Chronicles of Salvation

Banner Image for article "From Voodoo to Salvation"

From Voodoo to Salvation

Read how Major Vilo Exantus found his way out of a childhood immersed in voodoo worship in this month’s issue. [...]

Banner Image Article "A Most Unlikely World Record"

A Most Unlikely World Record

Working to escape a nicotine addiction, Dave Jones took off running every time he wanted to smoke a cigarette. Read how his journey to break a bad habit took an ironic twist in this month’s War Cry[...]

Banner Image Alan Stalcup

Awake & Arise!

Alan Stalcup wasn’t supposed to walk or think again. But God had other plans. Read about his miraculous recovery from a dismal prognosis. [...]

Image of Salvation Army Officer Sitting on Motorcycle

Saved at a Biker’s Party!

One hardly imagines that a person would find Christ as his Savior at, of all places, a biker’s party. But then God is in the business of doing the unimaginable. Read how this born-again biker traded those biker’s grubs for red epaulets and a Salvation Officer Uniform. [...]

Banner Image Lt. Jose Valentin

Straight From A Police-Action Movie

Imagine your worst day—Jose Valentin probably has you beat. He was run over by a car! Learn how this motivated him to give his life to Jesus. [...]

A One-On-One Intervention

For 12 years, Benjamin Segura lived a life that took him to “some very dark places.” Then a friend intervened for him and forced Benjamin to take an honest look at himself. [...]

Jocelynn Norton

‘Celebrate Recovery’ Continues What Rehabilitation Creates

Every Friday night, at selected Salvation Army Corps across the nation, a ministry called “Celebrate Recovery,” provides weekly opportunities for men and women addicted to drugs and alcohol to come together for praise, worship and support. [...] 

Community Care Recipient Comes Full Circle

You’ve heard the old adage, “What Goes Around Comes Around.” Well, Judie’s story is a case in point. Judie Price was a resident of the Avante Nursing Home in Lake Worth Florida. [...]

Definitely Not A Motorcycle ‘Gang’

Normally when you hear or see a motorcycle gang, the image of fierce, mean renegade outlaws could be what you conjure up. But not the “Sons Of The Savior” Motorcycle Ministry, some of whose members are also soldiers of the Hendersonville, North Carolina Corps. When they are not taking on a project to benefit the community or their corps, they are roaring down the open-road—and even then their witness is most evident by the Gospel-patches adorning their leather jackets. [...]

‘Mother-Figure’ To Memphis Kroc Kids

Maggie Robinson has a big family. Besides her four sons, “Miss Maggie” is the self-appointed mother-figure to literally hundreds of children and teens attracted to activities at the Memphis Kroc Corps Community Center (Tennessee).
Her introduction to the Army bagan under the ministry of Brigadier Gertrude Perdue (OF) back in the turbulent 1960s. Despite the prevalent racism she encountered, she and her four sons felt “right at home” and “welcomed” at The Salvation Army’s Southside Corps.  [...]

Quincy Kroc Center’s Charter Member

Victoria Huntley was facing knee surgery within a few months. Following that procedure, she knew that extensive water therapy would be required. Of course she had several options, but one project still under construction at the time appealed to her—the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Quincy, Illinois. In addition to the benefits to her health, Victoria discovered friendship, education, support and community service. [...]

The Drumbeat of Diversity

Marleen Mallory’s family was attracted to The Salvation Army when they heard the call of the bass drum at an open air meeting in Norfolk many years ago—she now helps hundreds of Kroc kids with music instruction at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Hampton Roads, VA. [...]

The Dynamic Duo of Cape Girardeau

Couple Forgoes Lucrative Income To Work With Youngsters

Mike and Debbie Bowers ought to be taking it easy. They’ve both worked hard in very prosperous careers, and they admit that they’re “not getting any younger!” But to see them with the youth of the cape Girardeau Corps in southeast Missouri—well, you’d think they discovered some youthful tonic the enables them to keep up with these teens and young adults. [...]

‘Mother-Figure’ To Memphis Kroc Kids

Maggie Robinson has a big family. Besides her four sons, “Miss Maggie” is the self-appointed mother-figure to literally hundreds of children and teens attracted to activities at the Memphis Kroc Corps Community Center (Tennessee).

