The Main Things

Commissioner David Jeffrey understands the scope of his new leadership role as National Commander of The Salvation Army in the USA. He served as National Chief Secretary at National Headquarters from 2007–2011. Both he and Commissioner Barbara Jeffrey, appointed National President of Women’s Ministries, are well grounded in Salvation Army outlook and ministry. Their previous appointments were as leaders of the Southern Territory. Here Commissioner David Jeffrey speaks with Editor–in–Chief Major Allen Satterlee about his unique introduction to the Army, people who influenced him and what it means to keep the Army moving forward in purpose and mission

Q: How did you find the Lord?
A: I found the Lord as a young child in Sunday school. I was five years of age, and in those days I was going to a little Methodist church down at the hollow. It was in Grandma Reese’s Sunday school class. She was no relative of mine, but she was an older lady we called Grandma. The church had one room.

Q: How did you meet the Army?
A:
I met the Army through the youth meetings. I was invited to play a game of pool by the corps officer. He made a bet that if he won I had to come to church on Sunday. I took one shot and missed and never got to take another shot. He cleared the table. I was hustled.

Q: Who most influenced you?
A:
There are a lot of people who most influenced me. But I have to say that the first corps officer, Major Omer McKinney, was just terrific. He was my spiritual father and I really looked up to him. My dad was good and a hardworking man but my life really changed when I met Omer. Of course, the second most influential person in my life is my wife. She is a great lady and I’ve learned a lot from her.

Q: What is your favorite Scripture?
A:
Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” That verse says you have to seek the Lord. He’s already sought me, but now I have the opportunity to seek Him. My second favorite verse is the calling of the disciples where Jesus simply said, “Follow me.” I believed down through my service that if you seek God, His kingdom, His righteousness, and follow Jesus, then it all comes together.

Commissioners Barbara and David JefferyQ: Define the role of the National Commander.
A:
The National Commander represents The Salvation Army to other national groups and religious bodies. He helps coordinate and chairs the Commissioners’ Conference. He helps bring The Salvation Army of the United States together, and to help move things forward in unity. There are a number of other things, such as this wonderful publication of the War Cry that comes out of National Headquarters. The National Commander helps stimulate efforts so resources for the field keep flowing. For me, one of the most important things is really what do we do to help the corps? If there’s not the corps, then there is nothing. I am reminded of the speech that the late General Douglas Macarthur gave at West Point. He said, “When I cross the river the last thought in my mind will be of the Corps, the Corps, the Corps, the Corps, the Corps.” Of course he was talking in a different context, but in The Salvation Army, there is a lot we do at National Headquarters for the corps. The War Cry is for the benefit of the corps. The development of published materials is for the benefit of the corps. Crest Books benefits the corps. We have the real opportunity in all of these and other areas to put the right resources in the hands of soldiers and officers.

Q: What is the Army’s role in the United States?
A:
That’s a big question. Our mission is clear. We are to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to serve mankind in His name without discrimination. In Salvation Army ministry, we ought to be serving people. We ought to be reaching out to people and serving them in the name of Christ. We ought to seek to win people to the Kingdom of God. That’s our two-fold motivation. When it works together, and is done right, God is glorified and His kingdom grows.God has given us a splendid mission. We need to do everything we can in order to grow it forward so that we can honor Him and serve people in His name.

Q: Is there any specific incident that most clearly demonstrates what the Army is?
A:
I think of a story of a good friend of mine, who was not necessarily a person who was down and out. He was one of the up and outs. He had a lot of opportunities, had gone to law school, became an attorney at a successful practice and also had a construction company. But because of a double addiction to alcohol and cocaine, he eventually lost all of that. One day a member of his family took him down to The Salvation Army and said, go in there. He went in and went through the program and came out and began, unfortunately, to slip back into the old lifestyle. That happened a second time. Again he went through the program and developed into the same lifestyle. But the third time he went through he said to me “I really found what the secret was. It wasn’t just the program. It was meeting Jesus as my Savior.” I was talking to him the other night. For 22 years he has been clean and sober, and he now ministers in one of our major Salvation Army shelters in this country, helping other people. He doesn’t miss the life, or the success and the glitter and the gold he had as an attorney. He feels like what he’s doing now is what God wants him to do.

