The Announced Republican Candidate for President You’ve Never Heard of.

Republican Presidential Candidate, Ryan Binkley

On Sunday, April 23, a Republican presidential candidate officially entered the 2024 race with exuberant fanfare from a large packed Dallas auditorium of supporters. So far, major national news media response has been….crickets. Yet, other than having no political experience and almost no national name recognition, Ryan Binkley has the characteristics of a nearly perfect Republican candidate.

He is a handsome 55-year-old successful business man; founder and pastor of a large Dallas church; married to Ellie, a beautiful South Korean immigrant; and has five children. He is a staunch fiscal conservative, America first advocate, yet exudes compassion for the disadvantaged. He is very articulate, as is his wife, and doesn’t shy from acknowledging the hand of God in America’s past, present, and future.

Binkley is CEO and Co-founder of Generational Equity Group, a full-service business advisory and investment firm involved in the marketing of privately held businesses. Since 2006, his company has successfully completed over 1,300 acquisitions. With over 400 employees in 15 regional offices, the company has received numerous awards and recognitions. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

The candidate is also founder and pastor of Create Church, a nondenominational congregation in Richardson, Texas. From 2009 to 2012, Ryan and Ellie led the College and Career ministry at Covenant Church in the North Dallas area. In 2012, they started Create Church which has grown to have a major impact for Christ’s Kingdom in the Dallas area. Through Binkley’s unique background in business and ministry, he has, for the last few years, felt an increasingly strong calling of God to seek the office of president.

Ryan faces a formidable lineup of previously announced Republican candidates Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Vivek Ramaswamy, Larry Elder, and Perry Johnson along with the presumptive candidate, Ron DeSantis. His first stop will be Iowa which will hold the first primary election next February.

You can view the entire official announcement here. It’s worth your time.

From a practical view, this inexperienced and unknown candidate wouldn’t gain enough traction to even qualify for the debates. However, with much of America’s lackluster enthusiasm for other candidates, and the hints of spiritual awakening across the land, practicality could give way to the miraculous. God may be giving His chosen nation one more (maybe last) chance by raising up a seemingly unlikely “David” to be His anointed leader. It will be interesting to see what the media and the political elite do with this anomaly candidate over the next several weeks.

My Generation of Debauchery

Democrat Socialist Leftists just being themselves

March is Women’s History Month with emphases on the importance and contributions of women. That is a worthy and celebrative way to honor women. International Women’s Day has been observed on March 8 since 1908. The U.S. State Department has presented the International Women of Courage Awards annually on this day since 2007. The 2023 awards went to several deserving women from around the world for various courageous acts. Only the Biden Administration had the gall to bestow this prestigious award on a biological male. Let’s consider just how asinine that was, and what it says about my generation of debauchery.

Of the eleven courage awards presented this month to women from other countries, ten highlighted bold actions defending women’s rights and condemning persecution of women throughout the world. Of course, the Biden White House couldn’t pass up the opportunity to find and showcase a biological male transgender who fit their Democrat Socialist Leftist agenda. First Lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken ceremoniously honored Alba Rueda from Argentina for her (his) perseverance and fight against those of her (his) country who opposed her (his) perversion. She (he) planted a kiss on the cheek of each of her (his) presenters, Biden and Blinken. What could be more of an offense to the real heroines of the world than to have one of them replaced by a biological man courtesy of the most influential nation in the world?

I am ashamed that the America I love and have served has sunken this low in one generation–my generation. In my early years, homosexuality was rightly considered a perversion. Those who practiced such decadence did so in secret while rejecting the vast majority understanding of biological and biblical truth. Somewhere along the way, gays and lesbians convinced the rest of us to acknowledge and tolerate their lifestyle. But that wasn’t enough. Eventually, we were supposed to accept sexual aberrance and gender dysphoria as normal for some and were castigated for having opposing views. Today, we are expected to celebrate such deviance and are castigated by the mainstream if we object. We are now awarding “heroes” for their abhorrent behavior. My generation let it happen with little pushback.

Our biggest failure in allowing the degeneration of sexuality was our ambivalence to the Democrat-Socialist-Leftist-led cultural change. President Clinton invited gays into the military with the “don’t ask; don’t tell” mandate. President Obama proclaimed support for openly gay members of the military, opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, elevated LGBT rights, and championed gay marriage. Remember the rainbow White House and rainbow flags atop our embassies? The liberal majority Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage. President Biden and the Democrat congressional majority have been relentless in advancing LBGT rights and legislation including the codifying of same-sex marriage into law. Currently, Biden is fighting for transgender rights with a vengeance. Some of his top secretary-level “diversity” appointments like male-wife Buttigieg and transgender Levine make American politics an international laughing-stock.

