by Lt. Colonel Renea Smith, Territorial Secretary for Personnel

What I love most about this time of year is the intentional focus on gratitude. There is something so encouraging about sitting with friends and family, often around a table, talking about the blessings we’ve experienced in the last year. Even the most reticent of us is encouraged to share. In those moments I’m reminded again of God’s amazing love and grace that surrounds us.

God’s grace impacted me even before I was born. On a sunny day in a little place outside of Chicago called Miller’s Woods, my dad, his sister and brother were playing in their front yard when a Salvation Army officer drove by. He stopped the bus, greeted them and went to the front door of their house to talk with my grandmother. When the officer started the engine again, it was with the promise of returning next Sunday morning to take the children to Sunday school.

That encounter changed the trajectory of my dad’s life, and as a result, it changed my life and the lives of my siblings. And we weren’t the only ones impacted by that officer’s choice that day. During my dad’s life as a soldier, officer and now corps sergeant-major, he has prayed with, encouraged, counseled and loved hundreds of adults and children in Jesus’ name.

All of this occurred because an officer I’ll never know was willing to stop and take a chance.

That moment set my dad’s life on a course to experience and embrace God’s grace and salvation which resulted years later in me being able to experience and embrace God’s grace and salvation, too.

Sometimes I wonder where I would be if that officer hadn’t stopped the bus.

We live in a world where people are desperate for grace but ignorant they need it. As we consider where we live and work and the people we encounter each day who are searching for meaning and love, what would it take for us to slow down to share our own story? To reach out to someone who needs hope, who needs grace, who needs Christ?

“All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NLT)





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