Q: If you had the opportunity to say what you wanted to the nation, what would it be?
A:
That there’s hope and that hope is found in knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is not any hope in religion per se, but there’s hope in a relationship with Christ. God desires that we all have a relationship with Him through His Son because He loves us. That’s why He sent the best gift that He could ever give, His Son, Jesus Christ. And, He desires that we know Him. I think the Presbyterians have it right in that the Westminster confession says we are to love God and enjoy Him forever. That’s possible. A lot of the hurt that we have in the world today is because people are searching and they’re thinking, “if I just earned enough money I’d be happy,” or “If I do this I’ll be happy,” or “Maybe I just need to drown it all out with drugs or alcohol to make the pain go away.” But the answer is Christ. We sing that old song in the Salvation Army, “Christ is the Answer to My Every Need.” He’s the answer to everyone’s every need.

Understanding Immigrants

America is increasingly becoming the United Nations of the World. People from all nations, cultures and religions can be found in our buses, workplace, schools and cities. Understanding new immigrants is a rewarding intercultural experience that widens one’s worldview and changes one’s ethnocentric attitude towards immigrants.

Learning cultural differences helps us understand why our immigrant neighbors act in a certain ways and dress differently. Some years ago a Nigerian student, who was on his way to Nyack College, was picked up at Kennedy Airport by a young female Christian student wearing makeup and dressed in pants. Her appearance struck the Nigerian student, who was taught back home that Christian women should not wear makeup or dress in pants; hence he concluded that this young woman was not a Christian. It is interesting how the Nigerian student judged this young lady through his own cultural lenses.

The fact that most Americans look at immigrants through their own cultural lenses often leads to prejudice. We tend to judge people according to what we consider normal in our own culture and assume that all people need to do things according to our culture. Unfortunately, our cultural misunderstanding and prejudgment of others leads to discrimination.

Africans, Asians, Middle Easterners and most Hispanics come from what sociologists often call group-oriented cultures. People belong to an extended family and tend to make decisions in collaboration with family members. Immigrants have a great sense of solidarity which helps them survive in their new land. They are willing to give up their rights to privacy in order to live together in crowded apartments while looking for job opportunities. They branch out as doors of opportunities unfold.

They often form their own organizations and churches in order to help first generation immigrants establish themselves. Creating friendship and talking to your immigrant neighbors is, perhaps, the best way for learning about their cultures. Reading books about them and watching documentaries about their countries gives you a better cultural understanding about them.

Helping immigrants adjust to their new culture is crucial for their survival in the new culture. In my previous job as social worker, I met several clients who have been in the U.S. for over 30 years and could barely speak English. They used a few English words and a lot of gestures to communicate their needs. New Immigrants who first arrive and reside in their ethnic communities often have difficulty learning English and adjusting to the American culture. However; those who come as international students or live in predominantly American communities get adjusted faster and have less difficulty finding jobs. Inviting them to your home and church, or taking them to sporting events and others performances, help open-minded immigrants adjust quickly to their new culture and became better equipped to find jobs.

Listening to new immigrants’ stories and concerns brings us closer to them. One afternoon, as I was preparing to visit a client, a social worker called me to refer a female client from Nigeria whom he found deceitful. My initial interview with her took about an hour, because she was vague in telling me what her problem was. I later found out that her brother-in-law had raped her while her older sister traveled to Nigeria. This shameful situation forced my client to leave her sister’s home in search of her own place, even though she could not afford it.

As soon as she left my office, I called the American social worker that referred her to find out why he thought the young woman was deceitful. His reasons for making such an assessment were the following: 1. She did not look him straight in the eye while telling her story. 2. She spent his precious time stalling instead of being straightforward.

