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Covid-19 and Change

Live Stream - May 3

Introduction

We are living in unprecedented, peculiar times – times of uncertainty, untold anxieties and change. Change is everywhere. Change happens all the time. Some have said, the only constant is change. Everyone, all organizations, all countries are experiencing the effects of change. External and internal factors exert pressure on the individuals and organization to change. As we have encountered this Global Pandemic called COVID-19 or Coronavirus, I can say without a doubt, “we’ve never done it this way before!”  A year ago, or even 6 months ago, none of us would have guessed that a significant portion of the world would be on “stay at home” orders. Schools, businesses, churches and various organizations have adapted through starting new and cutting-edge ways to survive. Online learning has become the norm, Zoom meetings are the new buss words, and churches are contending with holding online worship services. Change is upon us. To remain viable, schools, churches and other organizations must adapt to remain viable, and must stay ahead of the curve in their response to anticipated changes.

Determine of an Organization’s Readiness to Accept Change

Like the impact of Covid-19, various external and internal factors can destroy an organization unless the organization is ready and willing to embrace change. Some external factors which negatively affect organizations are pandemics, competitive business environment, political environment, the economic environment, business laws and regulations, cultural shifts, changing customer preferences, and technological advancements. Some internal factors which cause organizations to change are employee illnesses, employee demands, cost of doing business, wages and salaries increases, organizational culture and structure, lack of vision and strategic planning, the need for growth and development. To prepare for change, organizations and churches must restructure and reinvent themselves to avoid decline (Wischnevsky, 2004).

Competitive Business Environment

The organization’s competitors might outperform the organization, claiming a larger market share. The organization’s market share losses have a direct negative impact on profitability. The organization must adjust the sails or be swept away into oblivion. Without the adjustment to change, the dire situation continues. Change of the business plan, pricing structures, or the introduction of new, competitive products helps the organization regain its competitive advantage. In an organization like The Salvation Army, restructuring of the all the internal structures will ensure the organization’s viability.

Political Environment

Organizations struggle to survive in harsh, hostile political environments. Government laws and regulations like higher taxes cut into the organization’s profitability. Some government laws dictate price points or restrict the harvesting of raw materials in certain areas. When faced with a changing political landscape, the organizational leadership must change its strategy, raise prices, or move the organization to other business friendly climates. During this pandemic, we have heard much from local and national politicians. It remains to be seen how much of the political discourse will impact The Salvation Army positively.

Demography

Most societies these days experience demographic and cultural shifts. Cultural changes mean cultural shifts in preferences of certain goods, products and services. Organizational leadership must study and understand demographic shifts so as to supply products the customers want. For example, restaurants and grocery stores in areas experiencing an influx of Hispanic families must adjust their menus to reflect Hispanic meal choices. Failure to adjust to the customers’ preference could lead to the demise of the businesses. In The Salvation Army, we are stronger and richer for having embraced the demographic changes which have influenced our worship styles, language in worship, and general organizational culture.

Technology

The Covid-19 social distancing rules have made it necessary to conduct daily business online. As I mentioned earlier, online learning, Zoom meetings and live streaming of worship services have become the norm. Kudos to our society for the prompt adaptation to technology. I don’t know how long the pandemic and the restrictions will last, but all organizations contend with ever-changing technological innovations and gadgets, or they face extinction. Computers, social media, smartphones, and the internet have tremendously changed the business landscape, and they continue to do so. The Salvation Army, too, must embrace and morph together with these technological advances lest they stay in the stone age.

Vision and Strategy

Setting of a new vision and strategy prompts changes within the organization. The organizational leadership could set a vision and strategy encompassing an internal structural adjustment to increase productivity and improve efficiency (Wischnevsky, 2004). When this is all over, will we return to our old, normal ways? I hope we choose to continue on this path. Let us make online Live Streaming of Sunday Services the new street corner open air meeting. Let us have a strategy which discards or rather, add on to the victories of yester year by creating a compelling, bold vision for the future. A future which is at home with technology. A future where churches, schools, businesses all embrace and utilize technology to advance their mission.

