ruel R. Stephenson, an officer of color and precinct commander, was promoted away to become a deputy chief. Then another officer took command. But then they had another officer replace him, who is also not there any longer. So, the change in leadership has definitely affected how they operate.” In Stephenson’s two years as commander, he made community policing a top priority. He frequently told media reporters that he saw the strategy as a way to keep crime low. For example, during the holidays, his officers made an unprecedented move; they transformed the precinct building into a gingerbread house and winter wonderland for the kids. Officers, dressed as Santa’s elves, hung tinsel and sorted toys. That year, long lines of parents and kids braved the cold for some Christmas cheer. Then the children made their way inside the warm precinct to receive an array of exciting gifts from Santa. “It’s extremely important for kids to know that policing goes beyond locking people up,” said Stephenson. “It’s relationship building, it's trust, it's a long–term way of healing the divide and building a bridge between the community and the police department.” Stephenson believes such bridges will continue to keep crime low. Stephenson also established an annual basketball tournament between neighborhood youth and officers. “I want us to see each other as people and not just us occupying the streets and being a force,” he said. Officers of the 47th traded their uniforms for jerseys and used the basketball court to help keep young men out of criminal court. “Since we've been doing this tournament, we have not seen any violence during those hours so, we know it's working. Now, kids have a chance to get to know us better. Basketball brings people together; it gives the kids something to do, it gives them the idea that they can go further in school and in life,” said Stephenson. During his tenure, Stephenson also helped launch the People's Police Academy. Concerned citizens, who included many local pastors such as Rev. Rubin, graduated from the pilot program. Community Affairs Officer Varnisha N. Hyman, who is a welcomed presence in the northeast Bronx, was excited as she witnessed some of the program’s first 50 graduates receive certificates. "I've always tried to find a common ground," Hyman said to news reporters. "The program helped them find a common ground with us. It's not just a uniform anymore, we became humans that day."
Rubin. “They need the same kind of encouragement and support as anybody else. We also need to see them as partners in our communities.” Rubin says that when it comes to talking about God, most Christian officers he’s met would rather show than tell. “I have not come across officers who have openly expressed their faith, but they express Christian values in terms of how they deal with people,” he said. “For them, it is about living out their faith. For example, I can't remember hearing Inspector Stephenson talk a lot about his own faith, but he definitely lived it. I noticed that as he changed the culture of the precinct. He expressed a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving.” Rubin also said that Stephenson motivated him to engage the community on a deeper level. “It was because of him that I became a citizen police officer.” “There were times when we prayed with him and he would embrace and welcome it. So, when there was a situation that he was faced with, he would call me or another pastor. He allowed us to give spiritual support to him. So, in doing that and in taking those initiatives, I think it was an indication of his commitment to Christ.” Stephenson had brought the relationship between the police and the community a long way since the shooting of 18–year– old Ramarley Graham in 2012. His heartbreaking death at the hands of 47th precinct officers in his grandmother’s house, over a marijuana possession charge, caused a city–wide uproar and protest marches. Detective Weatherspoon, who has in the past wept openly when describing some of the horrific police encounters gone wrong, shares a sobering reminder of why Stephenson’s living witness is so vital. “The ministry is not in the church building,” Weatherspoon said. “Jesus served the Father in the streets, where the people are.”
An open door, time to pray Being a certified NYPD chaplain has opened a door for Rubin to nurture relationships with officers, church parishioners, and community members. “I am able to pray for them and be a sense of support because they are human beings too. Therefore, they need to be seen as individuals, rather than as police officers,” says
* This wide–ranging survey, one of the largest ever conducted with a nationally representative sample of police, draws on the attitudes and experiences of nearly 8,000 policemen and women from departments with at least 100 officers.
