MEET THE HELPERS: LEARNING HOW TO CHANGE COURSE AND PASTOR ON

Chapel

Published here: https://caringmagazine.org/meet-the-helpers-learning-how-to-change-course-and-pastor-on/

While chapels and pews are empty at the moment due to social distancing restrictions, Salvation Army corps across the West are holding online worship services to support emotional and spiritual needs. Pastoring during COVID-19 is more than creating an online message, however, and we caught up with Pasadena Tabernacle Corps (California) Officer Captain Terry Masango to learn more about how his service has shifted in the midst of COVID-19. 

What has it been like for you in this pandemic?Firstly, I would say we’ve never experienced anything like this before, and for me it’s been difficult. It’s been the ride of my life. Particularly at the beginning, things were changing so fast. We were watching the news, listening to the local government, the federal government, but also The Salvation Army. We were looking for information; we were listening for how we are to adapt to what’s going on.

So, it’s been like flying—the best example I can give you is flying—at 30,000 feet, with a plane that has holes, and you’re trying to patch the holes while it’s flying, while making sure that everyone is safe—the staff, trying to make sure people don’t lose their jobs, but also that we have enough food, enough resources to serve people that are coming and also trying to take care of my family and myself, my own health. All of that has been a challenge.

What are the most pressing needs you are seeing now on the frontlines of service?

We have seen a 75 percent increase in the number of people seeking our services. Most of them are new families, whose breadwinners have either recently lost their jobs or are on furlough. So, most of our pressing needs are monetary donations that help us purchase the specific foods in the quantities that we need. Second, non-perishable food donations and frozen goods.

Frozen goods, like pizza, vegetables, fruits, meals, burritos and fish are in demand. Non-perishable goods, including pasta, rice, quinoa, lentils, peas, beans, flour, sugar, crackers, snack bars, chips, pretzels, cookies, nuts, tea, coffee, canned beans, vegetables, meat, noodles, soups, stews and tuna are also appreciated. Other items that are helpful, include baby food, formula, condiments, hygiene kits and socks.

How do you handle the emotional stress load of COVID-19? What do you say to those who might be afraid?

To handle the emotional stress, we must accept firstly that we are all struggling, we are all trying to comprehend what’s happening; it’s like the ground under us is shaking and everyone is trying to survive. So personally, how I’ve been able to handle the pressure is through prayer; I’ve been praying a lot, praying for myself, praying for my family and everything around us.

And then, the second thing is Carpe Diem, to seize the day. There are two ways we can handle the pressure: We can sit and just say, “Oh, the world is horrible, we are struggling!” or we can seize the day and do something about it. So, for those who are at home, I would encourage them: find some things to do. And for me, keeping my routine and coming to work regularly has been great. I recently preached on this idea and three ways to handle emotional stress:

1. Seize the day

Instead of complaining, do something.  Enjoy some quality rest. Cook some healthy and delicious meals at home. Clean the house. Rearrange furniture. Get a pet for companionship. Pick up gardening and plant your own basil, tomatoes and flowers. Read books. Binge watch one or two TV shows or watch a movie. Exercise in and around the house—or walk around the neighborhood. Read God’s Word, pray and worship.

2. Create 

Take up a new hobby, and have fun. You can bring out your inner artist and try your hand at drawing or painting. How about you start a journal or a blog? You have it in you to write. Listen to a new podcast or start your own podcast. Join Tik-Tok or just learn to sing and dance. Dust off the instrument and practice that piece of music or learn a new instrument. Start knitting or crocheting.

3. Connect

Check on others.The third way I’m handling emotional stress is by connecting; connecting with God and connecting with people. To connect with God, I continue to read the Bible and to pray. To connect with people, I remain in-touch with them.

Some ways to connect include prayer. Pray for people and with people, on the phone or online. Call two different people a day, or connect with them on social media. Use FaceTime and Zoom to video chat with others. Talk with your mentor, coach or therapist. Adopt a senior and write to them. Tune in on Sundays for live-streaming worship services, and join prayer, Bible Study and fellowship groups online.

What was it like to transition to leading a congregation online, and how is it going?

Transitioning to online was weird and difficult. First, to record ourselves was difficult, but I am grateful for Director of Multimedia Ministries Josh Cowing, and I’m grateful for people in the corps who are willing to participate. Josh has been able to help me record people and show that on Sundays, but for me, the awkward part has been preaching to an empty congregation. That’s been weird, because there’s no one sitting there while you are preaching, but you are hoping that somebody, somewhere is watching.

We’ve tried to minister to the congregation through other means. I’ve been sending a lot of detailed emails. We’ve been doing videos that we’ve been sending out on Facebook and also via email. We’ve been calling and writing to a lot of people in the corps. We’ve had some Zoom meetings, whether it’s Bible studies, or women’s programs, or Corps Council, we’ve used Zoom to help us.

