Respect, Results, Truth

As Commissioner David Hudson takes on his appointment of National Commander as directed by General André Cox as of the first of this month, Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee, Editor-in-Chief, asks him about the guiding principles he sees as paramount for himself and for The Salvation Army.

War Cry: What is the role of National Commander?

David Hudson: It goes beyond serving as the spokesperson for The Salvation Army nationally. It’s to articulate the mission and the purposes of The Salvation Army, to rearticulate the reason for our existence. It’s done by how I live my life, how I treat people, how I respect people, being the person that God has called me to be. It’s working not only with the people at National Headquarters (NHQ) but with the territories in moving the Army forward, deepening our message and praying that God will expand our opportunities for service.

WC: What have you learned that you would not have known had you not been here at NHQ?

DH: When you come to National Headquarters, you come from the perspective of a territory. I served 40 years as an officer in the Western Territory, so when I came to National Headquarters, I was prone to say, “We did it like this in our territory.” After you’re here awhile, you realize that each territory offers something unique, an avenue of excellence that others may not have developed.

WC: What is the greatest challenge facing The Salvation Army in the USA right now?

DH: It’s the rising cost of doing business, further challenged by increased difficulty in raising funds. The world is changing around us. The Army needs to keep finding our place in this world, to provide service but to keep being who we are. There’s a secularization of America that is both a challenge and an opportunity. We need to be consistent in our message but at the same time be true to our mission. We are inclusive of all we serve and that’s a challenge and an opportunity going forward. The donors want to invest in change opportunities and we need to demonstrate what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, how we’re doing it and more importantly, what’s the end result.

WC: What are the opportunities in the present time?

DH: The younger generation is interested in investing themselves. They’re willing to get the resources but they say, “I want to volunteer, I want to be engaged.” The Salvation Army has a great opportunity to engage people in service in ways that they can meet needs in His name without discrimination, maybe more so than we’ve had in the past. There is a sense of hopelessness in the world, whether it’s the threat of terrorism or the economy, or the polarization of America. The Salvation Army can come into a space and provide hope as a rallying point of good people, both people from within The Salvation Army and those from without, to come over and work together. It means we have to get out of our doors, out of our buildings and into the community to get people together to articulate these needs. The need is the call. We need to articulate that need. I see The Salvation Army as a great vehicle for doing that in the future, as a vehicle for reconciliation.

When I travel people often come up and say, “Salvation Army, thank you for all your good work.” That trust gives this organization great opportunities.

 WC: Fill in the blank. What I most wish people knew or understood about The Salvation Army is _____.

DH: I wish people in the world knew how deep and broad and effective this organization is in fulfilling the mission that God has given us. Many times when I’m at functions, I hear people say over and over and over again, “I never knew The Salvation Army did this.” Ninety-five percent of people have heard of The Salvation Army, but 94 percent don’t know all that we do. Over 25 million people are served by this organization every year, and for some it is absolutely life changing. I wish people knew all this organization is able to accomplish because of the support that we get.

WC: How do you intend to address that?

DH: This is a real challenge. They say your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. One of our highest core values is humility. We do the work and we let God get the glory. We need to tell our story. Officers and soldiers and friends of The Salvation Army need a holy confidence. It’s not boasting. It’s telling the story of God’s faithfulness to this organization. We can go to a group or an individual and say, “Did you know that because of the work of The Salvation Army this life has been forever changed,” or “This family has been preserved,” or “This life has been literally saved.” We have to be purposeful in expressing that, but it goes against our DNA. I believe The Salvation Army is doing the most good that we can. If I don’t believe that we’re doing that then 1. I either need to help change it or 2. find an organization that is doing the most good. If we’re not doing the most good then let’s find it, fix it and start doing it.

WC: What do you want people to say about your service in this appointment?

DH: My number one core value is respect. I believe everyone deserves respect. People say you mean mutual respect. That’s not what I mean. I try my absolute best in times of agreement or disagreement to show respect. I would hope that people would say, “He respected me, respected my position.” Respect demonstrates care. It demonstrates concern.

I would hope that they would say that he made a difference. We look for leaders to be people of vision, of decisiveness, of direction, change. Look back and ask, “Who has had the most impact on my life?” It’s very seldom any of those things. More often than not it is someone who took time, who cared, who was there. I would hope that there would be a number of people that will say I was there for them. That’s the “so what” in my life. It’s not about the positions. It’s about caring and being available.

