Phoenix South Mountain Corps’ school outreach

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Connection between corps and school leads to new junior soldiers.

Children sign on as jr. soldiers at the Phoenix South Mountain Corps in Phoenix, Ariz.

The Phoenix South Mountain Corps, led by Majors Guy and Denise Hawk, has found ways to give the kids at nearby Rose Linda Elementary School access to the good news of Jesus Christ. As a result of recent outreach, more and more children have been coming to the corps, and in January, eight new junior soldiers were enrolled—all from Rosa Linda, with more on their way!

Brittney Downs, soldier and Sunday school teacher at South Mountain, is a second grade teacher at Rose Linda, which is almost next door to the corps. Since she began teaching there, Brittney has tried to tell as many kids as possible about the corps community center and what it offers.

“First and foremost I am trying to help them learn, but I also see myself as an ambassador for God and want to see our kids go to the corps and learn about him.”

She also tries to form strong, meaningful relationships with the children so they will see a familiar face when they come to church.

“I try to tell most of the kids about our corps, but the children I know well and who know me well I really try to persuade, because they are the ones most likely to keep attending,” she said.

Brittney is not the only one from the corps they see. Her husband, Matt, who works with the youth at South Mountain, visits her for lunch almost every day. He also gets to know the children.

“If a kid looks up to Brittney or me, he or she is more likely to accept our invitation to church, so we know how important it is for us to be positive, friendly role models for them,” Matt commented.

Brittney and Matt aren’t working alone, though. They have the support of a higher power—and not whom you might think. Irene Lopez, Rose Linda’s principal, is a new member of the corps’ advisory council. With her help, the school and the corps community center have been able to work together closely in many areas, including Christmas and after-school activities. The Salvation Army, then, is familiar to the kids at Rose Linda—and this is not really a new development. The school and the community center have been loosely working together for the past 40 years. What is new, though, is the spiritual side of the Army starting to play a larger role for the school and the children.

The Hawks are excited about this development. Major Guy remarked, “The children at Rose Linda are starting to get a more complete picture of The Salvation Army, of what we are all about. Whereas before they came only to play basketball, volleyball, or pool, now they are starting to come for church and to learn about our Lord.”

The kids themselves are spreading the news now, and more and more are coming to the corps from the school. Through both these children and the adults working with them, God’s love is being shown in a public elementary school.

The Lord is doing some exciting things in the South Phoenix area. While it can be difficult to introduce the gospel into a public school, as Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With God all things are possible!”

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