Buy in from critical stakeholders

To determine if the organization is structurally ready to support change, the leadership must solicit and establish buy in and support from critical stakeholders. Stakeholders are any groups or individuals who have an interest in the organization. Lack of support from critical stakeholders leads to a disastrous change effort. Critical stakeholders are the influencers and decision-makers. Their support mobilizes the doubters and critics. The Salvation Army leadership, at all levels, will have to engage all stakeholders for an ambitious, technological change.

Trained and effective communicators and strong message

Successful change efforts rely on clear, effective communication of the need for change. Communication is key. To determine if the organization is structurally ready to support change, the leadership must establish the existence of an effective change communication strategy.

Financial and other resources

Change costs money. A new budget item line supporting change must be added onto the budget. Organizations must put their money where their mouth is. A belief in change is evidenced by financial support rendered.

Conclusion

In an ever-changing environment, stagnant organizations risk extinction.  In a fast-changing, Covid-19 ravaged society, change must happen promptly and decidedly. To remain relevant, viable, and profitable, organizations must continuously reinvent themselves, adjusting their sails to the vibrant winds of change. We are living in unprecedented, peculiar times – times of uncertainty, untold anxieties and change. Change is everywhere. Yet, the bold, the adaptive will survive and thrive. My prayer is that our Salvation Army, which was here 155 years ago, will be here for another 155 years as it changes and adjusts to the winds of change.

Chapel

 

References

Curado, C. (2006). Organisational learning and organisational design. The Learning Organization, 13(1),25-48.

Wischnevsky, J. D. (2004). Change as the winds change: The impact of organizational transformation on firm survival in a shifting environment. Organizational Analysis, 12(4), 361–377

And This, Too, Shall Pass

We have never been this way before! We are living in unprecedented, peculiar times – times of uncertainty and untold anxieties. These are times when The Salvation Army is responding by providing critical and essential services.

We are seeing a dynamic increase in the number of families seeking services which go beyond just food but spiritual and emotional support. We have been able to rise to the challenge by continuing to serve those who come to us for assistance. As you know, we serve everyone – from the cradle to the grave, without discrimination. People count on us to continue to serve suffering humanity.

I write to express my sincere and deepest gratitude to you for your unmatched dedication to the work of The Salvation Army and to the work of the Lord. Thank you. We keep receiving messages of gratitude from various community stakeholders. Your tireless work does not go unnoticed. Your Father in heaven sees and is pleased. Thank you.  We miss and pray for some on our team who are on furlough for the foreseeable future. We hope to all be reunited sooner than later.

We do not know how long this pandemic will last. We do not know the long-term effects of this pandemic. Things might hurt a lot more before they get better. I know we will make it.

I wish there was a way of knowing how to feel in times such as these. I worry for my wife and two daughters. I worry for my extended family near and far. I worry for you and your families, and our corps family. I pray for yours and your families’ safety and protection during these tough times.

Please stay safe, and know we love and miss you. We will make it through together.

God bless you.

Stay Safe

Terry

I write to check in and see how you are all doing. We are living in unprecedented times unlike anything we have ever experienced. This morning, I saw long lines of shoppers going into Ralph’s and Stater Brothers. Empty shelves speak of the panic buying that has become the norm. The news continues to highlight the increasing numbers of infections. The Governor has ordered Californians to stay indoors. I hope, despite all this, you are doing well.

We are having “virtual” worship services at our church. Thank you to all who were able to join us. If you missed the service, you can watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/PasadenaTab/videos/749207395609723/?vh=e&d=n.

Stay safe.

Do You Ever Struggle With Doubt?

I am sure I am not the only one who often battles doubts and lack of faith. It baffles my mind to think that Christians struggle with doubt and lack of faith. Aren’t we, as Christians, supposed to have strong faith? Scripture reveals many of the heroes of faith struggled with doubt.

If you face doubts and waning faith, be encouraged, you are not alone. We all, at some point, ask many questions. Good thing, our God is bigger than our questions. In fact, He is pleased when we ask questions. He wants us to be honest with Him. Our healing and growth start when we acknowledge our struggles with doubt and lack of faith.

This song, “Lord, There Are Times” better explains my exact feelings when I am in doubt: Please prayerfully reflect on the words. Bring your questions, doubts and struggles to God. He is ready to answer and heal.