WC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

DH: Sharron and I both are humbled by the opportunity. If my fellow cadets had voted who was most likely to be anything in the Army it would not have been me.
I was 19 years-old, one year out of high school. The shyest person in the class and now to be going into this position is humbling. It’s all about God’s grace and His work. It’s an honor when I see the pictures of previous National Commanders and think, “I have such respect for them. I never consider myself a part of that group. I don’t and I don’t think I ever will consider myself part of that group.” But to be named in the same sentences as these people is an incredible honor.

A Warm Welcome To Our New National Leaders

Image of Commissioners David and Sharron Hudson, Newly Appointed NC

 

This month COMMISSIONERS DAVID and SHARRON HUDSON take up their new appointments as National Commander (effective Sept. 1) and National President of Women’s Ministries (effective Sept. 2), respectively. They have already set a tone of camaraderie and incisive analysis at National Headquarters in their previous appointments as National Chief Secretary and National Secretary of Women’s Ministries. They will take up their new appointment responsibilities with the rank of commissioner, Colonel David Hudson on September 1 and Colonel Sharron Hudson on September 2. They succeed Commissioners David and Barbara Jeffrey upon their retirement from active service.

Colonels David E. and Sharron Hudson have been officers in The Salvation Army for 42 years. Prior to coming to National Headquarters in November 2015, Colonel David was the Chief Secretary for the Western Territory. Colonel Sharron was the Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries in the Western Territory, in Long Beach, CA.

They have a wide range of experience as officers, including being the territorial secretary for personnel and territorial Community Care Ministries secretary & Women’s Auxiliary secretary; divisional leaders for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division and in San Diego California. He earned a degree in Business Management and a Master of Science in Leadership. She earned a Masters in Christian Leadership.

Image of Colonels Jeff & Dorothy Smith, Newly Appointed National Chief Secretary

 

National Headquarters also welcomes COLONELS JEFFREY and DOROTHY SMITH to their new appointments as National Chief Secretary and National Secretary for Women’s Ministries, effective September 1. Their previous appointments were as Chief Secretary and Secretary for Women’s Ministries in the Central Territory. The Smiths, lifelong members of The Salvation Army, were commissioned as officers in 1986. They have served in the Kansas and Western Missouri Division, he as the divisional commander and she as the director of Women’s Ministries and divisional Social Services director. They have also served as training principal and director of campus services, respectively, at the territory’s College for Officer Training from July 2003 to July 2008, and as territorial Secretary for Personnel and Officer Resource and Development Secretary and the territorial Ambassador for Prayer, respectively.

Colonel Jeffrey Smith earned bachelor’s degree in Bible from Asbury College and a master’s degree in religious education from Nazarene Theological Seminary.

Colonel Dorothy Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in pastoral counseling at Olivet Nazarene University and a master’s degree in social work at Wayne State University. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren.

Special Report: Hurricane Harvey

Banner Image of General Cox Texas

General Cox Lauds SA Disaster Response

General Cox sees first hand the enormity of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. As he offers encouragement to those who have lost their homes and possessions, he is encouraged by the covenant-fulfilling service by area soldiers many of whom are also victims. This storm is big, but our God is bigger. Read more [...]

Banner Image of SA Volunteers Feeding Evacuees

The Feeding of the 5000

In the story of the loaves and fishes, Jesus used His hands to miraculously feed the 5,000. In a similar way, we are God’s hands and He uses us to bring hope and sustenance to people who are hungry and afraid. Read more [...]

I Was a Refugee

refugee [ref-yoo-jee] a person who leaves his or her home or country to find safety, especially during a war or for political or religious reasons.

Refugee, displacement, relocation, asylum, a polarizing political theme that can conjure fearful thoughts of uncertainty.

Without a doubt, a horde of people displaced, needing to be re-housed can create a near panic situation. It brings to mind a country overrun by foreigners. We think of people living in tents, hungry, requiring our financial resources, the crimes, the incarcerations, disorder.

As a nation, we have already witnessed a barrage of foreigners climbing in rafts willing to confront the perils of the open sea in the hopes of finding freedom.