DiversityAs I analyzed this incident, I came to realize that the American social worker just did not understand his Nigerian client’s culture. First, this woman came from a culture where she would be considered impolite for looking at older people straight in the eye while addressing them. Secondly, while sex talk is not considered a taboo in the United States, it is shameful in her culture to describe a sexual encounter or rape to an older person or even mention the word sex publicly. Thirdly, when describing a shameful experience, a delicate or embarrassing situation, or trying not to hurt someone’s feelings, many Africans would “beat around the bush” or speak indirectly.

Through careful observation, we can learn more about the non-Western immigrants’ trend of thought. Instead of judging immigrants according to our own cultural norms and values, we must endeavor to invest time in understanding why they communicate through certain facial expressions or gestures that may appear strange to us.

Numerous studies have indicated that body language constitutes about 70% to 90% of communication. According to Kramer on the TV show Seinfeld, “94% of our communication is nonverbal, Jerry.” Kramer’s estimate resembles those of anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell (65%) and of psychologist Albert Mehrabian (93%). Though these statistics may appear exaggerated, it is obvious that a great percentage of human communication is nonverbal. Therefore, observing an immigrant’s facial expressions, tones of voice, gaze, gestures, hand motions, and general postures helps disclose information that one may not be able to obtain via verbal communication.

So, as America continues to make positive strides to eradicate xenophobia and subsequently embracing individuals from around the world, there needs to be on-going discussions and tutelage on the importance of multicultural understanding and the vanguard role we play in this historical integration. The United States remain the most attractive nation for immigrants. It’s no wonder that more and more people seeking refuge and safe haven over here more than anywhere else. Perhaps this is so because from our country’s inception our founding fathers declared this to be the land of liberty and justice for all.

Consequently, it is important that we keep our hearts and doors open for legitimate entry, because in showing courtesy to foreigners and strangers, it is quite possible that we could be entertaining angels unaware.

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By Captain Daniel Diakanwa

A Grateful Heart is a Thankful Heart

A recent trip to the eye doctor caused me to view gratitude in a new way. As the optometrist was doing the various tests to determine my new prescription for glasses, I was once again amazed that with each turn of the machine my vision became progressively sharper. I realized it’s a lot like gratitude: Gratitude is the lens that reveals God’s incredible grace at work.

To be grateful is to see God, the world and ourselves aright—to recognize that all of life is a gracious gift from His hand. I am learning to develop gratitude for everything. If I’m tempted to grumble about all the dishes that need to be washed I now say, “I’m so thankful for all these dirty dishes because it means we have plenty to eat.”

In Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, she recalls thanking God for the fleas in her barracks in a concentration camp during World War II. Corrie had learned that the fleas kept the guards away, which allowed her and others to study the Bible without interruption.

Perspective is everything. I love a plaque that hangs in my chiropractor’s office. It simply states: There is always, always, ALWAYS, something to be thankful for. It all depends on how we look at things.

When my car got a flat tire on a wet road on my way to a doctor’s appointment, I chose to give thanks that I didn’t have an accident instead of grumbling that I had to reschedule my appointment. It matters a great deal how we choose to look at things. It’s the difference between gratitude and grumbling.

Pride can keep us from being thankful in many ways. I know a pre-teen who refuses to say thank you when she’s given a gift. For as long as I’ve known her, she will not say it—even when prodded by her mother to do so. I believe she thinks that she “deserves” these things, so why should she have to give thanks for them. Faulty thinking no matter one’s age, and yet we’ve all probably done it. I know I have.

Speaking two simple but powerful words—thank you—for any bit of kindness keeps the wheels turning in relationships all over the world. Expressing appreciation—in any language—conveys that the person matters.

In a society where everything is available all the time, nothing is special anymore. The impersonal interactions that exist today are apparent in the brusque way we treat each other. When thanks is lacking, relationships suffer.

Whenever I’m out shopping or running errands I hold the door open for anyone else entering the same place. Many times this small act of kindness goes unnoticed without so much as a word of thanks.

