saconnects, Volume 8, Number 1, 2022

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Bundle up. It’s cold outside! p. 8 VOL. 8  NO. 1, 2022

Take a look at the Salvation Army’s first community multipurpose center. p. 14

God led Michael to the ARC and now Michael’s plan is to lead others to God. p. 24





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In Massachusetts, seniors learn music and share their unique life experiences. Plus: Tips on learning music.

Michael Shehand was angry at the world and misused an assortment of drugs. That was before he found The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers program. Now, he says, “I have joy in my heart.”

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People Captain LeNissa Rivera welcomed the Lord’s gift of music in her life. page 7

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My story starts here

With the development of vaccines against COVID–19, The Salvation Army has met the ongoing need to get information into minds and needles into arms.

Michael Vandenburgh was once consumed by drugs, alcohol, and the streets. Today, he’s a graduate of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, and is consumed by a passion to help others and tell them about Jesus Christ.

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Faith in Action

History In response to the deadly protests and riots in 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio, The Salvation Army created the first community center of its kind in the Hough community.



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Spiritual Life Development How do we live a life that is close to God? Here are a few thoughts on which to meditate. page 28

Health Your physical heart has to be in shape so you can live your best life. Learn what it takes to do that. page 31


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Janet Mellon While giving her time to The Salvation Army, Janet Mellon helped transform the life of another volunteer. page 32

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COVER STORY What can we do when life seems so busy that we push away the things of God? Christians give some practical advice. page 16



ALCOHOL IS A GREAT SOLVENT. Effectively dissolves careers, marriages, and families. May be harmful to any relationship.


For adults suffering from alcohol or drug misuse, The Salvation Army provides help and hope through faith–based residential programs to those seeking purpose, meaning, and solutions.



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. 8, No. 1, 2022. 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. | @saconnects

‘ It’s on the dock’ WARREN L. MAYE Editor in Chief

“I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Wastin’ time…” “It’s on the dock” is the common phrase used these days to explain the global shipping crisis that has caused clothing, supplies, and even food products to remain stuck and waiting to be delivered. This is just another side effect of our post COVID–19 world. Higher costs will be the result of this bottleneck, and people with fixed incomes will be hit the hardest. How we manage these situations will test our resolve to remain calm, positive, and prayerful as we start the new year. So, I offer you a promise that has endured the test of time. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33 ESV). I also encourage you to follow the example of people mentioned in this issue of SACONNECTS. They have embraced this promise. Their stories are living proof of it. For example, music instructor Anne Rich says, “Your passion defines who you are,” as she describes an elderly student who, despite his disabilities, learned to play the guitar by holding it upside down and backwards. In another article, Salvation Army pastor LeNissa Rivera shares how the Holy Spirit helped her during difficult times. Today, she plays piano without ever having had a single lesson. Other articles share the thoughts of people who have had the presence of mind to be still and listen to the voice of God, despite the pressures of our busy and demanding times. So, don’t let what may be sitting idle on a loading dock, or anything else you may be waiting for, stop you from realizing God’s purpose and happiness for your life. He will supply all of your needs according to the riches of His glory! “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding






To find out how you can change the lives of campers and your own, scan the code below or contact your local Salvation Army for more information.



A Salvation Army corps is actually a church and an important gathering place for the community. The corps leaders hold weekly worship services, administer food pantries, and many host pick–up basketball in their gymnasiums. They hold after–school, music, and seniors programs, and are a resource for people in need of assistance. To find your local Salvation Army corps, go to

Read about the first Salvation Army community center to open in the United States in Cleveland, Ohio, 1969. See page 14 .

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” — PSALM 20:4

The Salvation Army has opened its doors to vaccine clinics across the country and the world. The Urban Aid Clinic in Ghana, West Africa, worked with local health agencies to administer the first COVID–19 vaccines in that country. The Army’s community center in Aalborg, Denmark has been a hub for vaccinating the homeless and other members of the community. In the United Kingdom, two vaccine centers were opened in Lower Earley and at Shoeburyness in Essex. “It’s only right that we offer our building, with which we have been blessed, to help in the fight against this deadly disease,” said Roger Coates, leader of The Salvation Army in Lower Earley, Reading.

Statistics show that

Americans check their phones

96 times a day, or about every 10 minutes. Imagine: what if they saw a Bible verse each time, instead of a text message? Source: Asurion

Courtesy of The Heritage Museum, USA Eastern Territory

The Salvation Army Home League was founded in 1907 in London by Florence Booth, wife of Bramwell Booth, the 2nd General of The Salvation Army. Home League was for women who wished to learn the principles of economy, cooking, health, and hygiene from local peers and women in other countries. In 1994, the program became Women’s Ministries. It is one of the largest Christian women’s groups in the world, with over 750,000 members as of 2017.

In this archived photo, Home League members prepare Sunshine Baskets for Home and Hospital visitation in Bethlehem, Pa.




The Music Makers by HUGO BRAVO

The Salvation Army Massachusetts Divisional Headquarters had to follow certain guidelines to have the successful seniors music program it had in mind. Every member and instructor had to present a negative COVID– 19 test, whether they were vaccinated or not. The number of participants also had to be reduced to allow space for social distancing. “Major Joy Jugenheimer, program secretary in the Massachusetts Division, and I wanted to bring a musical experience that was both enriching and fulfilling to seniors,” says Anne Rich, program specialist. “Seniors thought that we were going to put a giant tuba in their hands. Instead, they were offered guitars, drums, pianos, and even bass.” The music program is part of the Massachusetts Salvation Army’s larger outreach ministry to seniors. It encourages senior socialization by having them watch movies, eat together, and do arts and crafts. However, Rich says it’s the music classes that bring out the most joy and diversity. Many Army music programs are focused on younger students, but the older generation is just as appreciative for the chance to learn instruments. “When we start a music week I say to them, ‘by the end of this week, you will be able to play one or two songs,’” says Rich. During the lessons the seniors learn to play and make new music, but the best songs are found in their past. As instructor, Rich gets to know every participant who comes in, such as Katherine, who immigrated from Jamaica to clean floors at a Boston hospital. She eventually worked her way up and became a registered nurse. In the class, she did timbrel, but when another senior in the program badly cut herself while doing dishes, Katherine’s nursing knowledge came into play. Though she had long retired from nursing, she treated the wound, and kept in touch with her


patient to make sure she was okay. “You don’t stop being who you are just because you get older,” says Rich. Another student in the program is a great example. Though his arms are disabled, years ago he had learned to play the guitar by holding it upside down and backwards. In the program, he played again. “He cried as he was playing, because it brought him back to his youth. Your passion defines who you are,” says Rich.

TIPS FOR LEARNING MUSIC Consider your space and surroundings. If you want to practice piano but live in a home with thin walls and cranky neighbors, a digital piano with headphones might work better than a traditional one. Practice, but be flexible too. If 30 minutes is too long to practice per day, try two sessions of 15 minutes each. Use a metronome. A metronome will keep you honest. It will show you if you’re playing too fast to keep up with lyrics or too slow when the song gets difficult. Record yourself playing. You will hear where you are doing well, and where you need improvement. Study music theory and history. Learning theory helps make sense of melodies and chords. Music history teaches how music changed and evolved over time. It will also help you develop your own unique sound.