IS TRYING TO TELL YOU
SOMETHING? OVER 7 MILLION AMERICAN CHILDREN LIVE IN A HOUSEHOLD WHERE AT LEAST ONE PARENT HAS A DRINKING PROBLEM. source: www.vertavahealth.com/blog/alcohol-abuse-statistics/
To hear from some of those children and how The Salvation Army has helped, scan this code. If you need HELP or more information, reach us at
The Last Hopeless Day F
or the first 17 years of Gloria Carney’s life, her father’s sobriety remained a distant dream. She literally described him as a “raging alcoholic.” “He was sometimes a very functioning drunk, but toward the end, he was a very broken down drunk, and he couldn’t get sober to save his life,” Gloria says. The family lived up the street from The Salvation Army in Kittanning, Pa. One day in 1986, her father said God spoke to him and told him he needed to go there. He was never a churchgoer and often cursed God, but during a Sunday night service, he stumbled into the church in a drunken stupor. Two elders helped him up to the altar. “That was the last day that my dad ever drank,” Gloria recalls. “My dad became very involved with The Salvation Army because that’s where he found God.” Unfortunately for Gloria, she had a hard time wrapping her mind around the sudden and dramatic change in her father. “When he got sober, I never wanted anything to do with The Salvation Army because I didn’t understand my dad’s
by ROBERT MITCHELL
addiction,” Gloria says. “It was just overwhelming. I’m like, ‘How can this mean man—this total waste of a life—suddenly be for real? He finds this Jesus and now everything is wonderful?’ I didn’t understand it, so I was repelled by whatever my dad found.” Nonetheless, Gloria’s parents, Ron and Barb Carney, became senior soldiers. In 2004, Ron died of a glioblastoma tumor at age 59. “He died young, but he died sober and a man of God,” Gloria said.
Her first drink Gloria didn’t realize it at the time, but now believes her repulsion came from her own demons who recoiled in horror when a sinner like her father found grace. “It took me years to understand that,” Gloria says. “I didn’t understand what God did to his life. Before my dad died, we had a nice relationship. In his sobriety, he became my father. He made
139 mill on Americans, almost half of the US population,
currently use alcohol.
2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
amends to his children and his wife. When he breathed his last breath, there was not one thing unsaid. “I eventually forgave him. But then, I found myself in my own addiction; I became like my father had been.” While in high school, Gloria had experimented with alcohol. She had run off to attend keg parties. But during her senior year of college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1994, she walked into a bar. She doesn’t even know why she went inside. “I took that drink, and it was instant insanity,” she says. “Some people can take a drink and put it down. I was able to put it down, but I couldn’t escape how it made me feel. “I didn’t know how all of those years of being raised in an alcoholic home and all the stuff that goes with alcoholism, made me as angry as I was. I didn’t know I felt hopeless. I didn’t know all this stuff. I thought life was OK, until I took that first drink. It made everything go away. Then I just started drinking—every day.” Within six months, and only a few more months to go in college, Gloria quit school. Her life quickly spiraled out of control. She was only 24 years old. “I truly wanted to die. But God would not let me die,” Gloria said. “I tried suicide. I tried drinking myself to death. My life had crumbled so much. I was a functioning alcoholic for quite a few years.”
A new creation From 1999 to 2004, Gloria was sober, but God had no place in her life. “I was what they call a ‘dry drunk,’ but when my father passed away in 2004, I drank,” she said. “I was like, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do this thing called life. I tried it and it doesn’t work.’ So, I went back to drinking. With that came the chaos and the craziness. “I was a hopeless, hopeless person. I was on the verge of being evicted. I had lost my job and I couldn’t get another one because I couldn’t stay sober.” In March 2008, Gloria was lying in a hospital bed dying of alcoholism. With nowhere else to turn, she reached out to God. “I spoke to God because I always knew
God,” she said. “I said, ‘God, I don’t want to live. But I don’t want to die.’ I said, ‘God, just help me.’ And instantly—instantly—I was renewed, laying in that hospital.” Her transformation astounded even the hospital staff that cared for her. “The nurses were amazed,” she said. “They’re like, ‘This morning you were this angry person that didn’t want help.’ I was a mess and instantly there was clarity in my life, and I surrendered. I said, ‘God, I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but if you want me to live, you’ve got to help me, and I give my life to you.’ That’s how it all started, and that was the last day I drank. “That’s why I always say March 11, 2008 was my last hopeless day, because on March 12th, God woke me up as a child of God and I truly believed.”
