Salvation Army in the Islands: Part Two
The following was contributed by Lt. Colonel Rebecca Sjogren, Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries for The Salvation Army Northern Division, and is part of a series about how employees of the Northern Division are helping with the new Salvation Army branch of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
While participating in the mission trip in the Turks and Caicos Islands, we were able to visit a government-sponsored school called New Beginnings, a place for students whose parents cannot afford private school and for teens who are troubled. Among the students are girls who are either pregnant or have already become mothers, and Haitian-born kids who live on the island and are rejected.
It did not take me long to assess the poor conditions of the small inadequate building and to notice that there was no female presence as a teacher or counselor for the girls. The teachers consist of two males, one of which also serves as school principal.
One of the team members shared her experience of being abused while in a foster home. Her description of neglect and physical abuse, of being unwanted and unloved, brought tears to my eyes. I was moved to get up and embrace her as she shared her story. This was the means God used to create a sense of trust and openness among the group. We broke into small groups for powerful conversations about life issues, speaking the girls’ names and letting them know we care.
A moment that stands out is when a counselor from the community visited the girls and handed out her business card, but said no one should call after midnight. To me, that is when the calls are most crucial and the hand reaching out needs to be grasped the most.
Salvation Army Captain Rebecca Trayler mentioned to the girls that they can call her anytime, but especially after midnight. She then handed out her business card to the students. One of them, the mother of an infant son, called Captain on her cell phone that same evening saying she ran out of milk for the baby. Was it a test? Captain Rebecca was ready for it. She got together items needed and was prepared to respond to the call.
Thank God for the sensitivity, care and love that Captain Rebecca shares with those entrusted to her care.