Anacortes, Wash. takes to the road

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by Michael Paugh, Captain – 

A WORSHIP BAND performs during a recent joint community outreach between The Salvation Army, YWAM and other churches in Anacortes, Wash.

In a return to Salvation Army roots, the Anacortes Corps, Wash., took to the road this summer, joined by Youth with a Mission (YWAM) members from Tyler, Texas and Christians from other churches in the community—in an unprecedented outreach for the kingdom of God.

Corps members had expressed the desire to conduct an evangelistic campaign, and the idea grew when soldier Bruce Rechsteiner invited YWAM to the Anacortes Corps for the summer to do missionary work. As the plan developed, we realized that for our work to be successful, we needed to solicit help from other local congregations. Among those joining us were members of Christ the King Church, Northern Peaks Church, Calvary Chapel and Valley Community Church.

Bruce, who has studied the writings of William Booth, said he was struck by how Booth went into the streets: “He took his ministry to the lost, to where they were. The lost are still out there. Since they won’t go to church, why not go to them?”

Attracting people through music and drama, the evangelism team ministered to people throughout the summer at various places in and around Anacortes and Skagit County—the county fair, food pavilions, Fred Meyer store, K-Mart and Safeway—and marched in two parades. We collected food for the food bank and school supplies for the youngsters. All events presented the Gospel message and communicated to the community that The Salvation Army is alive and well, fighting against poverty, hunger, homelessness and sin.

Attendance at the meetings varied—sometimes as many as 500 people surrounded the stage,
drawn by the music. At one event, following the invitation, 23 young adults made first decisions for Christ—praise the Lord! Another time, the team encountered a young woman who was contemplating suicide. After meeting with Bruce and his wife Joyce, she accepted Jesus into her life and now has hope and a future.
These are just a couple of examples of the many life-changing decisions made this summer.

The campaign operated on a shoestring budget. The 15 people from YWAM served with members of Christ the King Church and corps members. Food to feed everyone came from the Army’s food bank, and corps vans provided the transportation.
In support of this challenging and God-directed ministry, we received many generous donations from local vendors and citizens. One donor in Anacortes gave us an old, rusty boat trailer that we re-conditioned to become our portable stage.

Because of these campaigns, attendance at the Anacortes Corps has increased. Currently holiness meetings average between 40-60 people, and four new families call The Salvation Army their church home.

Summer is over and YWAM has gone home, but God has blessed us with a new team that will carry on the work. To reach the lost for Christ, we are planning two campaigns each month, to sites including the Cascade Mall, and the Fred Meyer, K-Mart and Wal-Mart parking lots.

As the Anacortes Corps revives the tradition of open air meetings, we realize we don’t need fancy new programs—we need to go out to the highways and byways to reach people for Christ.
With help from YWAM and the community, and the hard work of our corps members, many lives have been changed and bridges mended, and men, women and children now confess Jesus as Lord and savior.

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