“I love people,” Maggie exclaims, “and I love telling others who don’t know that The Salvation Army, and our Kroc Corps Center, is also a church.”

Her Corps Officer, Captain Anita Howell, says that Miss Maggie is “our greatest evangelist” in bringing young people into the Kroc for Sunday worship.

Maggie’s introduction to the Army began under the ministry of Brigadier Gertrude Perdue (Order of the Founder recipient) back in the turbulent 1960s, when Memphis was one of many hotbeds of racism across the country. Despite the bigotry of that day, she and her four sons felt “right at home” and “welcomed” at The Salvation Army’s Southside Corps. (She later transferred to the Ben Lear Corps when Southside closed—and in 2012 with the opening of the Memphis Kroc, when Ben Lear closed.)

All four of her sons are still connected to the Army in some way. Two attend a corps in Nashville, one attends in a corps in St Louis, and her oldest is Lt. Colonel Lonneal Robertson–the divisional commander of the Northern Division (Minnesota & North Dakota) of the USA Central Territory. She also has a grandson, Lieutenant Will Richardson, who is a Salvation Army Officer in the Midwest Division (Missouri & Illinois).

“I was invited to the (Memphis Southside) Corps by Brigadier (Gertrude) Perdue,” Maggie says. “The five of us were among only six black Salvationists here in Memphis during those years—but we didn’t care about that; we were made to feel welcome and my sons loved activities at the Army.”

In the beginning of her connection with the Army, Maggie also kept her membership in another church, and even asked Perdue for permission to take one Sunday a month “off” to attend there.

“She told me we’d talk about it, but then she later said, ‘When we get to Heaven, do you think the Lord is going to say, All you blacks go this way; and all you whites go over here? I don’t think so!’” she says laughing. “That’s all I needed to hear; I’ve been coming to the Army ever since!”

Over the decades, Maggie’s found what many Salvationists in the USA encounter: the general public, by and large, do not know The Salvation Army is a church. She’s always been aggressive in encouraging people to “give the Army a try,” but since the opening of the Kroc Corps, a vast new harvest of potential corps members has opened for her.

Now that her sons have left home, Maggie’s full attention has been turned to what young people she can influence for Christ. A good number of children and teens she’s invited to the corps are now junior soldiers and soldiers—all because of Miss Maggie.

Still, her influence extends to everyone; not just Kroc kids. Dian Brown is a great example of Maggie’s recruitment for the Kroc Corps.

“Like many people, I joined the Kroc Center for exercise and fitness, and later became involved in the Dinner Theater—singing and acting,” Dian says, “but Miss Maggie let me know that they were also worshipping here in the building, so I came.”

Dian, who’s been a Christian since age nine, has found in the Kroc Corps a loving and encouraging environment that further inspires her every week.

“God has allowed me to worship here and be a part of the (corps) family,” Dian adds. “I love it here because the ministry is Christ-centered. I’m not a uniformed member yet, but I’m constantly reminded that I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.”

For all her success in leading young people to the Lord and to The Salvation Army, her heart breaks for those who “fell through the cracks.”

“Some of them got into trouble or were killed,” she sighs, “but I loved them all.”

Maggie also looks back to working at head cook every summer for six years at the Kentucky-Tennessee Division’s Camp Paradise Valley.

“I loved the kids there too, and every so often someone will tell one of my sons that they remember me.”

Miss Maggie is diligent in her role of “spreading the word” about The Salvation Army’s ministry there at the Kroc.

“I tell people that they can exercise here, but that this is also God’s House! I even take them into the chapel so they can get a sense of what it’s like. And often they will come on Sunday,” she says.

“The Lord has placed me here to tell people that this is a wonderful place to worship and serve others. And I tell them they can really see what God can do!”

Maggie chuckles at the thought of being called a mother of the corps—and there are no signs that she plans to slow down as she enters her 80s.

“I love them, and I keep praying, ‘You’ve placed me here for a reason so I have to keep moving!’”

Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor

When I Hear The Bells

The winter of 1958 in Lowell, Massachusetts was unusually severe. Snow had settled into the area for weeks, making travel difficult. Schools were closed and businesses shut down. Heating oil and coal had become precious commodities, but no furnace could hold back the bitter chill that permeated Lowell’s pre-war housing projects. Lacy ice crystals on the windows of one crumbling three-story tenement multiplied in the bitter cold. On the top floor of the tenement lived a young family just trying  to get by until spring.

