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Two Corps respond to devastated RV park in Convent, Louisiana

convent RV park 3Severe weather moved across the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division Tuesday afternoon into early Wednesday morning and brought heavy rain, high winds and several tornados with it. The Salvation Army responded to the Sugar Hill RV Park in Convent, Louisiana which saw the worst of the devastation. The Baton Rouge Corps and New Orleans Command both responded with canteens and volunteers to serve first responders and residents whose vehicles were literally turned upside down from the high winds brought by the storms.

“A great team of people headed straight to Convent once we learned of the need last night.  This is difficult work for the first responders, and we are just glad to be able to serve and help them do what they have to do”, said Captain Brett Meredith Baton Rouge Corps officer.

Between the Baton Rouge Corps and the New Orleans Command, over 200 meals were served, 400 drinks and snacks, and twenty pairs of socks and six pairs of gloves were handed out. Plus, officers on site provided spiritual care to those who requested our help.

Local officials have confirmed two deaths and 30 injuries from this location.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones last night, and we pray that our work may ease the burden that everyone feels during times like these”, shared Captain Meredith.

“The Salvation Army is committed to insuring that the emergent needs of our community are met when needed,” Major David Worthy said. “When crisis occurs, we’re there to support victims, first responders and anyone else in need of help.”

In Mobile, Alabama, the Coastal Alabama Command activated their emergency shelter due to severe weather pass through the area. The Salvation Army housed 49 total overnight and served breakfast.

Financial donations are the best way to support those affected by these devastating tornadoes.  Donations can be made online at www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org, by calling 800-SAL-ARMY or by sending a check to your local Salvation Army, earmarked, Emergency Disaster Services.

While used clothing and used furniture are seldom required during disaster response, these gifts are vitally important in supporting the day-to-day work of The Salvation Army. Please consider giving these items to the local Family Store by dialing 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825).

For the latest emergency disaster services news from The Salvation Army, please visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or follow the social feed on Twitter at @salarmyeds.

Making a change. Officers’ lives could be different without The Salvation Army


I am constantly amazed by the people I get to meet and the stories they tell me. Working at the Divisional Headquarters for The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, I work with 32 local corps to try and bring the most attention to their work together with local and divisional resources. On my last visit, to the Dothan, Alabama Corps, I realized I sometimes make this job more difficult than it has to be.

The Dothan Corps is the farthest trip time-wise and mileage-wise from the Divisional Headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi. This means those officers and their employees have to be really good at what they do. Don’t misunderstand however, any employee at DHQ would gladly make the trip to help in any way we can, but again, it sure is a long way to Dothan.

Long story short, the communication team, Daphne Nabors, our creative specialist, and myself, drove to Dothan to meet the officers on their home turf for the first time and found out more than we bargained for. This is why I am writing this story.
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Captains Christopher and Kelly Bryant have served the Lord in The Salvation Army for eight years. Their current appointment, in Dothan, is their first outside the state of Texas. Captain Christopher Bryant’s family was helped by The Salvation Army.

“We received food, clothes, lived in the shelter. My mom even got a job at The Salvation Army,” said Christopher Bryant.

But despite the help and attending church, his parents’ lifestyle never changed.

“We went to church, but that was only a couple hours a week. The drinking and parties…that was our entire life.”

Christopher first met Kelly at Salvation Army summer camp when they were twelve. Kelly’s parents are Salvation Army officers. From that moment, however, their lives took dramatically different paths. Captain Christopher Bryant’s mother was an alcoholic, his step-father was an abusive alcoholic, and his birth father was a biker who dealt drugs. This is not the background you expect a Salvation Army officer to have.

At fifteen, Captain Bryant’s mother died. He was on his own, officially emancipated at sixteen. His younger sister went to live with their grandparents in Anderson, South Carolina. This will play an important part in the Bryant’s lives.

Christopher’s life went downhill from there. He dropped out of high school, and almost went to prison.

“I found myself in a bad situation after I was arrested on a drug possession charge and facing serious jail time,” said Bryant

The judged ruled the drugs were seized through illegal search and seizure, the first break that would begin to change Christopher’s life.

He then turned to his grandparents.

“I asked them if I could stay with them for a few weeks to get things back in order.”

They took him in, although, still seen as a problem by his grandmother, his time was limited. Still, this was break number two. Christopher knew he had to make the most of this chance.

“I gotta make a change. I’m either going to be dead or in jail for the rest of my life.”

Turns out, break number three was a big one. His sister attended The Salvation Army church in Anderson, South Carolina. The officers in Anderson at the time Christopher went to stay with his grandparents? Kelly’s parents, Majors Mike and Nettie Morton .

You might say the rest is history, but the Bryants did not move straight into officership. Kelly earned her culinary degree while Christopher worked as an industrial electrician, but it was during this time he learned to play the guitar. Several years later after moving from South Carolina to Oregon, they felt the call to do more with their lives.

I can’t help but think about Jeremiah 29:11 when it comes to the Bryants and specifically Captain Christopher Bryant:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

No matter your situation, no matter your problem, no matter where you come from, The Salvation Army is there to help because we aren’t perfect either. We are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jon-Kalahar