Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Is This Really Camden?

Carol Riley remembers the tears running down her face as she watched her 7-year-old grandson Aziz Goode swim for the first time. 

"The biggest thing [The Salvation Army's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center] did for me besides keeping him in a safe place, was you taught my child how to swim," Riley said. "Aziz learned how to swim here. We came to watch him – his mother, his father and me – and all we did was cry. Aziz can swim, and then he also went scuba diving? Where are we? Is this really Camden?"

Seeing her grandson at all is a gift that Riley counts her blessings for every day. After what she has been through, seeing Aziz born, let alone seeing him grow up, seemed unlikely. Ten years ago, Riley suffered a stroke; and then another and another. All told, Riley has suffered five strokes over the course of the last decade. The days lost to hospital beds have been far too many to count. Yet whatever toll those strokes have taken from here physically, they have done nothing to disrupt her mentally or slow her hunger for her family to succeed. 

"This is something on my bucket list – to spend valued time with my grandchildren before I go to sleep," Riley said passionately. "But before I go to sleep, they are going to have to tie me down. Thanks to this place and Life of Lords – which is where I go for medical and is the reason I'm alive – between mentally here and physically there, I might be here for a while."

Riley became aware of what the Kroc Center had to offer shortly after its opening. Her nephew had been going through health problems and hoped the fitness components the building had to offer could help him become healthier. 

"He's lost fifty pounds since coming here," Riley said. "I knew I had to come check it out."

As summer approached, she also knew she had to find a way to get her grandson into the six-week summer camp offered at the Kroc Center. So with the help of Aziz's father, Riley made the financial investment necessary to ensure Aziz's summer would be one to remember.   

 "The most positive thing that I have seen here this summer is that children in Camden have somewhere to go," said Riley. "I have lived in Camden for over 50 years and used to sit and watch the fireman come here (the Kroc Center site which used to be a landfill) because the fire would be coming out of the ground. I've been here a long time. Children have somewhere to go now. You really don't know how many lives you have saved here. These kids come in here in droves. They love this place, and I like it too."

"I had to find somewhere for my grandson to go for the summer where I knew he could be safe,” Riley continued. There are so many children and young black males, and Hispanics and whites killed on these streets every day.”

Riley paused before speaking about two young men in their 20s who were killed in Camden the night before. 

"I don’t care what city or town you are in - things happen, and I don't want my child to be out there. I thank God for his blessings for allowing us to be here."

In addition to learning how to swim, Aziz has improved on his math skills thanks in small part to the café. Riley makes sure her grandson can count change before allowing him to order a meal.

Despite seeing so many tragic things in her 50-plus years living in Camden, Riley's outlook is one of extreme positivity. She believes things have made a serious stride in the right direction in recent years and that the Kroc Center is a major step in the right direction for the city's future. 

"I have friends that come here from Voorhees," she said with a raised brow. "That's interesting to me. People never wanted to come through (Camden) on the bus, but they come here to the Kroc Center because they always know they are safe. You see people walking here, you see people coming in buses, cabs. People are coming to this place. This place is awesome."

After being through so much the last 10 years, Riley has a true appreciation for life and the time she gets to spend with her family. Having a place where that could happen this summer was the ultimate gift.  

"I couldn't have anything better," she said. "Kids always ask me what I want for my birthday, and I always tell them 'love, peace and happiness.' And God knows this has been my love, peace and happiness to have my grandson with me."

Written by Eric Schwartz
Operations Assistant
The Salvation Army Kroc Center - Camden

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How to Say ‘No’ to Temptation

All of us are tempted to do the wrong thing. If we desire to live like Christ, then we must follow His example and say 'no' to temptation. But how do we do that? Is there a secret formula? Well, I do not know if it is secret, but I believe that there are things that we can do if we truly want to be like Jesus.