In today’s climate, as countries debate back and forth about responsibility toward the refugee, we watch from the safety of our living rooms, while people young and old from all around the globe seek asylum, seek a helping hand, seek a voice on their behalf.

How hard it is to relate to anything that you are not clear about or comfortable with.

I was born in Cuba, on the cusp of communism. Both of my parents were Cuban, and except for my paternal grandmother who was a Spaniard, my grandparents and great-grandparents were Cuban as well.

Prior to the Castro revolution, Cuba enjoyed seasons of lavishness, famous for its beaches and nightclubs.

However, behind the façade, it also fell victim to much debauchery, disgrace and darkness. Well known for its coveted cigars and rum, dance girls and the Tropicana, Cuba gave us Desi Arnaz from I Love Lucy, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, Andy Garcia and Jose Canseco. Cuba also served as the trading block for the African slave industry. It was amid turmoil, uncertainty, chaos and hunger that people lived their lives.

In the mid to late 1950s Cuba once again found itself in the midst of despair, money becoming worthless, those with available finances, began the initial great exodus to the United States, moving into Tampa and Miami, as is evident by the Cuban influence there.

When parents could not leave the country, they boarded their children on flights headed to the USA. The flights, known as the Peter Pan Flights, arrived in Miami. Once there, the children were met and housed by the church clergy as they awaited the arrival of their parents.

On October 6, 1966, my family and I left Cuba as refugees, seeking asylum in the United States. We left the island nation on United Airlines Freedom Flights. Financially pledged by members of our family, we became residents of the State of New Jersey. Our family had rented a basement apartment for us, which they also furnished. I remember the sadness and depression that my mother grew into while we were there. She longed for her mother and the life she once knew.

Our city had seen its fair share of foreign influences. Once dominated by the Germans and then the Italians, our community mostly consisted of other Hispanic immigrants. Ours was a small tight-knit community, all needing each other in order to withstand the isolation and newness of our new environment. My parents suffered, I know they did. A new language, a new climate, a new lifestyle. A new way of thinking. Always holding on to the hope of returning to their homeland one day.

My siblings and I, because we were younger, eased into our new environment with less stress. We quickly picked up our new language and discovered that we could use it to our advantage when we did not want our parents to know what we were saying. Then again, children are easily molded to change.

Displacement can be a traumatic event. A person might find herself at the center of a volatile situation that she had nothing to do with creating. And the situation is worse if children are involved. You are not only fighting for your life, but for the life of them as well. You must learn to simultaneously embrace your new environment, learn a new language and begin the process of merging into a different mindset, all the time not wanting to compromise your heritage or identity.

For years I struggled with not knowing where I actually belonged. I spoke Spanish at home and knew I was Cuban, yet at the same time very American. Even hearing your name pronounced in a new way can be traumatic and confusing. And in becoming a poorly adjusted teenager, it became a nightmare.

This country has always had refugees. Native Americans witnessed some of the first refugees, the pilgrims who journeyed here in hopes of finding political and religious freedom. Along the way, the United States has opened its borders and its arms to many foreigners in need of help. I want to believe that as a great nation, we will do the right thing when we see that our neighbors are in need of a hand.

I am not trying to persuade anyone currently on either side of the proverbial “refugee” fence, but only to share my story, my life as a refugee.

I Kings 8:41-44 says:

As for the foreigner who does not belong to Your people Israel, but has come from a distant land because of Your name, for they will hear of Your great name—and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear you, as do Your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears Your Name.

I am a Salvation Army officer, commissioned in June of 2014, living in Tampa, FL. I was a Cuban refugee, a foreigner, in need of a safe dwelling place. I heard the Good News of Jesus Christ in this country. I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ in this country and believed unto salvation. This country opened its arms to me and my family and for that, I am thankful. My heritage will always be Cuban-American, but my heart and my faithfulness will always belong to the Lord.

To give, visit salar.my/RefugeeGive or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/europerefugees

— Captain Teresa Della Monica | Tampa, FL

“Loaves, Fishing and Fried Chicken

A lot of useful wild plants (aka: weeds) sprout up in overgrown pastures, like relaxing Chamomile, aromatic roses, garlic and onion blackberries and, of course, the mustard plant. It looks more like a bush when fully grown. I’ve seen small birds seek rest upon its branches. When the pods get fully plump and then dried, they release hundreds of flavorful seeds. The seeds that make it to safety and are able to winter over form new plants in spring.

Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible.”

We cannot hope to replicate the miracles of nature, but as Jesus pointed out, we can learn from them. Faith as little as a mustard seed. What it lacks in size it makes up for in flavor and, when fully grown, in size!

Major Mike and I arrived in our new appointment last year with our eyes wide open. It was a little corps with only three people attending, and they weren’t all regulars. Those attending our installation that first Sunday consisted only of our out-of-town family and officers from divisional headquarters and their family.

I looked at my partner in ministry the next day and at the dreary, outdated chapel and declared that next Sunday we were taking God’s message outside.

That’s what we did for the rest of the summer. We held our “church” under an outdoor pavilion for the rest of the summer, expanding on Vacation Bible School material to offer devotions along with activities, snacks, crafts, and puppet shows. God was blessed when attendance reached 26 individuals, and when 62 people took part in our end-of-summer Corps Carnival. They all had the opportunity to hear God’s Word and His promises. They got to know God loves them.

Image of Children Attending Sunday School in the Park

“Taking God’s Message Outside”: Sunday school in the park.

The corps has an average attendance of 14 individuals each Sunday and we have added youth, men’s, and women’s ministries. Our common theme is prayer, coupled with faith that God will call His people to Him.

We have all heard the story of the loaves and fishes. I wish we had the problem of keeping the crowds away like Jesus did when they thronged to listen to Him, as described in the Gospel of Matthew (14:13-21). It was getting late and Jesus’ disciples wanted Jesus to send them away to eat. Can you imagine the potential lynching at our corps if we stopped offering coffee for Sunday school or the occasional potluck? Oh my! When Jesus told His guys to give them something to eat, they told Him that all they had were  “five loaves of bread and two fish.”

What did Jesus do? He prayed. Jesus gave thanks for what God had so graciously provided. Then He broke up the small provisions and gave them to the disciples. The disciples in turn broke the bread and fish up and distributed it to the people. That little mustard–seed–like portion fed about 5,000 men, plus the women and children! Talk about Jesus having faith in His Father. I dare say He fully expected the need would be met!

We recently had a mustard seed potluck experience. It was a combined service with another corps. We had ordered fried chicken ahead of time, enough to feed about 35 people. A soldier putting the meal together pulled me aside to see if we had ordered the chicken. She was concerned that we wouldn’t have enough to go around. The partner corps got more people to show up than expected. They had at least 50 with our 10. We had on hand one large pan of broccoli and lots of cakes and some scalloped potato dishes. “No problem, God will provide,” I told her. I prayed.

After I picked up the chicken, my husband asked, “Are you sure they gave you the right order? There are 50 extra pieces of chicken here.” He checked the receipt with the soldier, who had given me some cash to get potato salad.

I said, “It’s a God thing,” I said. “He just multiplied the chicken order for us.” There was one piece left at the end of the feast.

Image of Majors Mike and Kathy Wolfe Receiving Award for Volunteerism

The Kiwanis Club of Anderson, IN, recognizes Majors Mike and Kathy Wolfe for their volunteerism.

When I became an officer, the Scripture as my life verse was Matthew 6:25-27: “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?… Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” The passage goes on to say, “Why do you have so little faith?… Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (v.30,33-34).

Do we have the faith of a mustard seed? That seed grows into a bush to shelter birds and provide food. We have little because we ask little. We need mustard seed faith to bloom into a bush right where God has planted us. It is not simply about extra chicken at a potluck, but significant signs of growth such as attendance at a small corps increasing from five to an average of 14 participants. Aren’t such reminders revealing that mustard seed faith has more credibility than we know?

Do we have faith that God will bless our Army so that we will see a spiritual revival and witness Him gathering His lost and hopeless people back to Him again? Can this expression of the universal Christian church grow into an enveloping and life-giving bush that produces seed that will disperse, take root and expand into a mighty force living out God’s promises?

Jesus had the unshakable faith that His Father would provide and bless the need. We prayed with faith that God would provide the blessing. We passed out the fried chicken, enough to fill everyone.

— Major Kathy Wolfe is a corps officer for the Army’s Anderson, IN Corps.