Finding a place to grow However, Gloria knew “there was something just not right” in the days immediately after she found Christ and sobriety. She didn’t have a home church and her desire for the things of God was growing. “I kept going to different churches, but there was nothing there,” she said. “I didn’t feel what I needed to feel inside because I was hungry. My sister said, ‘Why don’t you try The Salvation Army?’ I said, ‘That’s just not my way. I don’t want that.’” W hen a 2009 snowstorm buried Kittanning in five feet of snow one Sunday morning, Gloria reluctantly agreed to go to The Salvation Army because it was close. “I’ve been going there every Sunday since,” Gloria says. “I found what I needed to feel, and The Salvation Army did that for me. I think at the time I didn't know it, but now I do because of where God has grown me. For me, I needed a place where people meet people where they’re at in life. That’s what The Salvation Army did for me.” Gloria says she still remembers the service and the sermon by Major Pam Rhodes. “I looked at her behind the pulpit and I said, ‘I want what they have here.’ This is truly what’s going to fill me,” Gloria said. “I didn't know what I was saying at that time, but through the years I learned to love The Salvation Army because we do the ‘most good’
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by meeting people where they’re at in life.” For the past 10 years, Gloria has been meeting many of those people as the corps sergeant major (CSM), a lay leader position, at the Kittanning Salvation Army. She also worked as the ministries outreach coordinator at the corps for a decade, but recently left to oversee a series of Salvation Army service units in the Western Pennsylvania Division.
A test of faith Gloria, who returned to college in 2000 after getting sober and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Slippery Rock University, also started the Bridging the Gap (BTG) program at the Kittanning Corps, as well as an addiction support group called Harbor of Hope. She was making $50,000 as a drug and alcohol counselor, a job she thought she might do until retirement, when she got a call from Rhodes, her corps officer, asking if she might be interested in starting a BTG program in Kittanning. The post was only part time and paid $9 an hour. Gloria, who is 52 and single, worked out all the financial details with her family to make everything happen. “I said, ‘This is my calling. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I have to answer this call.’ It was crazy and it was a struggle. I’m not going to say it wasn’t, but I felt a calling. I was only in it for maybe six months before it turned full time,” she said. Again, a snowstorm intervened at a critical point in Gloria’s life. She traveled from Kittanning to Springfield, Mass., during a heavy snowfall to see the BTG program in action and get tips for her own effort. “Bridging the Gap f lourishes in Kittanning,” she said. “It’s taken its hits with community changes and stuff, but it’s up and running and it’s a very successful program.”
A place she belongs Because of her success with BTG, Gloria was allowed to start Harbor of Hope, a group that consistently draws 10 to 20 people a week. “We meet once a week and we do the 12 Steps, biblical style,” Gloria said. “It is for
Bridging the Gap (BTG) is a 12–week youth diversion program for juvenile offenders that is active in many Salvation Army churches. Young offenders must attend BTG sessions at the church several days a week, continue their education by staying in school or seeking a GED, and stay crime free. If they successfully complete the program, their record is expunged. The overwhelming majority of those who complete BTG do not reoffend. The youth at the BTG program in Worcester, Mass., follow a curriculum that includes topics such as building self–esteem; peer pressure; anger management and decision making; communication skills; relationships with family members, friends, figures of authority; culture and diversity; violence and gangs; the effects of drugs and alcohol; job seeking and financial planning; legal issues; and ethics. The Bridging the Gap (BTG) program is prominent in the Salvation Army’s Empire State Division. To learn more about the program, go to empire.salvationarmy.org/EmpireNY/news /bridging-the-gap-program.
