By: Becky Kreienkamp, Salvation Army
On June 3, The Salvation Army’s Arnold Corps kicked off Carefest, a program designed to assist the congregation’s members who need God’s word, help around the house, or a person to listen to their story. On Sunday, members of the congregation started by taking baked goods to their fellow church members and asking if they need help with household tasks or if they simply need someone to engage them in conversation or prayer. Charity work like this has of course been done by all of The Salvation Army corps, but this is the first time a corps has put a name to such charity work.
Linda Day, Corps Sergeant Major of the Arnold corps, is the brains behind Carefest and she explained in detail about this fantastic program. This corps is going out to help their fellow church members and soldiers who are now older and are not able to come to church anymore. Carefest gives church members the opportunity to remind these withdrawn members of God’s love, as well as help them with household tasks they are no longer able to perform. Just giving people a chance to talk about their troubles could be the best therapy. “We will sit down over something as common as bread and cookies, and ask ‘how are you doing? What’s been going on?’ Maybe they need a weekly visit,” says Captain Debbie Osborn.
Linda explained that since Carefest is just beginning, participants will find out who else needs assistance by observing their friends and neighbors as the program progresses. “Carefest is a catalyst for what we want to do,” says Linda Day. And what the Arnold corps wants to do is help the community, but first they will start by helping their fellow members and soldiers.
Carefest is starting out small, but mighty. One does not need a high status in the church to participate. Many of the partakers are men who enjoy doing odd jobs around the church, and now their work is being expanded to the community. Carefest is so wonderful because church members of all ages and backgrounds can join in reaching out to disadvantaged congregation members. Linda has even recruited her young nephews to go on visits with her. “I hope they pick up why we do it, why we help people,” says Linda about her nephews. This is a great opportunity to build the faith lives of all involved; the helpers and the helped can learn the importance of carrying out God’s will.
The program is in it’s early stages, but Captain Matt Osborn, Captain Debbie Osborn, and Linda Day are all confident Carefest will go a long way to help the community. Right now, the Arnold corps is helping only their fellow church members and people they know on a personal level. Soon, this may expand to strangers who also need to know God’s love.
However, helping a friend in need is more difficult than one would think. Both Captain Matt and Captain Debbie explained that people are prideful, and are shy about accepting help. “We want to cross that barrier, take down that wall,” says Captain Matt about these reserved members. The church members participating in Carefest want their friends to know they are willing to lend a hand no matter the circumstances, and no judgment is passed on any person in need.
During her sermon on Sunday morning, Captain Debbie challenged her congregation to put their faith into action and go out of their comfort zone, and that’s exactly what Carefest is all about. Captain Debbie explained that a friendly face can truly go a long way, “just a visit will do a person a world of good,” she said during her sermon. Corps Sergeant Major Linda Day summed up Carefest beautifully with these words: “It’s a faith challenge. They go hand and glove; faith and works.”
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