The Feeding of the 5000

With eight shelters throughout Dallas and Tarrant Counties, The Salvation Army is tasked with feeding hot meals, three times a day, to an average of 5000 evacuees of Hurricane Harvey, displaced by severe flooding in the Golden Triangle of southeast Texas (Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange).

“The Salvation Army is one of four agencies (American Red Cross, Volunteer Now, North Texas Food Bank) united for such an event as this,” explains Captain Richard New ICO for this event response in the DFW Metroplex Area Command.

Image of Captain Richard New

Captain Richard New is the Incident Command Officer for the DFW Metroplex Command’s massive feeding program at eight shelters in North Texas.

“The way this emergency disaster played out,” he adds, “this is like a satellite operation from the actual devastation that occurred some 300 miles away—and that’s because the mass evacuation had to come to someplace like here, where we’re logistically prepared.”

Evacuees, volunteers of all participating agencies, and all First Responders are given healthy, tasty meals prepared by first by local restaurants, and then supplemented by Salvation Army associate-vendors who are very equipped to meet the need.

Image Salvation Army Personnel Feeding Evacuees

Salvation Army personnel are making sure no one goes hungry at the mass shelter in Fort Worth, TX.

The Salvation Army’s response has been timely, Captain New says of the operation which includes not only the evacuees in mass shelters at convention centers in both Dallas and Fort Worth, but several smaller shelters in the area. The Army is also prepared with “shelters of last resort” in Waco, Tyler, and Temple, if they are needed.

FEMA has paid for hundreds of families to stay in hotels nearby, and so the Army is feeding some 700 people each day who are not actually staying in the mass shelters.

The problem early on, Captain New admits, is that as the folks were pulled out of the Golden Triangle, we couldn’t know exactly when and where.

“For instance, we’d get a call that says ‘there’s a plane on the tarmac at Love Field’ or ‘there’s a couple of bus-loads coming up I-45’—but that’s why they call this an emergency,” he says, chuckling.

On a personal note, this is Captain New’s first plunge back into the deep end of the pool of ministry—coming off a kidney transplant several months ago!

“Four weeks ago, I could not have done this,” he says, “but the transplant was completely successful and today I feel like a new man. I needed to be involved in something like this to prove to myself that I’m back!”

The Dallas mass shelter is at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

“The public has been overwhelming in their compassion with the hurting people here,” marvels Major Jon Rich, DFW Metroplex Commander. “Just yesterday players from the Dallas Cowboys came to help and to cheer up evacuees and volunteers. We also have many corporations that have stepped up to the plate—for instance, we needed underwear for the evacuees, who mostly showed up with just the clothes on their backs. One of our Advisory Board members has a friend at JC Penney, and we just got a huge shipment of underwear sent to us. Little things like that go a long, long way!”

Image of Civic Center Filled with Cots

Just one section of cots set up for everyone to get a good night’s sleep.

The mass shelter in Fort Worth is at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. It also is a beehive of activity. A husband-wife team is among dozens of Salvationists ministering there.

“It was a very emotional atmosphere here the first night the first evacuees arrived,” says Karen Bilbrey, a soldier of the Dallas Temple/Irving Corps. “The stories of survival, loss, and separation of these families is heartbreaking. But the people here are responding to how the country is reacting to their plight. That is a truly heartwarming thing to witness!”

Karen’s husband, Casey, is also in awe at the resilience of people in this disaster.

“To show the love of God in the think of the chaos brought on by Hurricane Harvey is what being a Salvationist is all about,” Casey says as he peels an orange for a little boy.

Image of Casey Bilbrey peeling an Orange for a Child

Casey Bilbrey does whatever is needed to help families sustain some measure of normalcy during mealtimes.

Karen points out that volunteers at both mass shelters are lining up to help.

“Some of our volunteers were involved in some way with Hurricane Katrina,” Karen says, while she serves two children, JJ and JeAnna, their breakfast of waffles and sausage links. She told of at least two Salvation Army workers who were relocated from New Orleans during Katrina and ended up in Fort Worth.

“Others,” she says, “were sent from the Superdome in New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston, and eventually made new lives for themselves in southeast Texas.

“Now they’ve lost everything (again!) and have to start over, most likely in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“But they’ll do it…we’ll make sure of that!”

— Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor

General Cox Lauds Salvation Army Disaster Response

Within days after wind and rain wrought by Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas, General André Cox witnessed The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster services. The General not only encouraged families who’ve lost their homes and possessions, but he took note of covenant-fulfilling service by area soldiers—many of whom were victims of the storm’s wrath.