My generation has elected Democrat presidents seven times. Five of those seven have elected or reelected solid Leftists with progressively radical agenda. None has been more wildly socialistic and dismissive of morality and biblical principles than our current occupant of the White House. We are in a cultural war for the moral high ground of America, and we are obviously losing. I take some comfort in the current spiritual revival movement we are seeing. Let’s pray for a phenomenal work of God that draws millions to Himself and shakes the souls of government leaders from the oval office to city councils. May my generation bring light to the dark world we have ignored before it’s too late.

“Coincidences” May Be Signaling Nationwide Revival

A host of recent events and trends points to a powerful spiritual transformation ready to sweep across our land. Viewed separately, these intimations might be considered coincidences, but collectively they appear to be orchestrated by God and a prologue to something epic in the near future.

All eyes are on the spontaneous revival at Asbury University. An almost identical phenomenon happened in 1970 on the same campus during a time of historic unrest and ungodliness in America. That event was a major catalyst to the “Jesus Movement” that spread from California across the country and lasted for over a decade. Is it a coincidence that God chose this same venue to do it again at such a low point in our culture?

Eight months ago, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. For 50 years, America had allowed over 50 million babies to be aborted under an essentially unrestricted highest federal court ruling. Is it a coincidence that this landmark reversal was a precursor–perhaps a prerequisite–to God’s calling our nation to repentance?

Just a few weeks ago, Damar Hamlin’s tragic injury on the football field brought all the players to their knees in public prayer for his life. Later, ESPN sports analyst, Dan Orlovsky, prayed for Damar on his national TV show. Is it a coincidence that sports teams that have disparaged public prayer for years are now praying openly and giving God glory in interviews?

Hollywood movies have declined sharply in recent months. Fewer film fans have been buying the filth and violence that passes for entertainment. Last year marked the worst year for Hollywood movies at the domestic box office since 1998. Meanwhile, wholesome, family movies, particularly faith-based, are all the buzz. Is it a coincidence that a plethora of well-produced Christian movies are now out-earning most of the big celebrity name releases?

The Chosen has become an icon in the television and box office industry. This series of Jesus’s life has received a 100% critic score and 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It is now released in 180 countries. Is it a coincidence that one of the most popular shows to ever hit the TV and big screen is a relatively new and unique showcasing of Jesus?

While on the topic of the cinema, a highly anticipated blockbuster movie, Jesus Revolution, will launch in theaters everywhere on February 24. The storyline is the ’70s Jesus Movement. It is predicted to be one of 2023’s top movies. It has been in production for over a year. Is it a coincidence that for months this movie has been scheduled to release just days after unplanned revival broke out at Asbury?

COVID was the worst pandemic in American history. Such epochal diseases are referred to in the Bible as pestilence and were usually elements of God’s wrath on sinful, unrepentant populations. They served to both punish and get people’s attention. They often preceded a humble turning to God for forgiveness. Is it a coincidence that the devastating COVID epidemic in America came just before what may be a national movement back to the Creator?

How many more “coincidences” can you think of? I believe that, if America doesn’t recognize these as not “coincidences” at all but as orchestrated acts of God, we will not survive. Our One True God has perhaps given His chosen people of the 21st century one final opportunity to repent and return to Him. If we fail, we may very well write off this great experiment of our pursuit of happiness with liberty and justice for all.

I welcome your comments.

Is Christian Revival Coming to America Again?

Perpetual worship at Asbury University

On Wednesday, February 8, what started as a typical, regularly scheduled devotional service on the campus of Asbury University ignited into spontaneous worship, confession, repentance and testimonies. The outpouring of God’s Spirit was without expectation or preparation. Could this be the catalyst for nationwide, even worldwide, revival that faithful Christians have been praying for in recent years?

The word is out! Hundreds of curious people a day are visiting the university’s chapel to experience what is happening. Long lines of vehicles are backed up on the highway leading onto the campus. My pastor has joined numerous other pastors from all over the country spending a day or two there personally observing God at work. All are returning to their home churches with the life-changing story of this phenomenon.

Asbury University is a small Christian non-denominational university (1600 students) in Wilmore, Kentucky. One might think that, if God is beginning something new and epic, He would begin it in Washington, D.C., or at the U.N. If He wanted it to sprout from the Christian academic realm, why not at institutions like Liberty or Baylor Universities? I assume He is just being the God of the Bible who almost always chose the smaller, simpler, and weaker things to accomplish the miraculous.