Lord, There are times

 Lord, there are times when I have to ask ‘Why?’

Times when catastrophe gives faith the lie.

Innocents suffer and evil holds say,

Grant me some answers, Lord, teach me your way.

Lord, there are times when I have to ask ‘Where?’

Times when it seems that you simply don’t care.

Though I call out, you seem distant, aloof,

Grant me some answers, Lord, show me some proof.

Lord, there are times when I have to ask ‘What?’

Times when your love is not easy to spot.

What is life’s purpose and what of me here?

Grant me some answers, Lord, make your will clear.

Lord, there are times when the questions run fast,

Times when I fear that my faith may not last.

Help me, support me, Lord, help me get through.

Lead me through darkness till light shines anew.

Pregnancy Cravings and the Spirit-Filled Life

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It was midnight, as I parked in front of the Safeway Grocery store. I was here to purchase a box or two of pancake mix. I’m grateful, the local store was open into the wee hours of the night. Why was I here?

The story begins when a couple of months earlier, my friend had introduced us to the pancakes at IHOP. Having recently arrived in the United States, my pregnant wife and I had never tasted the delicious stacks of IHOP pancake goodness. As soon as my wife tasted the syrup drenched pancakes, she was hooked. We became regulars at IHOP. As her pregnancy progressed, so did her desire for pancakes. However, our meager financial resources could not sustain this new habit. So, we resorted to purchasing pancaking mix and making our own pancakes at home.

Late into the night, one day, my almost 9 months pregnant wife asked for pancakes. I went into the kitchen, only to realize the pancake mix box was empty. I told my wife I would buy more pancake mix in the morning. A few moments later, with teeth clenched, she blurted, “I want pancakes, right now!” I could sense the seriousness of the situation. I know better not to mess with a pregnant woman. I complied and drove to the grocery store, a midnight.

Most pregnancies cause unreasonable or rather, uncommon cravings. That which is inside the woman’s body leads the woman to have an insatiable desire for something that she never used to crave. This common phenomenon can have a spiritual significance. Holiness, being spirit-filled, can lead to cravings for prayer, Bible reading, and spiritual experiences. The Holy Spirit, who indwells us, causes us to crave the eternal. We find ourselves hating the old lifestyle and all its vices. Suddenly, the things that used to matter have no meaning anymore. The spiritual exercise and ceremonies we used to despise become more meaningful.

Are you Spirit-filled today? What are you craving? Is it spiritual? Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Ask God for a desire for the holy, the sacred, and the eternal. Even during the darkest times of your life, you can seek the things which satisfy your spiritual hunger and thirst.

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Quotes by Me

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  • Until we understand the depth and seriousness of sin, we can never appreciate the generosity of God’s grace.
  • Worship is not just about the perfect articulation of descriptive Biblical phrases and theological terminology. Worship is the sincere expression of our adoration of God from a sincere, broken, contrite, and humble heart.
  • Church: image maintenance and outward appearance OR brokenness, a contrite heart, honesty and vulnerability. Which do you choose?
  • Learning is an act of humility. The heart of the arrogant, know-it-all has no room for learning.
  • Some people are eagerly awaiting your demise, keep them waiting!
  • Speak against every derogatory, condescending, ignorant or racist word said in your earshot. Shut them up so they know you don’t condone they ignorant prejudice.
  • What good is wealth when it’s not shared? Bless others with your wealth, and watch God multiply it. Don’t be stingy with God’s wealth.
  • Leverage your success to encourage, uplift, and open doors for the underprivileged.
  • Stay focused. Low and slow intentionality beats high sprint every time.
  • I am driven. I want to be successful at whatever I do. I do not tire or shy away from aiming for the highest in my faith, love, work, education, life. Aim high.
  • Growing up in #Zimbabwe, I learned the value of hard work, the importance of a good education, and the joys of a big, happy family. These are values which have shaped who I am.
  • What matters to me? Love for God; family, ministry/work, and everything else.

