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Volume 24, No. 21

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The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory

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Dec 7, 2007

Comm. Feener | Maj. Satterlee |Maj. Duracher| Maj. Senft | Mr. Priest

Helpings from The HeartThanks Giving in Orlando

Over 18,000 ‘family members’ arrive for Thanksgiving Dinner in Orlando, Fla.

Every year Diane and Eric Holm invite a few family members and friends over for Thanksgiving Dinner – 18,500, that is.

“Helpings from the Heart” is an Orlando, Fla., community Thanksgiving dinner event now in its 15th year. From its inception in 1992 in the Holms’ restaurant on West Colonial Drive, the
annual celebration soon moved to the Army’s corps complex. The project has mushroomed to a massive, well-planned operation supported by some 1,100 volunteers and serving well over 18,000 thankful diners.

Eric Holm, owner of Golden Corral franchises in north Florida and Atlanta, said the project is his way of giving thanks to God for many blessings.

“It’s too bad it needs to be done,” Holm said, “because there are so many people who are down on their luck and cannot afford a nice Thanksgiving dinner, or who are just lonely and want to share this. » More

Over 18,000 ‘family members' arrive for Thanksgiving Dinner in Orlando, Fla.

By Major Frank Duracher
Southern Spirit staff

Every year Diane and Eric Holm invite a few family members and friends over for Thanksgiving Dinner - 18,500, that is.

"Helpings from the Heart" is an Orlando, Fla., community Thanksgiving dinner event now in its 15th year. From its inception in 1992 in the Holms' restaurant on West Colonial Drive, the annual celebration soon moved to the Army's corps complex. The project has mushroomed to a massive, well-planned operation supported by some 1,100 volunteers and serving well over 18,000 thankful diners.

Eric Holm, owner of Golden Corral franchises in north Florida and Atlanta, said the project is his way of giving thanks to God for many blessings.

"It's too bad it needs to be done," Holm said, "because there are so many people who are down on their luck and cannot afford a nice Thanksgiving dinner, or who are just lonely and want to share this day with others."

In addition to Golden Corral, The Salvation Army's partners in the holiday venture include Pepsi, U.S. Foods, Meadowbrook Meat Company, Harvill's Produce, the McIlhenny Company/Tabasco Brands, Bubbalous Barbecue and Sprint.

For Diane and Eric, their association with The Salvation Army is not limited to November - the couple is heavily involved with Army ministries throughout the year. Eric is an advisory board member, and Diane is a member and past-president of the Women's Auxiliary. Even their daughter, Danielle, is an auxiliary member - making Diane and Danielle one of several mother-daughter Women's Auxiliary tandems in the USA Southern Territory - a growing trend of late.

"We love large families!" said Diane Holm, when asked how it feels to have 15,000 folks over for Thanksgiving dinner. "It's such a blessing to have everyone together for what has become an annual ‘family reunion' of holiday diners and volunteers."

Teresa Sanders, Orlando Area Command volunteer coordinator, said that many first-time volunteers love working on this project so much that they sign up to volunteer for next Thanksgiving. "There are many things to do, and everyone is so willing to help," Sanders said. "Some are on the serving line; others clean up after each diner. We even have volunteers writing messages to U.S. troops overseas."

Probably the toughest job belongs to Jason Gronlund, on loan each year from Tabasco to serve as kitchen manager for the event. During the rest of the year, Gronlund is executive chef for the McIlhenny Company/Tabasco Brand Products Corporation.

"I was with Eric for the first event 15 years ago," Gronlund said. "Every year it has grown until now we know we will serve 6,000 pounds of turkey and ham, 11,000 pounds of vegetables and fruits, 3,000 pounds of stuffing, and 600
gallons of brown gravy."

"This is Amy's and my first Thanksgiving here in Orlando, and we are in awe to witness the spirit of giving from Eric, Diane and an army of volunteers," said Major Andrew Kelly, Orlando area commander.

Kelly observed that there is no measurement of need to be given a free Thanksgiving dinner among these "family and friends" - someone of means may be alone and just "need" someone to have this meal with, and they are welcome, he said.

"The food is hot and the smiles are plentiful," Kelly said.

Back to top.

An innovative component of Effective Prayer

We are about midway through our year of nonstop prayer, and God is answering prayer in truly remarkable ways. In addition to the astounding reports we receive, we give God the glory for the innovative ways in which soldiers and friends are embracing our Prayer Initiative across the USA Southern Territory - and beyond!