First, know your enemy 

If you want to win at sports, it is important that you know your opponent; strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, personnel etc. In the faith journey, it is crucial that we are aware that we have an enemy that is attempting to get us off of the narrow way. We learn from Jesus that He was able to say no to temptation because He knew his enemy.  

a. Satan is a liar. John 8:44, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies." Look what he tried to do to Jesus; "if you are the Son of God..." then later, "if you are the Son of God..." He tried to create uncertainty in the truth. He did the exact same thing to Eve and it worked - "Did God really say that you must not eat from any tree in the garden?" - Genesis 3:1. See the lie and the attempt to deceive. This is his strategy, and when we know the enemy, then we can be on our guard.

b. He is out to steal, kill and destroy. John 10:10 - "the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, I have come that you may have life and have it to the full." When you realize that what you are being invited to do is going to destroy you – it is the enemy.  When you realize that what you are being invited to take is going to steal your joy, your reputation, your marriage etc. it is the enemy. 
c. When you know your enemy, you can resist the devil, and he will run away. James 4:7 says, "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will run away." Jesus did that in Luke 4 – Satan lied and said that Jesus could use His power for selfish purposes. Jesus saw through the lie and said no. Satan lied and attempted to give to Jesus what was not his to give (authority and splendor of the world). Jesus saw through this and said no. Then, Satan lied and said that Jesus could get followers by doing the spectacular. Jesus saw through this lie and knew that He could only get true followers if he went to the cross, so he said no.

Secondly, Know the Word

Please note what Jesus used as his weapon to say no to temptation. He used the Word.  Matthew verse 4, "it is written..." verse 7, "it is written...", verse 10, "it is written..." Because Jesus was well acquainted with the truth, He could spot any lie.
The way to expose a lie is to know the truth.  And spiritually, the truth we have is the Word.

Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

When the temptation comes to gossip or lie, the word tells us, let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth. Or you shall not bear false witness (lie). Knowing the truth short-circuits the lie, and allows us to say no to the invitation to sin.

When the temptation comes to steal, we can use the word ‘you shall not steal’ and counteract the invitation to sin.

When the temptation comes to give in to the addiction, we can use the word, "your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit" or "do not become drunk," and remove the stinger, and make it powerless.

So, we see so far, we can say no to temptation like Jesus when we know the enemy and know the Word.  But we also need to:

Know the way out

Cheriann and I recently attended a movie at a theatre. Part of the announcements on the screen before the film began was to take note of where the exits were located. Look behind you, in front of you etc. This way, you will be armed with knowledge that could save your life in the event the lights go out, a fire starts or worse. Knowledge of the way out allows you to be successful in case of an emergency.

Jesus succeeded against the tempter because he knew the way out. And so can you. 

1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide you a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Did you catch it? When you are tempted, He will provide you a way out. 

You can feel when temptation comes at you – to use, to view pornography, to steal, to gossip, to not put in a full-days work, that a great darkness has come over you.  This is absolutely true.  But we are provided with a way out.

What is the way out?

It is a light - Psalm 119:105 - "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

2 Peter 1:19 - "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."

It is a presence - Because He himself suffered when he was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. His very presence will guide us out of the temptation and into the safety of God's light.   

You can say 'no' to temptation if you will know your enemy, know the Word and know the way out, and then, in the end, good things will happen. James 1:12 - "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life."

Written by Major Kevin Stoops
Montclair Citadel

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Let the Busyness Begin!

If your house is anything like mine, the relaxed pace of summer has been replaced by the non-stop frenzy of fall. At work, I'm closing in on fiscal year end activities, my wife has started a new job, our eldest is taking classes at our local community college and working his first job, our middle son is heavily involved in band and taking advanced placement test courses, and our youngest is being challenged by 7th grade. When you throw in church activities and our heavy involvement in Boy Scouts, it seems as if every minute of every day is packed before I even get out of bed. There are days where I wish I could just quit everything and start over, but then I realize that would accomplish nothing, as I seem to be incapable of saying no when asked to volunteer, so I'm sure I'd be quickly back where I started. When I feel like things are truly spinning out of control, I have three activities that help me get centered.

First, I spend some quiet time with God. I admit this isn't easy, but even taking five minutes to shut out the world and focus on God gives me a fresh perspective, renewed strength and less stress. On my phone, I have several go-to Scripture verses bookmarked that help me put my focus back on God. One such passage that I have cherished for more than 30 years is Psalm 46:1-3. In the New American Standard Bible it reads, "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride." When I take a few moments to meditate on this passage, the busyness and stress of my day melt away as I recognize that God has got my back, and no matter what I go through, He is in control.

My second strategy is to take a glance through the photo gallery on my phone. I love to take pictures with my family when we're out and about. Even though it annoys them at times, all those memories help me to see that even though we're busy, we have fun! That fun bubbles up to the front of my mind and helps me relax and realize that it's all worth it - after all, you only live once!

