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Volume 26 No. 2

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The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory

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Feb. 6, 2009



Captain Sujung Na assists seekers at the altar
Houston International Corps blends a myriad of cultures into a unified body

By Major Frank Duracher
Southern Spirit staff

If you’re ever in a Sunday morning worship service at the Houston International Corps, don’t be alarmed if the language spoken shifts as many as four times from one program item to the next. Then, in a scene reminiscent of Acts 2, praise in all languages erupts simultaneously, and you can find yourself drawn to the area of the chapel where your dialect is understood.

Captains Stephen and Sujung Na serve as corps officers for a membership firmly rooted in no less than 10 distinct cultures. Some hail from as close as Cuba and as far away as Myanmar. Captain Sujung Na is fluent in five languages – an incredible advantage in pastoring a "global"flock.

"We were sent here to begin a corps ministry for the Asian population in this area (west of downtown Houston)," said Captain Stephen Na. “However, it soon became apparent to us that our ministry would have to be open to many cultures existing in neighborhoods nearby.” Na explained he had no idea how diverse the neighborhood was until he and his evangelistic team of five faithful soldiers began visiting door-to-door every Saturday.

As the needs of additional cultures are learned, the corps council works to provide a myriad of programs and classes designed to draw entire families into the fellowship and to keep them involved.

Everything offered throughout the week points forward to Sunday worship, when all cultures and tongues join in a symphony of praise.

Doors were opened to entire families in search of a church home, through activities such as English as a Second Language (ESL), music instruction, computer and even Tae Kwon Do martial arts. An after-school program for children and a food distribution office minister to an average of 70 families weekly.

"Our soldiers are heavily involved in these programs, and they 'connect' with new people who come out of curiosity or great need," Na said. "When they come in our door, our goal is to help them get to know us. Hopefully, they will want to join us!"

The soldier rolls have indeed been growing, as recruits come aboard and “fall in love with he Army’s mission,” he said.

 



Meeting new neighbors


 


Q&A:  Nick
Simmons- Smith



The Art of Helping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varied cultures blend into one unified voice

Continued from above

Sometimes the soldiers are called upon with little
warning. That was the case last fall when Hurricane Ike roared through Galveston and Houston. With a blackout blanketing the area surrounding the Houston International Corps, the soldiers did what they could to ease the suffering endured by everyone around.

“Soon after the winds died down, our soldiers
stepped forward to work on our canteen,” Na reported.

The soldiers divided into teams that prepared,
transported and served about 600 hot meals each day following the disaster. The hot meals were served to residents who didn’t evacuate and those who returned as soon as it was deemed safe by local authorities.

“We had no power in our corps building, so we
redirected our worship from normal corps meetings to serving our neighbors,” Na said. “We continued until electricity in the area was restored.”

Na added that many of his soldiers came to the corps regularly to help others, although their own homes had significant damage.

“All the while,” he said, “the atmosphere during the disaster work was one of worship and praise. We worship in Jesus’ name and we serve in His name. Sometimes we do both at the same time!”



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Washington soldier busy introducing Southeast Corps to its neighbors-to-be

Continued from above

By Major Frank Duracher
Southern Spirit staff

Aquila Ledbetter values the lessons she learned during a stint with the Peace Corps a few years ago – a sojourn that took her to a remote village of Oshigambo, an agricultural village deep
in the heart of Namibia.

“I learned to get over my shyness,” Ledbetter said, “and I learned to place myself in other people’s perspective so that I relate to them better.”

By the last half of 2008 the Lord led her back to America – to her home corps, Washington Southeast, where she had spent so many happy times as a child and young teenager. She brings to the USA a husband, Paul Nghilundilwa, a young man also on fire for the Lord.

“God’s timing is priceless!” Ledbetter exclaimed. “I got back just in time to help prepare the way for the move from our old corps building to a beautiful new complex under construction just across the Anacostia River in the 7thand 8th wards of Washington, D.C.”

To prepare the way for that transition, Ledbetter was charged with establishing relationships in that
community. Aquila and four other Southeast Corps soldiers regularly “blitz” the area by holding day-long outdoor ministries in Anacostia Park, an urban block frequented by children and homeless men and women.

