With A Little Help From My Friends

When I was growing up, my father was a part–time laborer and my mother was a housewife who supplemented the family’s income by doing household chores for our friends. Life in the Philippines was very difficult, but because of God’s faithfulness to our family, He never let us go hungry. We experienced how God blessed us in our everyday lives.

God used The Salvation Army as the instrument of His blessings for my family. I was privileged to be a part of the child sponsorship program of The Salvation Army. Lorna Summer, a Canadian citizen, sponsored me. Ms. Summer epitomized expressing love for God through action. Her thoughtfulness and regular financial help, helped me to meet my needs in school and family needs as well. I will never forget how happy my family and I were each time we received help. It was always perfect in times of need.

I am forever grateful to The Salvation Army child sponsorship program, where I received hope and spiritual nourishment. Had it not been for the program, it would have been very difficult for my family to help me finish my studies.

It all started when her cousin invited her to attend the Home League at The Salvation Army. Through this, my mother felt the love of God and decided to devote her life to Him. She started bringing us to church. She always reminded us that every Sunday is for God, so we attended Sunday school and became active in the ministry of the corps. Because of this, all of us—including in–laws and grandchildren—are faithful soldiers of The Salvation Army in the Philippines.

At first I just enjoyed the Army’s activities. However, God made me realize how important He was in my life. Then I was enrolled as a senior soldier, became more active in the ministry at the corps and was commissioned as local officer. I realized that the Christian life required all or nothing, and that God wanted my whole life to be dedicated to Him and Him alone. The verse of Scripture guiding me at that time was 2 Corinthians 5:15, “And He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them, and rose again.”

While attending the territorial congress in the Philippines, I promised God that my life was completely His. I later sensed His calling to be an officer of the Salvation Army, but because of the many distractions that came my way I did not fulfill it. Like Jonah, I tried to escape from God and follow my own desire for my life.

God is gracious and forgiving. I knew that He had another plan for me. A passage in Jeremiah 29:11 reads, ‘”For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘ I was just one of many who dreamed of going to the U.S., but God fulfilled my dream. I was chosen to be one of the delegates from the Philippines Territory to the International Millennial Congress in Atlanta in 2000. What a great testimony this represented! Once again God showed me that His words are true.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desire of our hearts.” To delight in the Lord, I have to know Him better and grow in the knowledge of God’s great love for me. My American dream has led me to become more competitive in the line of teaching and also it led me to listen to Him and obey.

I was hired to teach geometry in one of the public schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I believe that God brought me here to serve Him more and more. It was becoming clear to me and to my wife that in all these things, God was preparing us to be part of His mission team in the ranks of The Salvation Army. Finally, we decided to enter the training college to become officers in God’s Army.

God brought Raquel into my life, His gracious gift to me for lifelong companionship and for service to Him. There were never times when my wife would not allow me to participate in Salvation Army activities, whether it was in corps activities or outside activities that required long–distance travel and communication. God knew who was best for me and that’s why He gave me Raquel. Then God blessed our marriage with our lovely, wonderful and talented children, Nicole, Nigel, Naaman and Nehemiah. My hope is that in the future they will be our co-workers for God.

Godly men have influenced my spiritual growth. They have been role models and mentors to me in the ministry. They have helped me see the gifts given to me by the Holy Spirit and encouraged me to use them. Our corps officers not only guided me but also served as an inspiration to me.

Personal experiences, family background, affirmations from fellow believers and opportunities to serve in the church have defined my call to ministry. God affirmed this call to me over a period of time. At first, I refused to listen, but today, I am very certain about my call.

By Lieutenant Nathaniel C. Revaula

A View From the Ground

The November issue of the War Cry provided an overview of the Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative in Kansas City, Missouri.

As the initiative goes national, Jeff McDonald, Editorial Director, discusses with three professionals involved what the Pathway is, what it’s not and what it takes to make it work.

Jeff McDonald: The causes of poverty are a mix of social, individual, economic, familial and economic factors. How do you trace its roots, based on your professional experience?

Joyce Schau: I would like to do an experiment where you plunk someone considered to be at the top of the world, who is successful and makes lots of money, down into one of our tough, poverty–stricken neighborhoods and see how they would have fared if born there. It all starts with where you are born and the family you are born into. Everyone can’t be a self–made man or woman. The hope is that people will intersect with you at some point and help you get to a better place. But a lot of our families haven’t run across such people. They haven’t found that teacher who said “you’re smart. You can do something,” or the coach who said “You’ve got skill, you can accomplish things.” Consider just getting access to good food in some of our neighborhoods. Why has obesity become such a problem? Because there isn’t a grocery store that might have fresh food anywhere within 10 miles. And if it was available you can’t afford it so you buy junk food at the convenience store.

Cheryl Price: It’s generational. Kids don’t have the models to show them anything different. “This is how grandma and mom do it, so I’m learning from them.” And some of our public schools have huge issues. There isn’t much teaching or mentoring going on. Opportunities are lacking. Our folks don’t have the option to either put their kids in private school or move to a school district that’s better. They deal with it. They try to do the best they can.

JM: How does the Pathway initiative match what you want the Army to be in your community?