Perhaps someone has also ignored an act of kindness you’ve gone out of your way to show. It happened to Jesus at least once that we know of. Jesus healed ten lepers of their dreaded skin disease, and almost before He finished speaking all ten were headed for the city to see the priest. Only one returned to say thank you.

Throughout the Bible people are called to remember what God has done for them. The Old Testament especially is full of admonitions to remember God’s acts of power and graciousness.

If you are thankful for something, say so. Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and saying thank you is one way we convey that.

Cultivating a thankful heart is possible for anyone. Here’s how:

Give thanks for the small, ordinary things. I make a concentrated effort to thank God for the things that most people don’t think twice about—clean water, my bed, even my comfy pajamas! I truly am thankful for these things, and I make it a point to let God know that I am.

Give thanks independent of feelings. Our lack of feeling grateful does not change reality—God is good, all the time. When I focus on my feelings, though, I find I have very little to be thankful for. True gratitude comes from a heart of love, not from how we feel.

Look for the hidden blessings. Sometimes we have to actively keep ourselves alert to the subtle or indirect blessing of God. I’ve noticed that when I’m shopping alone with my four daughters I always find a parking place close to the store’s entrance and near a cart return. Coincidence? I don’t think so. God knows how grateful I am for the “extra help” on these days.

Thank God in the midst of adversity. While in chains in prison, Paul gave thanks for God’s goodness (Philippians 1:3). One night during an excruciating migraine, I was determined to praise God and thank Him for His goodness even in the midst of my pain. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had with the Lord.

Put things in perspective. Have you been grumbling because you can’t afford a new table and chairs for the dining room? Go serve in a soup kitchen for the homeless. Find it difficult to be thankful for your job? Spend a few minutes with the people in line at the unemployment office. Do you find yourself complaining about minor aches and pains? Pray for someone with a terminal illness. I find that when I put things in proper perspective my gratitude level soars.

Keep a record of God’s faithfulness. As the old song goes, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” Several years ago I began a “Thank you” journal dedicated exclusively for recording blessings from the Lord. To date, I have many volumes of these journals filled.

Set aside daily time to express thanks to God. In ancient Israel, a daily time of thanksgiving was so important to the nation that the Levites were officially appointed to stand in the temple every morning and evening to thank God (see 1 Chronicles 23:30). If we don’t make time to specifically express our gratitude to God, we may find ourselves neglecting it altogether.

Show gratitude to others as well as to God. Stock up on thank you cards and use them generously. Regularly let family and friends know how grateful you are for them. Thank those you cross paths with frequently—the store clerk, the office janitor, the mail carrier. The more we appreciate people, the more we’ll appreciate the One who put them in our lives.

Give generously to those in need. Giving is a concrete expression of gratitude to God. Paul told the Corinthians that such generosity “is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12). I love being able to give back to God in this way as it serves as a reminder of all that He’s given me.

A grateful heart truly is a thankful heart.

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By Tammy Darling

A New Shade of Pink

It all started on my 40th birthday… Now I know why women dread their fortieth birthday. Here we are thinking about chocolate cake, parties, and presents; when in reality, as we turn forty, we get to endure our very first mammogram. Definitely not fun. Especially when that mammogram indicates breast cancer — like mine did. Cancer is, without a doubt, the worst birthday present ever.

After my diagnosis, I spent the next year undergoing surgeries and treatment and trying to survive. Then I got hit by a truck. Really. And then, just as I was starting to get back on my feet, I watched my wonderful father die. From cancer.

It took me awhile, but I did eventually learn that the amazing thing about having my life turned completely upside down — is that God stays so wonderfully close. I had considered cancer to be a devastating crisis, but God saw it as an occasion to lavish me with His extraordinary gifts – gifts of grace, courage, hope, peace, and joy. He also gave me the gift of friends. One of those friends is named Katie.

