Salvation Army Lts. Sarah and Kyle Madison arrived in Pine Bluff a week ago ready to serve residents of the city.
The wife and husband team got married on June 8 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where they were serving with the Salvation Army. Less than three months later, they were informed about their new assignment in Pine Bluff and given one month to pack their belongings. They replaced Lts. Stephanie and Bradley Hargis who were re-assigned to Hot Springs in September.
“To say we were shocked to come here was an understatement but we are actually very excited to be here and to serve,” Sarah, 28, said. “[We will] see what is needed in Pine Bluff and what we can do to help it grow and help the community in general.”
A native of Yarmouth, Maine, Sarah Madison relishes being able to serve in Pine Bluff. She and Kyle are both Christian pastors in the Salvation Army and will assess the needs of Pine Bluff residents.
They found Oklahoma City has a large homeless community.
“We tried to do our best with the social services, getting them back on their feet and feeding them,” Sarah said. “We had a large feeding program and an actual shelter that housed them for up to 60 days while trying to get everyone back on their feet. We would go out into the community during the evenings, bringing them meals and the Word of God.”
Sarah started as a bell ringer with the Salvation Army in her home state of Maine. She has also served in the food pantry and in the thrift stores.
“We are here to serve you,” Sarah said. “We are here because the Lord called us to be here for a particular reason even if we don’t know what it is yet. We are excited to go out in the community and meet everyone here. We want to be able to help you while bringing the word of Christ.”
Kyle and Sarah are becoming settled in their new community. They will introduce themselves to Pine Bluff residents and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“One of the biggest goals of the Salvation Army is to serve those most in need without discrimination,” Kyle, 34, said. “The best thing is to ask ‘how can we serve you?’ rather than look and assume.”
A native of Villa Park, Illinois, Kyle has served with the Salvation Army in Nigeria, Bolivia, the Bahamas, Mexico, many communities in the American Midwest, and Greenville, South Carolina.
Salvation Army officers move regularly with their jobs so they become acclimated to a new community. They are used to moving without advanced notice.
“You get up and go and allow God to lead you,” Kyle said. “The Lord calls us to places at certain times for certain reasons. We don’t ever really know why exactly. We go and we serve. … We are excited to serve the Lord and the community of Pine Bluff.”
The Salvation Army will look for volunteers to ring bells closer to Christmas as part of its Red Kettle Campaign. Kyle will head this program, while Sarah will head the Angel Tree program.
The Angel Tree program helps senior citizens and families who cannot afford to provide presents for their children. The Salvation Army finds donors to provide gifts for children in families who meet the guidelines of the program.
For more information about the programs and services available at The Salvation Army, please call 870-534-0504 or visit the website at www.salvationarmyaok.org.