Finally, I try to do something physical. I confess that this is my weakest strategy as I never seem to find enough time to exercise, but I do feel better after going for a walk or spending a few minutes on the rowing machine. Even mowing the lawn or pulling weeds can help get some of that anxiety and stress out. I am hopeful that I can make this strategy more of a priority in the next few months as I can benefit from another benefit of exercise - losing a bit of weight.

I hope that you find my experience helpful as you navigate your busy fall. If you're looking for more help with managing the stress and frenzy of your life, I encourage you to visit your local Salvation Army and chat with an officer. If there is not a Salvation Army Corps near you, consider visiting another place of Worship and talking with the minister. It's amazing what happens when you get spiritually centered!

Written by Richard Pease
Divisional Controller

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What Are You Doing Here?

Sunday (September 13, 2015) was a great day of Celebration Sunday in Asbury Park. The Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, New Jersey became a gigantic Corps Hall. September 13 marked the final summer Sunday morning worship for the season. For many years, the Asbury Park Corps has held forth and invited some of the greatest Army preachers of the day to bring a Holiness Message. I am told that Mrs. Commissioner Swanson took the opportunity to look through the guest speaker register. Surely a tear must have come to her eye when she discovered the signature of Commissioner Andrew S. Miller – her father.

Commissioner Barry Swanson took a very poignant text for this day of celebration and also reflection at the end of the summer. In I Kings 19:9 God asks Elijah a most probing question which has had me musing since. "What are you doing here?" God asks Elijah, and by extension all of us who follow the Lord God. I love to think about the great prophet with all his accomplishments, his loyalty to God, and even his legacy – literally his mantle of power.  But I don't like to think of the depressed, self-involved Elijah. You know, the one who hid in a cave after one of his greatest victories?

I guess it's because the self-involved Elijah is too much like me. We talk a lot about making a difference, about doing work for God, being God’s hands here and now. There are times when God comes quietly to me in my sulking self-made caves. And he asks, "What are you doing here?" He's really not asking a question, but reminding me that I'm not here to 'do' anything to help him.  

In this quiet moment, God comes to remind me why I'm here. Echoing across the ages is Jesus question to Peter: "Peter, Do you love me?" And then comes God's answer to all who follow Him: Simply, "Feed my Sheep." There you have it, Elijah's, Peter's, and our purpose as soldiers of Christ is to be:

"Channels only blessed Master,
But with all thy wondrous power
Flowing through me, thou canst use me
Every day and every hour."

Written by Major Carl E. Carvill
Asbury Park Corps

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

This Year’s School List Should Include Prayer

Keeping the date in mind when this will be posted, I cannot help but to think of our children, returning to school today or recently. I can draw upon many comparisons to my school days and the way things are now, and see some similarities, but the stark contrasts are by far the ones that come to mind most.

Sure, we had homework to hand in and tests to study for, and who can forget the pleasant pop quizzes that came along the way. That has not changed. We had the differences of opinion with either: a teacher; or a classmate; or even an upper classman to contend with, all a part of the school day which dealt more with the social aspect rather than curriculum. Generally speaking, that has not changed, save for the online social media aspect, which has been introduced and the fact that most school districts have started thwarting the bullying, which unfortunately often ruled the landscape.

My generation, however, had something priceless: feeling secure while at school. We never had to deal with bomb drills, and hiding under our desks, converting them into impromptu bomb shelters. We did not have to worry about lockdowns and people entering our school building, bringing with them an evil agenda of death and destruction of lives. Still, to this day, and after all the different tragedies that have taken place in our nation's schools, I am in disbelief. When did society take such a wrong turn that our schools became open targets for these horrible actions? I want to point out that we should not feel helpless or hopeless in the face of this adversity.

All of us have or know someone attending school this year. As believers of Christ, we can pray for these children, their teachers and school staff. Assure them that they are in the hands of God, whether or not they approach you with fear or hesitation. The fact of the matter is that our children will be better prepared for school if prayer is a part of their daily routine. It should be an integral part of their day as they strive to build a relationship with Him. Personally, I cannot think of something more comforting than knowing that God is on our side, as Father and Defender. After all, "The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" (Psalm 118:6, NIV).

