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Where are you likely to find the most vigorous, passionate, and buoyant individuals? A graduation ceremony? Perhaps an assembly of the world’s leading researchers from across the globe?
I found two of the most wonderful people that I know—a couple who emanate an essence of what it means to live for something—in a nursing and rehabilitation center, of all places. Gertrude Moore, along with her husband, Daniel Moore, reside at Meridian Nursing and Rehab at Manor by the Sea, where they recently celebrated their 63rd anniversary on June 17th, 2017.
These two lovebirds wear near-constant smiles, just as bright as they were on their wedding day, but there’s more to this classic love story.
Something that goes far beyond simple worldly attraction. In fact, neither of them can be considered anything close to an ordinary couple, for they are two radiant souls forged through a lifetime of love, service, and undying devotion to a cause far greater than themselves.
If you were to take a look at their wedding photos, you’d notice that they’re not donning typical wedding attire; instead, they’re both wearing uniforms. These uniforms, issued by the Salvation Army, speak not only to the couple’s undying commitment to each other, but also to the eternal pledge that has changed so many lives across the world.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when people think about the Salvation Army? Maybe the ringing of bells outside of the grocery store come Christmas time. Perhaps the mind jumps right to that old bundle of clothes that you’ve been meaning to donate for ages now, or that spare can of beans that would better suit the food drive?
Don’t get me wrong, these various means of collecting for charity are an essential part of the Salvation Army’s mission: to provide salvation to people across the world. But salvation extends far beyond such simple, well-recognized services, it also encompasses the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of a human being. True salvation, the kind of salvation that is achieved through the glory of God, service to others, and an open heart, is an integral part of the Salvation Army.
That is what the Salvation Army delivers unto the people.
Founded in 1865, in London England, the Salvation Army was created by the passion of William Booth, a devout minister who wanted to directly help the poor and disenfranchised. Booth was a man who, like everyone around him, witnessed the pain and despair of those less fortunate than himself living in London, but unlike most others, Booth felt compelled to act upon it, and propel an organization that has changed the lives of countless individuals across the globe.
But what is it that could drive a man so far, to inspire him to devote his life to serving those other than himself?
Simply put, it is the call of the Lord, and accordingly, the call to make a real difference in this world. It is this same call to arms that drives the beating hearts of every member of the Salvation Army.
Daniel Moore is one of many success stories stemming from his service to the Salvation Army, but the passion exuding from his every breath speaks to that everlasting commitment. Dan first heard the Lord’s call at the young age of fourteen while attending the Salvation Army’s Sunday services. With “the love of God in his heart,” he made the choice to serve others through the Salvation Army.
This choice was a blessing for him that delivered more than Mr. Moore could have ever possibly hoped for. And it eventually led him to the love of his life, along with three sons, all of whom have not only followed in their parents’ footsteps by pledging their service to the Salvation Army, but have also discovered the same joy in finding families of their own. His three children have all married while donning the same uniforms, making the same commitment to the Lord and the people around the globe that their parents made.
People often discount the significance of what it truly means to live life with a purpose, but to those who lack it, the effects are devastating. After all, our time on this earth is as precious as it is limited, and as such, having the kind of driving force that Dan, and many like him, has acquired through the Salvation Army can indeed mean the difference between a life on the streets just scraping by, and a life spent doing what one truly loves.
Ever since the pivotal initiation in his youth, taking him from the streets and into the loving arms of those who live to serve, Dan has dedicated himself to the cause. Doing everything that he could to prepare himself spiritually, academically, and physically for that fateful day, marking his initiation into the Salvation Army at the age of nineteen.
The Salvation Army, more than anything else, gave him a purpose, a mission to “…help people in need. Whether it be alcoholics who want to change their lives, or just young people in need of clothing, whatever it might be.”
Indeed, while the latter may seem trivial to some when compared to the former, the impact that a simple pair of clean clothes can make to someone struggling just to feed themselves every day can make a world of difference.
Dan recalls a story about a young girl in need of clothing that came to him early on in his career, marking that simple chance encounter as one of the many life-changing moments he has experienced throughout his time in the Salvation Army. As it turns out, that girl wasn’t attending school at the time. Why? Well, simply put, she didn’t have anything to wear. Dan was able to provide her with the clothes she needed and was there to help her get back on her feet.
Years later, he received a handwritten note from her. That letter spoke to something far greater than a simple exchange of material items. The girl spilled her heart onto the pages of that note, saying that she wouldn’t have graduated, that she would not be the person that she grew up to be, if it weren’t for him being there. If it weren’t for his kindness and support in her time of need, that woman would have missed out on so many opportunities in life.
This is where it became apparent to me how a man can remain so vibrant, so motivated after all these years. It is then that I began to see the true beauty of what he meant by having the love of the Lord in his heart, seeing the beauty of his majesty reflected through the hearts of others like an ethereal prism.
And it is through Dan’s caring family that he not only finds his strength and love, but also the culmination of his heart’s desire. Dan and Gertrude both grew up attending the Salvation Army, and were both ordained as Lieutenants in 1954. This was not something that was ever forced on them, and it is not something that they have ever forced upon any of their children; rather, it was a voluntary process induced by the passion they witnessed in those surrounding them, dedicating their lives to the service of others. Above all else, they felt the joy that was so clearly emanating from these people’s hearts and souls.
This road of service, this story of a blossoming love between two Lieutenants, was not without its obstacles, as Dan and Gertrude were given their first assignments in separate states; however, the strength of their love prevailed above all else, and as a result, Dan and Gertrude were finally married after three long years in 1954.
Such a beautiful story of love could not have been possible were it not for the blessing of fate given by the Lord, and the support provided by his most devout of followers, the Salvation Army.
Teaching children to play music, providing safe places to learn and reside, helping to rebuild in the wake of international crises, providing basic necessities for survival, such as food and clothing, and even ministering marriages for any and all members who might otherwise not be able to afford it, are just a fraction of what the Salvation Army offers to the people.
Or, rather, everything that true salvation entails.
So, next time you pass by those ringing bells come Christmas Eve at the local supermarket, I implore you to take a closer look into the glistening eyes of those who serve, to look deeper, and to realize the beauty of what it means to possess a heart filled with such glorious love. Even if you aren’t religious, the beautiful nature of this shared vow to make this world a better place can lead to extraordinary things. Perhaps it will even change your views, and you will make the same discovery that I have, letting their love for their fellow human beings be reflected in your hearts as well.
Who knows, maybe you can make a real difference in this world, just as the Salvation Army does every single day.
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