It was Tuesday evening, two days before Christmas. The mother had saved all her pennies to buy at least one gift for her sons, but worried that it wouldn’t be enough. While she hung paper rings made from the Sunday funnies on a balding Christmas tree, the boys’ father was off drinking away his meager paycheck. Her tears fell on her work, making the paper rings wet and limp, when a soft knock at the door made her look up.

Opening it, she saw two men in the hallway—one tall and one short, their arms full of packages.

“Merry Christmas, Mrs.,” one of them announced.

“We’re here to help. May we come in?”

The mother stepped back to let them pass. They began unloading their bags and boxes onto the kitchen table. The taller man looked over his shoulder.

“We’ve heard you’ve had a bad time of it, so we brought you a few necessities. Perhaps your Christmas will be a little brighter, thanks be to the Lord,” he said.

“Amen,” said the other.

She wiped her eyes hurriedly and turned to shut the door against the cold.

“Now we have for you some sugar, flour, coffee and tea,” the taller man said. “Some lard, a can of powdered eggs and a can of Spam.”

She tried to speak, but a new wave of tears began to fill her eyes.

“These two loaves of bread and the peanut butter should help get you through the week,” he continued,  “and there’s a few extra odds and ends as well.”

“I don’t know what to say,” she said, finally finding her voice.

The smaller man smiled. “Just say a prayer for someone else in need,” he offered.

“I’ll pray a thank you for the rest of my life,” she replied, still wiping away tears.

Taking two small packages from one of the boxes, the taller man placed them at the edge of the table.

“We know you have the boys, too,” he said.

The packages were wrapped in colorful paper with hand-tied ribbons and bows; each had a small tag with the word “Boy” written in a bold, loopy script.

“We have to go now, Mrs., but a Merry Christmas to you,” said the taller man, stepping to the front door.

Her two boys had been watching through the crack of their bedroom door. When they spied the two gifts being taken from the box, they nudged each other excitedly. As the two men turned to leave, the boys saw that on the front of their caps was a small, metal shield that gleamed with the words “The Salvation Army.”

“Merry Christmas!” the other man exclaimed, tipping his hat before opening the door.

“Merry Christmas, gentlemen,” she said. “And thanks be!”

I was one of those little boys. Every year, as the holidays approach, I am the first to seek out that stalwart group of bell ringers who are not only harbingers of this most blessed annual event, but also bearers of hope for many in need. The Army is here when accounts must be balanced.

____________________

Raymond Lannan lives in Newport, TN

 

Wonder of Wonders

For children in many countries around the world, Christmas is a time of great anticipation and excitement.

Christmas is rightly emphasized with the joy of children, for the wonderful story of Christmas is about the coming of the Christchild of whom we read in Luke’s Gospel: 

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.  

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the Baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a Baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the Heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest Heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:1-20 NIV).

The Christmas story is for all people of all ages and cultures, and is about how God came into our ordinary, everyday world as a little baby so that He could live with us and share in our lives. The coming of Christ at Christmas changed the course of human history.

We love to look at what we think is an idyllic and beautiful picture of that first Christmas. Yet a stable is hardly a good place for a baby to be born. The reality is that there was no room for Jesus.

That reality is still true today with the over-commercialization of Christmas to the point where most of our time, energy and attention are focused on other things. We are so busy that we have no space or time left to remember that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Christchild.

God came into the world for the poor, ordinary people, not just for kings and princes. The announcement of the angels concerning the birth of God’s Messiah was to a group of shepherds. What a wonderful thought that God came into the reality of our human existence and came, without discrimination, for the humble, ordinary people.

James Irwin, one of the few astronauts to have walked on the moon, was asked about his experiences in space. He spoke about the importance of space exploration and how mankind has been helped with medical research, new technologies and a greater understanding of the universe in which we live. He went on to describe the wonder of gazing at our small blue planet from such a distance in space and realizing just how beautiful and unique it is. He also spoke about the wonder of standing on the Moon in 1971 and seeing an earthrise. He said that it is important for the good of mankind that it is technically possible for a man to walk on the Moon, but how much more important it is that God, in Jesus, came into our world and walked upon earth.