all people. You don’t have to have an addiction. It’s ultimately for people who want to understand addiction.” Looking back, Gloria is amazed at how God has used her and the opportunities The Salvation Army has afforded her for the Kingdom of God. “I am who I am, and God has given me so many talents that it’s easy for me to meet people where they’re at and that inspires me to know that my roots are grounded in Christ,” she said. “I’m not saying I’m bubbly because I’m not that person, but because of who I am in Christ, God has allowed me to become this beacon that I never thought I’d become. “We meet people where they’re at and The Salvation Army met me where I was at in life. I was hungry and they fed me. They made me feel like I belonged, and I never had that ever in my life anywhere. I found it at The Salvation Army.”
adolescents between ages 12 to 17 have alcohol use disorder (AUD). 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
RECOVERY THRIFT STORE FINDS
A day at the park Find a new outfit and accessories to match! Lea and her daughter purchased all the items you see here for just under $50 at a Salvation Army Family Store for their day in the park.
WIDE BRIM HAT Keep cool and accessorize with a name brand hat priced at $9.99. You never know what you may find.
LAVENDER STRIPED TOP The striped cotton hoodie layers nicely under the button down shirt. Priced at $2.99 it is perfect for a day at the park.
MAGENTA STRETCH JEANS These jeans give this look a pop of color that the season is just asking for! There are lots of options to choose from and the racks are all organized by color. We picked these up for just $7.99.
JEAN BUTTON DOWN SHIRT The soft jean button down acts as a light jacket for those cool mornings. You can't beat the $4.99 price tag either.
STRAW CIRCLE HANDBAG Look for trendy items like this straw handbag priced reasonably at $14.99 to carry what you'll need for the day!
STRAWBERRY PRINT TANK Find adorable prints like this light pink strawberry tank top for $2.99.
JEAN SHORTS A variety of seasonal children's clothes are available to choose from. These trendy ripped jean shorts were only $4.99.
MINI UNICORN PLUSH Add a toy to your little one's collection. Her new Unicorn pal only added 49 cents to our total.
You can find great bargains like these too! Go to SAstores.org to locate a Salvation Army Family thrift store near you. All proceeds fund local Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) where people who struggle with drugs and alcohol find help. Go to SArehab.org to find out more. 26
To see more items they purchased go to saconnects.org/a-day-at-the-park.
Volume 7 Number 2, 2021
Rescued for a Reason by ROBERT MITCHELL
When LaTanya Carter ran away from her Hillside, N.J., home at age 13, she had no idea how rocky the road ahead would be. As a juvenile runaway, she was in and out of youth houses 11 times. At 16, she embarked on a 16–year run as an exotic dancer in New Jersey. “You know what comes along with that; drinking and drugs,” LaTanya says. “I did anything I could get my hands on—cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and alcohol. I was into a little bit of everything, prostitution, selling drugs, whatever I could do. “I stopped at one point. I got my own apartment and tried to get myself together, but it never worked.” As an adult, LaTanya went to jail 10 times for various charges. Along the way, she overdosed on heroin three times. During her final incarceration, she lost custody of her now 8–year–old daughter. That’s when she vowed to get clean upon her release. “I wanted to be back in my daughter’s life and get myself together. I was staying in abandoned houses and just going from place to place. I got tired. I decided to go and give myself some hope.”
The turning point LaTanya went to detox for two weeks and was referred to the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia in November 2018. While there, she drew close to God and eventually graduated in July 2019.
