Investing in people

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From the desk of…

by Ralph Hood, Major –

Over the past four years at territorial boards we have rejoiced to see that the investment portfolio of the Western Territory has made remarkable gains. As the territory moved from financial turmoil to great stability, it brought joy to our hearts. But, while finances help make our world go around, people are our business—our only business.

Over these past four years, I have been impressed by the manner in which so many have “invested in people.” Everywhere I go I see the results, and I would like to give tribute to a few I have observed.

Captains Kyle and Lisa Smith and their team in the territorial youth department organize marvelous events to inspire and encourage young people and leaders. But it doesn’t stop there; they have gone out of their way to make personal contact. Recently, they once again held a “Boot Camp” with well over 400 individuals from all over the territory in attendance. What caught my attention is that they know most of the delegates by name and are familiar with their circumstances.

Three years ago, Major Nancy Dihle had a list of 110 prospective candidates for officership, and now there are over 470. She knows them by name and displays a personal interest in their growth and development. The Major is joined by a large number of corps officers and divisional candidates’ secretaries who have invested in the lives of their people to reach this point. This past week, the registration for the upcoming Future Officers Fellowship Seminar reached over 180 delegates. Over the next couple of years we will see how God is rewarding that investment by candidates entering the College for Officer Training.

Since he came to THQ, Territorial Music Secretary Neil Smith has become acquainted with local leaders across the territory, in order to strengthen music and worship groups. His personal interest has resulted in some of our finest teenagers and young adults making deeper commitments to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the ministry of The Salvation Army.

I watched this past year as Commissioner Pat Swyers inspired women’s ministry leaders to “Win One Woman” and thus experience new growth in a variety of sections—especially in women’s ministries. Leaders all over the territory invested in their people and saw the results.

Even as I write, my wife, Major Ivy Hood, has been working with the divisional community care ministry leaders to come together and carry back to their divisions some new ways to reach people for the Lord.

We recently visited the Mesa Corps (Ariz.) where Majors Brian and Gwen Jones work with their local officers and corps people in new ways to reach more people. As the leaders came together on Saturday for a leadership seminar, their focus was: “How can I help the corps grow?” I watched the next day as they greeted people and made everyone feel welcome. At the door a soldier, who happened to be handicapped, greeted me with great smile and gave me a program for the service. Someone had invested in her and showed her something she could do that was important for the corps.

Recently I attended a united meeting of the Southern California and Sierra del Mar Divisions under the leadership of Lt. Colonels Paul and Ronda Bollwahn and Doug and Diane O’Brien. A variety of music sections joyfully participated. Territorial Commander Commissioner Swyers presented Commissioner’s Sunbeam pins to four young ladies and later enrolled about 130 new senior and junior soldiers—the culmination of corps officers, recruiting sergeants, junior soldier sergeants, Sunbeam leaders, music leaders, and others, all investing in the lives of the people of both divisions.

Similar events are happening all around the West, and I see excited officers and local officers who are feeling great joy at victories—both small and great—as a result of “investing in people.” There is much more to share, but the pages of New Frontier cannot contain it all.

From my 43 years as an officer in The Salvation Army, I can tell you there are two great truths about investing in people:

Practicing friendship evangelism is the greatest way to invest in people and grow The Army.

The happiest people I know are the officers and soldiers who have invested their lives in people and have seen the Lord reward their efforts with souls for his kingdom and new soldiers in The Army.

In closing, let me make a simple statement and pose a simple question: Many people have made investments in bringing you to where you are today. How are you investing in the lives of others?

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