Jackson, Miss. 39202
Born in Atlanta on July 4, 1914, Smith enjoyed
being the only child for the first seven years of life until his younger
brother was born. Raised in Anniston, Ala., Smith - who was active in high
school football and track - said his commitment to Christ came when he
confessed having stolen a team football during his senior year of high school.
Soon after, Smith attended a Salvation Army meeting and heard the stories of
eight cadets. "Those men had a sense of direction and joy in what they
were doing," said Smith, "and I was drawn to that." And so began
his journey into the Army.
Smith was enrolled as a soldier
on May 6, 1935, and he entered the training college in Atlanta on Sept. 8 of
that year. He was commissioned in 1936 to Griffin, Ga. Asked what he remembers
about that first appointment, Smith said he was a probationary lieutenant who
learned to keep his suitcase packed because he moved around often. He also
illustrated the influence that visitation can have on a community. Griffin
"was a mill community. If the cotton mill did well, people survived. If
there was a strike or something, they did poorly. You'd begin to visit
homes of people and get to know them. They would share with you what their joys
were and what their sorrows were. What we did was try to be there for
That habit of "being there" would
dictate the remainder of Smith's service alongside his late wife, Jewel,
whom he married in 1939. Throughout appointments in Griffin and Macon, Ga.;
Dallas; Johnson City, Tenn.; Washington; Charlotte, N.C.; Mexico City;
Nashville, Tenn.; Lawton and Oklahoma City; and Birmingham, Ala., where his
final appointment was as area commander for eight years, Smith's dedication
to disaster work was obvious. He was called to "be there" when
tornadoes struck Gainesville, Ga.; when two ships exploded in Texas City,
Texas; when a hurricane devastated Trujillo, Honduras, and when an earthquake
shook Tecpan, Guatemala. In fact, Smith is still making his mark simply by
"being there" at the Birmingham Area Command, where he serves the
current area commander, Major John Carter. Carter called Smith "the
epitome of a Salvation Army officer."
Smith is happily
married to his wife of three years, Esther, and said he is pleased with his lifetime of service. But
he is quick to praise The Salvation Army. "I'm 92. If I were 20
tomorrow, I would join The Salvation Army just as quickly. It gave me - a
meager person - a skill, and I was able to do an amazing amount of good in a
For the first time in her 41 years,
Angie Guthrie Williams is telling her story of recovery from abuse, drugs and
Winnsboro, La., the first few years of Williams' life were much like that
of any other young girl. A "daddy's little girl," her father was
her hero. Her father fought in the Viet Nam War, and her mother became pregnant
by another man after having an affair. Williams' father returned from war
and filed for divorce, and for Williams, life slowly began a downward
devastated when her father moved away to Texas. "I never saw my dad again
until I was about 13, and by then, he already had another family," she
said, tears streaming down her face.
Williams' mother married a man who physically and
sexually abused Williams and her brother.
Williams never spoke of the abuse.
In August of 1983, Williams enrolled at Northeast
Louisiana University in Monroe, and the abuse she had endured from her
stepfather followed her. "I finally told him ‘no more,' and I
waited by my back door with a gun. I waited for him to show up, but he never
turned to drinking, and it became a familiar release. "I also started
smoking marijuana, but I was functional," she said. In 1989, she received
her Bachelor of Arts in English education. After securing a job as a sales
representative, Williams soon lost it because of her addiction.
Following a turbulent seven years
that included heavy drinking, an abusive relationship, marriage, the birth of
her son, Tyler, and a prescription drug addiction, Williams' wake-up call
came after she lost her husband, son, house and job. "I lost everything
within a matter of three weeks," Williams said, "and I was sleeping
in a broken down truck on the side of the road."
Eventually, through someone she met
at Alcoholics Anonymous, Williams found The Salvation Army in Alexandria, La.
"As soon as I walked in the door, I knew I was where I was supposed to
be," she said.
Williams found a place to rest her head at the Beauregard Street
Women's Shelter. She later gained employment at The Salvation Army as a
seasonal disaster employee after Hurricane Rita. Captain Todd Brewer commended
her skills, saying, "She has been with us ever since."
Williams also gained a relationship
with the Lord after she started attending the corps. "I noticed over the
course of a few weeks, just in her face, that something was going on,"
said Brewer. "The Holy Spirit was at work in her life."
Williams has since married a fellow
employee of The Salvation Army and is pursuing her master's degree.
Although she has led a rough life, Williams says she now knows why. "I
know that if I can help even just one person, that's the reason I went
The Lord is using the
Pascagoula Corps to increase His kingdom
six months of Captains Andy and Michelle Collette's appointment to the
Pascagoula Corps can be called anything but normal. Still in the midst of
recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the corps could be described as transitional.
"After Katrina we were the only agency left in town to provide traditional
services to the community; the other shelters were destroyed or damaged by the
storm," said Captain Andy Collette. "Due to the migration of
residents to other parts of the coast, the corps was left with about four or
five regulars for programs."
Instead of seeing these challenges as obstacles, the Collettes
embraced the opportunity as a providential placement for effective ministry.
Because of the crunch for affordable and livable housing in Pascagoula, the
Collettes expanded the availability of beds for the transitional shelter program from 10 to
40. The shelter meets the clients' physical and spiritual needs. Dinner is
served during the week, and on weekends the shelter serves lunch and dinner.
Clients also have access to the computer lab to search for jobs and housing.
Over 40 people attend
the corps for Sunday school and worship each week. They learn to study the
Bible and they're taught the healing power of prayer. "We consistently
encourage the soldiers, adherents and other consistent attendees to meet with
and pray with clients in the shelter," said Captain Andy Collette.