“I always believed in God, but knew I needed to get closer to Him and pay more attention to Him,” she says. “Now that I’m closer to God, I’m not going to say I’m perfect, but I know everything is going to be OK. “The ARC program is really hard, but I was determined to complete it. I knew the foundation was a stepping–stone for me. I knew that once I graduated the program, I could get a job there. It had everything I needed.” LaTanya lived for a while in the ARC’s alumni housing but was anxious to see if she could get her own apartment. She now works at the ARC, where she was recently promoted to assistant supervisor, and lives alone in North Philly. Her life revolves around working, going home, and avoiding past habits. “I know I don’t want to indulge in that life anymore because it’s right down the street from me. I don’t go down there,” she says. “I don’t want no part of it.” Looking back, LaTanya, now 42, said her past life was “definitely about money.” “I think about where I used to be compared to where I am now,” she said. “God has kept me here for a reason. I’m not sure yet what it is, but it feels like it’s the beginning. There’s more stuff I have to do.”
Focused on the future One of those things is to regain custody of her daughter, who now lives with LaTanya’s mother. “I’m just going to keep on going. I know
What makes the ARC program so successful? “It helps me stay focused. They have a lot of rules there. I noticed when I first got there that I had to follow those rules in order to live a normal life. I was so used to breaking rules and doing what I wanted to do. But if I can’t follow the rules there, how can I expect to survive in life? The ARC builds structure. They give me time to get settled and then I start meetings. They put me through a really good process to get where I need to be. The other thing the ARC does is they help me know who God is and what He does and who He is to me. By them doing that, I realized I’m lucky. He forgave me. All those things I did? God forgave me and gave me a chance to start over.”
it’s all going to work itself out because I’m not doing anything wrong,” she said. “I’ve got myself together, I’m not getting high, and I’m taking care of my bills. I’m responsible. I’ve got God and I know He’s not going to bring me this far to give up on me. I’m not going to give up on myself. “I want to get my daughter back and be a mother to her. I think God knew I didn’t really want to be out there on the streets. I just got caught up in the wrong situation. "I had been doing it for so long, I sometimes started feeling like that’s who I was. I always knew it wasn’t me. Since I turned my life around, I know this is me.”
SPIRITUAL LIFE DEVELOPMENT
What do you really want? by MAJOR LAUREN HODGSON
As you read the question above, you may be a parent who juggles a myriad of responsibilities for your children and household. You may possibly be up to your eyeballs in deadlines at work. Maybe you are committed to meeting the needs of an elderly loved one. Or you might be juggling all of these and more. Whatever is your scenario, to think about what you want, your deepest desire, the longing of your heart, seems to be a luxury that is off your radar right now. Naming the desire of your heart may seem selfish or even dangerous. What if you scratch the surface of what you desire these days? What will happen? Will it open a Pandora’s Box that cannot be shut? We aspire to be people who selflessly help others, who get the job done, and who solve problems. Still, there is this little voice that, in quiet moments, whispers, “What about me?” When that happens, we quickly answer the voice with things to do, places to go, and people to see. It is a space too tender to touch; and if we do, we fear that the desire could never be satisfied. So, we become masters at stuffing down our deepest longing.
It’s possibly been such a long time since you articulated what you’re really longing for that you don’t even know where to begin. Here are a few questions to consider to help you get started:
• When am I my “best self”? • When do I feel “I was made for this”? • When am I my "true, most authentic self"? As you ponder these questions, your longing may begin to stir. What does that look like? What does it feel like? Present that longing to the Lord and ask Him what He wants to do with it. The Lord relishes being an intricate part of your discovery process. Allow Him to unfold the next step of
this revelation for your life in His own time. There is something to be said about our faith muscle being strengthened when we only know the next step and nothing else. One thing you can be certain of is that the ability to wait is one of the most vital parts of naming your longing. It is important to note that we can boldly come before the Lord with our questions, concerns, and doubts about our desire. Jesus’ earthly ministry shows that He is interested in our longings and wants to hear them voiced. A perfect example is His encounter with blind Bartimaeus while on the road to Jericho (Mark 10:46–52). It seems so obvious that his deepest desire was to see, but still, Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you? Stating the longing is an essential part of this journey. You may be saying, “If you really knew what I desire these days, it wouldn’t sound very spiritual.” When naming your deepest desire in Jesus’ presence, you're in a “no–judgment zone.” James and John came
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before the Lord with their longing for a place of prominence when they came into heaven (Mark 10:35–45). Jesus didn’t chastise them but lovingly explained that they might not be ready for the depth of experience they were requesting. Jesus always listens and compassionately guides our requests for our better good. “Jesus’ interaction with the people He came in contact with during His life on earth makes it clear that desire, and the willingness to name that desire in Christ’s presence, is a catalytic element of the spiritual life. It is one of the most powerful motivators for a life lived consistently with intentionality and focus. Beyond that, the willingness to open up this tender and sometimes volatile place in Christ’s presence is part of the intimacy we seek. Somehow it creates the possibility for Christ to be with us in a way that meets our truest need.” —Ruth Haley Barton So, what do you really want? Jesus is all ears.