Then there are the students whose lives have been an exercise in passion and dedication. One of the women, Ella Swain, learned to play the upright bass. After a lesson, she stayed to share her moving personal story. “Ella was one of the first African American women to attend college in the Berkshires. Back in the south, where she was from, she had not been allowed to take classes to learn music or even to be a schoolteacher,” says Rich. “Up north, she would eventually sing in chorus, become a cheerleader, and even be elected homecoming queen.” However, Ella also said that when her cheerleading team traveled to the Carolinas for competitions, she could not go with them, because she was not allowed to stay in a white family’s house, as college competitors do when traveling. “There are trailblazers like Ella among us, and without this music program, we’d never get to hear their stories,” says Rich. “Music is a catalyst for bringing enrichment and socializing to all people, not just those with musical ability,” says Rich. “It’s the reason why the program continues to grow, with its participants eagerly asking for the next time they will play together. “There is such a commonality when you create music. I could be in any Salvation Army building, simply playing a hymn such as ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’ as people come in, and they’ll become immediately drawn to it. I ask them, ‘What does this song mean to you? Where were you when you first heard it?’ “Then, music becomes a form of expression, for both sides.”

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A Voice of Strength Captain LeNissa Rivera, pastor at the Salvation Army’s Newport, R.I. church, talks about performing live at the Apollo, learning piano during school lunch hours, and how music has become the gift in her life that has kept on giving.

At Harlem’s famous Apollo theater, I participated in a singing competition when I was 19. Before my performance, I rubbed my hands for good luck on the famous “Tree of Hope” stump, as do all the performers. Then I looked to the crowd. They were loud and excited, as seen on TV. I sang Diana Ross’ “Home,” from the movie “The Wiz,” and won the competition. I was asked to return to compete another day, but I realized that God wanted me to use my voice for Him and His glory, rather than for fame. Two years later, I competed at The Salvation Army Star Search showcase. I sang where God wanted me to sing, and again, I won first place. I feel most comfortable behind a microphone or with my hands on piano keys, because I know that I’m using my talents to help usher others into the presence of God.

My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in August of 2020. As a pastor, I was allowed to visit her in the hospital. When I arrived, she was asleep and intubated. I sang the song “Wind Beneath My Wings.” It was always my song for this strong, single mother. As I prayed, she opened her eyes for the first time since being intubated. I truly believe that all the circumstances in my life led to that moment in the hospital when I saw her wake up. Six months later, my mother passed away. But this time, her family was by her side. The last thing I did for her was sing the chorus of Tina Turner’s “(Simply) The Best.” It’s the UCONN Lady Huskies basketball team song and they were my mom’s favorite team.

Interview by HUGO BRAVO

My journey began when a kind woman decided one day to drive the Women’s Ministries van and asked me and my mom to go with her. Her name was Mrs. Payne. She attended the Hartford Citadel church in Southern New England. This made me feel special; I was a 3–year– old and invited to the same place as my mother. We both discovered the Army together, and Mrs. Payne became like a grandmother to me. Later, when I went to the Army’s College for Officer Training, her own granddaughter, Captain Barri Vazquez–Muhs, was my sessionmate.

Lieutenant Tatyana Rivera, my daughter, gave us this verse of Scripture during my mother’s most difficult days. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9). It reminds me to never feel discouraged or terrified when the world becomes too much to handle or I feel like I’m making mistakes in life or ministry. The Lord commands us to be strong and courageous; not through ourselves, but through Him. He is with us in our homes, our corps, the hospital, and even while performing on stage. Though we live in the unknown, we continue to serve a known God.

As a child, I suffered from anxiety. In high school, I was always too nervous to find someone to sit with at lunch. I would take my food to the music practice room, pick out a songbook, and eat while I taught myself to play piano. Today, I can play without ever having had a single lesson. When I felt the most uncomfortable, the Lord spoke through His Holy Spirit and helped me cope during difficult times. Although I still have days where I wrestle with anxiety, I am assured that my Lord and Savior loves me and has a plan for me. All I need to do is trust Him with my whole heart and He will make my paths straight (Proverbs 3:5–6).


Keeping Connecticut Warm



Volunteers Sarah Voisine (foreground) and Kathryn Perrett arrange donated coats in Meriden, Conn., for the 13th annual Coats For Connecticut campaign. Best Cleaners, a locally owned dry cleaning and tailoring company, partnered with The Salvation Army to get donated coats to struggling families throughout Connecticut before the first freeze last year. The public was urged to donate gently used coats, which were cleaned and then delivered to Salvation Army centers for distribution. More than 129,000 coats have been collected, cleaned, and delivered since the program began in 2008. Other sponsors include: Eyewitness News WFSB– TV3, Young’s Printing/Fast Signs, and Two Men And A Truck. Go to or call 1–888–950–BEST for more information on Coats For Connecticut.


MEETING THE Since COVID–19 vaccinations began, The Salvation Army has treated the mind, body, and spirit by hosting clinics and by easing community concerns with God’s love.


hen news broke last March that the Salvation Army’s Philadelphia West Corps would host a vaccine clinic, the community response was enthusiastic. “Our phone was ringing off the hook to make appointments, but we had to direct them to the health department. They were the ones setting everything up. We were only providing the location,” says Major Celestin Nkounkou, pastor at the Philadelphia West Corps. Nkounkou and members of the church worked with the local fire department to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The first vaccinations were by appointment only, and on average, 400 people were vaccinated weekly. “We have a large gymnasium, and [our] location is good for this type of work,” says Nkounkou. He sees the clinics as another way The Salvation Army meets human need without discrimination. “This was a good ministry program, and we’re always open to doing it again, if they ask us,” says Nkounkou, who was also vaccinated in his gymnasium.

Vaccinating and educating In 2021, the United States received its most powerful weapon against the COVID–19 pandemic in the form of three different vaccines, all proven to prevent the effects of the viral infection and its potential to cause death. As these vaccines became more accessible to the public, Salvation Army facilities managers across the country opened their doors to health officials and hosted vaccine clinics. As a trusted institution in the community, many Salvation Army church leaders


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encouraged parishioners to get educated about the COVID–19 vaccines, and then provided a safe haven to get vaccinated. The Salvation Army’s Ray & Joan Kroc Community Centers, with their diverse membership and spacious facilities, have been key locations for these clinics. In Camden, N.J., the Kroc Center teamed up with Cooper University Hospital to administer COVID–19 vaccines to the public three days a week inside the newly renovated gym. “Our gym is now sacred,” says Captain Keith Maynor, administrator at the Camden Kroc Center. “Its purpose was transformed to being a host for science and God’s love.” The Camden Kroc’s involvement helped bring down two major barriers that were preventing the community from getting vaccinated; a lack of trust in vaccines among the city’s African American and Latino population, and a lack of transportation to take residents to get the vaccine. “This was where we came in,” says Maynor. “The Kroc Center is trusted in the community; we bring credibility because of who we are. We’re also located at an easy point for people to come and get vaccinated.” The Camden Kroc Center hosted town hall meetings on social media outlets with African American and Latino doctors. In live Q&A sessions, viewers from the community asked questions about the vaccine and the science behind it. “The Church can play a critical role in erasing fears of getting vaccinated,” says Benjamin Ovadia, community relations and


development director at the center. “When someone sees medical professionals who look like them and speak their language, they understand that the vaccine is safe.” Maynor said, “Through the Lord, we were able to be a bridge of hope from provider to patient. It has been a profound blessing to be a safe, trusted space for people to come and get vaccinated.”

