Kalispell Adopts “High Profile” Strategy

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KALISPELL, MT.–Attendance exceeds 100 at “Jungle” Vacation Bible School, a 104-year high.


“We see Kalispell as a forward-thinking corps, trying many avenues to reach out to the community in an energetic and productive way,” says Northwest Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Chris Buchanan. The Army’s ‘high profile strategy’ seems to be paying off. At the beginning of each drive or program, public service announcements are played at local radio stations, stories are planted in the paper, and a spot runs on the six o’clock news. As part of this strategy, the corps has participated in four parades over the past year.

“At the parades we celebrate a different aspect of what it means to be a Salvationist,” says Lt. Monte Jones “In one we highlighted the thrift store; in another, our heritage, another our children’s programs. It does my heart good to be marching in a parade and have people applaud as we go by. It’s my prayer though, that in all we do here in Kalispell, our Lord is applauding as well.”

Food for the march

March for Jesus is an international demonstration of love for our Lord, and solidarity among his people. In Kalispell, it was a little more. The question was “How do we, in a real and measurable way, demonstrate God’s love for our community at the March for Jesus? The answer: “Give them something to eat!” Event coordinator Mary Cruz explained on radio station KALS, “The Salvation Army is the expert in this area, feeding people, so we asked them to help.” And help they did.

With The Salvation Army providing the recipe and most of the donated materials, they called all the churches in town and asked if each would cook for 50. Cooks dropped off the cooked chili on their way to the march starting point, and by the time it was over, lunch was served. The Christian community of Kalispell experienced first hand what we mean when we say, “Heart to God, Hand to Man.”

Summer lunch

Low-income children receive free lunches during the school year, but the corps prepares lunch at the Community Center, where they already serve about 75 people a day. The Office of Public Instruction reimburses the cost. The lunches are then transported to neighborhoods where more than 50 percent of the school-age population qualify for free lunches. The program was begun at one site last summer. As a result, a Bible study for moms was started, and two families are now attending the corps.

Youngsters from the lunch program visited with Mutual of Omaha’s Jim Fowler, and saw animals from Beth Sorenson’s Wildlife Rescue Center. The 20 who attended were treated to up-close views of owls, eagles, deer, and bears who were having their injuries tended by Sorenson, who was being honored by Mutual of Omaha for her work.

For the first time in its 104-year history, the corps enrolled more than 100 students in vacation Bible school. The theme was “Jungle Journey.” On the final day, 42 children responded to the call to come to the altar and give their lives to Jesus. Many of these children came from the summer lunch program.

Buchanan says, “As the officers and soldiers make new contacts, they are generating interest in God’s Word and the Army’s mission.”

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