The arrival of Jesus in our world makes many things possible: it is possible for us to know hope and love; to enjoy a personal relationship with God the Creator; to experience forgiveness for the wrong things that we do; and it is possible for us to experience a sense of peace and belonging in this troubled world.

Sadly, we see still so much injustice, hate, violence and corruption in the world that at times we are brought to utter despair. If only the world would see and take hold of the greatest gift that God gives us in Jesus.

The words of Major Joy Webb’s song Come Into Our World! reflect a longing and a plea, for without God our world is a sorry place:

 All around us, seemingly,
darkness holds its sway;
Truth and love are
faltering, peace in disarray;
And if we needed You,
we need You now! 

Come into our world,
Come into our world, now,
Lord Jesus!

People sit in loneliness,
children cry for bread;
Men fight men in
hatred, by suspicion led;
And if we needed You,
we need You now!

Faced with such confusion,
hope has slipped away;
Men have stopped
believing, forgotten how to pray;
And if we needed You,
we need You now!

Thankfully it does not need to be like this. Our world can be different. But if that is to happen, it requires each of us to experience a change of heart, to be changed and transformed so that the life God intended for us becomes a reality through His Son, Jesus. No wonder that the angels rejoiced and sang: “Glory to God in the highest Heaven…” (Luke 2:14).

____________________

General André Cox, The Salvation Army’s 21st General, leads the work of the Army in 128 countries.

 

The Gift that Lasts for Eternity

Some years ago Good Morning America featured some extraordinary Christmas gifts. For a deposit of only $80,000 and another $507,000 upon delivery, you could give a Jaguar 220 sports car. Less expensive gifts included an $18,000 Frisbee, a $10,000 yoyo and, for very proud grandparents, a $28,000 pacifier.

But the greatest, most extraordinary Christmas gift ever given can’t be measured in dollars and cents: God’s Gift to all people.

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (John 3:16). Paul exclaims, “Thank God for this Gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). The angel of the Lord announced, “I bring you Good News—the Savior has been born today!” (Luke 2:10–11)

Why Do We Need Good News?

The Bible spends only a page or two describing the perfection of Adam and Eve and only a few verses telling how they lost it, but it takes over a thousand remaining pages to explain how to get it back.

The story begins in Genesis: “God created man in His own image, male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). He prepared the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve would live.

“The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground. In the middle of the garden He placed the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Lord God warned the man ‘You may eat freely the fruit of every tree in the garden, except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die’” (Genesis 2:9, 16-17).

 Before they ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve had everything to lose and nothing to gain, but they listened to a creature instead of the Creator and made self-fulfillment their goal. This is our problem as well. We desire to take God’s place, to live for ourselves instead of for Him.

Adam’s fall was our fall. Adam’s children came into the world as sinners through the guilt they inherited from their father. But is this justice—being judged on someone else’s merit?

The Sickness of Sin

The sin we have inherited is a fatal disease. God said, “You will return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).

Imagine visiting your doctor. He sits you down in an exam room with a grave look on his face. “I have serious news: you have a rare form of a terminal disease,” he says, “but the medicine in this little bottle is the cure. It’s already been paid for—all you have to do is drink it.”

God has made this offer to us, and Christ is the cure. Just as death was brought upon us by one man’s sin, so one man’s sacrifice can bring us life. Our sin’s representation in Adam established the pattern for our salvation in Christ.

“If by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).

In the end, being judged on someone else’s merit is our only hope for salvation.

This salvation declares sinners righteous in the sight of God; it is a gift that restores our friendship with God; it is a gift which makes us brothers and sisters in Christ instead of strangers; it is a gift that destroys the work of Satan and all evil; it is a gift of spiritual life now and physical life after death for all eternity.

The Good News is good because it does not depend on us. God has done everything He requires by sending His Son. Salvation is not a program for us to follow; it is a gift to be received by faith. “To all who believed Him (Jesus) and accepted Him He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Receive the best Christmas gift—the gift that lasts for eternity. Invite Jesus into your heart.

____________________

Commissioner David Jeffrey is National Commander for The Salvation Army in the USA.