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THQ officers volunteer on Mississippi Gulf Coast

As part of this year's officers councils, THQ staff took time to carry out work details assigned to them at the Southern Mississippi Area Command. After a briefing from Majors Rob and Janine Vincent, area command leaders, groups of THQ officers were dispatched to Biloxi, Gulfport and Pass Christian to work on assembling furniture, sorting Christmas toys, stuffing envelopes for the upcoming holiday effort and laying tile on a kitchen floor. Two other groups also cooked and served lunch to volunteer workers and accompanied families getting groceries and disaster cleanup supplies. Officers are shown serving a hot lunch to workers at the Army's Volunteer Village.

 Straight from the Heart

Along the way

Recently I re-read the account of Jesus joining the two very despondent disciples walking from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus. There were new questions surfacing in my spirit.

Why were they upset? The quick answer is that the crucifixion was interpreted as the end of the life of the one they thought was Messiah. Jesus questioned the two: "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" Cleopas replied: "Are you only a visitor in Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days...about Jesus of Nazareth? He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people."

On a national level, the disciples had a very myopic view of God's agenda. We're on the precipice of the birth of the Church, a merging into one of Jew and Gentile, now part of the people of God together through the eternal blood of the New Covenant. These disciples grasped only a small, blunted and short-sighted, if not self-serving, view of Messiah.

On a personal level, disappointment and confusion was running rampant in these two as their leader was overcome by the very oppressors they had expected him to conquer.

My questions: Do I take anything away from the reality of who Jesus is or diminish Him in any way when things don't turn out as I expect them to? Where was the affirmation by them now that He was Messiah?

The truth is that we can never look to circumstances alone when we're talking about and discussing the things of God. The disciples gave Jesus the facts but not the truth. Circumstances are not our gauge - His Word is. His promises are sure. Talking and discussing problems may be a first step but not a final step. We need to ask for revelation. When Jesus shows up in the middle of our dialogues, facts move to truth and recognition to revelation.

In the middle of your own Emmaus road walk, Jesus wants to rendezvous with you. He wants you not only to recognize Him but to continually reveal Himself to you in ways you've yet to recognize Him fully. Be careful in the process of talking about your losses, your grief experiences, your struggles and your difficulties not to diminish the Person of Jesus. He is our resurrected Lord - Prophet, Priest and King.


Finding love amid the destruction

Ann Hains doesn't think too much about what she lost because of Hurricane Katrina. Instead, she is very thankful to God for what she has found.

Hains, a divorced woman still raising her teenage daughter, was living in an apartment in Biloxi - her home for the past 15 years. She "rode out" other storms before, so she determined to ride this one out as well.

But when forecasters warned that Katrina would probably achieve a Category 5 status and hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast head-on, Hains felt it was too late to leave. She filled her car with gas, loaded up on supplies and prayed.

"I know this sounds crazy, but during the storm I really wasn't scared," Hains said. "I had an incredibly peaceful feeling that we would be O.K. I only got scared a few days after the storm, when the infrastructure crumbled all around us."

Roof damage allowed rainwater to soak her carpets and furniture, and soon the smell of mold and mildew was nearly unbearable.

"To make matters worse, there was looting all over our neighborhood. We just didn't feel safe anymore," she said.

Hains and her daughter loaded the car with what they could salvage. They headed north, the only open course available to them, and ended up in Tennessee.

Repairs were made to their apartment complex and by Christmas, mother and daughter moved back to Biloxi.

"My background is in mental healthcare, so I got a job conducting crisis counseling for other disaster victims door-to-door," she said.

That's when her life really changed.

Dr. Don Hains, a clinical psychologist with a practice in New Orleans, lost everything in the storm. He came to Biloxi in hopes of starting over. While volunteering with the same agency as Anne, they met and fell in love.

By August they were married.

"Katrina had an effect on me that nothing else could have," Hains said. "As traumatic as the disaster was, there was one good thing that happened to me - I met the man of my dreams!"

Hains also met The Salvation Army. A position opened with the Army's Katrina Aid Today program, and she applied. She is now KAT program director for the state of Mississippi.

"I love working for this organization!" she said. "It is a Christian ministry, helping people get past the worst disaster in our country's history. Working with the staff and helping people recover has brought me so close to the Lord."

When Hains talks about her new husband and new job, she gets nearly as giddy as a schoolgirl.

"Katrina was horrific, and death and destruction was everywhere. But in all that, the Lord brought two beams of sunshine to me through the dark stormclouds: a Christian husband and working for The Salvation Army," she said.

"Who could ask for more?"


Sacrificial giving


The West Volusia, Fla., Corps is located in a community in which many of the residents are poor and need groceries. West Volusia Corps Sergeant-Major Gary Heath invited people in the corps to bring in food items for the corps pantry for the harvest ingathering. Many of the soldiers struggle to make ends meet themeselves, but they gave sacrificially. (L-R) Heath, Home League Secretary Sharon Heath, corps cadet Nicole Higginbotham, Captains Mark and Tanya Dooley and Bill May.



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