In what has become a familiar sight to homeless adults and scores of children who live nearby, Ledbetter drives a Salvation Army canteen into the park, followed by a caravan of Southeast Corps soldiers and volunteers. Everyone has their job to do: set up the small generator; hook up
the microphone and speakers; position tables for games, food and activities..

The soldiers and volunteers conduct craft classes and face-painting for the kids. Parents peruse a table laden with school clothes. A few workers man the canteen, providing beverages. A picnic lunch is provided for everyone.While all of this is going on, Ledbetter gives supervision, and ventures away at times to speak with the homeless people watching from their park benches.

Whether on the public address system between praise choruses or talking one-on-one with area residents and homeless – the message is twofold: “a new Salvation Army facility is coming to a corner just a few blocks away, and we want everyone to be a part of it!” “I have purpose now that I’ve surrendered to God’s will for my life. I’ve been able to use what I learned there (in Namibia), here,” she said. “I guess I had to wander halfway around the world, just to come back home and make a difference!”

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Q&A: Nick Simmons-Smith


By Brooke Turbyfill
Southern Spirit staff

Nick Simmons-Smith became territorial music and
creative arts education secretary on Feb. 3, 2009,
replacing Dr. Richard E. Holz, who retired after 30
years in that post. Simmons-Smith is a fifth-generation Salvationist from the United Kingdom. He studied music composition at Colchester Institute of Music, earning a bachelor of arts degree in 1997 and a post graduate certificate of education on 2003.
Major Frank Duracher of the Southern Spirit staff
recently interviewed Simmons-Smith about his goals
to build upon a music department that is already the envy of the Salvation Army world.

SS: Tell me about your background.

NSS: I grew up in a family-oriented corps in Chelmsford, England – about 40 miles northeast of London. I participated in all sections of the corps, every night of the week, really. So I was very active in the youth band, singing company, senior band, songsters and corps cadets.

My father was a fine trombonist and conductor, my mother was a vocal soloist and my grandfather was an enthusiastic musical leader, so it was perhaps predictable that I would follow in their footsteps. My family was very involved in the corps, so naturally
the time I spent at the corps was very important – although I must admit that music played a critical role from my early years on.

My great-great-grandfather was saved when he was in a pub and he saw the Salvation Army band march by on their way to an open-air meeting. He followed them and was gloriously converted that day. Our family has been an Army family ever since.

SS: How has music played a role in your life’s work?

NSS: Well, as a child I began learning to play trombone, piano, and later the string bass, and continued studying throughout my teen years and into college. After I graduated from Colchester, I answered an ad in the Salvationist (U.K.) for a position here in
the States in the Texas Division.

Jim Anderson came to Chelmsford to interview me, and I was hired as a divisional music director in 1998. I taught music in corps throughout that great division until I returned to England in 2002, where I worked as a peripatetic teacher, ran a music school, qualified as
a teacher and taught music at a high school.

In 2004, I moved back to the U.S. to work at the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex Command to manage five School for Performing Arts programs operated by the Army. In 2006, I moved back over to divisional headquarters as deputy divisional music director.

I came to territorial headquarters in 2008 as music publishing and marketing specialist.

SS: Now that you have become the new territorial music and creative arts education
secretary, you replace Dr. Holz, who is a living legend in the South. Is that intimidating to you?

NSS: This is a dream job. I never thought I would be asked to do this, and certainly not at my age. I would have been happy at my (former) position another 10 years. I love to write and publish music, but there is no other department like this around the (Army) world and I’m honored to be promoted to this position. I’m 34 now, and this will be my last job, so
by the time I retire I will have given about as many years as Dr. Holz has, so I know I have big shoes to fill.

I don’t feel intimidated because I’m surrounded by such a great staff. I’m excited about the challenges. Things are running very well; Dr. Holz has brought the program up in every area. For instance, Territorial Music Institute (TMI) has grown to about 250 kids attending – when 15 years ago it was running about 150. Dr. Holz has done great work and so I’m not going to “change the world!”

I’ve inherited a great program and a very competent staff. But I am conscious that he is a
musical icon in the Army world and that my work is cut out for me.

