During the winter of 2001 after I had returned from Australia, very near December 25th I ether saw or heard an add by the Salvation Army reminding us all that the Christmas season was a time that they did their most visible drive for funds through the kettle at the entrances of stores and the volunteers that mind them. It really didn’t take much contemplation at the time for me to remember times I’ve found myself walking into a Salvation Army seeking help. So, that winter I asked the people of God to compose a thank you letter to the Salvation Army that was complete with all the names of those in the Salvation Army offices that I had been in, along with dates, times, and reasons for my visits and virtually all the details that would be a personal thank you from myself to all those working for the Salvation Army that had helped me along the way, and, a thank you to the organization itself for being there for me when I needed help. At the time I had hoped that everyone throughout the industry that knew of me would see the letter of thanks I had asked the people of God to compose and would pass along the reality of how much they had helped me, in their own way. The woman in the facility that was at that time and is now spying on me witnessed me speaking to the people of God and witnessed the letter they composed but rather than letting folks outside of the facility see that I was thanking a world wide Christian origination that had helped me on numerous occasions, she took the letter and cut it up into pieces and used it to further her con job against all those out there she had been deceiving, so my thank you was never seen by anyone outside the Kansas City facility in its whole form and context. A couple days ago I saw or heard the Salvation Army’s message again, and again I spoke to the people of God. I do not remember all the precise details of names or dates as the people of God do however, I do remember some of the places and how I felt at times of being helped by the Salvation Army and I can tell you, writing this letter is the right thing for me to do; Hey everybody, The Salvation Army is a really Good organization, although some might not know, they are a Christian organization that seems to have left the big business of religion somewhere else. Now it might seem at first glance that I just slammed them but the real truth is that they do have many houses of worship and they do celebrate, and praise the life and love of the lord which is God, they simply don’t make a business out of it, what they do make a business out of is helping folks in need regardless of race, color or creed. I’ve been to Salvation Army offices on two separate continents and on both was treated with dignity and respect and on both, have been helped. I have stayed in Salvation Army facilities when I didn’t have any place to stay. I have bathed myself at Salvation Army facilities when I didn’t have anyplace to bathe. I have been fed three meals a day in Salvation Army facilities when I couldn’t afford food for my tummy. I have been given food vouchers that enabled me to purchase my own food from grocery stores and have been given bags of food from their food pantries to. I have also been given monetary support in the form of rent deposit when I couldn’t afford to rent an apartment to get myself off the street. I have been given gift certificates that enabled me to purchase items from stores that I couldn’t afford otherwise, I also have been given vouchers to purchase articles of clothing from their thrift stores to wear at times when I was homeless and could not afford to buy my own, and even more, I have sat in their sanctuaries and sang and praised God with "Salvationist" and have left their sanctuaries feeling good inside. What they do for folks in need seems to me to be without judgment or prejudice of the predicaments we can sometimes find ourselves in. I don’t have a lot of money to offer them but what I do have is a very close personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and the people of God living within him that I have spoken to, telling of the kindness they (the Salvation Army) have showed me over the years, and a hope that those of you out there that know of me will pass along, in any way you can, that I was treated with much respect and dignity by them (the Salvation Army) and that they did help me many times. This is my testament telling so.
Stephen Wayne Reno Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Stephen Wayne Reno Tuesday, December 12, 2006