Mind, body, and spirit The Philadelphia Kroc Center’s Wells Fargo Conference Room, which had been expanded in January of 2020 to fit 300 people, was used to administer vaccines in a socially–distanced environment. “Being a community vaccination site wasn’t in anyone’s mind when we did the dedication for the room, but God knew that this was what its true purpose would soon be,” says Major Tawny Cowen–Zanders, divisional secretary for The Salvation Army in Greater Philadelphia. Major Kevin Zanders, the center’s administrator, said, “I had never seen a line of people [waiting] to get into the Kroc Center as I did that first day of vaccines.” He stood at the front desk, welcomed guests, and monitored their temperatures. “This follows the model of meeting people’s needs in mind, body, and spirit,” says Major Kevin. “The relief people felt after getting the vaccine helped them mentally. The vaccine helped them physically. When they also know that the vaccine is given with God’s love, that helps them spiritually.”



“William Booth [Founder of The Salvation Army] once said that the Army is a place of hope. When every other light is extinguished, and every other star has gone out, we are to be the gleam that shines steadily and clearly in a darkened sky,” said Major Tawny. “I thought about that, and how desperate people are to get back to some normalcy in their lives. When they came to us, they knew that their life was going to change. They were going to be taken care of, in the name of Jesus.”

A clinic at work On the day of the first vaccinations at the Salvation Army’s East Cleveland Corps vaccine clinic, 75 corps volunteers were on hand to help. Health department and fire department EMT personnel were ready to assist anyone who may have had a negative reaction to the shot, though everyone was OK. Volunteers and church workers were prepared with dividers, water, and snacks, and even prayer and spiritual outreach.


“The city knew how the corps operates, and that we have the space and staff to host 300 or more people looking to get Moderna vaccines. We were asked, and immediately, we said yes,” says Major Brian Glasco, corps officer at East Cleveland. “After the first day, we regrouped to see what we did right and what could be improved,” says Glasco. “I think that when everyone here got over the fear of being so accessible in a health setting, we dove right into the work. We had an easier time when folks came back for their second shot a few weeks later.” The East Cleveland Corps hosted two more clinics for Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in May and June. “Our vaccine clinic happened to fit right in with the work of Christ; it was the simple dynamics of a biblical stature,” says Glasco. “We asked ourselves what Jesus would do. The answer was that He’d be here, healing others.”

“ The Army is a place of hope. When every other light is extinguished, and every other star has gone out, we are to be the gleam that shines steadily and clearly in a darkened sky.” —William Booth, Founder of The Salvation Army

Creating a conversation Rather than host a clinic, the Salvation Army’s Meriden, Conn., Corps Community Center created a whole new outreach ministry in the fight against COVID–19. The hope was that by putting the correct, science– based information into people’s minds, it would lead to more shots into their arms. “From talking to people in our soup kitchen, we learned that there were two kinds of personal views on the vaccine,” says Lieutenant Kate Borrero, pastor at Meriden. “The first group were people completely on board with the vaccine and who had gotten it as soon as they could. The second group were people who were apprehensive because a friend had told them something negative about the vaccine that they had read on the internet.” That second group had to be reached. The Meriden Corps leaders educated their staff with information from the CDC, which included responses to common vaccine myths, and a list of ingredients found in the COVID–19 shot. Corps personnel set up a table at a weekly farmers’ market that is frequented by the community and invited them to join discussion groups implemented through games, trivia, and prizes. “One of the games we play is to ask a contestant to name an ingredient in the vaccine to win a prize. They are surprised to learn that some of the ingredients can be found in their home right now, such as salt

A young woman proudly displays her vaccine card. The Salvation Army’s long standing reputation and trust in the community was integral to alleviating much of the vaccine hesitancy.

water and sugar,” said Borrero. “When they hear this, it opens the conversation more. “We also learned that most people do want to be educated and try to do their research, but they don’t have access to concrete truths. They instead do deep dives into random social media posts.” Borrero says that the success of their

information ministry goes back to 1885, when The Salvation Army arrived in Meriden. “We have been here for so long that the community knows they can trust us and come to us for what they need. The Salvation Army adds a different type of credibility that maybe a government agency would not have,” says Borrero.

How to talk to others about the COVID–19 vaccine o your research. Visit the CDC’s D website to find accurate information. Ask questions. Find out how and why people feel the way they do about the vaccine. Show empathy. Try to understand and acknowledge people’s emotions and beliefs regarding what they’ve come to know about the vaccines.

Share experiences. A personal story about someone’s positive experience in getting the vaccine can stay in someone’s mind longer than a list of statistics. Acknowledge the side effects. Remind people that getting vaccinated may cause some temporary soreness or symptoms, but also let them know of the vaccine’s overwhelming potential to prevent serious illness.

e calm and patient. Ultimately, you B do not have the power to make anyone get a vaccine. Don’t feel responsible for someone’s negative feelings about the vaccine or their decision not to get vaccinated. It’s OK to not have all the answers. If you can’t answer a question, be honest and direct the person to a trustworthy source, such as a doctor. Source: The Salvation Army Meriden Corps Community Center




A Candle in the Dark

The Salvation Army’s first community center in the U.S. was a precursor to today’s nationwide Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers. by HUGO BRAVO

“The Salvation Army, instead of cursing the darkness, has lit a candle.” Those were the words of civil rights leader James Farmer at the dedication of The Salvation Army Hough Center in October 1969. The $2 million multi– purpose community center, the first of its kind for The Salvation Army, was created in response to the 1966 Hough Riots. During those six days in July, arson and destruction of property took place in the predominantly African American community of Hough in Cleveland, Ohio. Heightened racial conflicts and alleged discrimination of black patrons by local business owners were said to be the catalyst for the riots that left four people dead, 50 injured, and 275 arrested. Still suffering the effects of that event years later, many people wondered if such a costly investment in Hough by The Salvation Army was worth the effort. But Army leaders saw it differently. They saw the need. Except for a few old, unmaintained school playgrounds, there were no functional recreation facilities in Hough. The Army believed that investing in its traditional services such as meals and ministry, as well as amenities such as a gym, a library, a swimming pool, and a skating rink would be welcomed by residents and bring forth healing. The Hough Center would become a staple in the community where over 1,000 people a day would be welcomed and more than 10,000 members were registered in its first six years.

