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Major Frank Duracher

Southern Spirit staff

In addition to their regular family, Majors Kenneth and Lee Ann Nelson have many "adopted" sons. In fact, they stopped counting at 300.

The Nelsons oversee the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of the men, both graduate and currently-enrolled, in the Houston Harbor Light Corps and rehabilitation program. And yes, their role with these men is something akin to being a parent - often dolling out discipline, along with a generous supply of love.

The Harbor Light program has been in place in Houston for some time now, but the idea to simultaneously conduct a corps program is relatively new.

"Salvation Army officers and area pastors were already coming in to do Bible studies and Sunday worship services. So we asked ourselves, ‘Why can't we have our own corps program here?'" Major Kenneth Nelson said.

The concept was an instant success. Men already in the program began to invite family members to join them for worship. Some who graduate from the program continue to attend. Nelson calls it a win-win situation.

"If they choose to keep attending the Harbor Light Corps, we win. If they choose to go to another church or an Army corps, we still win!" he said.

With a high turnover rate, a lot of men are in the program for only a few weeks rather than months. But the longer a man stays, the more he learns that Harbor Light is a net to help them achieve a successful rehabilitation, he said.

In many ways, the Harbor Light Corps doesn't resemble the traditional corps program. But the weekly schedule is just as full - perhaps moreso. Unlike an ARC program, the men at Harbor Light are restricted to the facility. That also means the men must be kept busy, making the Nelsons' job more intense.

"We absolutely love it," Major Lee Ann Nelson said. "It is unbelievable to be eye-witnesses to men's lives being changed."

 

The men's respect for "Major Lee Ann" is apparent, especially in the many classes she conducts during the week - several literacy and GED classes, Bible discussion groups and soldier preparation classes. Like a mother sternly watching over her young doing their homework, she stays in control of her class, the size of which easily rivals grade school numbers.

Other weekday activities are more easily recognized. As the men progress in the program, they become involved in League of Mercy visits and even a Men's Fellowship Club. But the most sought-after privilege seems to be singing in the Houston Harbor Light Choir.

The group practices often during the week, is regularly featured on Sunday mornings and often performs in the community for special events. The choir is becoming quite famous in the Houston area, especially among non-profit agencies. The Nelsons consider the choir to be a great public relations tool.

James Privette's incredible journey to the Harbor Light Corps began in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C. A seventh-grade dropout, Privette had no prospects for success and saw his life spiraling downward into alcoholism and drug addiction. Wanting to turn his life around, but not knowing how, Privette began to pray for guidance.

"I felt drawn to Houston for some reason, even though I'd never been to Texas," Privette said. With what little money he had, Privette bought an economy ticket on Amtrak to Houston. Soon after stepping off the train, someone suggested The Salvation Army Harbor Light.

Privette is now a soldier and has shown a remarkable interest in teaching, often assisting Major Lee Ann with her classes. He has also discovered a gift for solving mathematic equations.

"James is a good example of what the Lord is doing here at Harbor Light," Major Kenneth said.

"What appointment could you have where at every meeting, no less than four or five men come to the altar - not just because the invitation is given after the sermon. But because they truly want to bring their burdens to the Lord and give them to Him!"

 

Atlanta Temple congregation

looks inward, reaches out

By Dan Childs

Southern Spirit staff

The congregation of the Atlanta Temple Corps is engaged in a structured 40-day campaign to reach out and establish relationships in the community outside the walls of the corps. But first, work is being done on the congregation inside the walls.

40 Days of Community is a spiritual growth campaign devised by Rick Warren, author of the best-selling "The Purpose Driven Life." The campaign is designed to 1) build unity within the church through small group fellowship and worship that reinforces the campaign themes and 2) bring the congregation into a deeper relationship with the surrounding community.

Providing direction to the campaign is a workbook with 40 devotionals, journals and a study guide for use in the small groups. The small group sessions are held weekly in the home of a couple or individual. Sunday school topics and the worship service are centered on the week's theme.

The Atlanta Temple began 40 Days of Community in mid-September. The campaign will culminate Oct. 28 with a community connection festival designed to link the people of the surrounding neighborhood with government and community resources. The all-day event will be held on the grounds of the corps and Southern Territorial Headquarters.

"40 Days of Community is a tool to help teach our people to be community-minded people," said Major Allan Hofer, Atlanta Temple corps officer. "We want to teach them to love those outside the building, and we want to teach them to love each other. We want to teach them to grow in discipleship and to serve and worship together. One of the outcomes of the worship lifestyle is being out there in the community."

Hofer said that each small group is asked to perform a community service - one of the Temple groups is collecting winter coats to distribute to homeless people while another is preparing care packages to be shipped to military personnel in Iraq.

"Evangelism can be acts of love and kindness," he said. "It's teaching Christians what they were meant to be originally. We've asked each small group to come up with a project and, hopefully, it will become a permanent feature of every group."

More information is available at purposedriven.com.

In the Spirit

  • Young people of the Southern Territory join in an uprising ... see special insert inside spotlighting 2006 Territorial Youth Institute and Salvationist Service Corps.
  • One Army, centered in Christ ... interview with Commissioner Max Feener, pages 4 & 5.

 

 

 

 






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