JS: In 1993, three Kansas City corps provided emergency assistance to people in need from one location. The eight outlying corps had their own policies for emergency assistance. The divisional commander wanted to make services consistent for all corps, so the Army developed a Metro Plan. It integrated all of the services and brought services to the two corps that didn’t offer any. We created a manual and guidelines for this Tier I service. We had plans for moving to Tier II by improving follow-up for those we assisted, but we never could reach that level until Pathway came along with the funding to put the right people in the right place.

JM: What is distinctive about the Pathway of Hope?

Tamra Brandes: It’s an approach that resonates with every person associated with The Salvation Army, the officers, the church staff, the thrift store workers. It reflects what The Salvation Army means to people—to do good and to build relationships, to build something authentic and genuine and to make a difference.

JM: How many clients/families are handled by case managers?

CP: The goal is to have a ratio of 10 clients for 1 case manager. Realistically, the ratio is 15 to 1. The number has been as high as 20. They are maxed out when they hit 17. Emergency assistance focuses on supplying support for 30 days. Pathway brings so much more involvement into a family’s life. It takes more assessments, more visits, more counseling sessions, so case managers spend more time with assigned clients rather than serving as many clients as possible.

JM: What was the biggest step to move from emergency service to Pathway’s more intensive plan?

JS: The initial concept was to use existing staff and resources in more effective ways. The problem is, in a lot of our smaller corps, and some of our bigger corps, emergency assistance providers were also thrift store clerks, janitors, office managers, etc. Pathway is case–management driven. You have to have the right person in place. Otherwise you’re going to have boundary issues and ethical issues that could lead to problems for the Army. We do home service, home visitation, which requires a good deal of professionalism and safety training. If we have the philosophy, that anyone can be a case manager or caseworker, I am afraid we will see negative consequences.

TB: It’s all about building a relationship that factors in the family. Sometimes clients don’t want to talk about them because they are embarrassed, or are too close to the problem to see it for what it is. When you first get to know a family, there is usually a presenting crisis. You don’t find out all there is to know about a family in the first couple of visits. Often the story that clients present isn’t the actual cause of the perpetuating crisis. There can be undiagnosed mental illness or a disruptive parent or boyfriend or a host of underlying reasons for difficulties. I like the Pathway of Hope approach because it recognizes that change is not linear. We recognize that and are prepared for the complications and obstacles that arise along the way.

JM: Clients must apply and be accepted into Pathway. With such requirements and involvement, what leads families to sign up?

CP: Pathway is a coach for people who are ready to make life changes. They need that support. They need someone to help them see things a little differently, figure out how to get where they want to go and direct them to resources that they weren’t aware of, and it helps to have someone hold them accountable.

JS: If you have a close family, a lot of support in your family, they can walk you through some of these same paths. If you don’t have access to a therapist, to professional sources that can help interrupt cycles of self–destructiveness or poor habits, Pathway offers that kind of perspective.

JM: Do you think Pathway is addressing the structural problems of poverty?

TB: The program is designed to respond to the families we know — the mom who comes to the corps all the time and has three children, goes to school for the surgical tech program at night and drives 25 miles to work at the yogurt shop to make $10 an hour. We are ready to serve one family at a time and build up the community that way.

He Put His Friendship on the Table, Literally

Lewis Williams was well into what became 20 months of dialysis when he talked to Chris Hernandez about his failing kidneys and need for a transplant. Lewis may have dodged bullets for nearly 30 years as a police officer in Oakland, California, but he couldn’t dodge the reality of having two failing kidneys. At 64 and waiting in line behind thousands of others in need of the organ, the inevitable was ringing his doorbell. He faced a likely wait of seven to eight years on the transfer list.

“I didn’t want to get sicker and sicker and just check out. I didn’t want that.” No family members lived close by, so they couldn’t help. He talked to people at his church, but no one stepped up to offer to donate one of their kidneys.

However, thanks to Chris, the retired policeman looks forward to more tomorrows. Last spring, Chris, 43, donated a kidney to Lewis. Since the surgery, both donor and recipient have been doing emotional and physical cartwheels.

Lewis has been a member of The Salvation Army’s Kroc Community Center in Suisun City (www.gokroc.org) for a little over a year, using the facility to keep in shape and as a focus for fellowship. That fellowship involved Chris, a staff member who has been working at the Kroc Center since it opened three–and–a–half years ago. He works part time as a “facilities lead” to open the center in the morning. He also conducts a circuit class at night.

“Lewis is a personable guy,” says Chris. “When he told me what he goes through each night for dialysis, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. All through the Christmas holidays it was on my mind. When I told my family about it, my mom said ‘Well that’s the Holy Spirit talking to you.’” Chris, who people describe as easy going, took his mom’s words in stride and decided to help Lewis out.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what he did,” Lewis said. “This isn’t about me. It’s about him.”

Chris was cited by the American Red Cross Bay Area, California Chapter as one of its Heroes of 2014 for his “Act of Kindness and Philanthropy.”

I kept thinking about [donating a kidney] through the Christmas holidays,” Chris said. “Right after the New Year, I told Lewis I wanted to help out.”