Frontlines: SA Assists Tornado/Flooding Victims in Eight States

Salvation Army volunteers from Kansas to Florida to Maryland stepped forward to feed, house and provide emotional/ spiritual assistance to victims of an historic tornado outbreak that quickly morphed to a substantial fooding event. Eight states were severely affected by the late April weather disaster.

The storm system began its rampage with a single tornado crossing the Oklahoma-Kansas state line. A flurry of tornadic activity soon spread throughout Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina in the hours and days that followed.

One of the hardest hit areas was in Mayflower, AR, where six SA canteens quickly mobilized to assist devastated neighborhoods that suddenly had to cope with the loss of some 18 lives, along with hundreds of homes. More than 2,000 hot meals were served to workers and victims in that county each day during that event.

Two SA canteens served food and comfort in Ridgeland and Pearl, located close to Jackson, MS. Over 1,000 people received hot meals from SA Disaster Workers in Laurel, MS, following a tornado there. The Tupelo (MS) Canteen served 600 hot meals within hours of that city’s deadly twister. Three canteens were on hand in Louisville, MS, serving in the wake of a cyclone that leveled whole neighborhoods.

Not far away, in Athens, AL, Salvation Army mobile disaster units from Decatur and Huntsville roamed destroyed neighborhoods to feed displaced families. The death toll in the area came to 19 at the time of this report. The work in this devastated community continued for two full weeks, resulting in an average daily distribution of 1,000 hot meals.

The massive storm that began with an outbreak of tornadoes continued its rampage with extreme flooding in Florida, North Carolina and Maryland. In Pensacola, FL, Captain Bob Cornet awoke at 3:00 a.m. to find 150 homeless individuals brought to The Salvation Army community center, when the shelter operated by another agency needed to be evacuated because of rising waters.

Captain Cornet and his crew transformed their gymnasium into a makeshift shelter, and mass feeding was conducted by workers on two SA canteens serving at the corps and at the nearby town of Century, yet another area victimized by swollen rivers.

Five additional canteens from across the Florida Division arrived the next day to assist workers and victims in an area that saw 24 inches of rain in as many hours. With each passing day, it seemed more communities were discovered to be in great need, prompting seven canteens and their crews to meet the growing demand for food and supplies. In some neighborhoods, SA teams went door-to-door with the help of Polaris vehicles to make these deliveries.

At the peak of the event in the western Florida panhandle, about 1,200 hot meals were served each day.

To the north, the SA canteen from Nashville was dispatched to Lincoln County, TN to feed some 300 people reeling from a series of tornadoes.

SA personnel were already in Elizabeth City, NC performing relief work from a smaller tornado, not associated with this system, from the prior week. When the larger storm system came through, additional teams were dispatched to Fayetteville and Washington, NC to provide hot food, cleanup kits and other supplies.

“Because the impacts of this disaster are so widespread, this event has certainly created some challenges,” explains territorial disaster coordinator Jeff Jellets. “But it also plays to one of The Salvation Army’s greatest strengths. We are locally based, and our corps and service units are located in and near the communities that have been impacted. That has allowed us to respond quickly and across a significant geographic area. In many ways, we are neighbors helping neighbors and its local Salvation Army officers, staff, and volunteers delivering services.”

By Major Frank Duracher

Everybody Sweeps

Everybody sweeps. I admired this slogan used by the construction firm Adamo Builders. My dad served as CEO. I didn’t expect special treatment as a summer intern for the company. From the veteran CEO to the newest intern, we all got our hands dirty and performed the most menial of tasks—sweeping.

When your summer consists of sweeping for six hours a day, you have a lot of reflection time. As a child of the CEO, I hadn’t expected special treatment. But I definitely hadn’t expected the broom.

I arrived at work with my new blue work gloves, a spunky yellow hard-hat and a determined spirit. I had figured my day would look like a glorified Habitat for Humanity ad—hammering nails, painting walls and making construction puns with other college interns. Instead, my dad left me in a basement with a trash can, a dust pan, and push broom. Alone.

I stood by the stairs for five minutes, hoping it was a joke. Finally, the head of construction threw a confused look my way, and I sighed. I decided to conquer the floor by section. I swept each triangle like it had personally offended me. Every pile of dirt was a small victory.

I had moved onto another room when two guys came down, dressed in smudged overalls and smeared paint. One of them carried a ladder while the other twirled a bundle of wires and some clippers. Wire Guy nodded. “What are you doing?”

