from the desk of…A place of help, hope and healing

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By Dave Hudson, Colonel

One of the many joys of officership is sharing time with people whom I never would have met other than through The Salvation Army. While my purpose has been to encourage, more often than not I end up being encouraged.

The people who partner with us—officers, soldiers, volunteers and employees—and the incredible work they do, inspire me. Seeing these people in action makes me feel proud and triggers the desire to do my best. The stories are endless, so I will limit myself to three.

Last year in late November, I visited a corps. The corps officer was in a meeting so I went outside and began talking with people waiting in line to apply for Christmas assistance. It was an extremely cold day, and I felt terrible for the people standing outside. One lady caught my eye and I went over to speak with her. I asked her about the circumstances that brought her to The Salvation Army. She revealed that she had lost her job and was now working two part-time jobs to make ends meet. She said that she would laugh when hearing people talk about their struggling portfolio. “My portfolio is the money I have in the bank to pay this month’s rent, and without The Salvation Army my children will not have Christmas,” she said. Her statement showed no bitterness or resentment.

The Army should always be a place of help. 

Wonderful stories come out of our camping programs. One instance I will never forget involved a boy with cerebral palsy. I wish I could say all young people are kind. Sadly, some are not. As a joke, during cabin skit night, the other boys assigned him to give the devotions. The counselor advised him that he did not have to do it, but the boy responded that he wanted to. That night at the campfire, the young boy physically struggled with each word, and looking at his fellow campers, he said: “I know you did this to make fun of me, but I love Jesus and Jesus loves me just the way I am.” I wish I could adequately describe the impact of that moment. That young boy, facing such a challenge, gave hope to everyone around that campfire.

The Army should always be a place of hope.

Another time, I was the guest of a corps for Sunday morning worship. What a great day! The highlight was the young and incredibly enthusiastic leader of the youth choir, whose joy and passion were contagious. When I asked about her, the corps officer said that she had come to The Salvation Army on a court referral due to a drug conviction. After arriving angry, bitter and resentful, she experienced the healing power of a loving and forgiving God and an accepting congregation. Now, about a year later, here she was leading a group of children. She was also involved in the corps’ tutoring program, where she mentored other young people.

The Army should always be a place of healing.

Every day, for myriad reasons, thousands of people enter the doors of the Army. While the reasons vary, most come because of life circumstances and a need for someone to stand alongside. Even though the situations in their lives may remain, they receive comfort and encouragement knowing that someone who cares is there.

The Salvation Army means various things to different people. I pray, however, that regardless of all else, we will always be a place of help, a place of hope and a place of healing.

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