Katie and I met through an on-line national breast cancer support group. My motive for joining this support group was purely selfish. I was desperate to connect with other women who had experienced breast cancer first-hand and lived to tell about it. It soon became apparent that if I was looking for a voice of hope or a word of encouragement, I had come to the wrong place. The women in the support group seemed to be even more frightened than I was. Nevertheless, Katie and I soon became friends. We had something in common. Unlike many of the women in breast cancer support groups, Katie and I know what it is like to fight cancer while still shouldering the responsibility of caring for our children.

It wasn’t long before Katie noticed that my attitude was different from the other women in the support group. When she asked me about it, I just shrugged it off. “I’m further along in my cancer journey than you are,” I told her. “Don’t worry, you’ll get there soon enough.” But that wasn’t the answer Katie was looking for. She was so persistent – and when I say persistent, what I really mean is pushy. She was determined to know my secret for coping with cancer.

So I told her about the God I believe in – the One who keeps insisting on giving me His precious gifts. The One who didn’t even hesitate to give up His own life for me. She listened intently as I told her over and over again about His love. I knew she was starting to understand when one night she said to me, “I’ve never known much about religious stuff, but I’m sure falling in love with your Jesus.” And she did. Head over heels.

Now Katie has a thriving ministry reaching out to women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. She tells all these women that whether they survive breast cancer, and especially if they don’t, the first thing they need to do, is to get to know Jill’s Jesus.

God certainly can accomplish His purposes without our help. But isn’t it amazing when He gives us the privilege of being a part of His plan? How wonderful it is that God loves us so much that He reaches down and takes something as devastating as breast cancer and brings something good out of it. I could not have imagined it when I was first diagnosed five years ago. But this is what God does best, isn’t it? He gathers up all that is bad in our lives and offers us redemption.

He can make “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11a). Even cancer.

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By Jill Nogales

Higher and Higher

In his commentary on the New Testament’s Book of Luke, Bruce Larson details how people at a church conference in the Midwest were given helium balloons which they could release at the point in the service when they felt joy in their hearts. While balloons floated to the ceiling during the event, one third of attendees were still clutching theirs at the end of the meeting.

Praise isn’t complete until it is expressed That was not at all the problem for David. In Psalm 103 there is a delightful medley of praise singing throughout. “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (v. 1,2). The late Commissioner Flora Larsson was enjoying such a wellspring of praise when she wrote, “Had I been a bird I should have winged far up into the highest heaven and poured out my exultant song. Had I been a rosebud I should have opened instantaneously into a perfect flower, filling the world with fragrance. Had I been a balloon I should have swelled until I burst.”

This was not the euphoria produced by some drug or manic episode but by exultation expressed to our God, for His grace and greatness demands our maximum response. Charles Spurgeon noted, “God can’t be praised with less than our all.” Few things that occupy our daily lives will continue to occupy our interests in eternity, but one of them is praising God. Our praise will be inexhaustible to the infinite Lord of all!

We are told to “forget not all His benefits.” Many of us focus on difficulties in the present, or when we look back, center our thoughts on the difficult times. These must be accounted for, to be sure. David had his share. But when David expressed thanksgiving, it was God’s benefits that filled his memory. Remember a funny incident or a happy family moment? There is a good chance you find yourself smiling because that joy, though distant, becomes real all over again. That is the remembering we are called to do when thinking of God’s blessing.

ONE GREAT PROMISE
God is to be praised because of His wonderful forgiveness, “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit” (vs. 3,4a). One of the great promises of the Bible is that God wipes away the record of our past sin. We remember what we did. Others remember what we did. But when a person accepts Christ as Savior, God forgets about the sin that has marked our lives. (See also verses 12–13). There is no balance forward, no record of our wrongdoing. There is no sin so bad that God’s grace cannot wipe it clean away.