Image of General Cox, Volunteers and Canteens

Fifteen canteens are serving in flooded Houston communities—scores of other mobile kitchens are stationed up and down the Texas Gulf Coast.

“I met with dedicated officers, soldiers, employees, and volunteers who are so selflessly serving others, often working incredibly long shifts to try and meet the needs of those affected by this tragedy,” the General said.

“I spoke to a soldier who, in spite of losing everything himself, is at his corps every day to help others!”

Image General Cox and Soldier, Patrick Limerick

Patrick Limbrick is a soldier of the Houston Aldine-Westfield Corps. Patrick lost his home but has been at the corps every day to help others suffering in this tragedy.

General Cox was told of one officer’s son, who took the family’s boat out to a nearby flooded neighborhood and rescued 40 stranded people on his own. The General marveled at hearing of the soldiers in Beaumont, Texas, who decided to forego their Sunday morning Holiness Meeting in order to wade through the waters to the Army’s warehouse where they’ve been working ever since—distributing food parcels and cleaning supplies.

In another corps nearby, Port Arthur, the building was destroyed as well as all but one of the soldiers’ homes—yet they are working valiantly at other Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service Centers.

Image of General Cox Meeting Houston Advisory Board Chairman, Joe Cleary

General Cox meets Joe Cleary, Houston Advisory Board Chairman, at the Area Command office.

“Advisory board members are providing hands-on practical support, as well as utilizing their business and strategic expertise to help us manage this incident,” he said.

The General met with the behind-the-scenes team in the Incident Control Room, and personally met with soldiers and volunteers preparing to roll out their well-stocked and garrisoned mobile canteens for another day of feeding in flooded areas and disaster shelters.

Image General Cox Helping Army Staff Member Fill Supplies

The General helps an Army staff member fill a list of supplies for a Houston family displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Among the most heartbreaking, and yet encouraging, scenes was in a neighborhood in Houston’s Fifth Ward, where the homes of some 2,000 families were flooded.

“My heart was moved to see street after street where people’s ruined possessions were simply piled up on the sidewalk, and they have been left with just the shell of their house,” he said.

Through an interpreter, General Cox told the mostly Hispanic residents, “We’re here to tell you that God is with you, and we are here with you—and that we will continue to be for the long haul!”

Image of General Cox TX with Interpreter

Through an interpreter, General Cox reassures families of Houston’s Fifth Ward that “God is with you, and The Salvation Army is here with you for the long haul.”

General Cox witnessed firsthand the structures and systems that enable The Salvation Army to provide a swift response, mobilizing our people and resources to provide practical and prayerful support to real people in real communities.

“My visit here enabled me to see this practical expression of our faith,” he said. “to witness the outworking of our sacred covenants, and to see what social holiness looks like in reality!”

Image of Houston Media Interviewing General Cox

Houston media outlets interview General Cox, reporting the Army’s massive response in Harris County.

Acknowledging that although, sadly, we live in a world where tragedies strike, an event like this reinforces the truth that The Salvation Army needs to be “the church on the street” living and working with the people in the mess and vulnerability of life.

“I am struck by the enormity of (this) task; but I am reminded that we have an even bigger God!

“There is a place in our world for The Salvation Army, and we still have a mission to fulfill.”

—Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor

Bible Study — “I Am”

In, “I Am,” Commissioner William Francis explores the nature of Jesus as described by one who knew Him best—the author of the Gospel of John.

Part I: Introduction

In this introduction to the 10-part series, Commissioner Francis details Christ’s relationship to John and points out the similarities and differences between this book and the other gospels. Read more [...]

Banner Image Part II of Bible Study Series - Hand Giving Bread

Part II: The Bread of Life

What did Christ mean when he declared Himself the Bread of Life? Read this week as Colonel Francis illuminates this phrase. [...]

Banner Image Part III of Bible Study Series - Light

Part III: The Light of the World

Read this week about how Jesus is our Light in the darkness and the Light of life. [...]

Banner Image Part IV of Bible Study Series — Fence, Sheep, Field

Part IV: The Door of the Sheep

This week read how Christ is our good shepherd: He opened our access to God. [...]

