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Volume 25, No. 5

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The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory

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Mar. 26, 2008

Comm. Feener
6 divisions getting new leadership

By Dan Childs
Southern Spirit staff

By June 25, most of the nine divisions in the Southern Territory will be under new management. No less than six divisions will have new commanders as a result of appointment changes announced early this month by Commissioner Max Feener, territorial commander.


Business administration secretary & assistant chief secretary: Majors Kenneth & Paula Johnson Special assignment pro-tem: Majors Steve and Judy Hedgren


Feener on the

Serving in

Fayetteville, Ark.,
Corps has its priorities in order

By Major Frank Duracher
Southern Spirit staff

A group of soldiers from the Fayetteville, Ark., Corps knew simultaneously that the proposal for promoting the Four Territorial Priorities would work very well in their congregation.

It was last year at the Corps Leadership Institute held in Atlanta,” said corps officer Major Mark Craddock. “Those soldiers came home excited, and when they presented the plan to the corps council, it was ‘an ah-hah moment!’ – We can do this!”

The corps council looked at what their corps was already doing well, what was not going well and how items in both categories could be strengthened.

“We took our total corps program, laid the Four Priorities out, and examined each one long and hard to see how it all fit with what the territory is endorsing,” Craddock said.

Discipleship, for example, was already being pursued – but now came ideas about how more effective the corps family could be. Sunday school became the cornerstone on which all other weekly programs were built. It then naturally followed that the youth activities became a means to discipling children, teens and young families, he added.

“Soon everything from Sunbeams to Corps Cadets, and even our band programs, came under the scrutiny of operating in a discipleship mode,” Craddock explained.

If discipleship continues to be a corps strength for Fayetteville, an equally honest look at themselves revealed that prayer was probably their weakest link. “So we attacked that front full force,” he said.

The corps council designated large blocks of time during each week exclusively for prayer. The chapel, which is one of two great rooms basically comprising the entire corps building, became the focal point for prayer and nothing else.


New leadership
Continued from above.

Several key posts at territorial headquarters will see changes as well. Majors Kenneth and Paula Johnson, currently Texas divisional commander and director of women's organizations, will become territorial secretary for business administration and assistant chief secretary. Majors Steve and Judy Hedgren, Florida's divisional leaders, will come to THQ on a pro-tem special assignment. Majors Stephen and Susan Ellis of the Austin, Texas, Area Command have been appointed territorial financial secretary and Silver Star/women's auxiliary secretary.

Lt. Colonels Al and Mary Ward, the former territorial business administration secretary and women's auxiliary secretary, were appointed to the Brazil Territory as chief secretary and women's ministries secretary.

In the National-Capital Virginia Division, Lt. Colonels William and LaVerne Crabson will retire effective Aug. 1. Following them as divisional commander and divisional director of women's ministries are Majors Mark and Alice Bell, currently serving as divisional leaders in Maryland-West Virginia. Major Sandra Defibaugh will command the MWV division.

Other divisional command appointments are as follows: Majors Kenneth and Dawn Luyk (Arkansas-Oklahoma), Majors Vernon and Martha Jewett (Florida), Majors Henry and Dorris Gonzalez (Texas) and Majors Dalton and Casey Cunningham (North-South Carolina).

Fayetteville, Ark., Corps committed to growth, depth
Continued from above.

"That is a significant factor for us," Craddock said. "When we set aside one of our two rooms, we are saying that half of our program space is just for prayer!"

A "prayer guide" is regularly published to keep everyone informed about requests, answers to prayer, and ongoing concerns the soldiery is encouraged to bring before the Lord throughout the workweek.

"Pastoral care" cell groups are a main thrust to their Visitation/Relationships effort. The groups are connecting people within the corps and drawing others in that are absorbed into caring and mentoring units within the corps family. The pastoral care concept is guided by the Senior Pastoral Care Council, with designated leaders shepherding each cell. These pastoral care groups quickly became fellowship groups, often meeting outside corps confines such as a University of Arkansas basketball game.

"Intentional worship was already strong," Craddock said, "but that has also become more solid as our people see that worship is as important to our mission as discipleship, service and fellowship."

One such outgrowth of worship and outreach is led by Jim Reaves and Chaus Little - a duo of believers committed to weekly Bible studies and prayer services designed exclusively for recovering addicts.

Junior church is yet another targeted worship outreach. Children in sixth grade and below are invited to attend a worship experience geared for their age and energy level. They experience praise and worship, Scripture readings, interactive messages and other hands-on experiences. The Sunday version has been so successful that the practice now includes weeknight youth activities.

Teresa Cash and Mary Wilkins, local officers who feel a calling from God to work with the corps' large youth contingent, are among a group of soldiers who prepare and serve meals for the children during youth activities throughout the week.

"Mary discipled me and got me involved in working with kids and teens here," Cash said of her mentor. Wilkins is a Fayetteville soldier of 24 years, including a stretch where there were few other local officers.