And, this isn’t the first time for God to use Asbury for launching a major movement for His glory. On February 3, 1970, similar revival fires birthed on their campus began to sweep across America during a time of unrest, dissention, and rioting throughout the land. Prayer movements had been going on since the previous October and culminated in a seemingly routine chapel service similar to the current one. It exploded into a Spirit-filled, non-stop revival. Over the next few months, students sent over 2000 witnessing teams across the country to other schools, churches, and communities sharing the gospel of Christ. Many credited this happening as starting, or at least boosting, the “Jesus Movement” of the 1970s which spread like wildfire throughout North America, Europe, and Central America.

The Bible says God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He blessed His chosen people, Israel, beyond measure. When they turned from Him, they incurred His jealous wrath. When they repented, His Spirit moved powerfully in their midst bringing immeasurable blessings again. This spiritual cycle has been repeated in America’s history with the same results. Our country has been blessed more abundantly than any country in history. Yet we have turned from Him as evidenced clearly by today’s modern sinful culture. I believe the COVID pandemic was probably an element of God’s wrath on America and the rest of the world for our unfaithfulness. Could the Spirit’s work at Asbury be the seed of repentance and renewed dependence on God that will draw the hearts of America and beyond back to Him as Savior and Lord?

I honestly didn’t expect to see this in my lifetime, but I am repenting for my lack of faith and praying earnestly and often for God to cover our nation and world with the overflow of His work at Asbury. I urge you to do the same. God’s Word says His Spirit will not always strive with man. This may very well be our last chance.

What a Stark Contrast in Vision for America!

The State of the Union displayed the most striking disparity between two philosophies of government and leadership that I have seen in my lifetime. President Biden once again rejected the opportunity to unify the nation choosing instead to regurgitate his socialist agenda of government overreach, unrestricted spending, false claims, blame-casting, and cultural depravity. Governor Sanders’ rebuttal, on the other hand, countered with a positive appeal for individual freedom, compassionate leadership, priority on families, government restraint, and traditional values. Let’s look further into this stark contrast.

Biden packed a lot into the brutal 73-minute speech, but integrity was hard to find. The media are conflicted on how many lies were told, but there was an abundance of whoppers. The audience erupted in combined laughter and boos when he accused Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare. Then there was the prognosis that we may need fossil fuels “for at least another decade” (more laughter). Eyes rolled when he repeated the falsehood that he inherited a bad economy and led a remarkable economic recovery. He continued his insistence that he reduced the budget deficit by $1.4 trillion. But he failed to mention that he had at the same time increased the national debt by $4.2 trillion–more than in any other two-year period in the nation’s history. Oh, and he blamed Congress for the border crisis. These are just a small sampling of the litany of fabrications he continues to foist on Americans. All this was frequently interspersed with his yelling, finger-pointing, arm-waving, slurred speech, and wrong word choices.

Regardless of party affiliation, most Americans are disappointed, disgruntled, and dejected by the actual state of our union as indicated by recent polls. Biden’s speech did much to worsen that condition. It was deceptive, divisive, and disheartening. America was looking for a reason for hope. They got a reason for hopelessness.

Enter, the refreshing, upbeat, and youthful counterpoint by Governor Sanders. She contrasted the mindset of typical Americans with that of the Administration and likened it to the difference in “normal and crazy.” She called for the return of traditional family values, less government intervention, sensible spending, and a more secure society, especially for our children. Sanders decried the liberal woke faction as being far outside of mainstream America and needing to be stopped. She touted moving toward younger leadership with fresh ideas for advancing our nation. I heard one pundit comparing the two speakers say, “She is half his age and twice as smart.”

I am pumped about Arkansas’ new governor. She is going to be an icon for conservatism. She may be America’s Esther “for such a time as this.” I hope she stays with the Natural State for the two-term, eight-year limit, then runs for president. That would mean her announcing her candidacy in 2032 at the relatively young age of 49. Let’s pray for Biden relief in 2024 with a strong two-term Republican followed by a two-term Republican woman in the White House.

House Bill Would Eliminate IRS

A popular game nowadays is “Would You Rather.” The Republican majority House has just surfaced a bill that could pose the question to all Americans: Would you rather pay income tax as usual or pay a 30% federal sales tax? The concept of a federal sales tax has been debated for years, but it may now be closer to reality than ever before. Let’s look at the odds of this “Fair Tax” becoming law and what it would do.

