Captain Patricia Salas Jimenez and Lt. Luke Hursh arrived at the Salina, Kan., Corps during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, prepared to make a positive impact during a challenging time by sharing Christ’s love with the town of 47,000 people.
They quickly discovered that the challenges posed by the pandemic presented opportunities, rather than just obstacles, to achieving more effective ministry and outreach.
“The pandemic put a spotlight on many of the social, financial and spiritual challenges that can be taken for granted during normal times,” explained Captain Patricia. “With the arrival of COVID-19, the need was suddenly much greater.”
One group that Captain Patricia and Lt. Luke wanted to recognize was the county’s emergency responders and essential workers—the Saline County police and fire departments, nursing home employees and emergency management personnel who served tirelessly throughout the pandemic. State troopers and members of the military also were included.
“Our amazing essential personnel have been working throughout the pandemic, and too often don’t receive the credit they deserve,” said Lt. Luke. “To show our appreciation, the Salina Corps put together around 960 Christmas gift bags in 2021 to remind them that they are loved and supported.”
The gift bags included a New Testament, a religious-based adult coloring book, a Psalm 91
devotional book for police, fire and military personnel, Trading Courage for Calm and God Will Carry You Through books, tissues, a “God Bless America” cross, a Chick-fil-A free sandwich card, and a Christmas card signed by Salvation Army soldiers and staff.
Outreach and evangelism efforts are expected to ramp up further throughout 2022, which will mark the 125th anniversary of the Salina Corps in July. To address some of the unmet needs in the community, the corps opened a canteen in January to provide hot meals and blankets to everyone in need. Captain Patricia and Lt. Luke hope to inspire a whole community effort by partnering with local churches to share food, ideas and volunteers.
Hispanic ministry and young adult meetings also are resuming this year. The Salina Corps is currently attended by 45 to 50 Salvationists, but Captain Patricia and Lt. Luke seek to grow that number through continued enthusiastic community outreach and evangelism.
We have partnered with an incredible organization called Saturate USA, which allows churches to ‘adopt’ zip codes,” explained Captain Patricia. “Saturate USA will send over materials free of charge that share the message of Jesus. We can then distribute these materials to every household in the community.”
Saturate USA materials include door hangers, multi-language DVDs sharing the message of Christ, Gospel tracts and more.
According to Lt. Luke, corps members are being provided training so that they feel comfortable distributing materials, answering questions and sharing about the hope found in Jesus with people in the neighborhood.
“Often, starting a conversation and putting yourself out there can seem like the hardest part,” concluded Captain Patricia. “But the rewards of bringing people to Christ are too great to measure. We plan to use this year to share God’s message of hope with all of Salina.”