Go the extra mile: Adding a Post-It with a message and prayer goes a long way! This year, let us not limit our children's preparedness to nice new apparel and school supplies; arm them with God's love and care as well.

Written by Jesabel Cruz
Office Manager and Case Worker, Red Bank Corps

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What Do I Do? My Parents Don't Love Me!

Have you ever felt that you were born by accident?

Have you ever felt like you are not part of the family you are in?

How do we love ourselves when we do not feel loved or wanted by those who brought us to this world?

Everyone at some point, especially during our youth, has faced situations where we feel unloved, unwanted and unaccepted. We at different points in our lives could form very negative ideas about our parents. In our society, often times, young couples have babies without much knowledge or experience in parenting. For many babies, the most common noises that they are exposed to are those of their parents yelling insults to each other; way before they learn to walk, they have already been exposed to abuse.

Many mothers, in times of great stress, caused by poverty or abandonment by their partners, have cursed the fruit of their wombs, and this affects many children, even in adulthood. Nothing causes more pain than feeling that the most important people in our lives - our parents - do not love us. Nothing causes more resentment, bitterness and depression than feeling that nothing we do can win the love of our parents.

Many young people are prone to fits of anger and violent outbursts because they feel their mother or father prefer their romantic interests or even another sibling over themselves. Young people often feel displaced by friends that their parents would rather hang out with, or by their parents drinking or other addictions.

I first wrote this article in Spanish, and over the years, I was amazed about how many young people identified with it. I have received hundreds of comments from young people of different ages stating their suffering, their desperation and isolation brought about by those feelings of abandonment and neglect from their parents. Often times, the question they have is, "How can we find courage to live productive lives when those we love do not expect anything good from us?"

The Bible tells a story that I'm sure will provide encouragement to us; Genesis 35:17-19.

This is the story of a woman name Rachel who died while struggling to give birth to her son. She had a very difficult delivery, with such pain that in her last words, she decided to call her son Ben-oni, which means "son of my sorrow." Imagine growing up with a name like that. Imagine being known by everyone in your school, the place you live, your soccer of baseball team as "Son of sorrow" because you caused the death of your own mother. 

Thankfully for this baby, his father was there and immediately changed his name from Ben-oni, son of sorrow, to Benjamin, which means "son of my right hand." Hardship and pain had caused that mother to call the fruit of her womb a name that reflected her suffering, rather than her hope. This mother wasn't thinking about this baby's future - she was focused on the pain she was experiencing, but the baby’' father wouldn't let this happen. He saw the baby and rather than focusing on his loss, he decided to focus on his gain and called his baby "Son of my right hand."

This story we've read is thousands of years old, but it is repeated again and again in homes devastated by poverty, ignorance, irresponsibility and vices. Often times, men and women filled with bitterness because they had thoughtlessly fell for a man or a woman who didn’t love them, see their children as a reminder of their past and as a source of pain and suffering. Rather than seeing their children as a ray of hope and a source of love, they insult them and call them names that don't reflect at all how God our father see them.

The book of Psalms 27:10 (NIV) says: "Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me."

Without a doubt, the pain of rejection is real. The lack of acceptance and love can make us weep to the point of wishing to die. One can often question God about why were we born. The emotional pain can cause many to follow the wrong path to self-destruction or fall pry of one bad relationship to another. But today, I want to tell you that although you feel alone in this world, even when you feel that no one loves you and the whole world doesn't care that you exist, God knows you and He knows your pain. God wants you to come to know him and He wants to be that mother or father who has not cared for you.

I know how difficult it is to even imagine that someone will actually care about our hurts and pain. I know how difficult it is when we are feeling lonely to believe that God can be anywhere near us. I know how difficult it is to believe that we could be loved by someone else when those people we were supposed to be the most important to don’t seem to care about us, but God does. God will not leave us not forsake us. I once read in a commentary that this word means that God will not leave and neither let us go; He will be there by our side, even in the days and times when don't want Him. He is a faithful friend. The first and most important thing to begin the journey of freedom is to forgive our parents. But it is not easy to forgive if we are focused only in our present circumstances - that is why we need God to give us hope.

In reading the stories of those young people who have sent me comments about their own experiences, I have come to realize something I didn't know when I was going through my own bad experience -I am not the only one who has experienced rejection. I am not the only one who has felt rejected or unloved. In fact, it is more prevalent than I never imagined. It seems that it is very much part of growing up. Now that I have my own children, I can see how often my wife or I have inadvertently said or done things that one our kids didn't think was fair, but after a few loving words, everybody was happy again.

Give God a chance, and let him love you today! Give God a chance.

Written by Lt. Giovanni E. Romero
Union City Corps

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Time of New Beginnings

June is the month of graduations. Today, there are graduations from pre-school right on down to college and even post-graduate. From high school and college, it is a transition into an adult world that seems so impossible to conquer. It is a time of job-searching in an economic climate where sought after jobs are scarce.

I remember the valedictorian who spoke at my high school graduation many years ago. She spoke of a fear of the unknown future. What would the tomorrows bring? Back in the days when education after high school was mostly the privilege of the affluent, I remember going to my first job interview. I was scared to death. Am I wearing the right outfit? What do I say? What questions should I ask?  Fortunately, my future employer was kind and aware of the normal jitters of a recent graduate, and I was hired after my first interview.

Transitions are always difficult and sometimes threatening, particularly those which thrust us from youth to the adult life. That may be why the Bible is full of the encouragement to trust God.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)

"Trust in God at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us." (Psalm 62:8) 

"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2)

The Bible is full of additional verses which encourage us to trust in God. He is utterly trustworthy, and by trusting Him, we are assured peace and security.

Life is uncertain. Whether you are a young adult facing post-graduation uncertainty or at an age when you face the same uncertainty at post-retirement, God is the same - yesterday, today, and for every tomorrow. His wisdom is perfect, and He knows each step of your life journey. He wants to walk that journey with you, promising never to leave you as you trust Him. Even when the way is uncertain; take courage from the promise that you are not alone.

The prophet Jeremiah knew about the uncertainties of life and he offers this encouragement:

"Most blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord; whose hope and confidence is in the Lord. He shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of the drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8 Amplified Bible.)

As a child, I was taught a simple poem that describes common plight of so many people today.

Said the robin to the sparrow,
"I would really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."

Said the sparrow to the robin,
"Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me."


God is trustworthy. Do not be afraid to turn your heart, your mind, your life over to Him, for He cares for you. 

Another prophet, Isaiah, discovered the secret of security in this life of uncertainty. He said of God, about the person who trusts in Him: "You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

That's how simple it is – just trusting and following God who is our rock in all uncertainties. That's what I want for myself, and that's what I pray will be your experience.

Written by Gloria Hohn

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Strong of Spirit and Faith

Sunday was Mother's Day. I've been a mother for almost 47 years, Yet, when Mother's Day comes around, I always think first of my mother.  My mother was a quiet woman, small of stature, but strong of spirit and faith. Widowed at 37 years of age, with five daughters to feed and care for, she trusted God to strengthen her for the overwhelming responsibilities which were then hers. She was born in Norway, and her whole immediate family was thousands of miles away, never available to lend a helping hand. All my childhood memories are happy ones. My mother died when I was just eleven years old.

My mother made the best waffles I ever tasted. She let us jump on the beds; requiring only that we take our shoes off and be careful not to get hurt. Though things must have been difficult financially, she always invited folks home for dinner after church on Sunday.  And my friends always wanted to come to my house to play; not a "house" but rather a railroad flat in the middle of New York City.

My mother emigrated from a very small island off the southwest coast of Norway when she was just nineteen. She came to Brooklyn and found work as a domestic maid. The island and farm that she left behind had neither cars nor any public transportation. She learned to maneuver the public transportation system of New York to attend night school to learn English. Though she excelled, she never lost her Norwegian accent. She became a proud American citizen, but could never deny her heritage. Anyone who spoke with her recognized she was not native born. Her country was now the United States of America, but her accent and spirit was Norway!

From my mother, I learned to trust in the provision of God for his children, and even though I was a child, I realized the sufficiency of Divine Grace which carried my mother through uncertain times. When my father died, I was only one year old. World War II was just beginning. My mother was separated from her family not only by distance, but by the boundaries of war, because Norway was occupied by the Nazi regime. There was no one to help her. Yet, God's grace was available to her, and she demonstrated that in marvelous ways. I thank God always for her and for the lessons she taught me. She was an American, her accent was Norwegian, and her Spirit was "Galilee." She walked in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom she loved and served.

My resolution for 2015 was that in every uncertain moment I would ask myself the question, "WWJD?" – or "What Would Jesus Do?" I think that is also part of my mother's gift to me – a sensitivity and desire to be like Jesus.

I often think, "Am I really like Jesus?" or "Did I respond as Christ would have responded in that situation?". The truth is that the answer to that question is sometimes "No!" But Christ loves us as we are and sees us as we can become. As we learn from our mistakes and seek His forgiveness, He offers it freely to us.  And I can almost hear Him whisper, "Do better next time, Gloria."

The great reformer Martin Luther put it far better than I can. He penned the words to the famous hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." The second stanza hits the nail on the head:

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.

The term "Lord Sabaoth" is a title familiar to Luther, a Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholar. The Hebrew term means "armies" and denotes the sovereignty of Christ over everything, both spiritual and earthly.  He has the power to enable us to live like him. He wants to transform us from the inside out.

2015 is one-third over. I wonder how I am doing in my resolution to become more like Jesus, to walk in obedience like my mother did. How about you?

Written by Gloria Hohn
Asbury Park Corps

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My Brother’s Keeper

Am I my brother's keeper?

Well, that depends. In reality, just because I say I am, that doesn't mean I'm effective in the role. First, let us take a moment to consider what exactly a keeper is. My good friend Google defines a keeper as: a person who looks after something or someone. Synonyms include: guardian, steward and caretaker. So let's ask ourselves again this way:

Am I my brother's guardian?

Am I my brother's steward?

Am I my brother's caretaker?

We read in Genesis 4:8-10, "Now Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let's go out to the field.' While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I don’t know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother’s keeper?' The Lord said, 'What have you done?' …"

The arrogance of man leads us to ask God ignorant questions, practically mocking Him. Understanding God knows all, Cain retorts to God's inquiry of his brother's whereabouts with, "Am I my brother’s keeper?" No Cain, you weren't.

In Batman Begins, Batman was on a doomed train with his adversary and says, "I don't have to kill you, but I don't have to save you either." Often times, this fits our lives. We may not have killed our brothers like Cain, but have we saved them?

God asks, "What have you done?"

Again, knowing full well the actions Cain had taken, God asks him that question. Being a keeper is more than being there - it's being present. It's more than talking to someone - it's speaking into them. It's more than instructing - also correcting them. You are their phone call in the middle of the week that encourages them. You are their coach, teammate and referee. You are their keeper ,and being their keeper is doing!

What have you done?

Are you killing your brother? Are you not saving him?

With so much turmoil in the world, here in the US, in our communities and even in our homes, the world is in desperate need of keepers!

(That goes for you too sisters ;-) God bless)

Father, my prayer is simply this, help me to be a keeper. 

Written by Lt. Darell Houseton
Newark Ironbound Corps

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

National Volunteer Week

We are celebrating this week!

This year commemorates 150 years of service by The Salvation Army.  From its origins in London, England in 1865, The Salvation Army has been committed to Doing the Most Good to serve those in need.  The Salvation Army New Jersey Division continues this long tradition by seeking to assist residents throughout the state with a wide variety of programs and services.

This week is National Volunteer Week, and we are celebrating service given by our volunteers.  The Salvation Army is using this special week to publicly acknowledge and thank our many volunteers throughout the state.  At The Salvation Army in New Jersey, we not only thank our volunteers during National Volunteer Week but also throughout the year as we recognize the vital role that our volunteers play to help assist almost 200,000 New Jersey residents each year.  The kindness, dedication and commitment of our volunteers to serve needy individuals and families throughout New Jersey is very much appreciated by The Salvation Army as well as the people that are served.  If you are a Salvation Army volunteer, we genuinely thank you for all that you do, as we would not be able to fulfill our mission without your help.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome to volunteer with us! We have a wide range of volunteer opportunities available to suit all ages and skills.  We even have volunteer opportunities to suit corporate, church or school groups.  All we require of our volunteers is a desire to make a difference and a heart to serve those in need.  If you are interested in volunteering with The Salvation Army New Jersey Division, please visit www.salvationarmynj.org/volunteer to view our volunteer opportunities and apply online.

Written by Judth Anderson
Volunteer Resources Manager