Christianity in action Majors Henry and Marjorie Gariepy were appointed to be the Hough Center’s first administrators. Henry Gariepy said that the Army’s presence in Hough was to show the meaning of “Christianity with its sleeves rolled up.” The officer couple made connections with renowned African American leaders to help promote


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Timothy and Grace Thomas (2nd and 3rd from right) are appointed as the first Salvation Army pastors of the Hough Center. Henry Gariepy, administrator, stands far right. Making the presentation are Paul J. Carlson, territorial commander (at podium) and Richard Atwell, divisional leader.

the center, such as Cleveland’s Mayor Carl B. Stokes; boxing champion George Foreman; and Olympic track star Madeline Manning– Mims. Under the Gariepys’ leadership, Cadets Timothy and Grace Thomas interned at the center in 1969. When they graduated from the Salvation Army’s then–School for Officer Training in 1971, they were appointed as the first officers of the Hough Center, which had been recognized as an Army church earlier that year. In 1972, Rev. Billy Graham toured the Hough Center and was impressed by the various programs and resources it provided. He spoke to swimmers at the pool and shot baskets in the gym. Graham called the Hough Corps an example of “Christianity in action,” blessing it and the community it served. “Whenever we think of Hough, we will remember you in our prayers and the work you’re doing here,” said Graham. As a teen, Quintin Davis visited the Hough Corps because there was always something to do there. Six days a week after school, he would play pickup basketball games, skate at the rink, or swim at the pool.


“I didn’t know much about the church aspect of Hough,” admits Quintin. “But that changed two days before I graduated high school in 1982, when my father passed away.” Word got out at the corps that this young man who had visited Hough often had just suffered a painful loss. Salvation Army employees reached out to Quintin and invited him to take part in the Sunday ministry. “They said to me, ‘If you like it, stay. If not, don’t. No pressure,” said Quintin. “I liked how they approached me. I’ve been here ever since.” After high school, Quintin worked at the church as a custodian. During Christmas season, he also rang the bell at the red kettle. Eventually, he became a youth mentor in the after–school program, where he helped young people who came to The Salvation Army, just as he had. On Jan. 17, 2014, the Hough Community Center closed its doors after 45 years of service. During the last months of its operation, Angela Davis, Quintin’s wife, and former employee at Hough, said the workers and volunteers had no idea the center would close in only a few days.

“When Hough closed, we all relocated to the Cleveland Superior Corps. We were there for about two–and–a–half years until 2017, when the East Cleveland Corps opened,” says Angela.

Still shining Today, the candle that was lit by The Salvation Army in Hough continues to shine in corps like East Cleveland. “This new East Cleveland Corps had to become fully accessible to make a true impact in the community, just like the Hough Corps did,” says Major Brian Glasco, pastor at East Cleveland. “The work of the Hough Corps can never really be replicated,” says Angela. “The Center had been there for so long in the community, and for the most difficult times. When we knew someone, we knew their mother, father, grandmother, and the rest of the family. We knew people by generations.” “But we always work to build that here in East Cleveland. Not only because of the staff that came with its traditions, but because of the love and hope that carried over from Hough for the people who now come to us.”







from the


often hear friends say, “This has been an insanely busy week for me,” or something along those lines. That seems to be the refrain of our rushed society. Distractions come from every direction. Our cell phones vibrate constantly. Every few minutes, another “ding” alerts us to more messages, breaking news, and information that we ostensibly can’t live without. Can all the stimuli coming at us every second really be that urgent? Many friends tell me they will look at their calendars, see an open day, and wonder if they’ve forgotten something. They can’t imagine actually having any free time between work, school, soccer practice, music lessons, dinner preparation, and nightly television. They often schedule more events rather than slow down. Studies show that many people get caught up in the hoopla and fail to unplug and spend time with family or friends—let alone God. How do we cultivate a deep and nourishing spiritual life when we’re constantly


going full tilt? How do we stop the rollercoaster and get off the ride? Many Christians say their spiritual growth comes from a strong devotional life—reading the Bible, praying, spending quality time with God each day, meditating on a Bible verse or passage, and listening for the “still, small voice” of God. Christians often refer to this as “quiet time” and it can take various forms, including reading, music, journaling, coloring or whatever brings a person closer to God. Some people buy a new devotional book or Bible reading plan at the dawn of a new year, but the busyness of life quickly gets in the way. Pretty soon, they’re tempted to set aside the things of God, check their email or phone, channel surf, and settle on Netflix. Too often, God gets the leftovers. If people run out of time, God gets nothing. When there is no Bible reading, meditating, or prayer,

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our relationship with God becomes distant. Like the person who doesn’t eat and becomes physically weak, we become spiritually drained without the nourishment of God’s Word. We’re surprised when spiritual stagnation, the snare of false teachers, and a fall into sin occurs.

What can be done? In the classic Christian book The Screwtape Letters, written by C.S. Lewis, a senior demon is training his nephew and understudy on how to keep humans from the things of God. Among his advice: “You will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. … You can make him do nothing at all for long periods.” So, how did we get here and what can we do? How do we harken back to a simpler and less busy time? Majors Samuel and Janet Gonzalez, who lead The Salvation Army’s Spiritual Life Development Department in the USA Eastern Territory, said busyness is valued in America’s secular culture. “It seems like in our society, there is so much emphasis on producing, on doing, and accomplishing,” Major Samuel said. “That is one reason we get so busy. We see it as a sign of upward mobility. When we look at other cultures, leisure and free time are signs of upward mobility.” Major Janet said today’s secular mentality tells us “We are better because we are doing more; assigning value more to the doing than to the being.” “We became such a busy society through technology, which was supposed to improve the quality of life, but it has added another layer to our life,” she said. “Now, instead of having 10 things to do, we have 20 after receiving 10 emails. It’s not always a healthy approach to view productivity as a sign of efficiency. We become slaves of our own system.” The Barna Group found this to be true in 2017 when it released a study showing 62 percent of parents check their phone when they wake up—not their Bibles. The survey of 1,000 U.S. parents found they check their email (74 percent), social media (48 percent), news (36 percent), and calendar (24 percent). Fewer than one in five (17 percent) used a Bible or devotional app.

Lifestyle choices Major Samuel said the key to overcoming this trap and engaging your spiritual life is to be intentional about setting aside time for the things of God—and making it a habit. “It becomes like the air we need to breathe daily,” his wife added. “Without it, we know something is missing.” Major Samuel said a mature Christian knows the


importance of spending time with God. “It’s something we know, and we feel,” he said. “The Holy Spirit encourages us and admonishes us to seek time with the Lord.” Major Janet said, “The intentionality can be as simple as putting your slippers under the bed each night. When you wake up, you must bend down to get the slippers. That provides a great opportunity to start your day in prayer.” She said spending time with God should not be a priority, but the priority for a growing Christian. “People say God is important to them, but is He really the No. 1 priority? When you understand that it’s His time, every hour, it shouldn’t be a burden to make time for the giver of everything that we are and have.”

“The world went and got itself in a big hurry.” —Brooks The Shawshank Redemption

Major Janet, using another clothing metaphor, said if you start buttoning a shirt with the third or fourth button, you may later discover it’s misaligned. “If you start with the first button on top, going all the way down, they will fall in place,” she said. “Starting your day with God is like the first button. I don’t dare to leave my house without having presented myself to the Lord. I start my day with the Lord and it’s my intentional submission to Him.”