God also heals us of all the diseases that infect our spirit. Nature is unforgiving. The sickly puppy dies. The lame deer will be prey for the predator. If you were to run into traffic you would find quickly that flesh does not stand up well to speeding metal. Nor will nature allow you to put something back together like new. Neither broken bones or broken eggs can be patched without evidence of fracture. But when God heals the diseased heart, it is more than healed. It becomes better than ever. We are not simply restored, but elevated. God continues to work so that we are “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

Further, we are redeemed from the pit. In ancient days, it was quite common to take unusable cisterns and convert them to prisons. Once a prisoner was lowered into a well with no windows or doors, there he would in abject misery. Scriptural references to the pit always meant a place like that—a hopeless hole, with nothing to grab on to in order to crawl out, where no light of day penetrated, and only stale and stinking air to breathe. But this Psalm tells us that God redeems us from a hopeless situation, redeeming, rescuing us from the pit. Even though we sometimes find ourselves in places of hopelessness, the darkness does not mean that God is not near. The slippery sides prove no obstacle to Him. He lifts His child to a place of freedom. It will come. Trust Him who loves you beyond description. Remember the Savior who was laid in a hopeless tomb but raised to glorious life again. He has the same purpose in mind for you.

NOT FINISHED YET
Each plateau of rescue becomes a promise of God’s further work. He “crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (vs. 4b–6). The previous verses assure us of God’s forgiveness. After forgiveness comes the crown. Although Christians tend to downplay the rewards of Heaven, the Bible is not shy in its claim that those who serve the Lord with their whole hearts will be recognized and rewarded. But the crown will not be so much a trophy trumpeting our accomplishments as it will be the confirmation that we are the children of grace. Our crown is His crown, bestowed on us because we have submitted ourselves wholly to Him.

The picture of being renewed as the eagle reflects the lore of biblical days. The ancient people believed that when an eagle underwent its annual molting, it was in a sense born again. Likewise, the believer finds constant renewal as fresh life pours into the soul of God’s child. That is why a teen believer and a great–grandparent can display the same victorious spirit. The renewal of the Spirit keeps us fresh.

Psalm 102:6,7 lists several birds that contrast with the eagle. The pelican, a water bird, is lost in the wilderness, a lonely desert. An owl, a bird that shies away from the light of day, sits exposed in a desert. A sparrow estranged from the flock sends up a sorrowful cry. But then Psalm 103 brings us the eagle, noble and victorious, soaring as the wind fill its wings.

Just so, the child of God finds the Spirit lifting him higher and higher and when he opens his mouth it is to sing a song of praise to the Almighty, the gracious, the loving God who has stooped to kiss his soul with life.

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By Major Allen Satterlee

Terrific Threes

Lietenant Monica SeilerThroughout the Bible there are accounts of things happening in threes. The Ark of the Covenant contained three sacred objects. Daniel prayed to God three times a day. Elijah stretched out and prayed over the widow’s dead son three times. Balaam blessed Israel three times. Jesus restored Peter in a threefold manner and was tempted by the devil three times after returning from the wilderness. And Jesus emerged from the tomb three days after being put to death on the cross.

Centuries later, after all these Biblical stories were recorded and passed down through the generations, a Jewish single mother with three children found herself in a Salvation Army shelter in Philadelphia. From that shelter she and her three small children moved into a transitional house across the street from the Pioneer Corps, the first Salvation Army corps to be opened in the United States. Later this family moved into a house around the corner from the Pioneer Corps.

This overwhelmed mother found herself needing assistance and remembered that The Salvation Army was close by. As she spoke with the young lieutenant, he invited her to church where she politely declined, stating, “I’m Jewish.”

The lieutenant didn’t seem concerned about the matter. He counseled and accepted her anyway. He would walk the streets of the neighborhood and would visit with the me and my two siblings and our mother until we decided to come to Sunday school.

Our lives have never been the same. I have a vivid memory of that first Sunday and the Sunday school campaign taking place that day. We three found a place where we belonged, where we were wanted, loved and nurtured. The corps became more of a home to us than our own home. To this day our closest family is our Army family.

Now, more than twenty years later, I have the blessed opportunity to joyfully serve as a corps officer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where we have a shelter offering services to families similar to mine. Not only am I a Salvation Army officer, but my two other siblings are as well. Terrific Threes.

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By Lieutenant Monica Seiler