by Jill Harman and Chip Borgstadt
“Mission starts with each one of us, and opportunities are everywhere,” said A/Captain Tracy Gantner, officer for program development at the Omaha, Neb., Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
Since arriving to lead the Omaha Kroc Center in May 2017, A/Captains John and Tracy Gantner have been inviting staff and members to fully engage in The Salvation Army’s holistic mission of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting needs in His name without discrimination.
Having attended the National Seminar on Evangelism (NSE), the Gantners invited staff and soldiers to read the book Just Walk Across the Room. Later they presented a series that elaborated on simple steps in everyday life that can point people to faith. The capstone of this effort was a seminar by program specialist Mark Bender of the territorial adult mission advancement department. Serving as outreach coordinator for NSE, Mark has used this approach for more than a decade.
Kroc Center staff from nearly every department and members of the corps chose to attend the seminar. Participants learned how to connect with others naturally, such as observing those standing alone and starting conversations with them, offering hospitality or performing simple acts of kindness.
“Every person has a story to share. Jesus has called us to learn those stories and offer genuine care and concern in His name,” said A/Captain Tracy. “We need to be willing and prepared to walk across the room.”
Encounters like these can allow relationships to develop and deepen, and it is in those relationships that the gospel becomes authentic and accessible for people. They can provide opportunities, as the Holy Spirit leads, to share the life-changing story of God’s love and redemption.
The Omaha Kroc Center uniquely reaches members of the community through fitness, creativity, the fine arts, athletics and worship. It has the opportunity and privilege to connect with more than 10,000 people each year who walk through its doors.