What is your priority? Lt. Colonel Patricia LaBossiere, who formerly led the SLD Department the Gonzalezes now head up, said she often hears people say they are switching churches “because I’m not being fed.” She warned that Christians can’t depend only on Sunday morning sermons and mid– week Bible studies for spiritual growth. “We also have to be able to feed ourselves spiritually,” she said. “I really believe the Lord wants us to take that into our own hands as well. I think that’s something that’s important for us, in busy times, to be able to figure out ways that we can do that.” Echoing the Gonzalezes, LaBossiere said time spent with God must


be a priority. Americans often plan their lives around football on Sunday and their favorite weeknight television programs, but do they make the same commitment to time with God? “Look at what you spend your time on,” she said. “So many people, myself included, spend time on our phones, whether it’s scrolling social media or playing a game, but if our spiritual life is a priority, we’ll carve out that time. “It’s like any other habit. If we want to build a habit into our lives—eating healthy or exercising or connecting with family and friends—we have to prioritize and discipline ourselves to find the time to do it.”

Parenting challenges

“ O ne of the greatest attacks of the enemy is to make you busy, to make you hurried, to make you noisy, to make you distracted, to fill the people of God and the Church of God with so much noise and activity that there is no room for prayer.” —Paul Washer, Christian pastor


That can be a challenge for young parents like Stephanie Maragoudakis, a Christian mother from Saugerties, N.Y. She has three children, including a special–needs child and another with ADHD. Going to therapy sessions, physician appointments, and providing care for her special– needs child “often takes up my whole day.” Some days, she admits, it all “seems impossible” and devotions are “shelved.” “I find the best time for me is first thing in the morning before the kids are awake,” she said. Maragoudakis has also tried in the evening after her kids are in bed, “but then I often struggle to keep my eyes open.” “Some days a devotional for me is worshipping Him through listening to music in the car, taking the kids for a walk, and using it as a time of prayer,” she said. “I use my shower time as time to surrender my heart and mind to Him. Some days, it’s just not there and on those days I’m especially thankful for His grace.” Lisa Williams, who attends a Salvation Army church in Augusta, Maine, said being a mom “can be terribly difficult for me at times” when it comes to maintaining a devotional life. “I find myself having to wake myself up much earlier in the morning before the kids do in order for me to have time in prayer and worship,” Williams says. “I also have to tip–toe quietly because the moment they hear I am awake, that morning coffee date I had with Jesus is over.” Sometimes she’ll hop in her van and go for a long drive, asking Siri to play her favorite worship music so she can sing along and talk with God. During the busy Christmas season, she leaves for work early and stops by the lake near her house for some solitude. She sits in her car eating breakfast and chatting, praying, and worshipping. “It’s not always easy to make time for Him, but when I humble myself, I look at how He made time for me and what He did during that time,” Williams said. “He gave His life on the cross for me to be saved from sin and washed clean. He is good. He is the Almighty. He is worth my time.”

Volume 8 Number 1, 2022

It’s a balancing act Maureen Hill, the media and community relations specialist for the Salvation Army’s Rochester, N.Y., Area Services, said six children, two jobs, pets, and family keep her busy. She and her husband take time while driving to thank God for their blessings. “We notice the beauty of the clouds, the birds on the corner when we stop at red lights, and pray through songs while listening to K–LOVE,” she said. The Bible tells us Jesus often got up early in the morning and went off alone to pray. Many in The Salvation Army follow that lead and are also morning people. Major Ismael Correa, a pastor in Allentown, Pa., gets to the gym as early as 4 a.m. “No one is there at that time,” Correa says. “I go through my routine while listening to sermons or podcasts dealing with matters of faith and practice. When I can’t make it to the gym, I will go for a walk at the end of the day and listen to music. As I breathe in and out, I focus on God and acknowledge His presence in my life.” Chrisie Villanueva, a caseworker for The Salvation Army in McKeesport, Pa., said she also finds time for God early in the morning and before she goes to bed at night. “Honestly, at night is easier for me because I’m not in a hurry to run off to work because I’m running late,” she said. “I am a firm believer in the way you start and end your day is how you spend your day.” While driving to work, she enjoys listening to Christian music and shutting out the noise of the world. “We should all find some way to spend time worshiping God, saying prayers for ourselves and others, doing devotionals or just humming His hymns as we clean,” she said. “Trusting in God’s words, truth, and guidance can make a huge difference in our lives. So, even if for a moment we remember who never forgets us, that can make a huge difference in our lives.” Lisa Miloshevsky, assistant director of The Salvation Army’s Eliza Shirley House in Philadelphia, said “seeking God’s face first thing in the morning is precious to me.” She participates in a daily devotional call with several women starting at 7 a.m. “His teachings carry me throughout the day and His abundant love gives me the ability to ‘pour out’ on others,” Miloshevsky says. “These devotions remind me that my relationship with Him is most important and being in His word provides the wisdom and knowledge I need to stay ‘looking up.’”

Help for officers Miloshevsky said God also speaks to her through music. She is continually singing praise music, which can often be heard coming from her office. She is also occasionally led to pick up her guitar and invite others in for a small worship session.


“There is nothing like a group of worshippers raising their voice to Him,” she said. “This world is fast–paced and chaotic, and we need Him now more than ever. He is our first love, so we must make time for Him; I must make time for Him. The Lord will not yell. He speaks softly, so we must make the time to ‘be still’ so that we can hear Him.” Kimberly Felder, the receptionist at the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center in Philadelphia, is another early riser. She’s up at 6 a.m. for quiet time and says, “My day would be empty without starting each day with prayer.” Felder then heads for work, where she takes part in a daily devotional with the women’s fellowship each morning. Grace Eisenhart, the office and social services manager at The Salvation Army in Sunbury, Pa., also makes time to be in God’s Word each morning. “When I’m going throughout my day, I just try and thank God for the many things He has done for me,” she said. “I talk to Him while I am walking or driving.” Yolanda Ransom, a resident assistant at the Salvation Army’s Genesis House in Rochester, N.Y., said she sets a clock and dives into her devotions when the timer goes off. “Open the Bible (a real one or the app) and see what God is saying for the day,” she says. Lieutenant Dontay Gibson, a Salvation Army pastor in Plainfield, N.J., reads a passage of scripture each morning and leaves a note about something he took away. He also likes to review past readings and notes, see how he has grown as a Christian, and maybe update the note. “This has allowed me to find God in the details and find significance in what we may deem insignificant or ‘repetitive and redundant.’ Every time I’ve gone through, I always found a new perspective or principle within the scriptures,” he said. Gibson is not the only Salvation Army officer who sees the benefit in starting his day with God. Captain Nora McNeil, a pastor in Manchester, N.H., said she begins and ends her day with Bible reading and devotions and “given the nature of our work, He is not very far away at any point in time.” Captain Aida Rolon, a Salvation Army pastor in Geneva, N.Y., agreed, saying, “As an officer, if we don’t do that, it gets harder during the course of the day.”

Being like Jesus Captain Larry Fulmer, a Salvation Army pastor in Altoona, Pa., said Jesus often retreated to “desolate places” to pray and he likes to do the same. “One thing that I do personally is to make sure I take my sabbath and to find rest in ‘being.’ This may look like going for a walk, retreating to my own ‘desolate place’ where I can find peace and rest, or doing something that I enjoy,” Fulmer says. “This is something that I need to prioritize in my own life, otherwise I will let life get in the way.” Captain Esther Wilson, who pastors a Salvation Army church in Athol, Mass., agreed with many of her colleagues who say that people find time for what is important to them. “We can’t ‘find’ time. We have to ‘make’ time,” she says. “It’s intentional. It’s discipline. I have found as I mature in my Christianity that if I try to find the time, it isn’t there. But if I intentionally carve out the time in a day and make it a habit, then the time is there.”