Even with just a 10-seat House majority advantage, Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Republican from Georgia, has filed a Bill, H.R. 25 with 23 co-sponsors, to replace income tax with a federal sales tax. This would eliminate the IRS and the whole tax service industry. Although the bill faces a hurricane-level headwind of opposition, it brings the issue to legitimate debate and analysis like never before. Almost all Democrats will fight it, and even Speaker Kevin McCarthy would be reluctant to bring it to the floor for vote assuming it would make it out of committee. President Biden is already trashing it and has promised to veto it if it would happen to get to his desk. The concept is certainly controversial, and it would revolutionize how America funds the government. It has caused a lot of fear-mongering, but it could be a tremendous boon to our economy and lifestyle.

The bill would eliminate all income taxes–personal, payroll, and corporate–and do away with the IRS. The government revenue would be replaced by a significant federal sales tax on all goods and services purchased. The Fair Tax assumes a 30% federal sales tax that would replace the loss of income tax. You will see the tax rate proposed as 23%, but that is, as George H. W. Bush called it, “fuzzy math.” The fact is, it’s really a 30% tax. For every $100 you spent, you would pay an extra $30 federal tax in addition to your current state and local taxes. This huge increase in the price of everything seems rather draconian at first blush, and the Democrats are already decrying the Republicans for even thinking about “punishing” consumers with such a financial burden. Of course they will never mention the ultimate added savings for the average American compared to what they would pay in income taxes.

Another hurdle for the bill is the endless accusation by the Democrats that Republicans favor advantages for the rich and burdens on the poor. Granted, the Fair Tax would result in financial gain for the upper class. Those whose income usually exceeds expenditures would pay less tax on less money. Although that is simply free-trade capitalism, it could be subject to amended tax law if too much wealth for some were an overwhelming concern. No doubt the poor, who pay little or no income tax, would be hurt economically by the increased consumer tax unless the bill protected against that inequity. It does, but that protection is a somewhat complicated process. Under Carter’s plan, all taxpayers would receive a monthly sales tax rebate called a “Family Consumption Allowance” based on family size. This rebate would offset the federal sales tax on all purchases up to the federal poverty line (currently $30,000 for a family of four). For example, every family of four would receive a monthly government rebate of $750 ($30,000/12 months = $2,500 per month x 30% tax = $750). A family in the poverty level economically would essentially be reimbursed for all federal sales taxes that might be paid up to $750. Families consuming above the poverty level would only pay unreimbursed sales taxes for spending above that level.

Another big advantage of the Fair Tax is that it eliminates the substantial and unlawful withholding of federal income taxes by earners in the underground economy. That involves cash earned by those who do not report it to the IRS for tax purposes. This includes, for instance, income sources from illicit drug sales, money laundering, and offshore banking schemes as well as individual landscaping, restaurant server tips, and house cleaning. Such illegal, off-the-books activity makes up a huge sector of the U.S. economy. The government estimates the loss of tax revenue from this activity to be 11% of Gross National Product (GNP), or currently $2.8 trillion. That is close to half of the U.S. federal budget! Those who have been evading these income taxes would suddenly be paying them with every purchase along with the rest of us if the Fair Tax Act were in effect.

In my opinion, the advantages of the Fair Tax far outweigh those of the traditional income tax. Why should Americans thriving in a capitalist society that should award productivity have much of their earnings confiscated by the government? Doesn’t it make sense to fund the government at the sales checkout rather than from payroll withholding. Despite the patently obvious argument for the Fair Tax, its likelihood of becoming the law of the land anytime soon is slim. The Democrats vehemently oppose it, because it would relinquish much of the government bureaucratic control of the citizens. They will make higher prices a one-note tune. Many Republicans will not want to support the bill fearing the political hay the Democrats would make of it. Unfortunately, one of the best congressional bills to surface in a long time will probably never see the light of day, squashed by politics. Nevertheless, I will urge my congressman to support the bill and perhaps co-sponsor it. I recommend you do the same. I just hope the attention the proposal is getting, pro and con, will keep the conversation alive and the citizens curious.

Celebrity Deaths and Life-essential Questions

People Magazine reported this week that 14 prominent American celebrities had departed this life so far in January. Those didn’t include David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, and Nash and Gina Lollobrigida of classic movie fame, both of whom died after that issue’s publication. The remains of all these celebrity bodies are still with us. But they themselves are somewhere else…still aware, still active, forever! That raises lots of life-essential questions. Find the answers at

Prospects for Arkansas Under Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Although Arkansas has advanced in many areas under eight years of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s conservative leadership, I believe we have just launched a period of positive transformation like none before. This week’s inauguration of Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders promises to be a threshold of bold new ideas and initiatives that will showcase our state as the bellwether of conservative culture. Here’s why.

