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Jun2WedThe Salvation Army Prince George Community Church provides comfort, hope and friendship. June 2, 2021 by Melissa Yue Wallace
One evening last winter, Salvation Army pastor Major Neil Wilkinson noticed a car parked in the lot of the Army’s Prince George Community Church in British Columbia. It was cold and late, so he tapped on the window and met John.*
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- Faith & Friends
Prior to moving to Prince George, John lived in a small community in northern British Columbia. Facing dwindling job prospects, he packed all of his belongings and drove to the city to look for work. Unfortunately, opportunities passed him by, and he could not afford housing. But he preferred the comfort of living in his vehicle to staying in a shelter.
“John’s immediate concern was whether he could sleep in his car on our lot,” recalls Major Neil. “He didn’t need anything, only permission to use our property.” In response, Major Neil gave him an electric heater and an extension cord from the thrift store and plugged it into the church, so John could stay warm and safe without running his engine at night.
To this day, John and Major Neil continue to get to know each other, and John keeps watch over the church building at night.
“Sometimes the kindness of Jesus that we show is honouring the choices people make while loving unconditionally,” says Major Neil who, along with his wife, Major Crystal, have pastored at the Prince George Community Church for 10 years. The ministry serves people of all ages through its thrift store, food bank, recycling depot and other programs.
The following are stories of how the Army brings hope to people such as John who come for help.
When Sonya,* 15, first came to the Army, she didn’t have many friends. She came from a broken family with a father who had abandoned her and her mother. She joined the Army’s S.O.U.L. (Serving Only U Lord) dance group, where she not only found God but also a creative outlet for worship and family.
“It’s fun and gives me something to do,” she says. “Sometimes, life is really hard and my friends at S.O.U.L. help me cope.”
Beth* retired early as a health-care worker after suffering with her own health concerns. She suddenly found herself lacking meaningful activities to fill her days, so she came to The Salvation Army to explore volunteer opportunities. Beth now spends three days a week volunteering in the food bank, repackaging bulk food items for distribution to people in need.
“Even though I don’t get to see the faces of the people that we are supporting, I find so much joy in knowing that the work I’m doing is changing lives. Best of all, the Army makes provisions for my disability so that I can serve every week.”
Not Just Words
The Army has walked with David* through many seasons of life. “The difference with The Salvation Army is that they care about you—not just with their words,” he says. “It’s great to be able to meet with the chaplain, talk about the stresses of life and find support to make little changes.”
After years of regular visits, this January marked the first month he didn’t need to visit the food bank at all. But he still keeps in touch with the Army to let everyone know how he’s doing.
*Names and identifying details have been changed for privacy.
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