“ What do you want me to do for you?” Set aside some time to sit with the Lord, settle your mind to hear Him ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” Do not rush by the question, but rather consent to giving yourself time to let your heart articulate your honest desire. The following questions may help in naming your longing. • Am I able to feel the compassion of Christ as I touch this desire of my heart? Am I able to be compassionate with myself? • What has the Lord shown me about my desire? What does this tell me about my true self? • Do I understand what I am asking for? • Who tries to silence my desires? If it’s me, why am I afraid to name my yearnings? • What is God inviting me to? • What is God’s role, and what is my role in quenching this thirst that has been revealed to me?
Don’t rush past any of the questions or answers. Identify where you are willing to embrace what needs to be done and where you are resistant. As you conclude this time with God, rest in knowing that He will bring all He has revealed to fruition, in His time.
Spiritual by NATURE by JAMES LABOSSIERE
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:13 (WEB)
Helping people to see life in a broader sense is something that's important to both my wife Pat and me. Sometimes she’ll say, “You posted too many things on Facebook about being outside!” But I’ll say, “Well, I'm not going to post pictures of all my meetings in the boardroom!” I've always tried to stress to others the holistic nature of our being, and to take care of our spirit, our soul, our body, and our mind. When I'm not right in any of those categories, I'm not right. Pat and I have done a lot of hiking and biking, but she's the super kayaker in the family. She goes places where I'm afraid to go. But, as a cyclist, I’m just as bold. I put a lot of miles on my bike. Last year during COVID–19, I put more miles on it than ever before. I was traveling less and working from home. So, at 4 P.M., I’d go out on my bike. My COVID journey really became for me a physical, an emotional, and a spiritual thing. It kept me grounded. During COVID, I ratcheted my riding up anywhere from 10 to 50 miles a day, every week. When I'm riding, I spend a lot of time in prayer. I'll think about the day, what's coming, my family, and for individuals who come to mind. I become multi–sensory; I see what's going on around me, and I'll just praise God out loud.
Spiritual triggers When I’m out there, I don’t like to stop. I want to ride hard, get a good workout, and get from Point A to Point B. But in more recent times, the Lord has been saying, “Hey. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy what you’re seeing and what you’re experiencing.” I usually see something that triggers those moments. For example, I like to ride back and forth on the Heritage Trail that runs through the Orange County towns of Monroe, Goshen, Chester,
and Harriman. It's a paved rail trail, so it's safe; not to worry about too many cars. It's out in the country and I go through a lot of farmland and forests. Sometimes, a cardinal will fly by me, that red bird. When it does, I just say, “Thank you Lord!” It’s so beautiful. I’ll also see the male and the female together. It’s literally just a flyby, but it gives me pause every time. A lot of nature crosses my path; all kind of animals including deer and even coyotes. Being out in God's creation helps to reduce the stress and the demands of my life. As I ride, He brings things and people to my heart and mind, and I'll pray for them right then and there. During my rides, I'm not holding papers in my hand; I'm not leading a meeting or a group. I just have a sense of freedom and I feel good out there. The Lord speaks to me in different ways, and I try to be sensitive to that and be in the moment.