Governor Sanders began her career in politics in 2002 at the age of 20 when she worked in her father’s gubernatorial campaign. After graduating from Ouachita Baptist University, she served on President Bush’s presidential campaign, then again worked for her father in his 2008 bid for President. Since her appointment as President Trump’s press secretary six years ago, I have been intrigued by her wisdom, character, and leadership qualities. My wife, Linda, and I attended her swearing in and inaugural address on January 10. Her inspiring speech laid out her priorities and challenges for Arkansans.

The next day, after some immediate executive orders to eradicate the most inane woke atrocities that have been foisted on the state, Sanders acted on her first priority of education reform. She nominated Jacob Oliva, a top executive in the Florida Department of Education, as Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Education. His first priority is to overhaul the state’s education system from kindergarten to the universities. Much of this will be in line with that of Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis’s education advancements. Governor Sanders plans to “expand access to quality education for every kid, empower parents, and prepare students for the workforce.” She is going to foster legislation that would expand school choice and provide further student access to private and charter schools as well as home schooling. Arkansas currently ranks 47th in overall education. Great strides in our schools would positively affect about every aspect of Arkansans’ quality of life.

She promises to make public safety one of her highest priorities and to ensure our law enforcement officers will have the respect, the resources, and the authority they need to reduce crime substantially. Criminals arrested will not be released prematurely, and a new prison will be built on her watch. Sanders vows to protect our citizens by being tough on crime as a top priority. Arkansas is fourth in the country for violent crime incidents. Sanders is committed to greatly improve that abysmal status.

Throwing another gauntlet down on her inaugural day, she was adamant about phasing out the state income tax. She believes this would bolster the economy with new industry and lower inflation. Eight states presently have no personal income tax including Texas and Tennessee, and they are all thriving economically. Arkansas’ economy is ranked number 41 in the nation. Sanders is Lasor-focused on Arkansas’ economic growth.

The 47th governor of Arkansas acknowledged her “firsts” as: first woman governor of Arkansas, youngest current governor in America, and the nation’s first ever female governor child of a former governor. However, she declared, “I’m not interested in being first in anything; I’m interested in leading Arkansas to be first in everything.” That’s a powerful soundbite, but I sense such a determined attitude will bode well for our state. It’s probably time to entrust our future highest office governance to a millennial with strong conservative values, fresh ideas, and abundant drive. I love the natural beauty of Arkansas and its wonderful people. But, quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of being among the bottom ten states for almost everything that counts. So, Madam Governor, lead on!

The Southwest Airlines Debacle: What Happened?

Stranded Travelers with Southwest Airlines

The Southwest Airlines system meltdown over the Christmas holidays was perhaps the worst debacle ever in the air travel industry. The weather was a factor, but other airlines were only minimally impacted. The Southwest catastrophe that resulted in over 90 percent of its flights being canceled and tens of thousands of passengers stranded was caused essentially by poor leadership at the corporate level. This epic failure provides a classic case study of leadership.

In 1971, brilliant entrepreneur and Southwest Airlines founder, Herb Kelleher, began a small Texas airline serving Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio with three Boeing 737 aircraft. With a few investors and an austere budget, Kelleher undercut fares of all other airlines operating those routes. His business model was no-frills flying, cheap tickets, streamline operations, along with fun and laughter among the crews and passengers. He spent lots of time in the trenches mixing with the employees and listening to the passengers. His style was emulated throughout the workforce from pilots to baggage handlers. Kelleher’s people-first leadership grew the corporation to capture a nation-wide market with economical, reliable, and enjoyable flight experiences. Southwest had a phenomenal reputation, loyal customers, and exceptional employee buy-in when he retired in 2004.

Gary Kelly replaced Kelleher as CEO. Kelly’s background was in accounting having been Southwest’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He chose another accountant as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Neither had any appreciable operations experience. Their focus was on capitalizing on the success and popularity of Southwest by retaining more of the profits for stockholders and external investments while cutting the operating budget. Stock prices began to soar under Kelly’s leadership, but necessities like maintenance, technology, capital improvements, and employee benefits tended to suffer. This priority of financial growth at the expense of internal investment filtered down through the lower management levels. For two decades, Southwest lagged behind other major airlines in upgrades to automation of crew scheduling as well as passenger and baggage handling. Terminal equipment and processes were not sufficiently modernized. Operational effectiveness and efficiency had taken a back seat to financial goals. The airline labor union repeatedly raised warnings of the airline being on a trajectory of failure and in dire need of capital infusion. But the warnings fell on deaf ears at corporate headquarters.