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Go to to locate a Salvation Army thrift store near you.

LIFE–CHANGING PURCHASES Saving money at a Salvation Army thrift store is great, but your purchases also help change lives. Proceeds fund local Adult Rehabilitation Centers where people who struggle with drugs and alcohol find help and hope. Visit to learn more.

Volume 8 Number 1, 2021


Sticking it out by ROBERT MITCHELL

While growing up poor in a rough area of inner–city Pittsburgh, Michael Shehand was incarcerated as a juvenile when he began stealing cars, skipping school, and drinking like his father. “I was just a bad kid growing up,” he said. “It led me down a pretty bad road.” Michael experimented with beer and marijuana, but that quickly escalated to heroin, cocaine, and other drugs. Several decades ago, he tried a Christian rehab program, but he relapsed. “I was homeless in Pittsburgh for a number of years, panhandling and into jail a few times,” he said. “I had a bad relationship with my family. “I was living in abandoned houses with no heat and no water. I was eating at rescue missions. I was trying to get money together on a daily basis. My circle was the people on the streets who weren’t too Christian–like. I wanted an end to this. I was tired and physically beat up.” Then in January 2017, he heard about the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) program and decided to give it a try. “The things I needed at the time; a shelter, a safe place, and clothing were provided at the ARC. I didn’t have that,” Michael said. “I wasn’t showering. I was wearing the same clothes for days at a time. It was cold. I looked at my life and I didn’t want to die out there and have someone find me overdosed

in some abandoned house. I thought that’s where I was headed and that I was going to be a nobody. “I was at my wits end. I knew God was there and if God couldn’t help me, nobody could. I was a little shaky at first. I hung in there. There were church services and I just started praying and reading the Bible. I weathered through the detoxification in there.” Michael admits that, a few times, he wanted to leave, “but I hung in there and started praying every day.” “I just listened to the chaplains in charge, went to church, did my work therapy, and followed orders from staff and my counselor,” he said. “Little by little, I felt God working in my life. “It wasn’t easy. But I knew God had a plan for me and I just continued to do what I needed to do there.” Michael eventually accepted Christ and got involved in a Salvation Army church where he still attends. “People prayed for me,” he recalled. “I kept going and participating in the worship and God started working in my life. I started feeling healthy and better. I repaired relationships in my family.” Later in 2017, Michael graduated from the ARC program and was hired to be a truck driver. A year later, he landed a job doing maintenance for The Salvation Army and met his future wife, Cheryl. Now 55, Michael sees a lot of

changes when he looks within. “I’m not mad at the world,” he said. “I’m not sad all the time. I’m not angry all the time. I have joy in my heart. I wake up praying and I’m more at peace at night. I lay my head down and I’m not worried about where I’m going to get my next fix. I have more peace and I know I’m on the right path. My life is just brighter. It was bleak before I went to the ARC.” Michael said he was humbled when Lieutenant Jonathan Lewis, the former pastor at the Pittsburgh Temple, called and asked him to read Scripture in church. “That really touched me,” he said. “Two years before that, no one was calling my phone to ask me to read Scripture. No one called me but drug dealers. It was all about drugs or alcohol. It’s amazing what God has done.”

WHAT MAKES THE ARC PROGRAM SO SUCCESSFUL? “From the top, it’s God. I knew God was involved in this program. The program kind of caught my eye because I was going to church. Christians are good people and I knew I needed this in my life. I kind of gravitated toward the people in the church, the officers and the pastors, people who were doing the right thing. I’m now a senior soldier (member). I go to the Bible studies and I kind of draw my strength from that. The people in The Salvation Army encourage me and I can feel the love here as far as the staff and everyone is concerned. They want me to succeed.”






After suffering many years in the throes of addiction, this survivor is now where he belongs.

M 24

ichael Vandenburgh likes to say he “belongs” at the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Providence, R.I. Someone recently challenged Michael and said he probably has just grown comfortable at The Salvation Army facility. But he was having none of it. “No,” Michael said. “I love being at The Salvation Army. I’m where I belong—among God’s people where all of us put our trust in Christ and grow.” Long before coming to the ARC in 2019, Michael belonged to the streets. He grew up in Westport, Mass., where he experimented at age 14 with alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and pills. “As soon as I picked them up, they consumed my life,” said Michael, who also later battled the demons of crack cocaine and heroin.

He went to jail in Massachusetts “quite a few times,” often for breaking and entering to support his drug habit. He estimated that he’s spent just under four years behind bars. “I’d run out of money, but I needed it to continue using drugs,” he explained. His last stint was nine months in a Rhode Island jail after being set up by a drug dealer, who asked him to go for a ride to Newport, R.I. The dealer had asked Michael to pass off some drugs. When police raided the car, he was implicated.

A new start While in jail, Michael remembers telling God, “I just can’t stop doing what I’m doing. I dug myself a hole I can’t get out of it. I need your help.” Homeless and with nowhere to turn upon

Volume 8 Number 1, 2022

It takes an arc, to build an ark Michael has drawn on many skills, including arc welding, while constructing what he calls, an “Ark for Jesus.” A long–time goal of his, the 26–foot mobile preaching machine will be equipped with a sink, shower, toilet, bed, desk, refrigerator, and also include a 16x16–ft. platform for preaching.


his release from jail on Sept. 1, 2019, Michael went directly to the Providence ARC. He was 50 years old. “I didn’t know about The Salvation Army,” he said. “I didn’t know about the ARC program. I was OK to go there because I knew God was there, and I didn’t want to go to a secular program. “When I left jail, I came straight here. When I crossed the threshold at The Salvation Army, after a couple of days, I could feel His spirit. It was like my spirit woke up inside of me. My story starts here. I felt like the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Something in me came alive.” Michael said he felt God telling him, “The Salvation Army is my personal provision for you during this season of your life.” While he had accepted Christ in his 20s and studied the Bible, today Michael says, “I didn’t understand grace.” “I think when God brought me here, He led me into a place of grace where I started to seek Him,” he says. “I knew God and sought Him through the Word that was already in my heart. I found myself talking to Him in the morning; just giving myself to Him, and it seems like He led me through this program. “His Holy Spirit led me to the cross to receive grace. That’s what happened to me here. I’m now learning to do it continually. His grace and His mercies are new every day. I think I’ve grown to understand what His grace is and that He died on the cross for my sins. Now, I can move forward.”