"We have wonderful officers and soldiers who want this to be a family-oriented corps," Wilkins added. "Our corps growth is soldier-generated," Craddock said. "These programs are mission-focused. We are determined to have not just numerical growth, but spiritual depth!"

The Resurrection: Do you really believe?
By Commissioner Max Feener

For the mother of Jesus, who stood near the cross weeping, it was all over. Although she probably tried desperately to hang onto Gabriel's promise, that her baby would be the Son of God, that promise was dead now - as dead as her son and the two thieves hanging beside him. She had heard his cry, "It is finished" (John 19:30). With a crushed hope and a broken heart, she made her way back down the hill of Calvary.

It was over for the disciples, too. Only John, along with Mary's sister and Mary Magdalene, had stayed to be with Jesus' mother near the cross. The others had fled. Depressed, disillusioned and full of fear, they had gone into hiding. Once they believed that Jesus would one day deliver them from the tyranny of Rome, but they were wrong. Following Jesus and believing in him had all been in vain. In time they would remember his good words. But that is all they would have - his words - like the words of other great men who had lived and died before him.

But it wasn't over! And Jesus wasn't finished. Easter morning couldn't wait to happen. As if unable to contain its secret any longer, as Christ breathed his final breath, there descended on Jerusalem a sudden outburst of divine power. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life (Matthew 27:51, 52).

Except for the sadness that surrounded Jesus' disciples and the the women who had followed him, Sunday dawned no different than any other day. They were yet unaware that their Master was, as Helmut Thielicke said, "more than a match for the awful majesty of death."

Jesus had tried to prepare his disciples for this day. Matthew tells us (20:17-19) that one day "as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"

The women, visited by angels, were the first to receive the news that Jesus was alive. Overjoyed, they ran from the empty tomb, and brought this word to the disciples. But Luke tells us (24:11) they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

In a few short weeks, however, this all changed.

James S. Stewart, in his book "The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ," gives us two pictures. First, we see the disciples "cowering behind bolted and barricaded doors. Fear is on every face. But even more markedly than fear, dejection is written there, hopeless, final and irretrievable dejection. Dazed and stunned and bewildered they sit in silence, too heartbroken to speak, too benumbed in soul to pray."

A few weeks later "(the disciples) are (no longer) skulking behind closed doors! They are out in the streets. They are men aflame with superhuman confidence. Their words ring like iron. They have a message to which the world cannot but listen." Stewart concludes with this explanation: "Between the two pictures something had happened - Christ was risen!"

John Stott said, "The concept of the resurrection lies at the heart of Christianity. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed." But just as death could not destroy Jesus, so his church is indestructible too. Saul, whose goal had been to annihilate the church, met the risen Christ and became a Christian himself. Later, his name changed to Paul, he stated his goal: "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection ..." (Philippians 3:10). He became an apostle and a missionary. Much of our New Testament was written by him, including what is known as the Resurrection chapter (1 Corinthians 15). So sure was Paul that Christ was alive, he suffered beatings and imprisonments and, in the end, died for his Lord.

The word life marches through the book of Acts, the epistles and into the book of Revelation. It is the life of the risen Christ himself, being lived out in the lives of his followers. These are books aflame with the fire of the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of the resurrected Jesus. To the early church, there was no doubt - the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fact. Though persecuted, or even killed, they knew they could not be finally defeated, and his church could never be destroyed. The words of their conquering Lord, burning daily in their hearts, assured them of this.

It is because the resurrection of Jesus is a fact that we are still able to sing, hopefully with as much assurance as the early church had, the words of Sabine Baring-Gould:

"Crowns and thrones may perish,
Kingdoms rise and wane,
But the Church of Jesus
Constant will remain.
Gates of Hell can never
‘Gainst the Church prevail;
We have Christ's own promise,
And that cannot fail

There is even more good news! The glorious new life we have in Christ goes even beyond the grave. Scriptures assure us that since Christ rose from the dead, we shall rise also. Paul declares, ...the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed (1 Corinthians 15: 52). Having this hope in Christ, Paul testified, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Do you believe it?

The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is as present with us today as he was with those of the early church. Jesus is the same, even in this complex and challenging age. He has lost none of his power. And we can be aflame today, just as his early followers were. If this is not our experience, perhaps someone needs to shout in our ear, "Do you really believe?"

In his book "Soul Survivor," Philip Yancey quotes Frederick Buechner: "Every morning you should wake up in your bed and ask yourself: ‘Can I believe it all again today?' No, better still, don't ask it till after you've read USA Today, till after you have studied that daily record of the world's brokenness and corruption, which should always stand side by side with your Bible. Then ask yourself if you can believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ again for that particular day ... and then if some morning the answer happens to really be "yes," it should be a yes that's choked with confession and tears and...great laughter."

O that you and I could end each day, and greet each morning with the words of Francis Bottome, and really know it to be a fact:

"Lo, a new creation dawning!
Lo, I rise to life divine!
In my soul an Easter morning;
I am Christ's and Christ is mine."

He's alive! He's alive for evermore! Do you really believe it?