SS: What are some of the goals you’ve set for your department?

NSS: I want this department to be known for resourcing the territory. We want to aid the DMDs and corps in the field in their presentations of worship however and wherever we can.

I’m really keen on blended worship, using our traditional music forces as well as creative arts and also our contemporary music groups. I like the multigenerational blend of corps worship through the many mediums of music and creative arts.

The corps and divisional music programs are really “where the rubber meets the road,” and this department will strive to be a resource to them. We want also to build on the success of TMI and Worship Arts Retreat, and to continue becoming more diverse in the creative arts program. Kids these days want to do hip-hop and lyrical dance – so it’s not only
band and timbrels anymore.

Other areas of music education will be emphasized as well: leadership training, piano instruction, music theory and conservatories. We will continue this territory’s prominent role in publications for our traditional Salvation Army music forces.

Finally, we want to support the mission of the Army in any way we can. Many young people struggle spiritually and I see the music and creative arts forces as playing a critical role in first attracting young people to the corps, and then holding on to them.

SS: It’s apparent that you have a heart for the youth of our territory. Why is that?

NSS: When I was a youth in the Chelmsford Corps, my Y.P. Bandmaster was David Hayward. He was a silver-haired older man, and many called him “impatient” in his music instruction to us because he wanted results and he wanted to see us grow, musically and spiritually.

I observed him for years and learned a great lesson. Without fail, for every practice we had, he was always there before anyone else arrived, and he would be sitting in his chair waiting for us and greeting each one of us when we walked into the corps hall. He wanted
that personal connection – he didn’t want to be just “that music guy.”

So it’s important to me to address the spiritual issues of the group. The musical part of the job is fairly small in comparison to the ministry.

I want to be as successful to others as Bandmaster Hayward was in my life.

 

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Southern Territorial Community Care Ministries Conference inspires appropriate action

By Brooke Turbyfill
Southern Spirit staff

The biannual Southern territorial conference for Community Care Ministries leaders was held at territorial headquarters Jan. 12-13. Seven of the South’s nine divisions were represented.

During the two days, divisional leaders shared ideas for creative ways to reach out to their communities and discussed best practices to take back to officers on the field. Lt. Colonel Marian Faulkner, territorial secretary for the Community Care Ministries Department, said, “The people around this table make a difference where they’re at because
they are the ones that stimulate the officers where they serve. What we want to do on the territorial level is tell them that what they do is making a difference, and then for them to
carry that message to the divisions. If just one person catches the vision of what we can be doing to minister in our communities, it can make all the difference.”

One highlight of the conference was listening to guest speaker Lauren Littauer Briggs, author of “The Art of Helping,” as she explained the top do’s and don’ts when ministering
to someone who is hurting.

Speaking from experience, Briggs has had the right and wrong approach shared with her during difficult times. Both of her brothers died as young sufferers from brain disease,
and she lived with her grandmother during the last few years of her life as she battled melanoma.

Briggs’ most poignant advice was based around examining the motive for reaching out to hurting people. “We have human frailties and we have human hearts with heartaches.
As we go out, we do need to address those human feelings.” Some of her do’s and don’ts include:

Don’t wait too long before you make initial contact.

Do respond in a timely manner. Her reasoning is practical. “Sometimes we aren’t comfortable, but the longer you wait, the more awkward it becomes.” Briggs also said that how well you know a person shouldn’t determine whether you visit them in person or not. Because dark circumstances make most people uncomfortable, even someone’s close friends may not have visited. You may be one of the few to express your concern
face-to-face.

Don’t minimize what the person is going through with comments such as, “It will all work out for the best.”

Do offer caring statements that show you recognize how difficult this time is for them.

Don’t say, “If you ever need anything, give me a call.” This actually shifts your responsibility to care for the hurting person onto him. The likelihood is that he won’t call.

Do be specific about the kind of help you can offer. Make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with doing. For example, offer to pick up some groceries while you’re out
shopping for your own family.

Don’t ask when the hurting person will feel like himself again. Once a person’s life is touched by tragedy, it is never the same.

Do acknowledge that life for the person has changed, and try to help him (over time)
find the new normal.

 

 

 


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