San Bernardino ‘gets right with God’

by Beau Perez, Captain – 

The Salvation Army in San Bernardino County has drawn a lot of attention lately by taking prayer rallies to local parks, parking lots and even City Hall in San Bernardino.

Using an unusual strategy of tongue-in-cheek flyers along with a mix of radio promotions, the San Bernardino ARC has been about to both saturate the local neighborhood and spread the good news on the airwaves across the Inland Empire.

Two radio stations, one Christian, KSGN, FM 89.7 and one secular, KRSX, AM 660, have enthusiastically promoted prayer rallies in San Bernardino and Hesperia.

Our locally produced flyers for our “Get Right with God” campaign have caused quite a stir. In them, we ask for “special donations” of crack pipes, crystal meth cooker chemistry sets, tarot cards, and “any other device used for evil purposes.”

“You’re The Salvation Army—you’re not supposed to want crack pipes!” one caller complained. “Ma’am, we’re taking them out of the community,” was our answer. “Oh, oh, God bless you!” was the response. Supporters called all week to encourage The Salvation Army prayer rally.

This past Saturday at San Bernardino City Hall, the ARC’s “Blood & Fire” band, made up entirely of beneficiaries and graduates, loudly rocked downtown with strong spiritual gospel music. The mix included “Light the Fire Again” along with a blues rendition of “Amazing Grace.” In between different songs people from the community came forward to offer prayers for the separate branches of the Armed Forces or to testify of what Jesus Christ has done to transform their own lives.

The most inspiring testimony came from an 11-year-old child. Stepping up to the microphone, he told how his dad didn’t think anything about him before, but now because of Jesus, his father talks only about God—and has become a father who cares for his son.

The blast from the band at City Hall was preceded by a march from the corps. Out front rode a brigade of bicyclists armed with bullhorns, each calling out an invitation to startled passers-by. About 80 persons waved flags and made joyful noise moving down 5th Street on the way to the rally. At City Hall the disaster canteen served lunch to the marchers and “whosoever will” that was hungry.

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