Banner Image Part V of Bible Study Series — Shepherd in a Field

Part V: The Good Shepherd

This week we learn more about Christ as our Good Shepherd: He is thoroughly good, both inwardly and outwardly. [...]

Banner Image Part VI of Bible Study Series — The Son of God

Part VI: The Son of God

Jesus Christ declared Himself the Son of God. Learn this week why the Jews found that such a bold assertion. [...]

Banner Image Part VII of Bible Study Series — The Resurrection and The Life

Part VII: The Resurrection and The Life

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In Part VII learn more about the story of Lazarus and how Christ gave life to us all. [...]

Banner Image Part VIII of Bible Study Series — The Resurrection and The Life

Part VIII: The Way and The Life

Jesus embodies truth and life. Read more about how He is the way for all of us. [...]

Banner Image Part IX of Bible Study Series — The True Vine

Part IX: The Way and The Life

Jesus referred to Himself as the true vine. This week learn more about the symbolism of the vine during Jesus’ time. [...]

Banner Image Conclusion of Bible Study Series — Alpha and Omega

Conclusion: The Alpha and Omega

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. Read more about how Christ is in the beginning and will be triumphant in the end.. [...]

Saved at a Biker’s Party!

One hardly imagines that a person would find Christ as Savior at, of all places, a biker’s party. But then, God is in the business of doing the unimaginable.

Major Raphael Aspeitia is the corps officer at Albuquerque Citadel, an Adult Rehabilitation Program (ARP) pastoring some 50 men and their families. And although he still has his Harley—which he is often seen riding on the streets of Albuquerque, in his uniform!—you might be surprised to learn that this born-again biker used to be an angel of another sort.

Image of Major Aspeitia ARP Graduation

Major Raphael Aspeitia poses with three of the newest graduates of the ARP ministry at the Albuquerque Citadel Corps.

In 1975 Raphael built his first motorcycle. Yep, he built it. Buying a frame that he suspects was involved in an accident, he installed a chopper engine and transmission.

“I used to ride with a lot of guys, going barhopping and getting into trouble—the usual bikers thing,” Major Raphael says. “My lifestyle was out of control.”

In the Summer of 1979 he was invited to a bikers party held at the house of a fellow he hardly knew. He recalls that they were “so far out in the sticks, we could be as rowdy as we wanted.”

His host asked Raphael if he wanted to smoke “some really good weed.”

Now the next part is hard to get your head around, but this is what happened. Out of the blue, Raphael was asked if he had “ever gotten ‘turned-on’ to God.”

“That’s not the sort of thing you’d hear at a rowdy bikers party, complete with drugs, booze, and loud music,” he admits. “But the seed of my eventual faith was planted in my heart that night.”

Raphael says that until April 1981, he continued on a collision course with destruction.

“I was bad before; but from 1979 to 1981 I was really bad!”

One night, as he tried to sleep, a voice within him asked, “If you died tonight, where would you spend eternity?”

“It scared me,” he says. “I knew that with my lifestyle, I’d go to Hell. I was even afraid to sleep at night!”

As the Holy Spirit continued to convict him, Raphael was feeling the Lord urging him to be saved. As his body began to shut down from the smoking, drugs, and alcohol that years of abuse had brought, Raphael get violently sick with a condition he describes as similar to emphysema.

“I began gasping for air,” he says, “and right there, by myself, I said to God, “I really don’t know if You exist, but I need Your help. If not, I’m going to die!”

With that heartfelt cry, Raphael claimed Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

“I felt a peace I cannot describe. The next thing, I reasoned, was that I needed a Bible.”

When he finally got one, he couldn’t read enough.

“My dad came over one day. He was as big a party-animal as I had been. But on this day, dad noticed a change in me and a smile on my face,” Major Raphael says.

Raphael not only had the privilege of leading his dad to the Lord, but many in his family as well; noticing a new man in Christ.

He got involved with the county “Meals On Wheels” program, which led him to meet The Salvation Army in his Hanford, California hometown.

“It was Thanksgiving Day, and the Corps was feeding everyone, so I took dinners back to some shut-ins he knew.”

The Salvation Army Officers invited Raphael to church that Sunday, and there he found a warm and welcoming “family.” Something he sorely needed.

“They didn’t care that I was wearing bikers grubs,” he says. “All that didn’t matter. That’s who I was, and everyone just loved me.”