One such innovation is something we heard about through our National Headquarters. Our comrades there told us about "Pray21" - a concept formed by another Christian organization. Pray21 is a prime example of how people can get into the habit of praying. Our territorial youth leaders, Majors Kelly and Donna Igleheart, thought it would be a perfect fit for the South's youth. They introduced it at TYI and our youth took it from there - literally! Armed with 21 devotionals written by a cross section of Salvationists and shared with a growing list of email addresses daily, prayer is lifted to the Father's throne on
a constant basis. Other e-prayers join in from around the world, adding their own thoughts and answers to prayer.

Major Donna Igleheart explains: "We launched Pray21 to support our 24/7 Prayer Initiative. The thought was not only to be intentional about prayer but to provide a prayer devotional, prayer focus and action direction. We are receiving wonderful reports of how the devotionals have blessed the young people, corps officers and others who are not part of the Army but who are believers using the emails for their own church."

Pray21 groups have sprung up on college and high school campuses and in other churches and Bible study groups. While it was youth who initially took hold of Pray21, believers of all ages are engaged in regular prayer.

We are very excited about what the Lord is doing, and we know that the Holy Spirit is doing something big among believers and that revival is coming!

We praise God for answered prayer, and for His goodness to us throughout the year. So let's keep praying!

The mess around the manger

When my daughter Sharon was 7 she made a little craft in Junior Legion - a piece of Christmas wrap folded in half. On the outside it says, "The Greatest Christmas Gift." Inside is a picture of Jesus in the manger. We have put this out first under the Christmas tree every year since she made it over 20 years ago. It is the first thing placed under the tree, but it isn't long before it's buried by gifts. After Christmas when the gifts are given out and the shreds of gift wrap are put in the trash it reappears, the last thing left.

Around this time of year there are a lot of complaints about how commercial Christmas has become. While Halloween candy is still being sold, the stores decorate for Christmas. Santa Claus clones populate the malls, shopping centers, parties and stands of football games. Rudolph with his 100-watt nose leads the reindeer forth once more, himself the creation of a store promotion. Meanwhile, retailers bemoan that this season will not return the profits hoped for in their optimistic sales projections. So the deals become more fantastic, the contests promise grander prizes and credit card companies delay payments until half the playthings we bought lie broken at the bottom of some toy box. And just try to find a nativity set in most stores. They are all but absent either because retailers don't want to offend their customers with a religious message or, worse yet, people just don't care about displaying them anymore. And now we have to bear with the politically correct, "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Somehow the mess around the manger has succeeded in covering the Baby Jesus altogether.

It's not just the secular world that has cluttered the crib. The Christian world has bought into this just as badly. There are well-meaning and often reverent attempts to "enhance" the Christmas story. A quick internet search yielded a host of Christmas legends, including the babushka, candy cane, rose, thorn, evergreen tree, mistletoe, holly, poinsettia, robin, sage plant, spider, stork, three purses, thunder oak, wreath, the fourth wise man and on and on. What started as a simple depiction of Christ's birth with the nativity scene now has morphed into chubby-cheeked and wide-eyed figurines or ones that look like forest animals or modern art monstrosities.

It's as if we can't let the truth of Christmas stand alone.

God interrupted the downward slide of a damned race. In the Incarnation the normal human course was trumped by the Son of God not being formed by the two cells of a man and woman but the single cell of Mary given life by the Holy Spirit. He awaited the time to come when He would be born to reclaim the world that in its rebellion had torn itself away from Him. There waiting for Him on that chilly night would be the blistered hands of Joseph. Denied a role in Jesus' conception, Joseph would be the first to touch Him. Could he have imagined that God would be so soft or His breath so gentle? And then Mary held Him and cuddled Him to give Him warmth and her love. Cloth little better than rags wrapped Him against the cold, His royal raiment for the moment when coarse shepherds knelt in worship. What story could be more beautiful in its simplicity? What story could be more profound in its grandeur? Maybe it's time we pushed away the mess around the manger and looked again to see who is there. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:14 KJV).

What matters most

On the grounds of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home 200 years ago, there is a cemetery where family members are interred. Atop Jefferson's grave stands an obelisk on which is inscribed that founding father's own list of three accomplishments: authored the Declaration of Independence;
founded the University of Virginia; and authorized the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Some historians are astounded that Jefferson failed to list that he was the third U.S. president. They reason that it just didn't matter that much to him.

It makes one wonder what earthly inscription will record your priorities for future generations to read. What matters most to you?

One of my cousins, a Christ-like example during my youth, died unexpectedly while he was preaching. On his marker is written, "A man after God's own heart." The reference is similar to that of King David in 1 Samuel 13:14 - and many members in my family can attest that if such a description could apply to anyone, it does for Bill Mason.

Preaching Christ mattered more to Bill than anything else.

