I’ve written a couple of times on this blog site about the Western Territory’s “People Count” report. It’s a weekly summary of the activities from our front-line officers who are ministering to people in need and sharing the Gospel in their communities.
The report can be anything the local staff wants to share: statistics, testimonies, creative ideas and more.
This week many wrote about how they celebrated and reflected on Christmas at their Salvation Army unit. And the stories range from practical to downright miraculous.
Here’s a sampling from this week’s People Count report:
Gresham, Oregon (worship and community center)
We had one father who received toys from the Christmas Angel Tree program. He was very grateful that he could get toys for his young daughter at the last minute. He volunteered to help sort gifts for a two hour period at the distribution center. Then after meeting so many kind people, he came to church on Christmas Sunday and gave his heart to Christ during our Christmas worship service.
Vancouver, Washington (worship and community center)
We had some wonderful opportunities for reaching others this last week before Christmas: we were able to visit three new adult living facilities, ministered to a young woman who was just suddenly widowed, another who had just unexpectedly received a cancer diagnosis, and one of our hired kettle drivers came to Christmas Worship Sunday. It’s been a meaningful week.
San Francisco, California (Harbor Light Center)
Sometimes it is all about being in the right place at the right time. A resident of our Harbor Light program was returning from a meeting the night after Christmas when he came across a three year-old standing alone on the street. The resident was walking near the section of our city that has a lot of encamped drug addicts. The three year-old had Down Syndrome and was unresponsive to any questions. He was clearly scared and confused, and there was no one around to claim him. The resident stayed with the boy and called for the police, who came and safely collected the child. The resident reflected on the plight of the young child, and the struggles the child has to face in his life. I thought of how through the grace of God and the work here by The Salvation Army and the Harbor Light Center, that this resident was there, sober and present, to help this child through that tough night as he stood lost and alone in the dark.
Reno, Nevada (worship and community center)
This year’s Reno, Nevada Christmas distribution was truly a “Loaves and Fishes” type of event. Our numbers increased from 6,325 kids to 9,000 who needed toys this year. After the first day of distribution we thought we were going to need to buy thousands of toys. But all day long the second day – just enough came in for the day. All day long the third day as well as the fourth – just enough came in for the day. And, somehow we have about a dozen pallets worth left over! The same miracle happened as we distributed hygiene products and blankets to homeless people after our Christmas dinner. Every application, toy and item given out was prayed over. We have about 50 families to “follow up” on who indicated on the application they’d like a pastoral visit or information on our church services. The Christmas Eve Candlelight Carol Service was a wonderful celebration of God’s faithfulness.