EQUIPPED, ON TRACK, AND SAFE I have a little cycle meter app. I keep track of every ride. I can see how far I rode, how long it took me, and how many calories I burned. So far this year, I've ridden 1,720 miles. Last year I rode 4,961 miles on 275 bike rides, either outside or on my trainer. So, through those COVID days, the Lord used that to keep my physical and mental health in good balance. I always wear my helmet, my cycling gloves, and brightly colored bike pants and top. I have lights on my bike, a cell phone, and shoes with pedal clips. An extra tube for my tires with air inflation cartridges, and energy bars are stashed away in a pack under my seat.
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Boost Your Mood With Exercise THE PAINFUL SIDE OF CYCLING “When I had that accident, I hurt my wrist and got pretty scraped up,” remembers Lt. Colonel James LaBossiere, College for Officer Training principal. While riding his bike in the town of Bloomingdale, N.J., a car hit him. “I went flying down the road. I ended up landing in the street on my back. My helmet was scraped up and I had what we call “Road Rash.” It was the only time I ever rode in an ambulance. I tried to talk the EMTs out of it, but they weren't having that.” The next morning, LaBossiere was scheduled to conduct devotions for the campers at the Salvation Army’s Star Lake Music Camp. “I come out with my arm in a sling, Band–Aids on my head, and I say to the campers, ‘Do you remember when Major Jackson told us on the first night that there are bears here?’ I paused, and then said, ‘It's true.’ I couldn't ask for a better introduction. I had their attention!”
I actually have multiple bikes. I've got a basic, solid, heavy mountain bike made by Nashbar. I also have a very nice Cervelo street bicycle. It's lightweight, carbon fiber, thin rims, nice gears, and time–trial handlebars. I have another older one that I just keep inside my house on a trainer. We also have a bicycle built for two. We’ve taken some trails together on it, which is a whole different experience! Pat and I get a kick out of seeing both adults and children smile as we pedal by on the tandem bike.
I take my bike on vacation with me. I've ridden all over the New England states of Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. Some of my favorite rides include the Cape Cod Canal and the 330–mile rail trail that goes from Pittsburgh all the way to Washington D.C. A few years back, I rented a bike in Athens, Greece during an Educational Tour of Greece & Turkey.
Have you ever tried exercise to relieve stress or a bad mood? Chances are you felt better afterward. Scientific research has demonstrated that the link between exercise and mental health is strong, though not fully understood. Research shows exercise provides short– and long–term psychological improvements, including:
Reversing stress Exercise can provide an immediate distraction from stressful worries and frustration. It helps you cope by producing a sense of calm as it relieves muscle tension and boosts energy. It’s important to choose exercise options you enjoy.
Building self–esteem Achieving fitness goals, even small ones, can build confidence, restore positive feelings and help you gain a sense of control, as well as improve your body image.
Lifting depression Biochemically, the process of working the muscles releases mood enhancers in the brain, and may reduce chemicals that worsen depression. Alleviating a depressed mood and anxiety generally takes a longer course of exercise. The best results may occur with moderately intense aerobic workouts lasting 30 to 40 minutes most days of the week. They may significantly cut symptoms of moderate depression. Weight training and mind–body exercise such as yoga might also be effective.
Is staying fit mentally the best incentive for staying active? It seems to foster a happier outlook day–to–day. It also offers an immediate reward: While the physical effects of regular exercise, such as weight loss and increased muscle mass, can take weeks, the mood–boosting benefits can happen within minutes.
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I always wear my bracelet. It’s called “The Bike I.D.” It has my name, year of birth, Pat's name and phone number, and my two sons’ names and their phone numbers. On the bottom I have a Scripture reference that reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13). So, should anything happen to me, family can be quickly reached, and a witness given!
James LaBossiere is a Lt. Colonel in The Salvation Army and currently serves as principal of the USA Eastern Territory’s College for Officer Training in Suffern, N.Y.