“I am an intern. They have me sweeping.” I held out my broom and smiled.

They shared an “oh, boy” look and Wire Guy smirked. “You enjoy that.”

My smile wobbled and I dragged my dustbin into another room. Chin up! Hard work is good for you. I continued working, pushing the broom until my hands felt raw. The two men were in the room I had just cleaned. Curious, I slipped in. Wire Guy packed up to move to the next room. To my horror, there were remnant wire clippings all over the floor I had just cleaned. My jaw clenched and I waited for them to come back. They didn’t.

The morning’s good attitude warped into a bitter and brittle weed, infesting my mind with visions of shoving brooms at Wire Guy and Ladder Dude and giving them a scathing tongue-lashing. I took a deep breath. Glaring at the rubber bits, I swept them up. I spent the rest of the day in that house – sweeping, vacuuming, and sweeping again.

When four o’clock came, I rushed home. My dad found me on the couch. Everything hurt. My arms, my back, my legs, and even my head had a strange ache. I opened one eye and said, “Either you planned this or God must love irony.”

He laughed. “Now do you understand why we sacrifice to send you to college?”

I grunted.

The next three weeks consisted of sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning, picking up trash, sanding and meticulously screwing 215 crystals into one chandelier. My hands were no longer soft but callused and blistered. My body was sore, and my arms knew the curves of my broom intimately. My clothes lost their starch and gained “construction personality.”

During one frustrating day, Colossians 3:23 popped into my head: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Really, Lord? How is sweeping working for you?

I meditated on the verse for hours. Determined to try, I began to approach my job as if sweeping for the King. My work time became my prayer time. Each push of the broom was a prayer of gratitude for every laborer, clean-up crew and unsung sanitation hero.

Sweeping had seemed pointless and fruitless. Why was I cleaning something bound to be dirty the next day? Nothing had caused me to question my purpose, role, and appreciate school at the same time like sweeping. It was a menial and thankless task. However, I wasn’t sweeping for the Lord those first few days. When my heart turned toward Him, I saw every action as an opportunity to glorify God. I chose to sweep for my King, and I have never looked at a broom the same way since.

By Ashlee L. Aman

All In

Over many years I have figured out what God’s heart really desires for humanity. He wants intimacy. At first that sounded scary. It seemed like taking faith too far, over the top, bordering on unbridled enthusiasm and lacking in reason. For a long time, I imagined God would settle for good fellowship. My commitment to the relationship was casual. Intimacy with God was not a high priority. It didn’t occur to me that God is not a halfway God. But because of who He is, God didn’t force the issue and pull back on His gift to me of freewill.

Now, when I read Scripture closely, I see it clearly. Scripture underscores intimacy, especially where we encounter the little word “in.” Here are just a few of the verses that reveal His expectations for us to cultivate a relationship that draws us into God and God into us. The little word “in” suggests being “all in” for absolute intimacy.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5)

“Father, just as you are in Me and I am in you, may they also be in Us… I in them and you in Me. May they be brought to complete unity… in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:21, 23, 26)

“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor… the Spirit of Truth… for He lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16,17)

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith… that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16)

“Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord continue to live in Him, rooted and built-up in Him… .” (Colossians 2:6-7)

“Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them.” (1 John 3:24)

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Intimacy With God Is Possible
Some may say it is impossible to be intimate with God because He is too transcendent, too remote. But would God express His desire that we be in Him and He in us if it were impossible? It does not happen with the flip of a switch or a bolt of lightning. It is a gradual process. We come to know God so well that the relationship becomes increasingly intimate. This is possible when we immerse ourselves daily in His presence. It’s similar to what happens when a person immerses himself in a new language and culture by making new friends. As immigrants to a new country and a new language know, at first the experience is strange and even uncomfortable. Their conversation is constrained. They struggle to express themselves and their feelings and to find the right words. But with time and immersion into the language and culture, the layers get peeled back. Insights come more readily. Life with others becomes more nuanced. Immigrants gain more and more insight into how their world works as they make a sustained effort to remain in the context of the new language, culture and relationships.