The Passing of a Legend

Early Wednesday morning, I received the news my uncle had been Promoted to Glory! My heart is aching. I cannot begin to describe the impact my uncle had on my life. He is the man who took me in when I needed a father and a mentor. He is the man who led our Salvation Army Highfield Temple Band, where I found solace, refuge and comfort during my dark, painful teenage years. His influence, wise advice, and encouragement have shaped who I am as a man, father and Christian leader. He will forever be in my heart. Though he is no longer with us, his legend will live forever! These words come to mind as I reflect on his life: Compassionate, empathetic, loving, caring, reliable, dependable, trustworthy, ethical, man of integrity.

 

Rest in Peace our bandmaster, mentor, leader, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, friend. Till we meet again. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

 

Please pray for me, my family, and all those who are hurting today. Many people are experiencing difficulties and untold heartbreaks. It’s incumbent upon us all as Christians to lift each other up, encourage and support each other. I need you, you need me, we all need each other. Send an encouraging note, phone call, letter, email, Social Media message/post to someone today. You will make their day.

Fresh Water is Life

Read: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 19:17

Reflect:

Many people in western cultures will find it challenging to fully grasp what it is like to be without such a basic need as clean water or understand the painful repercussions of having only dirty water to drink. Unfortunately, this experience has been all too real for me.

“You grandma is no more.” Those are painful words to hear. Grandma was a loving, caring, sweet, wise woman. Grandma loved to spoil her grandchildren. She made it her goal to dispense her wisdom to her grandchildren and she wanted to leave a legacy to us. I will forever cherish her wisdom.

A few days before grandma’s demise, mom had warned grandma to never drink the water from the tap but to only drink the purified water that was in the refrigerator. Grandma must have forgotten to heed this advice. One day, overcome by thirst, grandma had filled a glass of cold water from the tap. Moments later, grandma’s tummy started to hurt.  Over the following days, grandma got sicker and sicker. She lost all appetite and developed a terrible fever. Grandma had contracted cholera after drinking contaminated water. One glass of clear looking tap water had led to her untimely death.

In developing countries, many people suffer and die from preventable waterborne diseases in areas where there is no immediate access to fresh, purified water. As Christians, we must act to save the lives of our brothers and sisters in the developing world. Yes, we can do something. What can we do? Following my grandma’s death, my wife and I have raised funds to build freshwater wells in Zimbabwe, our home country. I miss my grandma, but I am proud that my wife and I have built a well in my grandma’s village, providing dozens of families with access to clean water. You too can do something. You can support The Salvation Army’s work providing clean water to communities by freely giving to World Services through self-denial. A human being armed with love and compassion can accomplish much.

You may not think that you can change lives, but you can. As you consider the blessings you have freely received from God, choose to freely give and meet essential needs.

Apply: Many around the world lack access to essential needs like clean water, food, clothing, and safe shelter. This week, challenge yourself to a “no spend” week and instead give generously to Self-Denial.  

Pray: Dear Lord, give us a compassionate heart for missions. Thank you for the many blessings we have. May we hold loosely to the things that we own and be generous with all that we have. Amen.

 

Consider Others at Christmas

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I have written this blog as the acronym of the word C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. This Christmas, let’s remember to do the following:

Cheer, compliment others. Everyone is fighting a battle. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – I Thessalonians 5:11

Help. Random acts of kindness. Do dishes, buy coffee, carry stuff for people. “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

Rise to the challenge. Don’t cower away or give up. Don’t give up. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Invite someone to church, to your sit with you, eat with you. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19

Serve others. Serve at home, corps, Social Services. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10

Tell others about Jesus. No one can argue against your testimony. Your story matters. “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.” – Psalm 66:6

Minister to others. Be present. Listen. Be available. Visit the hospital, nursing homes. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10

Ask God in prayer. Appeal for God’s grace and mercy on behalf of others. There is power in prayer. “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” – Colossians 1:9

Support the ministry financially. Support the ministry through giving of your time, talents, and treasures. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

 

Silent Night

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One of my most favorite Christmas carols is a song which was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, in 2011. This Christmas carol is “Silent Night.” According to tradition, this popular Christmas carol was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. Below are the lyrics, please be blessed as you sing along to these poignant, powerful words:

Silent Night – Song by Celtic Woman

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, oh, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

Songwriters: Traditional

Silent Night lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Spirit Music Group

Check out Mariah Carey’s rendition of this beautiful song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl9sYzsZNE4

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