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT by HUGO BRAVO
For more information on Pearl Essence and the Salvation Army’s anti–human trafficking efforts, please visit salvationarmyny.org/pearl. You can also find Pearl Essence at facebook.com/ PearlsGNY and on Instagram @salvationarmyny.
Reverend Carmen Rivera
The Salvation Army / Austin Wideman
orn and raised in New York, Rev. Carmen Rivera had known of The Salvation Army her whole life. But when she became involved in the fight against human trafficking, she learned how the Army’s efforts and her own were so closely aligned. “I had been working with Not on My Watch (NOMW), an organization in the Bronx that combats human trafficking and domestic abuse. I was also looking for a more dynamic way to engage in anti–human trafficking,” says Rivera. In October of 2018, Rivera spoke at a conference partnered by NOMW and The Salvation Army where she learned about Pearl Essence, the Army’s New York–based outreach to the city’s massage parlors which are havens for human trafficking. Major Margareta Ivarsson, Women's Ministries Secretary at The Salvation Army in Greater New York, introduced Rivera to Pearl Essence. The members of this ministry visit the illicit massage parlors in New York to give the women working there an uplifting gift and to let them know that The Salvation Army’s doors and heart are always open to them. By showing the women God’s love in action, their hope is that these divine appointments will remind the women of their worth and inspire a brave step towards liberation. The women and men of Pearl Essence take training classes on how to safely engage these women at work as well as what to say to them. But Rivera was already so familiar with the territory and the subtle signs of human trafficking, she was able to begin work immediately. Two months after her first night of volunteer work, Rivera began her formal training with Pearl Essence. “I always say that God likes to throw me right into cold water to learn how to swim,” says Rivera. “The emotions I felt during my first night out with Pearl Essence are hard to describe. It was such a unique opportunity to enter that environment directly. We offered hope and let these women know that they matter.” Rivera says she was impressed with the organization and strategy that went into every night Pearl Essence operated.
Rev. Carmen Rivera volunteers with the Salvation Army's Pearl Essence outreach group, reaching out to victims of human trafficking in New York City.
“Even the act of preparing a gift and what goes in it, is a skillful tactic,” says Rivera. “Everything that Pearl Essence does is a way to show these women that there is freedom out there. One of the definitions of human trafficking is modern–day slavery. To meet these women in their place of work is like unlocking the door of their prison cell.” Along with her volunteer work for Pearl Essence, Rivera also holds seminars to educate others on human trafficking and how to recognize its signs in their communities. A frequent question during these meetings is, “What can the average person do to help in the fight against human trafficking?” Rivera responds by saying, “My biggest petition and request to people who ask us that, is that they pray. Pray for us when we go out there, pray for the lives of the victims of human trafficking, and even pray for the traffickers themselves, so that they have a change of heart towards what they do.” Every night, right before the Pearl Essence team leaves their vehicle to walk the streets of New York, they pray together. It helps put them in the state of mind to begin their mission and stay aware of their surroundings. “We ask Christ to let the women we meet see Him through us, so they can see that there is something greater than what they have,” says Rivera.
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For over 130 years
The Salvation Army has offered services to people in the correctional system. Today, this includes spiritual guidance and counseling, worship services, Bible studies, life skills training, and visitation. We offer programs to help with their successful transition back into society, and, in some cases, provide material assistance as well as transportation for family members. For more information, contact your local Salvation Army. To find a location near you, go to salvationarmyusa.org and enter your zipcode and click on Correctional Services.
Excerpt from “While Women Weep” by William Booth, Founder of The Salvation Army
e c n e i r e p x E
MUSIC - CONCERTS - THEATRE - DANCE - EVENTS
Th ere s’ so mu ch ha ppe ning. Come and be a part of it !
The Salvation Army offers programs in music and arts to teach people of all ages how to sing, play instruments, dance, and act. Whether you’re on the stage performing or in the audience worshipping, you can be part of a lifetime of fulfillment and spiritual purpose.
Go to SACONNECTS.ORG to see all we have to offer.