When I first met my wife as a young student in college, we knew nothing about each other. I started to talk to her. I wrote her notes. I was interested in knowing more about her and then to actually know her better. I looked for opportunities to intersect and actively engage her. I finally asked her out on a date. I got to know her class schedule so I could get to know her well. We became increasingly acquainted. In the basic social psychology of romance it was a matter of 1) creating proximity, and 2) promoting opportunities for contact. I did that with good result. The long and short of the story is that we grew to know and love each other. Our increasing social and spiritual intimacy eventually led to marriage, and over 44 years of marriage, we have continued to grow in love and intimacy.

The acquaintance process with God works in the same way. In the immersion into the presence of God through proximity to Him and frequent contact, we come to truly know Him more and more. It means obediently following Christ daily. It requires continual exposure to the means by which He reveals Himself and speaks to us along the journey each day.

Intimacy With God Bears Much Fruit
Jesus said, “If a man remains in Me, and I remain in him, he will bear much fruit.” The pursuit of intimacy with God produces three particular, worthwhile results, or fruit: wisdom, impact and unimaginable possibilities.

As the saying goes, you become like the people with whom you spend much time. Can you imagine anyone wiser than God? Wisdom accrues from spending time with Him. Scripture promises that God will impart wisdom, insight and understanding. When we are walking with God, when He resides in us and we continue in Him, He finds ways for His Holy Spirit to communicate what He wants each of us to know. One way is by giving us wisdom through illumination as we read and meditate on His Word, as we meditate on the Word. Another is as we listen to the testimony of others and as we reflect on the teachings and preaching of pastors and spiritual leaders. The Apostle Paul even talks about knowing the love of God so profoundly that it surpasses knowledge. He means that to receive wisdom is not merely a cognitive and intellectual awareness, but something that penetrates the heart.

Even when we are not aware, God is at work, making an impact through us.

When two people are in love, it shows. Their countenance glows. They really can’t hide it. In our increasingly intimate relationship with God, our countenance becomes a testimony. Our speech is different. Our behavior toward others becomes more motivated by the love of Christ in us. Loving the Lord with all our heart spills over into loving our neighbor in Christ–like ways more and more. The fruit of intimacy with God is impact. He gives us a testimony and a heart for others.

Years ago when I was a relatively young professor at the University of Hawaii, I was growing in my own walk with God. He surprised me. I was out of the office quite often traveling on business. I had a wonderful secretary named Sherry who had been raised in a Buddhist home. During those years, I kept an open Bible on my office desk. I would read Scripture each morning and highlight various verses. One morning Sherry sat down in my office and began to cry. This was so out of character for her. I asked her what was wrong. Had I offended her in some way? She gathered herself and shared that for the past three years, as I traveled, she would sit down at my desk and read the highlighting in my Bible. She said, “I want to become a Christian, but I don’t know how.” I shared with her that it was easy and that I would say a prayer. If it was the prayer of her heart, she could just repeat it, accept Christ as her Lord and Savior and become a follower of Jesus Christ. She did just that. At the end of the prayer I looked up and she had the biggest smile on her face. She was born again.

In my increasing intimacy with God, He blessed me with a quiet testimony in the highly secular setting of the university. Without my knowing it, God was at work bringing grace into Sherry’s life through the highlighted Bible on my office desk. Intimacy with God inevitably impacts others.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul makes an interesting connection between being “filled to the measure of the fullness of God” (a good way of portraying intimacy and holiness) and unimaginable possibilities. He says, “Now, unto Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” (3:19-20). In other words, with increasing intimacy in our commitment to our relationship with God and His encounters with us, He opens up unimaginable possibilities. God is proactive. He blesses those with whom He is intimate. The blessings impact us personally. They include the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control), the gifts of the Spirit (such as faith, knowledge, prophecy, healing, discernment), opportunities to participate in the work of the Kingdom of God and other possibilities, depending on His plan for our lives.

The enemy of the very best is not the bad. The enemy of God’s best is settling merely for something good. Why settle for occasional fellowship with God when you can be intimate with Him? Intimacy with God is the best and the good news is this: there is always more. John Wesley taught that in holiness we are being perfected as we live in obedient faith and walk daily in the Spirit. In intimacy with God, there is always more. It’s true that the best is yet to come!

By Jonathan S. Raymond

Great Promises of the Bible: Acts 1:8

It seemed to Jesus’ followers that if there were ever a time to establish Israel as the supreme world power, this was it. So they asked, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore Your kingdom?” (1:6). It seemed like a reasonable question, and entering Jerusalem’s gates as conquerers like the right thing to do. Jesus had toured Palestine proving His power by His healing touch, by feeding thousands with scraps, by calming angry seas and by silencing demons. Even the dead stood up when He spoke. The only thing He had not done was to assert His right to rule the world.