I've never known a truly born-again man or woman who left a bad legacy. When Jesus is first place in your heart, it shows.

Your life can tell the world: "Christ matters more to me than anything!"

It means you will be remembered on earth and honored in heaven.

What could possibly mean more to you than that?

That He may be formed in us

Birth is miraculous and mysterious, but it is also messy. There is nothing pretty about giving birth. It used to be that only the doctor and his or her staff attended the delivery. Then fathers were allowed to be present. Today it is not uncommon for a delivery room to host several family and friends as the labor and delivery process takes place. Television often makes the act of giving birth an armchair sport as you watch the almost predictable "sudden sharp pain" give way to a little child in minutes. The truth is that labor is painful, hard work. The mother experiences more than a little discomfort.

Mary had none of the modern conveniences that help mothers in labor these days. We can only imagine what it must have been like for her in an environment that was far from sterile and barren of comfort. Mary's labor and delivery had already been prophesied to bring forth one formed like us so that we could have Him formed in us. Christ in us, the hope of glory. The only hope for our rebellious, sinful spirits. The promise of the glory to be like Him.

Jim Cymbala conveyed the horrendous experience of a loving, obedient daughter gone out of control. She wandered the streets of New York - her whereabouts, much less her condition, unknown to her parents. He told of a Tuesday night prayer meeting with hundreds of his parishioners interceding for the lives of people, when one woman told Cymbala that the Lord spoke to her directly about praying for his daughter right at that moment. He described that experience as a great travail, just like when a woman gives birth. The miraculous and the mysterious met again with the messiness of what it means to give spiritual birth. Not long after that prayer meeting, the Cymbalas' daughter came home in repentance to be restored.

He was formed in our fashion so that we could have Him formed in us. These "weeks" of prayer that have been taking place all over our territory need to continue. They are the labor and delivery rooms for the souls of men. We must travail "until Christ be formed in us and in others."

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend in us we pray: cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us today!

A life's expression

As I write this, I am filled with grief at the recent promotion to Glory of Jon Bradbury, who served as multi-media ministries assistant in the Communications Bureau at THQ. Yet I know that he is now "safe in the arms of Jesus."

It was an honor and privilege to be invited by Jon's parents, Majors Clarence and Linda Bradbury, to pay tribute to this dear friend at both the memorial service here in Atlanta and the funeral service in Toronto. In collecting my thoughts I am consistently drawn to the Army's five core values - the personality of the Army - which were expressed in his short life of just 24 years, and the even shorter time that his close colleagues and I got to know him.

I am constantly reminded that these expressions are the DNA in which we all serve, first as soldiers of Christ, then evangelists of the Army's mission. In reviewing each in turn, I am quickly able to associate our dear departed friend with exactly that expression.

Passionate: Being passionate for your belief in a cause is vital to that belief and your personal attitude towards life in general. Jon Bradbury believed wholeheartedly in the mission and purpose of The Salvation Army. It wasn't that he said it every day - he lived it out in his work, in his interactions with those around him, and as someone with great vision for the Army's mission.

Compassionate: I firmly believe that we all need compassion for those whom we serve and for our overall mission. Anyone who would "play along" with this has not only a shallow outlook on life but are surely doing no more than fooling themselves and God. Jon saw the compassion in others as he learned of the Army's outstretched arms across the world. He embraced this compassion, making it his own experience in all that he did.

Brave: Jon and I have seen tremendous bravery within our ranks as we have traveled this country and overseas, capturing on video the Army's unique story. Earlier this year in New Orleans, we interviewed caseworkers who are serving Katrina victims. Some of these unsung heroes lost as much (and in some situations, more) as their clients. They are still reliving the nightmare each day as they offer Christ's love through assistance programs. Jon's bravery was evident in his struggle with medical challenges through the greater part of his earthly life and especially in recent weeks with an illness that took his young life.

Uplifting: They are the encouragers, the minority affirming your words and actions without advancing their own personal agendas. Jon was one of these, quietly providing support and encouragement to all he met. He certainly uplifted the members of our team with his consistent support.

Trustworthy: How many times has a lack of trust in a person or situation occupied your thoughts and challenged your own positive spirit? God has asked us to trust Him! God is in control of our lives - and the universe! Within that most direct of Scriptural commands we must also learn to trust each other as children of God.

Jon's life was that of Doing the Most Good - a promise that he exemplified in his work. He was that promise, and his spirit lives on in the same way.

I make no apologies for centering this column on an individual. I have done so because of a growing realization that Passionate, Compassionate, Brave, Uplifting, and Trustworthy are necessary traits in all of us. That is specially so if we are to search, identify and exemplify the truest act of Doing the Most Good.


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