Christie Sutton learned about the trials and obstacles that can be part of the package when doing God's work

By Dan Childs
Southern Spirit staff

Sometimes reaching out in love to the needy isn't an altogether warm-andfuzzy-feel-good proposition that makes the heart go pitter-patter. Sometimes it's a little tougher and a little more complicated. But you do it anyway.

Christie Sutton of the territorial Emergency Disaster Services team did it anyway. From mid-July to mid-October 2007, Sutton served with The Salvation Army's International Emergency Services team. As part of IHQ's Prepare program for overseas assistance, Sutton traveled to the African nation of Rwanda.

The nation, troubled by ongoing conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes, has endured years of political turmoil, including the tragic genocide that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 800,000 people in 1994. As a result, millions of Rwandan people have fled to surrounding countries. Many are returning to Rwanda, but few of those have homes to return to. The Salvation Army is among the agencies helping provide housing for the returning people, establishing villages that offer public sanitation, access to water and housing and, ideally, a sense of home and community.

Sutton served in the community of Gituro as a member of a team of Salvation Army personnel coordinating the construction of the village and establishment of its facilities. Sutton's team was assigned to monitor the building of a community center that would function as a preschool and medical clinic on weekdays and a corps on Sundays. Local government had agreed to staff and operate the clinic if the Army would provide the building.

The project, however, was nagged by glitches. The IHQ team had identified and hired a contractor for the building of the community center, but local interests preferred a different contractor and hired him. Ironing out that problem would put the project at a standstill for three months and was still unresolved at the time that Sutton's term of service ended.

The community center was eventually completed, but Sutton said the unsettled status of the project at the time of her departure was disappointing. "That nice little bow to put on at the end - that just didn't happen," she said.

There were other difficulties to overcome. Many of the new residents had lived a nomadic life as cattle ranchers in neighboring Tanzania. Now they were assigned to live in the village in Gituro with people who were strangers to them. A sense of community would have to be built and nurtured from the ground up.

"They really didn't know each other, so we knew that the sooner we could establish their homes and a community center, the more settled they were likely to be," Sutton said. "Tanzania was all a lot of them knew. Many didn't want to come back, but the Tanzanian government was telling them it was time for them to go home."

Along with a feeling of community, the IHQ team tried to instill in the villagers a sense of ownership of the village itself. "We were told that if they didn't put something into the work effort, they wouldn't take care of it," Sutton said. "We got them involved in making the bricks for their homes, but it was a huge challenge to inspire them to do it. We were very involved with the local government, and they arranged a community service day for people to come in and help with the brick-making. It helped a lot. After the people spend weeks and weeks of hard labor to make the bricks, they know that their house truly is theirs."

Sutton said it seemed sometimes that obstacles awaited her at every turn in Rwanda and keeping her own sense of frustration at bay was sometimes difficult. Nonetheless, she said she is grateful she had the chance to contribute to the well-being of the villagers' lives.

"Change is slow," she said. "You eventually realize this is a slow process. I realize that I'm a long-term thinker, but I'll admit that my experience there challenged me."

Although Sutton didn't get "the nice little bow" to put on the project before her departure, she did receive a gift of another sort during her stay in Rwanda. She sponsors a 9-year-old Rwandan boy through Compassion International. Sutton learned that the boy, Elias, lived about an hour from her quarters in Rwanda, and she was able to meet Elias and his family.

Going deeper With God: Listening

When the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, God said, "I have heard them crying out..." (Exodus 3:7). His words foreshadowed his response to a world dying in sin - Jesus came! In Christ we see how God listens. The cross gives us a vivid example. Despite indescribable discomfort and pain, Jesus still heard the plea of the dying thief (Luke 23:42, 43).

In each of his letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2 and 3), Jesus said, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." There is nothing more important than listening ... to the Spirit ... to others ... and to ourselves.

Listening to God: Look at the heavens. They are full with beauty, mystery; order - and quiet. Sometimes we talk too much when we pray. God wants to put things in our hearts, and we crowd him with words. Learning to listen helps us recognize God's voice. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice..." (John 10:27).

Listening to God must include being and doing. Concluding his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus said, "...Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man..." (7: 24), "But everyone who... does not put them into practice is like a foolish man..." (7:26). Listening to others: James said that "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak..." (James 1:19). Christians should lead the way in being good listeners. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "The first service that one owes to others ... consists in listening to them." He went on to say that, often, people do not find a listening ear among Christians, "because (they) are talking where they should be listening." Going deeper with God includes learning to listen the way Jesus did.

Listening to ourselves: When Jesus got tired, he rested (John 4:6). When he needed sleep, he slept (Mark 4:38). He stressed the importance of trusting instead of worrying (Matthew 6:25-34). Anxiety can bring on sickness, and even death. Esther deWall says, "The ache in my back ... may be telling me about tension and strain, a signal that it is time to stop ... and not make impossible demands on myself." After all, our bodies are "... the temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Pray with John Ernest Bode,

...O speak to make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul.


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