Seeing God in the details Michael graduated from the ARC program on March 15, 2020, and was officially hired as an ARC driver the next day. He signed his name next to the date 3/16. “When I signed my paperwork, it was like the Holy Spirit grabbed my head and focused my eyes on the date. Then John 3:16 came to mind,” Michael said of the Bible’s most famous verse. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Michael later worked as a resident assistant with the ARC but was about to leave, when a full– time maintenance job opened that was a perfect fit for him. “It was a beautiful thing,” Michael says. “Taking the maintenance position allowed me to live right here on the campus. I like it because I’m part of the ministry. The new guys come in


and I talk to them, I laugh with them, I cry with them, and I pray with them.” Major Brian Thomas, the administrator of the Providence ARC, said Michael has become a “zealous disciple of Jesus Christ.” “During his off hours, he goes to the darkest corners of Providence to share his faith, invite people to the program, and show compassion to the least and the lost,” Thomas said. Michael said God has planted several seeds in his life, including going into the community to pass out “tickets” to the ARC program. That also has involved picking people up out of the gutter and getting them into detox, a place he has been himself. “In doing that, God has shown me His pursuit of lost lives,” Michael says. “There are people out there He’s pursuing and who He’s revealed Himself to. People need to know God is there, even though they can’t see Him. They need to know that He loves them and wants an intimate relationship with them. “I desire for people to feel the love and grace I feel in my life. I want to give away what was given to me—love and grace from the living God who moved into my heart. I want somebody else to experience that.”

Volume 8 Number 1, 2022

Planting eternal seeds

Finishing a good work

Michael said his main message as he greets people on the street is, “Don’t give up on God. He hasn’t given up on you. He’s going to pursue you to the ends of the earth. He loves you and He’s trying to reveal Himself to you.” Back at the ARC, Michael has a sign on his office door that urges the program participants to “Sign up to get RICH.” The offer has nothing to do with money but is an acronym for what he calls “Recovering In Christ’s Hands (RICH).” Anyone

Michael, who is now 52 and lives on the ARC campus, said his construction of an “Ark for Jesus” is a long–term seed that is coming to fruition. It’s a 26–foot cabin truck that will open into a 16x16–ft., ministry platform. The truck will include a small living space complete with a sink, shower, toilet, bed, desk, bookcase, refrigerator, shelving, air–conditioning, and heat. “We’ll go out and sing some worship songs, and invite people to come to know Jesus. I believe He’s going to show up, heal people, build His Kingdom, and call them to Himself,” Michael says. “That’s the vision I have.” Michael calls the truck his own portable Automotive Reconciliation Center (ARC of sorts). He started building it in October 2020 and expects it

“I WANT TO GIVE AWAY WHAT WAS GIVEN T O M E —— L O V E A N D G R A C E F R O M T H E LIVING GOD WHO MOVED INTO MY HEART.” can sign up to spend an hour with Michael and discuss the recovery journey and what God is doing to transform their lives. He calls this idea another seed planted by God. “Sometimes, I get involved in conversations and I pray with people,” he said. Michael said he also goes for a walk with the men. They discuss Christ and what He might be doing in their lives. Michael has been where many of them are, and he wants to help them find deliverance in Jesus Christ. “The guys have a heavy curriculum here, between the work therapy and the classes that they have,” Michael said. “It’s not like I’m doing a Bible study with them. We just talk. It’s one of those things where we let it be known that Christ is present in our lives and is working among us. “Sometimes our talks lead to the Word of God or a conversation about where we’ve been and where we want to go. A lot of dynamics happen. It’s just a beautiful thing. Sometimes it leads to tears or to laughing. I just never know.”


to take a year and–a–half to two years to complete. “This is a work of prayer,” he said. “This truck is going to take a while. It’s still a work in progress. I’m praying for things to manifest. I’ve got to be faithful in doing a little bit every day. “By lifting Jesus up, I find healing in my life. That’s what He’s calling me to do with this truck.” When Michael reflects on his early years as a Christian, his precipitous fall into drugs, and his spiritual comeback at The Salvation Army, he always quotes Philippians 1:6, which says, “… he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” “I’m aware that He started a work in me years ago, but I slipped away and just did what I wanted to do. But He stepped in with His grace to start me over again,” Michael says.

Alive in Christ “I believe He’s teaching me what faithfulness is all about as a servant in His Kingdom, and what He has placed in my heart.” A tattoo on Michael’s arm is a quote from John 11:25. “I am the resurrection and the life.” “My whole life has just been a struggle to avoid what I know has been destroying me. Throughout the years, I’ve been drawn closer in my relationship with the Lord. He’s got me to this place where I belong—at The Salvation Army. I have a fire in me and I think it’s the fire of the Holy Spirit.”




Meditation on Communion with God by SYLVIA KUZMAK

A life of faith is a life spent close to God. Meditation on God is an ancient and valued practice for seeking closeness to Him. I have used meditation in my faith life when I have felt myself drifting away from God. For example, when I have been absorbed in burdensome job obligations, family or organization emergencies or relationship stresses, I meditate by reading or reciting God’s word with an open heart and mind, either aloud or in silence. This is to “feed on” God’s word, digesting it and taking it into one’s heart. Jesus declared, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). After time spent in meditation, I feel spiritually renewed and back in the presence of God. For quite a while, my “go to” biblical text to use for meditation was Psalm 23. I would typically pause on the beginning verse “The LORD is my shepherd …,” as I contemplated what those words meant about who I am and about who God is. I


imagine David, author of the Psalm, who was a shepherd himself, reciting these words and having their rich meaning flood immediately into his mind. Through meditation, I mentally “unpack” the meaning of the words, thinking of God’s love, caring, guidance, protection, and provision for me, and my dependence on God. For more than a year, I have been a participant in the Cultivate 2.0 spiritual growth program run by the Spiritual Life Development Department of The Salvation Army Eastern Territory. In the introductory module of the program, I read Richard J. Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline, which included a chapter on meditation. About all the spiritual disciplines, including meditation, Foster writes, “The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.” At the time, I felt inspired to compose my own meditation sequence based on

Scripture to use for my own meditation practice to draw close to God. The meditation I composed is divided into five parts: on God the Father, on God the Son Jesus, on the Holy Spirit, on myself as a believer, and, finally, on communion with God. I call it “Meditation on Communion with God” because I find it leads me back into a feeling of close relationship with our triune God, when I experience His love and peace and share in His purposes and His will. Glory to God! Do you have a desire to draw close to God? Perhaps, you feel lost and adrift in life and seek answers from God for the first time. Perhaps you have strayed from God and seek to return to His presence. Or you desire to live out your faith and you have wisely adopted a daily habit of seeking closeness with God. I invite you to try this meditation sequence yourself by simply including your name in the fourth section of the meditation. Let us all draw near to God, abide in His presence, and be transformed even further into His likeness!

Volume 8 Number 1, 2022

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. —JAMES 4:8a

Meditation on Communion with God GOD … Creator and Lover of the world. ... Worthy of praise! Holy, holy, holy! ... Loving, faithful, merciful. ... All knowing, all powerful, everywhere present and eternal. JESUS … Only begotten Son of God, Word of God, Immanuel. ... Lord and Savior, Teacher, Light of the world. ... The Way, the Truth, and the Life. ... Friend.

HOLY SPIRIT … Daily Companion, Indweller, Empowerer. ... Guide, Helper, Comforter, Intercessor. ... Convicter of sin, Transformer. ... Director and Unifier of God’s people.

[BELIEVER’S NAME] … Created, known, and loved by God. ... Gifted and provisioned by God, thankful. ... Redeemed, a child of God, a child of the covenant. ... Seeking God’s kingdom first. ... Dwelling richly in God’s Word. ... Servant of God and neighbor, denying self. ... Trusting, persisting, in God’s hands.