Image Major Aspeitia on Motorcycle

Major Raphael Aspeitia dons a “Salvation Army Biker’s Uniform” as he thunders along the streets of Albuquerque.

Raphael never thought he’d trade those biker’s grubs for red epaulets and a Salvation Army Officer’s uniform. Nor could he foresee his dad becoming a Salvation Army Soldier, proudly wearing his uniform until his promotion to Glory in 2012.

“God put me on a journey and The Salvation Army became my church.”

After 37 years of sobriety and 27 years of ministry alongside his amazing wife, Major Raewyn, the couple oversees a ministry that Raphael can especially relate.

“I can connect with the men, telling them: ‘I’ve been there, I’ve done that!’

“And I also know a great God Who comes along side of you and makes a new creature of you.”

The bike he has now is a 2006 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. On Albuquerque streets, he is a rolling billboard for the Kingdom of God and The Salvation Army.

“What’s kept me all these years is a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” he insists. “Get into God’s Word and let Him have control in your life.”

It’s an eternal truth he first heard about at a biker’s party the night he began to consider the possibility of having God in his life.

—Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor

A Secretive Test

The opening of the Clapton Congress Hall in May 1882 became a clandestine “proving ground” that turned out to be pivotal for the future of Salvation Army music, as we know it today.

Up until that year, the infant Salvation Army was employing any and every means possible to attract attention of the masses to the message of the Gospel. Throughout Britain, the Army was either praised or ridiculed for its unorthodox methods.

And so it was that someone approached General William Booth with an idea—setting Christian words to wildly-popular secular songs of the day. These songs were all the rage in pubs and bars across the country; many people knew both the tunes and the words of such silly songs as The Girl I Left Behind Me, or Poor Old Joe, or I’ll Take You Home, Again, Kathleen. Even tear-jerkers, like Just Before The Battle, Mother or Will You Love Me When I’m Old? were on the lips of many citizens.

The novel idea, and the Founder’s secretive test in response, is an iRony of note.

One of the first was from the pen of William Baugh, who “borrowed” a music-hall ditty called Champagne Charlie. From the worldly words boasting “Champagne Charlie is my name; Champagne drinking is my game…” came “Bless His name, He sets me free!”

Many others quickly followed by a host of Salvationist musicians eager to venture this evangelical frontier. Why not use songs such as these—re-written for the propagation of the Gospel—in Army meetings?

At first, Booth thought it a bad idea, and for two reasons. First, influential financial supporters might consider it distasteful—even blasphemous. Second, would reminders of their “old haunts” and regress back into those habits?

But to his credit, the old Founder decided to poll the congregation that would show up for the Clapton Congress Hall’s grand opening—a poll that the crowd would never realize was taking place!

More than 5,000 attended the grand opening, and Booth wisely asked three of the Army’s best soloists of the day to each sing one of the “converted” songs during the program. Many in the crowd were the Army’s benefactors and supporters. This promised to be a good litmus test—if unscientific.

Captain Rodney “Gypsy” Smith sang The Blood Of Jesus Cleanses White As Snow (tune: I Traced Her Little Footprints In The Snow); Captain Adelaide Cox sang Enjoying A Full Salvation (tune: Pretty Louise); and, Cadet “Sailor” Fielder sang the potentially-controversial version of Champagne Charlie.

“It is not known if the soloists realized (their performances) were on trial, but they sang their hearts out while the General and his leading officers awaited the reaction,” Colonel Brindley Boon, himself one of the Army’s foremost journalists and musicians. “The large congregation was soon carried away. Choruses were repeated again and again and gradually the public resentment weakened until everyone was clapping hands with the songs and waving handkerchiefs.”

According to R.G. Moyles in his book, Come Join Our Army, when General Booth saw that even his influential friends were singing along with gusto, his “test” was complete.

The old General soon afterward announced to the world his decision with a quote that most Salvationists today know by heart: “Secular music, do you say, belongs to the devil? Does it? Well, if it did I would plunder him of it, for he has no right to a single note of the whole seven!”

It’s iRonic, then, that in Salvation Army corps around the world—in 128 countries—Salvationists still sing these songs of Zion, using tunes retrieved from the devil’s arsenal, all because of an social experiment that a select few even knew about!

— Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor-in-Chief