Youth act on Booth’s ‘I’ll Fight’ pledge

Western Territory young people serve others on “I’ll Fight” Day.

“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight, I’ll fight to the very end!”

William Booth (1912), founder of The Salvation Army

Fight-Murrieta-CorpsOn Dec. 6, hundreds of youth, young adults, and their leaders took to their community in an effort to share Christ’s love with those who may feel forgotten during the hustle and bustle of the season.

“The West has accepted the ‘I’ll Fight Day’ challenge for five years,” said Heather St. Aime from the territorial youth department, “and this year was by far the biggest showing around the Western Territory.”

Approximately 500 youth from 40 different corps took part in service activities including bringing lunch to the homeless community, working at animal shelters, setting up toy distribution warehouses, cleaning the streets of their neighborhood and serving at shelters.

“William Booth’s words still ring in the ears of God’s servants all these years later,” said Lt. Noel Evans, corps officer in Kake, Alaska.

Fight-ABQ-Temple

For the “I’ll Fight” campaign, the Kake Corps’ youth handed out goody bags to the elders in the community. Each of the 65 bags contained cookies that the teens provided–hand-made and store-bought–a teddy bear and a pair of Salvation Army socks.

“[This outreach was] a way of telling this hurting community that God still loves you and is thinking of you,” Evans said. “It also showed our community that in these kids the future is in good hands.”

As the group distributed the bags, one of the teens banged the Kake Corps Drum announcing that The Salvation Army was marching.

“The teens knocked on the elders’ doors and told them Merry Christmas and we love them,” Evans said. “Some elders said it made their whole night.”

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In the Southern California Division, the Southeast Communities Corps realized one day was not enough. The corps youth planned a weeklong campaign that began November 30, when the young people and Corps Officer Major Vicky Villanea distributed 96 blankets to men and women on the streets.

But not everyone got a blanket.

“Many [people] lay down on the bare, cold cement,” Villanea said. “The most fortunate had plastic bags tied around their feet to keep them dry from the rain. [The youths’] hearts were broken when they realized they were short on the amount of blankets.”

They decided to go out again with more blankets and snacks, and enlisted the help of the Home League. The women prepared cocoa, coffee, cookies and chocolates, and the men packed 190 blankets.

On another rainy night, the youth and adults ventured out again, sharing not only food and warmth, but God’s Word. Three people were saved that night.

“One man expressed his gratitude toward The Salvation Army because we always, at some point in his life, directed him back to God,” Villanea said.

During their weeklong campaign, the group shared New Testaments–69 in Spanish and 30 in English–with the people who came to the corps for meals. A barber provided free haircuts and everyone received new clothes.

Elsewhere across the Western Territory, youth sought to help others.

“We are incredibly proud of and inspired by this next generation and their selfless faith that they have put into action,” St. Aime said. “It is our hope that the spirit of fighting for the lost, broken, lonely, and unsaved extends well beyond this one day, and we pray that this special day emboldens them to continue to build up an army for others.”

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