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Álvaro and Danitza Porras direct the Winchester, Va., Hispanic Outpost.

Hispanic outpost is getting established in Winchester, Va.

By Major Frank Duracher

Southern Spirit staff

The congregation of an Hispanic outpost recently celebrated their second anniversary as an outreach ministry of the Winchester Corps in northern Virginia. A festive celebration marked the event, giving thanks to God and trusting Him for the future.

Álvaro and Danitza Porras are outpost directors for a thriving congregation of about 70 members, just over half of which are Salvation Army soldiers. A growing Hispanic population in Winchester presents an opportunity and a challenge to plant a church among Spanish-speaking residents. The couple accepted that challenge, and through prayer, visitation and a constant effort to introduce The Salvation Army to that population segment, the ministry is bearing fruit for God's Kingdom.

Álvaro and Danitza Porras were Salvationists in Costa Rica, and soon after they married and immigrated to America, they felt called to plant churches in Hispanic communities. After much prayer, they were led to begin in Winchester.

"At our first meeting two years ago, we had 15 people in attendance. It was a prayer meeting, really, but from that group our first members emerged and became the core for local leadership we have today," Álvaro Porras said.

There are other Hispanic churches in the community, but with a population increase of over 600% over the past five years, pastors are realizing that there is room for the unique ministry of The Salvation Army for unchurched families and friends.

"There is a deep trust among Hispanic pastors in this city," Porras said. "They trust us to not steal their members, and they are not afraid to send people to us for social services. If a family is unchurched, we can invite them to our fellowship. This benefits all branches of the Christian church."

The outpost has steadily grown over the past two years, in part because of prayer cells and Bible-study groups led by the soldiers in their homes. The outpost also produces a weekly television program in Spanish, broadcast on a local cable station. The program is produced with the help of the soldiers and is always aimed at educating the audience as to what The Salvation Army is all about.

Danitza Porras, who also works as a Salvation Army mission specialist for the Winchester Corps, represents The Salvation Army at city council meetings and community events, further adding to the visibility of Salvationists in the area. She uses that opportunity to keep the Army informed about Latino issues and needs.

"Winchester may be a smaller city than, say, Washington, D.C., or Dallas, but we see that as an advantage for our mission strategy here," she said. "We have a ‘partnership with Christ' among other churches and we work very well together."

The congregation is anxious to continue making an impact on people's lives for God's glory and the good of the Army, she said.

Lt. Colonel William Crabson and his wife, LaVerne, have led the National Capital-Virginia Division for nine years.

Crabsons have made the most of long appointment

By Major Frank Duracher

Southern Spirit staff

In what may be a record for the Southern Territory for longest tenure as leaders of one division, Lt. Colonels William and LaVerne Crabson give God the glory for nine years in the National Capital-Virginia Division. With just two years until their retirement, the Crabson's appointment may extend to 11 years.

"We've had a unique relationship to this division, going back to our first staff assignment as divisional youth leaders back in the 1970s. Actually this is our third appointment on this staff," William Crabson said.

Their many years in NCV have given the Crabsons an advantage in forging lasting friendships for the Army with public and business leaders, particularly in the Washington metropolitan area.

"If there is a downside, there are few surprises left," Crabson mused. "People know my style, mannerisms and expectations. They've seen me go through it all, so they know what to expect!"

That aside, Crabson said that much has been accomplished in the division, and similar to a corps officer or pastor being able to see more fruit the longer he stays in one church, the same is probably true for divisional commanders.

"We've made mistakes, but there have been so many pluses. God has done so much in this division. We are honored to be a part of it," he said.

Crabson acknowledged that the Army's system does not necessarily communicate the value of a long assignment - so any appointment exceeding nine years, including divisional leaders, is rare.

As an example of this, Crabson remembers his first corps officers as he grew up in Baltimore Hampden. By coincidence, (then) Captains Klon and Bert Kitchen served for 11 years in that corps. He attributes the corps success during that period to the hard work of the soldiers and the leadership of the Kitchens.

If church-growth principles can be applied to leading a division, this may be a case-in-point. Despite economic challenges and cataclysmic events, such as the September 11 attack on the Pentagon, Salvationists have risen to the occasion, he said. The result is a strong division, built on faith and Christ-like service.

Crabson has three goals for the remaining two years of his leadership in NCV. The first goal is to implement the East of the River Initiative (ERI), a different concept for a new corps building in the eastern area of Washington. Second, conduct a strategic plan for the Army's work in the National Capital area. Third, he plans to establish an endowment fund to underwrite operating costs for three signature social services programs: the Harbor Light Center, the Turning Point program (transitional housing for women), and the ERI.

Young people get equipped for spiritual warfare at Atlanta International

The Atlanta International Corps sponsored a three-night Youth Praise Revival, featuring speaker Charlie Kae, a youth pastor from Springfield, Mo. Kae's sermon series was themed "The Silent Skirmish."

"We want youth to know of the battle for their soul," Kae said. "It's a battle that so many young people are not even aware is going on." The revival meetings helped youth in illuminating, equipping and instructing the ways of spiritual warfare.



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