What the Hack?
A rainy Saturday couldn’t hold back the 80+ talented young people (ages 9-30) to gather in Amsterdam for an unforgettable “Hackathon.” Meeting in a transformed warehouse, young people were inspired to dream creative and innovative ideas for The Salvation Army in the Netherlands.
Commissioner Hannelise Tvedt, *Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army in the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Slovakia, conveyed her desire to hear the voices of children. Commissioner lifted the baton and inspired delegates from the beginning of the event: “It’s time for you to pick up the torch.” And so they did.
The Hackathon began with six teams brainstorming ambitious ideas for The Salvation Army to implement. Ideas included starting a game zone in the neighborhood, a baking club with a simple recipe cookbook, a mobile vegetable garden for poor neighborhoods and even an impressive system to save money for 10,000 children who live in poverty.
There was great anticipation when both the delegates and leadership team voted on the best idea. The winning idea was the “SAY-app”—a Salvation Army youth app for kids and teens to build a digital community. The app invites users to play a game entitled “Build Your Corps,” and is a safe platform to chat and listen to good Christian music.
Directly after this excitement, the 24-hour Youth Hackathon continued with discussions. Every team received an envelope with a current challenge like loneliness, sustainability or inclusiveness. Delegates were inspired by several intense Ted talks and a prayer walk and energized by dance-offs, karaoke and theater dance. The teams came up with concrete ideas for The Salvation Army:
- “Warm sweater day! Once a week, we turn off the heat and wear a sweater.”
- “We should create silence rooms in schools, libraries and universities.”
- “We should build online and offline communities that are open and safe for young people.”
The longing for a safe community was emphasized and the challenges for The Salvation Army in the Netherlands were laid out. Kids and young people raised their voice. Now it’s time for the next step: to put the ideas into practice, with the support of passionate people and leaders.
By Captain Mariska Potters, National Children’s Secretary.
A Territorial Commander is The Salvation Army’s leader of a territory (a designated region).
Asbury University Preview Weekend
The Salvation Army visit weekend was a success! 27 prospective students from 10 states gathered to see the Asbury environment. Starting on Thursday, January 23rd, students were able to attend classes, chapel and explore Asbury’s campus. But the weekend was also full of fun adventures such as a picture scavenger hunt around Wilmore, a playful panel of students and even a viewing of the current sophomore musical, “Matilda!” A worship service in Akers Auditorium wrapped up the weekend—both current and prospective students were involved in the service through singing, band or dance. Several students also gave testimonies as well. The service was concluded with a message from Major Paul Cain and a farewell, or hopefully “see you soon,” lunch.
By Summar Bussey, Asbury SASF President
Run With Reason
Kyle Briner, a senior accountant at Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough Certified Public Accountants (an accounting firm) and service co-chair at Chattanooga Echelon in Chattanooga, TN, was the brainchild of “Run With Reason.” During the second annual run in 2019, volunteers ran 123 miles to raise funds to support The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. The group raised $19,500 in total, providing gifts for 84 Angel Tree participants and holiday meals for families in the program.
“We might not know what struggles those sitting right next to us are facing. We hope our efforts can lessen the burden for some families.”
“We might not know what struggles those sitting right next to us are facing. We hope our efforts can lessen the burden for some families,” said Briner. “Our goal is to provide a joyful environment for the kids and their families on Christmas that might otherwise have been impossible.”
After the run, volunteers in festive clothing cruised the aisles of Walmart searching for gifts to fulfill Christmas wish lists. Walmart partnered with the cause to provide a separate checkout lane for the volunteers to utilize. Daniel Casillas, manager of the Walmart in Chattanooga, TN, was an Angel Tree Program recipient when he was a child and is very passionate about the cause. Briner and the other Chattanooga Echelon members are looking forward to strengthening the program and keeping the momentum alive for upcoming years.
By Katie Seifu, National Echelon Manager.
To learn more about Echelon and how to get involved, visit peermag.org/echelon/
We Hear You
“Why should we bother finding a voice or forming a perspective when we feel like no one listens to us or our opinions anyway?”
Victor Estudiante read this anonymous letter after church one Sunday in Enid, OK. At first read, his initial instinct was to become defensive. But by doing so, Victor realized he was making the letter about himself, rather than forming a platform where this young person could be heard. The conscious decision was made to do better and start by creating a space that celebrates discussion, respects opinion and challenges views from a biblical perspective. “About the greatest tool at our fingertips was Peer magazine,” says Victor.
Every week, young people (ages 12-18) gather for raw and honest conversation. “We are so thankful for Peer that seeks to challenge the preconceived ideas our teens and young adults have about today’s hard topics with grounded biblical truths,” said Victor. “It helps to shape interactions and conversations while still allowing their voice to be heard in a world that is often too loud.”
Welcome to National Headquarters!
The Salvation Army National Headquarters welcomed Colonels Kenneth and Paula Johnson to Alexandria, VA last month! Having previously served in the U.S. Eastern Territory, Colonel Kenneth currently serves as National Chief Secretary, while Colonel Paula as National Secretary for Women’s Ministries. We bid farewell to Colonels Jeffrey and Dorothy Smith, who retired from active service in January of this year.
God Always Provides
For months, wildfires have raged throughout Australia. In partnership with The Salvation Army Australia and local Salvation Army units around the country, The Salvation Army World Service Office is supporting food trucks for firefighters, emergency supplies and shelter for those who’ve lost their homes and psychological and spiritual care for those affected by this continent-wide disaster.
By John Funk, SAWSO.
To learn more about what SAWSO is doing around the world, visit sawso.org.