"This comes very naturally to most as they have lived in the shelter
themselves and understand the needs of the clients."
While the ministry is fruitful, it
also has its challenges. Every 60 to 90 days, clients in the transitional
program graduate and move on to independent living. "It is like having an
entirely new congregation every few weeks," said Captain Andy
The Apostle Paul faced a
similar challenge in his ministry to the Corinthian church: I have planted,
Apollos watered; but God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). Whether
visible or not, the Lord is definitely using the Pascagoula Corps to increase
The Way We
Meridian Learning Center prepares
tomorrow's young leaders today
Salvation Army in Meridian, Miss., just opened a new after-school learning and
recreation center. Located in The Salvation Army community worship center, the
new after-school program has a computer lab with six computers as well as
instruction from Salvation Army staff and volunteers. The recreation center has
several table and video games for young people's and is open daily from 3-6
Major Don Wildish,
corps officer at the Meridian Corps, attributes the vision for the center to
Wanda Mingo, young people sergeant-major at the Meridian Corps. "Wanda
makes things move.
...This is her vision. I just needed to give her the freedom to work and get
out of the way," Major Wildish said.
When Majors Don and Helene Wildish arrived in Meridian
last summer, they brought with them a passion for ministry to the young people
of Meridian. As they prayed about the direction of the Corps, God began to
"show us people who had a vision and passion for the young people of our
community," Wildish added. "Wanda Mingo was one of
up her love for young people this way: "All children are gifts from
God...‘Train up a child in the way he should go,'" she said.
"I do not take that lightly."
The Meridian Learning Center is more than the vision of
The Salvation Army; it flows from the desire of community leaders to positively
affect the children of Meridian. Heather Rose Goodwin, governor's appointee
to after-school programs, businesswoman Mary Peavey, and Mayor John Robert
Smith all expressed their support and desire to see the center thrive and
minister to the needs of children.
"We want the after school programs to be a great
experience for the children. Once the festivities are over, the work
begins. We ask the community to come help us help children," said Peavey.
Programs at the center
aim to build character and spiritual growth. "We want to point children to
a growing relationship with Christ," said Wildish.
Captain Stacie McWilliams, divisional corps cadet
counselor for The Salvation Army's ALM Division said, "Without youth,
where would we be? They are our hope for tomorrow."
Photos, top to
bottom: Youth enjoy
the video games at the Meridian Corps. Students are given tutorial help
as they use the computers to complete school projects and
NOLA area commander rallies a corps
at ROOTS-South 2007
Southern Spirit staff
Major Mike Hawley
(third from right), a seminar presenter at this year's ROOTS-South
conference and area commander in New Orleans, led a team of six from the New
Orleans Corps to learn how best to re-build the corps.
Hawley met informally with his team to inspire them about living
authentically. As he spoke, Hawley related the story of the Ethiopian eunuch,
who was led to the Lord simply because Philip was available. Hawley prayed,
"Lord, we want to be available to You." He prompted the devoted six
to consider availability beyond outreach. "As well as going out," he
asked, "what do we do when we meet together?" When visitors step
inside the corps, he said, they need to feel glad about taking that step.
Before the group separated to attend seminars, Hawley
encouraged them with words about the scope of the Army and how they could make
a difference. "We're not just a division. We're a territory.
We're a country. We're a world. But it starts at home. If you're
not ministering to your neighbor, [the Lord] is not going to send you across
Center of Hope lays
groundwork for lasting
he Jackson, Miss., Center of Hope is
helping men and women alter their lifestyle - one day at a time. Many who
approach the Center of Hope's emergency shelter come because they are
homeless and want to change. Pastor Lewis Bingham, the director of The
Salvation Army Center of Hope, said there are multiple reasons a person ends up
homeless. For some, it's because of unemployment; for others, an addiction
to drugs or alcohol contributed to the homelessness.
Bingham said the center helps clients
learn the difference between positive and negative choices. "We are not
here to be codependent," said Bingham of the two-year-old program.
That's why every person who wants to transition back into a stable
self-supported lifestyle must meet strict guidelines.
Before a person can enter the
transitional program, he has to serve five to eight days in the emergency
shelter, which is offered at no cost to every client. There the clients are
required to do assigned chores, make a list of goals they plan to accomplish,
pass random drug testing, meet with a caseworker and abstain from conflict with
requirement for entering the transitional program is obtaining a job. If a
client meets certain conditions, he can be employed temporarily at the
center's thrift store. Thrift store employment, working four to eight hours
a day, lasts six weeks and allows clients to pay the program entrance fee of
$100 and pay rent while they're in the facility. Clients can take skills
classes such as GED, Bible and Celebrate Recovery courses. At the end of three
months, only clients who have met their goals will graduate.
One such client is Richard Erdos, who
moved into an apartment with two other graduates. He said Captain John Showers,
corps officer in Jackson, and the Center of Hope made moving stress-free.
"They provided us with dressers, beds, plates - everything you need."
Showers still checks on them regularly even though they're living
independently now. "He's like a second dad. He makes you feel like
you're a part of something."
Brett Adams, a former
graduate, said his return to alcoholism after a divorce was like a slow
suicide. He said Showers' compassion helped him get back on track. "He
The aim of the program, said Bingham, is to teach by example how to
make small daily choices that add up to a long-term foundation of using wise
judgment. "We try to make good decisions about our clients because
that's what we want to teach them to do."Photos, top right to bottom left: Brett
Adams, left, and Richard Erdos are Center of Hope graduates.
Showers, with wife Julia (not pictured), commands the Jackson Corps.