When Kelly retired in early 2022, his successor, Bob Jordan, inherited a mammoth enterprise that was operationally handicapped from years of negligent leadership. Southwest exhibited a healthy composition on the outside but was grievously wounded on the inside. Although it had the management processes and infrastructure to conduct normal operations, it only took a brutal winter snow event to inflict almost total paralysis. The corporation’s insufficient infrastructure and outdated technology rendered it far inferior to its competitors in keeping planes moving. Jordan had begun some restorative initiatives, but they were still being developed when the Christmas crisis hit. He appears to be from the same mold as the founder, Kelleher. He is operations and people oriented. But it will take a few years to correct the course of this iconic corporation. A lot of that course correction will be the culling of ensconced middle managers from earlier years who have made a career of misplaced priorities.

All leaders, from those of small organizations to major corporations, can learn a lot from the saga of Southwest Airlines. Finances are important and must be attended to. But, put your employees and your customers first, and the finances will usually fall in line. Those principles were hammered into me in both undergraduate and graduate management courses. Yet, too many seem to give them a nod in school but forget them in the workplace.

What You Should Know About the Salvation Army

My wife and I have been plucking cards from Salvation Army Angel trees around Christmas time for several years. We have enjoyed shopping for the needs and wishes of disadvantaged children in our community. This year, for the first time, I also volunteered, along with my fellow church elders, to help distribute the hundreds of donated Angel Tree gifts to the families of these children. In doing so, I got a whole new perspective of the Salvation Army. Here’s what I learned.

Frustrated that his church in England wasn’t sharing the gospel with most of those who needed it in 1852, minister William Booth abandoned the pulpit to preach to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute on the streets of London. Within a few years, hundreds from all over England including many converts joined his street evangelism ministry which he referred to in 1878 as the Salvation Army. As they became more structured and organized, this Army identified its management hierarchy with military officer ranks and began wearing uniforms. The top leaders were generals with a subordinate cascade of colonels to lieutenants depending on levels of responsibility and experience. In 1881, Booth’s organization launched an offensive throughout the British Isles that converted over 250,000 to Christianity. The movement spread rapidly gaining a foothold in America and several other countries.

In 1879, Eliza Shirley at age 17 pioneered the Salvation Army of the United States after serving with Booth in England. Joining her parents who had recently immigrated to Philadelphia, she began a mission which grew into peace and hope for the needy of the nation.

Today, the Salvation Army is active in almost every country in the world. It has one of the lowest administrative cost percentages of all charities at just 18 percent. All donations designated for a particular disaster relief effort go directly to that effort without any of it being used for administrative expenses.

My experience this Christmas with the annual Angel Tree project supported the Hot Springs, Arkansas, mission in distributing toys and clothing to the families of almost 500 needy children. Parents were scheduled to come by the warehouse at specific times. They would first attend a brief gospel message by a local pastor, then line up to receive their children’s gifts. My fellow church elders and I, along with several other volunteers, loaded shopping carts with bags of gifts for the specific kids as listed on the Angel Tree cards and purchased by generous donors. We were introduced to each parent or parents receiving the gifts and walked with them to their vehicles as we conversed with them. After loading their vehicles, we prayed with them and wished them a blessed and merry Christmas then started the process over again. The event was very well organized. Almost 200 families heard the gospel and received the gifts in less than four hours.

Of course, the Angel Tree project is just one of many, many projects and ministries carried out continuously throughout the year by the Salvation Army. They feed the poor and homeless. They provide shelter during the coldest days of winter and hottest days of summer for those in need of basic comforts. They are quickly on scene to help with all kinds of disasters. Their thrift stores not only supplement their revenue needs but also provide low-cost clothing and household goods for those struggling economically. They have a women’s ministry that focuses on women’s health and special needs. They maintain connection with local hospitals, nursing homes, retirement centers, and rehabilitation facilities. In all these ministries, they keep their top priority as it has been from the 19th century: evangelism.

So, when I see the folks standing next to those red kettles ringing bells during the holidays, I’m now giving them more than a smile and a nod. And let’s remember that this Army’s need for resources are year-round, not just when the kettles come out. Donate regularly including clothing and household goods for their thrift stores.

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