COMMUNION WITH GOD … Rest, peace, restoration, joy. ... Empowerment, Christlikeness, partaking of the Divine. ... Walking in the Spirit—loving, looking, listening, hearing, serving. ... Rooted, bound, in the Body of Christ. ... Bearing fruit for God’s kingdom— with God all things are possible. ... In Christ, Christ in the world, Light of the world. (Continue communion with God, in silence).

Related Scripture GOD: Genesis 1, John 3:16–17, Psalm 146, Psalm 86, Isaiah 40:22–26, Psalm 33, Psalm 139 JESUS: John 1:1, John 14: 7–11, Matthew 1:23, Mark 12: 35–37, Matthew 28:18, John 3:16–17, Matthew 23:8, John 8:12, John 14:6, John 15:9–15 HOLY SPIRIT: John 14:15–18, Matthew 28:20, Acts 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 1:5–7, Acts 9:31, Romans 8:26, John 16:7–11, Ezekiel 36:25–27, Romans 8:3–9, Ephesians 4:1–6 BELIEVER: Psalm 139:13–14, Matthew 6:8, John 3:16–17, Romans 12:3–8, Colossians 3:15, Ephesians 5:20, Galatians 4:4–6, Hebrews 8:6–12, Matthew 6:31–33, Colossians 3:14–17, Matthew 20:25–28, Matthew 22:37–40, Luke 9:23–25, Proverbs 3:5–6, Psalm 31:15 COMMUNION WITH GOD: Galatians 5:22–25, Matthew 11:28–30, Acts 1:8, 2 Peter 1:2–4, Ezekiel 36:27, Ephesians 3:14–19, 1 Corinthians 12:12–27, Colossians 1:9–14, John 15:1–5, Mark 10:26–27, John 8:12, Matthew 5:14–16, Ephesians 2:19–22.


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 and enter your zipcode and click on Correctional Services.

Excerpt from “While Women Weep” by William Booth, Founder of The Salvation Army


Matters of the

HEART Each year, about 647,000 Americans die from heart disease (also called cardiovascular disease). This number has declined somewhat in recent years, but heart disease remains our leading health problem, causing one out of every three deaths in the U.S. But what is heart disease? Cardiovascular disease is any disorder that affects the structure and function of your heart. Some of the most common conditions are: ■A bnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) ■C oronary artery disease (atherosclerosis or plaque buildup in the arteries) ■H eart failure (disorder of the heart pump). ■H eart valve disease (such as mitral valve prolapse or aortic stenosis) ■C ongenital heart disease (blood vessel defect) ■H eart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) ■H igh blood pressure (hypertension) Heart disease is our No. 1 health enemy. Medicine, technology, and education do a good job of preventing, treating the symptoms, and repairing the damage of sick hearts, and millions survive heart disease and heart attacks very well. However, there’s no magic bullet cure for heart ailments. Heart health begins with you.

Ways to boost your heart health Get active and stay active; take 30 minutes 5 times a week or more for moderate physical activity. Learn about your target heart rate and exercise in that zone at least 3 times per week. Plan most meals with one–half fruits and vegetables, one–quarter lean meat, fish, or beans, and one–quarter whole grains. (2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily) Control your cholesterol by eating more foods from plants rather than foods from animals. Enjoy fish with heart–healthy omega–3 fatty acids. If you smoke, stop; it’s the best thing you can do for your heart

Did you know? Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Most women who die suddenly from heart disease will have no prior symptoms. But 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented with health, education, and lifestyle changes to manage your vital signs.


Regular screenings can help keep your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels in check. Talk to your health care provider about your heart disease risk factors at your next checkup. Stop stress in its tracks by making time for activities that you find relaxing.

© 2013 Oakstone Publishing, LLC, • All rights reserved.




n 2001, Janet Mellon became the new director of the Southington food pantry in Southington, Conn. Her predecessor had been involved with this Salvation Army local service extension unit, which is comprised of volunteers who serve the community in the absence of a local Salvation Army building and pastors. Mellon continued her work there, but after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, she saw the Army’s work through enlightened eyes. “I was asked to join a group of volunteers in New York,” says Mellon. “I spent two weeks at Ground Zero with them and some Salvation Army officers. We served meals and I got to know about everything the organization did. Before that trip, I didn’t truly understand the mission of The Salvation Army.” Mellon became more involved with Army ministries such as bell ringing and outreach to seniors. She also continued to travel for the Army, going to places that had been ravaged by storms and other natural disasters. “One year, I went to Pensacola during hurricane season to help serve food. There were lines of people waiting for help, and we were short staffed,” remembers Mellon. “While driving the Army canteens, we saw a man walking with no shoes. Despite his appearance, he looked strong and able. I pulled over to introduce myself and asked if he would be willing to help us.” “How could I help you? I’m homeless,” said the man. “So are we,” replied Mellon. “We’re all staying at a shelter. You can stay with us.” The man’s name was Charlie. He stayed with Mellon’s team for the two weeks she was there in Florida. The Army bought Charlie clothing and gave him a place to stay while he volunteered. “I set some ground rules for his time with us,” remembers Mellon. “There would be no drugs and no drinking allowed while he was with the Army. He also could not smoke cigarettes while working or wearing the Salvation Army shield. “I’m a big stickler for rules and portraying a good image. Charlie understood that he was now


representing The Salvation Army. He took For Janet Mellon, volunteering pride in his work and never complained.” led to a blessing that would be When the two weeks had finished, revealed years later. Charlie cried. He said that he had never felt as important as he did while volunteering for the Army. Before leaving, Mellon asked the Salvation Army officers in Pensacola to look after him and continue to give him the help he needed. Years later, Mellon was in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. This time, she was on her own. She waited in a hotel room for a ride to the Mississippi Yankees stadium, where The Salvation Army was in operation. “I heard a knock at my door, and when I opened it, a man greeted me and said, ‘Miss Janet.’ It was Charlie! He looked so healthy and different from when I saw him in Florida.” Charlie explained that after Pensacola, he enrolled in a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), finished the program, and became an employee of The Salvation Army in Jacksonville. He was now in Mississippi and driving trucks to help transport people. “The Salvation Army took a chance with Charlie, and it made all the difference,” said Mellon. “Sometimes I help everyone I can, but I’m not there to see if I’ve really made the difference in their lives. But then the last person I help does a little something more, and I see it all.” Just as Mellon was asked to volunteer on 9 /11, she in turn asked a stranger to volunteer with her in Florida. In doing so, she helped change his life forever. It’s experiences such as this that create more than Army volunteers; they create true believers of the mission. “That’s the miracle of The Salvation Army,” says Mellon. “That’s why, if they call me to do something or go somewhere today, I will never say no to them.”

Volume 8 Number 1, 2022


Many children overseas are facing illness, gangs, trafficking, illiteracy, child labor, and undernutrition. With so many evils to overcome, your HELP IS VITAL.


For just


per month

you can sponsor a Salvation Army


Children’s Home

After–school Program

One–time donations also welcome!

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For more information visit Pathway of Hope uses a client-centered case management approach to empower families and address barriers preventing them from becoming more self-sufficient. By breaking the cycle of crisis with our community partners, it offers a hand up instead of a handout, enabling a path out of poverty.

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