Saved to Save


Saved to Save is one our many battle cry’s in The Salvation Army. Recently, produced a video about Ryan Lehman and his journey from addiction and depression to recovery and transformation through the Anaheim Adult Rehabilitation Center. Ryan is now the Recovery Ministry Director at The Salvation Army Anaheim Corps. One of his many responsibilities is leading Celebrate Recovery meetings. Ryan has been showing stories of recovery from and encouraging the group to share the stories of love and hope of Jesus Christ with their friends who may be struggling.

Click the link below to see Ryan’s Story 

This morning I had the privilege of speaking with Ryan and he shared this amazing story with me.

“Last night a man came to me with a piece of paper in his hand that said ask Pastor to lead you in the Sinners prayer. He had explained that his alcoholics anonymous sponsor, who was a believer in Christ, had instructed him to make amends with God as part of his ninth step of the 12 steps of recovery. He did not know the Lord and he never really read the Bible and I could tell he was feeling discouraged. We sat down in the chapel and spoke about the Old Testament spoke about Genesis and Noah and Moses and the 10 commandments we then spoke about the New Testament and what Jesus Christ has done for us and that he had died on the cross was risen from the dead and later commanded us to go and make disciples of the nations before ascended promising to send us the Holy Spirit. I then prayed for him and asked him to follow along in prayer with me. It was then that he excepted Jesus Christ into his heart and ask the Holy Spirit to guide his life to turn his will over to God. Then spoke about what comes next and he said that he did feel the Holy Spirit, he said he felt like he was being electrocuted and I assured him that it is the confirmation that the Spirit has entered our lives and is moving in us. He agreed to meet with me again and I’m looking forward to see the transformation in his life.” – Ryan Lehmen – Recovery Ministry Director, Anaheim Red Shield Center

Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Got Questions? New Video Group Chat Bible Study


Captain Stephanie Bridgeo hosted a new video chat Bible Study last Thursday called, “Got Questions”. This is group is designed for people to ask questions of a pastor in a safe and loving environment.  We caught up with Captain Stephanie to find out how her first meeting went. She shared, “We had a great first week of our video chat study on Thursday night at We talked about forgiveness. What it is and of course what it isn’t. We found new ways to learn how to give it and how to receive it. Some walked away from our chat recognizing that it’s always been harder to forgive ourselves than others. What a great way to start!”

Does that sound like you? Disappointed because you missed our lesson? Come join us this Thursday May 1, 2014 @ 7pm PDT as we discuss Freedom. Freedom from financial worry, emotional stress and all of the curveballs life has been throwing at you lately.

Click the link below to join us Thursday, May 1st at 7pm (PDT)

Day 17 – Extreme Poverty of Alexandra


On this final day in South Africa, I had the opportunity to share in the World Wide Prayer Meeting at THQ in Johannesburg and our team led THQ family prayers. Guy introduced the crew and shared about the ministry of SAVN.TV. Alex gave his personal testimony which was thoughtful and reflective. The exposure to Africa has caused Alex to consider scripture differently – clearly it’s been an impactful and stretching experience.


I shared a devotional based on Psalm 100 and we collectively prayed for the Army’s work across the territory. It was a wonderful way to formally conclude our final day together in Africa.

photo 3

I believe this journey has caused the guys to reflect and give thanks for the blessings that we all enjoy but sometimes simply take for granted. There is no question that we are blessed beyond measure. We were once again reminded of this when we visited the community of Alexandra today, just hours prior to our departure.


Alexandra is a very poor community. The area is littered with garbage and goats just roam around. The small brick houses butt up against each other. The narrow roadway which snakes through the area is a tight squeeze for our van. As we negotiate the tight turns we stop and ask for directions as there is an even more desperate part to the district we understand.


We stopped to shoot some video and photos. We felt awkward about filming the abject poverty but believed it was important to tell the story. A few minutes later, we drove deeper into the community and eventually came across a shantytown consisting of hundreds of ramshackle houses built on a hillside along a very polluted river. The area is called – District 9.


The sight instantly transported me back to my first year of university and an urban geography course that I took. The aged professor had travelled the world and illustrated his lectures with pictures of good and bad urban planning. He showed various cities around the world with shantytowns. Those pictures were shocking to a young university student and the impact of seeing my first shantytown in real life, almost 30 years later, was no less shocking.

It was raw and real. The juxtaposition of a large cemetery over looking the shantytown was haunting. We felt sad and helpless for the people who lived in these squalid conditions. Not surprising, we learned from our guide, Major Carin Holmes, that The Army has an outpost in Alexandra. Amazing. The Founder would be proud!


The reality of poverty and need is all around us. It doesn’t matter where we live. There are communities and people in need. Our journey in Africa has been significant in many ways and the team is returning home richer for the experience and sensitive to the reality of what ministry means in different countries, cultures, and communities. The learning and reflection has been important and the memories of our time together will last forever.

This blog concludes my daily postings and I thank you for reading and sharing in our journey. Thanks also for your emails and notes of encouragement along the way. I look forward to continuing the work with SAVN.TV as we consider the ‘next steps’ in the documentary process. I have also committed to writing articles for The Officer magazine and All the World and will produce a photo essay as well. So keep an eye out for these publications in the weeks ahead.

In closing, we return home with ‘hearts full of thanksgiving and praise’ for all that we have seen and heard.

Thanks again for reading.

God bless.

Major John Murray, Communications and Literary Secretary

John Murry

Day 16 – South African Streets Full of History


The SAVN.TV crew have been an amazing group to travel with. We’ve met some incredible people, shot a lot of amazing stories and have enjoyed some great laughs and inspiring moments along the way. We’ve been blessed with safe travel and memorable experiences for which we are grateful. But as a side note, Guy and Jeff have been battling strep throat for the better part of the week and Guy even managed to spend the morning hooked up to a penicillin drip in a private hospital. He emerged with a brown bag full of antibiotics and a jump in his step that was missing for a couple of days. Thankfully, Jeff is feeling much better now also. Oh the joy’s of international travel. Today, we shot a lot of B-roll and also interviewed Margaret Southall. Margaret is 90 years old, lives in her own home and is a 4th generation Salvationist. What a personality and wit!


Margaret immigrated to South Africa in 1946 and lived in Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe for more than 50 years with her husband and children. Her Officer parents served in Africa and her grandparents attended The Founder’s funeral in 1912.  Margaret is a long-time personal friend of The General’s family thus our reason for interviewing her. It was a delightful time and we concluded our morning in prayer. Margaret was a great interview! A trip to South Africa would not be complete without a visit to Soweto and Vilakazi Street. It was once home to Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Both men won the Nobel Peace Prize. We saw Mandela’s home. He lived there from 1946 and returned there upon his release from prison in 1990. For a few minutes we walked the streets where the former South Africa president and anti-apartheid victor lived. For a history guy, this was very exciting.


Tomorrow is our last day in Africa. I’ll share one more blog – #17 – and then I will turn it back over to SAVN.TV.

Thanks for reading.


Major John Murray, Communications and Literary Secretary

John Murry

Day 15 – Salvation Army Children’s Homes in South Africa


Johannesburg is a large urban metropolis not unlike many large North America cities. There is traffic congestion with lots of buses and taxis fighting for space on the roadways and pedestrians who bob and weave their way across busy city streets. According to statistics, the metropolitan population is greater than seven million.

Founded roughly 120 years ago by an Australian gold prospector and today it is the financial and cultural center of the country. However, with big diverse cities, come big diverse problems, and that’s where the Salvation Army does its best work.

The Ethembeni Children’s Home, is located in a high crime area of Johannesburg, just east of the downtown core. Established in 1993 in response to the baby HIV/AIDS crisis, today the home handles mostly abandoned babies. The ministry is immediately impactful and it tugs at my heart strings as we tour the home.

Aids home

The babies are brilliantly cared for and loved. Most are adopted by age three to international adoptive parents. Only two babies out of 61 currently in residence are HIV positive however the sad reality is that many mother’s continue to abandon their babies for a myriad of reasons.

We continue on our journey visiting two other children’s homes; The Salvation Army Carl Sithole Children’s Center, a facility that cares for 90 abused and or abandoned children ages 2-19 as well as the TSA Strathyre’s Girl’s Home, a residence that provides care for 60 girls between the ages of 3-18 in the suburb of Kensington.

SAVN Kitchen

Meeting the children and listening to their stories is heartbreaking. I’m hopeful that by SAVN.TV highlighting these ministries, TSA will be able to help even more kids escape the grim reality of abuse, neglect, poverty and life on the streets.

The Officers and staff of all the homes we visited today have difficult but important jobs. They all have one significant characteristic in common, and that is, they all have hearts of compassion.


Nelson Mandela once said, ‘there can be no keener revelation of a nation’s soul, than the way in which it treats its children.’ Interesting words to think about at the end of a very powerful day.

Major John Murray, Communications and Literary Secretary

John Murry

Day 14 – An African Safari before capturing the TSA in South Africa


As I write this update, we’re screaming across the clear blue South African sky at 35,000 feet en route to Johannesburg. We’re looking forward to South Africa, however I’m still reflecting on the past two weeks and all that we accomplished and witnessed.

In my opening post I wrote about the great Africa plains where animals roam, so I thought it would be appropriate to come full circle with this last blog post from Zimbabwe and share something of the amazing experience the team had when we visited a place called Antelope Park.

Antelope Park is located 21 kms west of Gweru, just off the main road to Bulawayo. Driving west and at the appointed sign, we turned right and drove for 6 kms down a dusty, bumpy, and pot-holed road. Like a mirage in the middle of the desert, we came upon Antelope park, home to myriad African animals but best known for its international ‘Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program.’

It was an oasis. We exited our vehicle only to see a crowd looking towards the waters edge. There, to our amazement, were four gigantic elephants, quietly eating and drinking as a couple dozen tourists looked on. That was the start of our few hours at Antelope Park.

Following a delightful lunch and the best Americano coffee I’ve had since leaving London, we climbed aboard our land rover, just like in the movies, and set out on our African safari adventure.

Our guide, Carlos was excellent. He was knowledgeable and engaging and certainly knew where to look for the animals, no small feat in ‘3000 acres of open savannah grassland.’ We crashed and banged our way along the rough dirt pathways and even ventured into the tall grass on several occasions looking for animals. We were successful!

We saw a giraffe gently grazing on tree leaves several meters above the ground. The young male giraffe was happy to stand and pose for photos.


A few minutes later, we came along a herd of wildebeest and according to our guide they are the ‘dumbest creature’ in the African animal kingdom.


We also saw lions, zebra, antelope and scores of vultures. It was an afternoon we will never forget. The team was thankful for a few hours of relaxation and for the majestic experience that was ours.

Now, back to the flight.  We’re excited about the next few days of filming in South Africa. A quick glance out my window and I see that the topography is very different in South Africa to that of Zimbabwe; similarly, our experiences in Johannesburg with be unique and special.   I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks again for reading.


Major John Murray, Communications and Literary Secretary

John Murry

Day 13 – Congress Easter Sunday with The General


It was a glorious Easter morning here in Gweru with people greeting each other with ‘hallelujah, He is alive’ – while others walked to church dressed in their Easter finery. There was a sense of joy and excitement in the air.

The Easter Sunday service was full of praise and worship with uplifting band and songster selections, timbrel routines, lots of vibrant singing and testimonies.

(click link below to see the timbrels video)

Indeed, more than 20 soldiers lined up behind two microphones on the platform to share what God is doing in their lives. Some spoke, others sang and some even had everyone laughing, all in all, it was very moving.

Prayer Time

The band played a beautiful selection; in the middle of the piece the principal trombone stood and played a familiar melody and I immediately thought of my maternal grandfather, Brigadier John Zarfas, because I always remember him singing, ‘This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.’ He was a powerful speaker and Easter was his season too.

Easter Band

The Territorial Songsters, resplendent in their burgundy tunics sang ‘amen, amen, hallelujah’ as they made their way to the platform. From where I was seated, I could see the brigade walking up the stairs. However, when they were in place on the platform, they kept singing for a few minutes because they were waiting for a member of the brigade to take his place.

red coats

The gentleman in question appeared to have suffered a stroke and his mobility was limited, but a fellow songster helped him negotiate each stair, one-by-one, until he was on the platform and in his place, and once there, the brigade presented their selection. That was truly a compassionate, kind moment in a very full and exuberant Easter Sunday morning service.

The General spoke from the heart and he spoke powerfully. He reminded his listeners that ‘we are a resurrection people’ and that ‘there is power in the blood of Jesus.’ He also challenged his fellow Salvationists‘ to make a difference in this world through prayer and service.’


At his invitation, hundreds of people came forward. They knelt at the mercy seat, in the aisles, and on the platform – every empty space was taken up with people praying. Some stood to pray while others knelt, some remained seated. There was a low rumble of sound in the auditorium as people lifted up their praise and petitions to God on this Easter Sunday morning.


The congress was simply an unforgettable experience and there are many highlights. No doubt, I will think back to this Easter weekend in the year’s ahead and reflect on all that we witnessed. I believe we are richer for this experience and I am grateful for having had the opportunity.

Major John Murray, IHQ Communications and Literary Secretary,

John Murry

Day 12 – March Past and Tent City


Easter Saturday 2014 is now ‘in the books’ but it was a day to remember. The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun was strong which made for a picture perfect day.

overlow tents

To start, thousands of women packed the auditorium to share in worship and listen to the ministry of Commissioner Silvia Cox. It truly was a standing room only crowd.


Junior Soldiers sang and danced with joy and energy as they welcomed The General to their meeting.


The General’s personal interest in young people was evident and the kids responded with appreciation.

jr soldiers

Another walk through the TSA Tent City really made me count my blessings.

tent city

For many here, life is hard. It’s difficult, and living in a tent, with no electricity or running water and cooking over an open wood fire so you can attend congress is nothing short of inspiring.

cook out

An impressive sight was the afternoon March Past where the The General and Commissioner Silvia Cox saluted their Officers and Soldiers as they marched by in their formations.

in 3

An estimated 10,000 people participated in the march. It could be more, who knows? Regardless, Salvationists young and old marched representing their divisions or high school, or band or songster brigade. They marched past their International Leaders all the while proudly saluting. The onslaught of marchers was continuous for an hour or more. There appeared to be no end insight for the longest time.

Gen cres

The last official marchers to salute The General was the SAVN.TV crew which included me, then The General proceeded to the Tent City where he visited with campers and shared a few minutes with his fellow Salvationists in this unique setting. It was a special time.

helping hand

Today was interesting, exciting and inspiring. It was a privilege to share in the March Past and it was a great reminder of the heritage that we share as Salvationists. The campers in the Tent City have left an indelible impression on me, as their commitment and dedication is extraordinary.

Happy Easter.

Major John Murray, IHQ Communications and Literary Secretary

John Murry

Day 11 – African Spirit of the Congress


In the light of day, The Salvation Army tent city at the congress venue is an impressive sight. There are large party tents, green canvas military tents and circus style tents that dot the campus. There are several small tents that sleep 2-6 people and they represent a rainbow of color. While the tents vary in size and color, they signify comfort and community.


The tent city is well organised with vendors and small cafés lining the main pathway. However, as I circle the encampment I see that most groups have setup campfires on the outer perimeter, where several women cook over an open wood fire for the members of their corps. The cooks have an important and never-ending ministry this weekend!

Everywhere I walk I am greeted by fellow Salvationists dressed in their smart tan colored uniforms and crisp white shirts. Many of the women choose to wear colorful Salvation Army wraps representing various divisions across the Territory.


The Good Friday services have a wonderful sense of spirit and occasion. The people are engaged in worship before the opening song. The singing is full with rich, deep harmonies and one cannot resist but to sit and drink in the musical offerings of praise.


At times African dancing erupts. The drummers keep the beat and a Capella singing fills the hall, in comparison the noise from the beans in the ‘hoshos’ echo throughout the auditorium in rhythmic symmetry. (Click the link below to see dancing)

This morning General Andre Cox said, ‘I believe that God will bless us as we meet here. God is blessing us, and I am grateful for this unforgettable Good Friday experience.

Remember, ‘it’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.’

Major John Murray, IHQ Communications and Literary Secretary

John Murry


Day 10 – Off to the Congress in Gweru


Well, it was an interesting, but mixed up kind of day. A trip to Barclay’s bank, two stops at Territorial Headquarters and a quick run through one of the local Harare markets for trinkets, treasures and souvenirs and then we set out on our 270 km drive to Gweru.
We left Harare at 11:00 a.m. and arrived in Gweru at 4:30 p.m. passing many vehicles bound for the congress. Needless to say, it was a long, slow drive with several stops along the way but we made it.

great T

The congress facility is located about 7 kms outside of Gweru. The main building is huge with the capacity to seat thousands and that is a good thing as there are Salvationists, young and old, everywhere!

The adjacent property is a virtual Salvation Army tent city with corps from across Zimbabwe setting up campsites for the weekend. It’s about worship, fellowship and being together. The sense of community is clearly very strong in the African culture.

There is an air of excitement as people anxiously await the arrival of the International Leaders following a March of Witness and grand welcome by local government officials. The Easter Congress is upon us and people are ready and eager to worship.

Finally, as I write this blog tonight I appreciate the sense of family and community around me but I am also sensitive to the fact that this is the first Easter weekend in more than 20 years that I will not be with Brenda, Zack, Liam, Kieran and Nathan. It’s a bittersweet experience as we will celebrate Easter on three different continents. 

John's family

I’ll close for now. Good Friday awaits, but remember, ‘Sunday is coming.’

Happy Easter and thanks for reading.

Major John Murray, IHQ Communications and Literary Secretary

John Murry