So how is it going? Even though it’s awkward, I think it’s been going well. We are actually reaching out to more people than just people from Pasadena. We’re having people watch us from Europe and Africa; we have someone from Fiji who comments on our Facebook posts. So, we are reaching a wider audience than just Pasadena.

How are you different today than you were a year ago?

I’m different today in terms of planning. There’s a Scripture that says, “Many are the plans of a man, but God’s purpose prevails.” A year ago, I was all about planning and scheduling things, and we were in our regular church routine, but today I am different—that I am learning that God does things his way. Instead of inviting God to our plans, we are adjusting to his plans. So, I’ve changed in that I’ve become sensitive to what God is doing.

And I’ve also changed in the idea of compassion, rather than just routine. I’m intentionally spending time at the food bank where I’m interacting with people who actually have no idea who I am. So, they say whatever they want, they push my buttons, but I’m learning to be compassionate.

How has your faith helped you and impacted how you served in the crisis?

As Salvation Army people, we say we are “saved to serve,” so my faith is helping me, knowing that my calling goes beyond my personal needs. My calling is to serve and help others. My faith compels me to help those who are in need, particularly at this time.

The love of God oozes out of our every pore to touch others. We are the hands and feet of Jesus on earth, and this crisis has really challenged us as Christians to show the world who we are; and who we are is we are loving, compassionate people, who express God’s love through service.

Can you share a story of recovery, kindness or selflessness you’ve witnessed?

There are many stories, many, many things that I’ve seen happen. From a corporate level, organizations and businesses have been bringing donations, including the Rotary Club who said, “What can we do to help?” There are three volunteers I want to talk about. There is a lady called Socorro from Pasadena Unified School District who is at the food bank every day, sweating but carrying boxes, moving things. Her story has impacted me, because she goes over and above the call of duty to serve.

The other two are Jaime and Leo, they are graduates of the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) who are at the food bank every day as well. They are there lifting, pushing things. People who are receiving the food, probably will never see them, never know them. They are at the back just serving. Most people want to serve at the front, where people can applaud; they get “Thank you, you’ve done well.” These gentlemen are hidden in the back, just pushing and moving things around.

Our Social Services staff is working so hard. There’s a fear that they could contract something, but they seem at peace. They’re just here to serve. That has touched me, and I’m really blessed to see that.


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HOW TO DEAL WITH COVID-19 LONELINESS

Gardening

  1. CARPE DIEM (Seize the Day)
  • Enjoy some quality sleep/rest.
  • Cook some healthy and delicious meals at home.
  • Clean the house. Clean the garage or the pesky cabinet, which has become everyone’s junk yard.
  • Rearrange furniture. Refresh the look of your home.
  • Get a pet. Pets are great for companionship. They keep you busy.
  • Pick up gardening. Plant your own basil, tomatoes and flowers.
  • Read books. You know that pile of books on your shelf you have been wanting to read. Now is the time.
  • Movie. You heard rave reviews about a movie but you just never had the chance to watch it.
  • Go ahead spoil yourself. Binge watch one or two TV shows. I recently watch all 8 seasons of Monk. I absolutely loved it.
  • Exercise. Walk around the neighborhood. Exercise in and around the house.
  • Read God’s Word, pray, worship.
  • Seize the day. Instead of complaining, do something.

 Blog

2. CREATE. Take up a new hobby

  • How about you start a journal or a blog? You have it in you to write. Go ahead and write a book, a song, or a poem. If ever there was a time, the time is now!
  • Listen to a new podcast or start your own podcast.
  • Join Tik-Tok or just learn to sing and dance.
  • Talking about singing – compose and record a song. How about Karaoke?
  • Purchase and play new board games. You could try video games, puzzle or the Rubik’s Cube.
  • Dust of the instrument and practice that piece. Learn a new instrument.
  • Purchase the kits and start knitting or crocheting.
  • You can try your hand at drawing or painting. Bring out the inner artist in you.
  • Have fun.

 Connect

3. CONNECT. Check on others

  • Prayer. Pray for people. Pray with people on the phone or online.
  • Phone calls. Call two different people a day.  
  • Social media. Contact two different people on Social media each day.
  • FaceTime, Zoom, etc. Contact two people a day on a video call.
  • Check in on each other… relatives, friends, neighbors
  • Adopt a senior. Write and send letters or cards to seniors or to your church members.
  • Participate in a friend’s drive by birthday celebration.
  • Online. Tune in on Sundays for live-streaming, join prayer, Bible Study and fellowship groups online.
  • Talk with your mentor, coach or therapist.
  • Plan quality Family – Zoom calls.
  • Play family Games, record family movies, chalk art outside.
  • Sleepover living room pitch a tent, make it fun.

Zoom

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

Image result for ihop pancakes

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.

Image result for spirit filled

Quotes by Me

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

  • 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.

 

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