Seeking the Lord through Prayer and Fasting

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The following was contributed by Lisa Thompson, National Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking at The Salvation Army National Headquarters.

In the opening passage of the book of Nehemiah, the Jewish cupbearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes, explains how he was so greatly moved by the plight of his people in Jerusalem that, “For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). When confronted with the prospect of ethnic annihilation because of a national edict calling for the destruction of the Jews, among the Jews in every province of the Persian Empire “there was great mourning . . . with fasting, weeping and wailing” (Esther 4:3). Before launching his earthly ministry of teaching and healing Jesus himself fasted for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:2).

From examples such as these, we learn that believers should seek the Lord with prayer and fasting — before taking action in our personal ministries, when facing incredible hardships and doom, when confronted with the pain and suffering of others.

Surely then, it is appropriate for us to fast and pray on behalf of the victims of sexual trafficking. May our hearts cry out on their behalf and may our stomachs growl in remembrance of their suffering, as we take part in this weekend’s observance of the International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting for the Victims of Sexual Trafficking. ‘

Such humility before God and partaking in the suffering of others will unleash God’s heavenly forces for take earthly action!

International Weekend of Prayer & Fasting for Victims of Sexual Trafficking

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Salvation Army has once again partnered with the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking (IAST) and the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST) to sponsor the annual International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting for Victims of Sexual Trafficking. The event is being held this weekend, September 23-25.

Globally, approximately one million children enter the sex trade every year. Shockingly enough, the United States is one of the 10 highest ranked destination countries of trafficked persons in the world. According to the United Nations, the trafficking business – which includes labor, slavery and sexual servitude – nets $31.6 billion in profit from 12.3 million trafficked persons.

We are a part of a growing initiative to combat human sex trafficking and other types of sexual exploitation worldwide. This increasing movement is directly motivated by an understanding of mankind’s God-given freedom, dignity and purpose.

The impacts of this massive, often disregarded industry are literally deadly. The most common causes of death among those trafficked is homicide, suicide and drugs.

Our efforts began in the mid-19th century. Salvation Army founders Catherine and William Booth sought to help the most desperate in London’s east side, reaching out to women and children victimized by the sex trafficking industry. Upon realizing the magnitude of trade, The Salvation Army began opening homes for women and girls to seek shelter and counseling.

Today, we continue to fight this plague by working towards legislative and policy initiatives, raising awareness, developing prevention efforts and providing survivor services.

Help us combat sexual trafficking by joining us in prayer this weekend. Join us as we pray for the victims involved and as we ask for rescue, restoration, and life and liberty through Christ. We also pray for the church’s strength in addressing this issue.

To register for this year’s event, Click Here.

Click Here to learn more about The Salvation Army’s efforts to combat human trafficking.

Thousands Gather for Kroc Center Grand Opening

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The grand opening of The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center of Quincy, IL brought thousands of community members together on Sunday afternoon. Following a ribbon cutting ceremony, guests had an exciting sneak peak at the finished product – one they’ve been waiting to see since the project began seven years ago. Soon-to-be members strolled through the gleaming hallways and admired the grand state-of-the-art amenities which became officially available to the public on Monday.

Grand it is! The beautifully constructed community center boasts an aquatic center, rock wall, worship and performance center, gym and day care center.

Upon her passing, donor Joan Kroc left The Salvation Army $1.5 billion for the development of approximately 30 Kroc Center’s across the country. The centers are intended to create positive effects on the surrounding areas – strengthening the family and community bond, bettering the economy and creating opportunities to grow and learn.

As part of her gift, she asked that the communities wishing to acquire a community center be capable of raising half of the money needed for the project- an effort to ensure sustainability. We admire communities such as Quincy that were able to organize, fundraise and establish the needed community support.

The best part? Memberships are very affordable! These can be purchased on an annual or monthly basis with prices ranging from $336 per year for an individual to $600 per year for a family. Want to know how you can become part of the Kroc Community in Quincy? Contact Angie Duerr at 855-872-5762.

Check out the video above to get a closer look at all of the fun options available to members!

For more information on The Salvation Army Kroc Centers, please visit our website at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org.

Fundraising for Fish: Shelter Works to Save Health-Promoting Friends

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The following was contributed by Guest Blogger Kathy Lovin, Public Affairs and Communications Manager – Salvation Army’s Western Territory

In study after study, researchers find that people who watch fish in an aquarium can experience surprising health benefits, such as a decrease in blood pressure, muscle tension and pulse rate!

For instance, one study found that tanks full of brightly-colored fish in the dining room of the memory care unit at a convalescent center increased Alzheimer’s patients’ nutritional intake. That’s why the staff of The Salvation Army’s Bell Shelter in Southern California is trying to raise money to save their 300 gallon saltwater fish tank.

The Bell Shelter is home to about 300 to 350 residents at a time. It’s the largest homeless shelter West of the Mississippi and is located in a converted 40,000 square-foot hangar formerly used as a U.S. Army Air Base. It costs about $200 to $250 per month to feed the fish and clean and maintain the Bell Shelter’s tank. And that’s only if everything’s functioning properly. When a pump or a light needs to be replaced, the cost goes up.

But Paul Wager says the expense is worth it. He should know; he’s the Bell Shelter’s on-staff psychotherapist who helps the residents get their mental health needs met. Of the homeless population, Paul says between 30 – 50% have legitimate mental health issues.

The tank is in the main hall of the shelter in a high traffic area. There are benches along the opposite wall so folks can sit and gaze at the fish to their heart’s content. There are about two dozen fish in all, including clownfish, damselfish, dottybacks, basslets, and anthias.
Paul says the tank has a calming effect on the residents. Watching the tank allows them to relax and take a mental vacation from the challenges in their lives. The fish are such a part of their daily routine that many name their favorites and stand in front the tank to wait for them to swim by every day.

On Friday, September 16 Bell Shelter held a barbecue fundraiser to “Save Nemo and His Friends.” Staff and volunteers bought tickets for lunch and an opportunity drawing that will hopefully bring in much-needed funds so they can keep the tank. They want to give the fish a permanent home while they help the residents ease the transition into a stable, long-term home of their own too.

Click here for a link to fascinating a research paper on the health benefits of companion animals – including fish!

Click here to learn more about the Bell Shelter.

Check out Kathy’s Blog at www.SalvationArmyExpectChange.org!