So once again Jesus found that He had to correct their view of power, of the nature of the Kingdom and their place in it.

After telling them that what they wanted was not going to happen, Jesus revealed something far more important. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” The word power has a twofold meaning. First, power is the driving or animating force that transforms machinery from a collection of metal to a useful manufacturing tool or that changes a lump of flesh into something living. Secondly, it refers to authority, as when someone has the “power of attorney” to act on behalf of another or to make decisions.

When the Holy Spirit comes in His fullness, that person is both animated with the living force of God and is empowered to act in His name. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no life. Any claim of authority is mere pretension. It is vital to acknowledge our utter and complete dependency on the Holy Spirit. His power cannot be imitated, pumped up, gained from mental exercise or force of will, nor can it be added by education or imitated by method.

It is not only a mistake but blasphemy to think that the power of the Holy Spirit can be conjured up by lighting, computer gimmicks or the theatrics of a rock concert. The sad, insipid nature in much of the Church today is found in its thinking that the Holy Spirit’s presence and power are to be gained by special effects.

The power that the Holy Spirit brings is for a purpose, as stated by Jesus: “You shall be my witnesses.” Power is not to be stored like ammunition in some heavenly arsenal, but used to immediately engage the world. The evidence of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is that a person witnesses to divine truth. If the planets were to stand still in their orbits they would go hurtling into the sun. In the same way, a Christian must be up and about the Master’s business or find that he does not conserve what he has but in fact, endangers his own spiritual life. A fire more often flickers out from neglect than from being stirred too much.

Who is a witness? The Wesleyan Bible Commentary offers, “one who gives testimony to that which he has seen or experienced, and of which he consequently has personal firsthand knowledge; and the witness is an attestation of a known fact or event.” The witness speaks because he knows. This is not knowledge rehashed from research or passed along as a bit of gossip, but authentic statements by one who has seen God at work by being close at hand.

The disciples imagined the coming of God’s Kingdom for Israel. But Jesus gave them the mandate of world conquest: “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The best they could muster at that time was 120 people (Acts 1:15), an insignificant number in Jerusalem, let alone against the world’s population, generation after generation, in countries and places totally unknown to them. The task was — is — monumental, God’s forces seemingly dwarfed by the powers and people marshaled against them. But God’s math is not restricted to numbers. Believers have the Holy Spirit.

Jesus outlined the invasion plan. First, Jerusalem — right outside their door. But this was where fear gripped them as they walked the street. Here their Savior was murdered, here evil hailed its victory. In the place where you have most reason to be afraid, dear Christian, take your stand there. Where people know you by sight, what you have been or failed to be, wade through the memories and tell of a new day. If the reality of Jesus is not convincing among the most familiar, it is a phantom dream.

Samaria was next. The Jews considered that country a mongrel nation, the kind of people good people avoided. Go there, Jesus said. The Holy Spirit does not reinforce wicked pride but rather brings humility. When they reflect back the bitterness of stored hatred, greet them with the soft voice of one whose attitudes of before have been replaced with a present love.

The ends of the earth are those distances beyond calculation. Here the language is unknown, the customs and dress totally foreign. But here is where love is to be lived so convincingly that people will want to know why. H. M. Stanley, the nineteenth century explorer, went into the wilds of Africa to find Dr. David Livingstone, a missionary who fell away from contact with his home country of England. Having spent time with him as he humbly worked among the tribal people of Africa, Stanley remarked, “If I had been with him any longer I would have been compelled to be a Christian, and he never spoke a word to me about it at all.”

All of this represented the opposite of what the disciples viewed as God’s conquest. They remembered verses like Isaiah 2:3: “People from many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; His word will go out from Jerusalem.” The nations were supposed to stream into Jerusalem. But the marching orders from Jesus said that they, the Spirit filled disciples, were to fan out from Jerusalem to the world. Those marching orders still stand.

How is this to happen in you? Before God confess your lack of power, your impurity. Ask Him to come, remove the roadblocks and banish the excuses. Let Him cleanse your heart from all that stands against Him and in that voided place, ask that the Holy Spirit fill you. Then you will have the promised power. Then you will be ready to be His witnesses. And the world better watch out.

By Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee