Hi, this is Bernie Dake.
Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Bernie Dake, and with me again is our producer, Chris Benjamin. Hello, everyone. Chris, I don't want you to be offended, but I enjoy seeing Cheryl here. But you have dulcet tones in your voice, so we're glad that you're part of the program. Well, I enjoy seeing Cheryl here as well, so don't be alarmed.
She'll be back. Amen. Chris, I don't know if you saw this too, but this week in our series, The Post-COVID Church, the panel and I discussed that moment in the early stages of the lockdown, when suddenly all of us had a reality check, like the honeymoon was over, now what? Yeah, I think if we're honest, for those of us that were blessed and privileged enough to continue to have a job, so many people were laid off, and it was just heartbreaking. For those of us that did, there was a lot of newness that, if we're honest, there's just a little excitement in the air, like, ooh, we're working from home from this first time. Oh, these Zoom calls.
Oh, these are funny. You know, this kind of thing. And there was a point when eventually it was just, okay, I'm over it. And then reality sat in and you're like, we're going to be here for a while. Right. I think some of us were talking about a show that we saw on Netflix called Alone, and what you notice is people that are alone slowly lose their ability to just kind of exist. And that interaction for me is true.
If I don't have people in my life, I feel like something's missing. And man, I'm just glad that in some assemblence of order, we're getting back slowly and safely, properly socially distancing and all the rest. But I'm ready for us to have a nice day. You may even notice during the panel discussion, if their voices sound muffled, it's because everyone in the room was wearing a mask. We probably should have mentioned that earlier. We were being safe and mindful for sure. Well, we're continuing to pray for our listeners and our station partners.
We're praying that you continue to stay safe. This episode and next week's was actually one longer conversation. We split into two episodes.
So if the end of this conversation leaves you hanging a little, well, just listen next week. Welcome back to Words of Life. We have had an incredible opportunity to be surrounded by people that are getting it done at the front lines of the Salvation Army's work around the 15 southeastern United States and the District of Columbia. Now, the Salvation Army, of course, is worldwide. We've got listeners from all around the world, and this is not exclusive to the United States, but we're living in a post-COVID world. How did the church respond during COVID?
And now what does it look like post-COVID? We did have purpose in and through and remain purposeful as Christian people in a world that literally is lost looking for hope. But I want to dive in a little further and see what is happening in your communities and what does it look like outside of the physical walls of your church? Some of you have had some pretty dynamic ministry that didn't involve a building, perhaps. Let's start there.
Who's got a good story or an example of that kind of ministry? The first couple of weeks of COVID, everything shut down, all the food pantries, mostly run-on seniors and elderly folks who could not come out safely. And so really the Salvation Army and our local food bank, we were the only ones left. And so we said, okay, we got to figure this out. The staff started getting really nervous because all their co-people are home and they're like, well, we need to work from home.
And I'm trying to encourage them saying, well, that's not my role. I can't go home. And so we have to be here and I need some staff.
I need some help. And so we put the plexiglass up and decided, okay, that's going to kind of keep us safe. And luckily we renovated a building that gave us this beautiful window that we could crank open. And we had a lovely flower bed that we converted into a food box chute. And we would just like shoot these boxes out at people. And I think that the hardest thing for me was just the compassion fatigue that I think is real. And when you're looking at, I mean, we were doing over 88 to 100 boxes a day and the people would just come and we'd like yell out the windows, stay six feet apart. And people would look and say, I don't believe in the virus.
Like, you know, and it was just crazy. But in the moments of that, like we realized, number one, we need forklifts. We need ability to move pallets, being in communication with the food bank and make sure that we had food that became our ministry. And then calling out to the soldiers and saying, you need to come in and help make these boxes up. And a lot of them that gave them that encouragement because now they had a mission. They would do their work and then they would come into the core in the evenings and make food boxes. And then, you know, shout out to the payment protection plan.
We had a lot of local companies that there's a lot of industry in West Virginia. And so these guys weren't working to save their jobs. Their bosses contacted us and said, hey, can we send our fleet of guys to the Salvation Army to volunteer so that they can still keep paid? And so for like the first 18 weeks, I mean, we had six, anywhere from three to six, you know, guys that are mechanics and engineers in our food pantry saying, well, we're going to help you put these shelves up and we're going to help install a loading dock and we're going to do it.
So like things were just happening faster than we could even move. And so I think through that we saw the community where the Salvation Army was kind of in the shadows and we kind of just did our own thing and everybody's like, oh, yeah, they do Christmas, leave them. We became number one and everyone in the city and the mayor, city council, the EOCs were saying, OK, we need to get with the Salvation Army because they're the they're the ones still standing. And, you know, the Lord, I think, protected us through that. You know, it's kind of been on our heart for some time to be more community based in our approach. And so my wife initially began being more community based by putting together youth programs in a box. I forget to say, maybe it was a club 360 in a box. And so she did that.
She did like three rounds of that. And then eventually we decided to go to one of our local communities Sunday afternoons and we did praise and worship. I'll do some praise and worship.
I'll give a Bible message. Right. And then we'll feed them. So we normally feed anyway. But, you know, interestingly enough, not surprising, but we will feed and then we'll pack up, you know, and the bread of life.
Right. You know, so we've been excited to be able to just give a Bible message. And what's coming out of those intersections is that, you know, we're getting to know names that we wouldn't otherwise know. And my wife has really been energized by that.
So have I. You know, for most of us, COVID has been emotionally draining, spiritually draining. And so this has given us a lot in that we do have, there is a purpose in all this, you know, and again, these are names that we wouldn't have known otherwise. These were faces that wouldn't have thought, given us a time of day had they seen us rolling up before. But now it's not about the hot dog or the burger, but it's about that we're spending time with them.
Yeah. They know that we love Jesus. They know that the worship song, they don't know, but they're learning, you know, that we're repeating over and over and suddenly we're not there and they're worshiping the Lord.
You know, they're humming those tombs. And, you know, that's powerful to me, you know, that we've been able to, you know, do some good. And, you know, we were talking earlier about kind of what was making us afraid. And, you know, there's a sense that I've had times that I'm like, am I doing enough? You know, and not am I doing enough service? Again, we have plenty of service things that we do, but am I doing enough for the kingdom? Am I doing enough for the kingdom? And I think for us, that's what spurred us to be more digitally based, initially, because that's an extension of, okay, I can do that, right? Okay, now what else can we do? So, okay, parking lot praise.
It's simple, you know, it's not superscripted. And I think that's something that probably any church goer needs to hear that. It doesn't have to be complicated, right? I mean, preach the Bible, you know, you know, a ministry tool could have so many resources. Again, you know, pull your devotion off of there, you know, have it scripted out, you know, speak it to the masses or whoever will listen and then give them a hot dog, right?
Don't do the hot dog. You preach to God from then to give them food. But that's kind of what we've been doing to get outside. And I'll tell you this too, for so many of our salvation army churches is that we have these ministries built in, but we often neglect them. You know, you talk about our shelters and we have all these people in our shelters and, but we ignore them, you know, you know, and I'm sad to say that, but it's true. You know, we get, let them sleep.
We clean them up and we feed them and take them to their appointments. But, and so many times we miss out on just sharing the simple gospel, you know, that Jesus does love you and that's why you're here, right? You know, there is a second opportunity that's coming out of this stay here. And so we focus on that as well. The DNA of the Salvation Army is soup, soap, and salvation.
The early day salvationists were going out and beating a drum in the streets and bringing the message of the love of God and helping people get cleaned up back on their feet, putting some food in their bodies, which made them more apt to listen to the gospel message. So you've not stumbled upon something new. I think you've been reinvigorated with something that's been in you. That's pretty awesome. Jeremy? Good.
I just want to go along with what Captain Antoine was saying. And for us, on the spiritual side, what helped us was small groups. We were blessed to have a significant, I should say significant for us. We're a small, smaller church.
I say a few hundred people. But within that, we had about 11 adult small groups established. And that helped us because we know as a member, me as a member, we see that our pastors and our officers are overwhelmed, not only with the Sunday morning, trying to figure out virtual worship and handling the community side and the food pantry and everything. So how are we as soldiers and our small groups coming around each other to help each other on the spiritual side? Because to add on, okay, now you need to call 200 people, make sure they're spiritually okay.
It can be overwhelming for your pastor. So that engagement helped us. So we're in the parking lots and we're in the driveways.
We're at their homes at the birthday waving and playing music outside saying happy birthday. And we're making the phone calls and they're checking in and informing our pastors of what's going on down at the grassroots level of their congregation. So that's extremely important in the prayer and the Zoom Bible studies and the Zoom small groups. And not even if it's a full study, but are we doing check-ins and checkpoints and being intentional about those engagements?
So I think that's a very important part of it in establishing smaller groups over a group. This isn't a selfish attempt at me trying to get birthday presents sent here to the office, but during COVID, I turned 50 years old. It was the end of April. And a brother in Christ, a friend of mine, came by our home and simply dropped off a thoughtful package at our doorstep, not breaking the social distance rules, but leaving something there that was extremely thoughtful. And that's when I kind of broke out of my own sort of depression of just being what I felt was stuck at home.
I hadn't been charged with the responsibility of getting down and getting those food boxes out. And I was just kind of wrestling with that. And that's when the light bulb went off. And for me, it gave me purpose to start reaching out and making connections that were purposeful connections, getting on the phone and getting on with the technology, a video chat with a brother or a sister and just saying, how are you doing?
Checking in. But to go along with it, that is what shouldn't stop. I think that's the point of what we're trying to discuss here is that's what that engagement and level of interaction and building the relationship and digging deep into the spiritual life of people where they're at.
That's what can't stop. And so I think we just have to be mindful of that as we move forward. Lord, help us if we forget and go back to the way we used to do it, that we forget to just make connections with people. You know, we don't have to be scholarly.
We don't have to be eloquent. Just be compassionate. Love people, encourage them where they are. Learn what their issues are.
Encourage them through those moments. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support.
And we'd love to hear from you. Email us at radio at uss.salvationarmy.org. Call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at P.O.
Box 29972, Atlanta, Georgia, 30359. Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or share your testimony. We would love to use your story on the air. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes or your favorite podcast store. And be sure to give us a rating. Just search for The Salvation Army's Words of Life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes, extended interviews, and more. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. This is Bernie Dake, inviting you to join us next time for The Salvation Army's Words of Life. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-31 04:41:42 / 2024-01-31 04:47:57 / 6