It’s the best kept secret in The Salvation Army,” said Major Norman Grainger of the fulfilment and joy of serving in adult rehabilitation centers (ARC). “We wish we’d known about it sooner.”
Major Norman and his wife, Major Claire, served nearly 30 years in corps and divisional appointments before accepting an assignment in the ARC Command. Despite knowing little about the ministry they were entering, they went boldly, believing as they have with every appointment that God was guiding their path.
In 2019, the Graingers arrived at the St. Louis, Mo., ARC, where they began learning the ins and outs of the program. Immediately the ministry resonated with them and they embraced it wholeheartedly. By the time the COVID-19 pandemic began a few short months later, they were prepared to live in an apartment onsite in order to keep the center going.
“It really became a 24/7 ministry,” said Major Norman. “We’d go down for breakfast, work in the office during the day, and in the evening spend time in devotions and classes or in the canteen area, fellowshipping with the men.”
Despite the long hours, the majors took great joy in the extra time spent with the men in activities ranging from playing games and working puzzles to watching movies and doing crafts or just sharing in conversation.
“In spending time with them, you discover something about somebody. The idea people have about people coming to ARC isn’t always true. They have gifts to share,” said Major Claire.
Ministering to and serving the beneficiaries at the ARC has become the rhythm and heartbeat of the
Graingers’ life. Though the ministry is a series of unexpected highs and lows, simultaneously celebrating victories and mourning losses, the majors believe in the work of the ARC, citing its deep connection to the Army’s history of bringing in men off the street, feeding them, cleaning them up, and restoring their dignity, all in the name of Christ.
“It’s a heartbreaking yet joyous ministry,” concluded Major Claire. “It’s what The Salvation Army is supposed to do. We seek to heal or help in the healing process of the physical, emotional and spiritual man, to help them understand that God loves them and give them the confidence to step back out into the community. We are still claiming men for Christ.”