Sarah and James Thompson at the Salvation Army�s KidsZone – a fun place for kids! Picture: PETER PICKERINGARARAT – Door knockers will be out in force this weekend collecting for the Salvation Army’s Red Shield appeal and its national programs, but at grass roots level, the Ararat Salvation Army Corps is hard at work in the Ararat region offering support to people in need.

Ararat Corps Officer Lieutenant James Thompson said it all starts at Sunday Meetings, where people can come along without much hope or feeling depressed but leave happy, saved and free and all this comes through knowing Jesus.

Lt Thompson said through the work of the church they have seen God heal people of diseases and injuries.

“Because God has made such an impact in our lives we want to share that with the world,” he said.

“Salvos are known for their practical work and this is what’s known as ‘Christianity with its sleeves rolled up’.”

Lt Thompson said Sunday meetings are vibrant and welcoming and people can come in and leave changed.

From there the Salvation Army’s work in Ararat moves to Life Groups, which are groups where people can make friends and share in Christian community.

Currently there are about 10 groups, with around 50 people involved and growing.

The Salvos’ kids’ program is also growing and proving popular.

The free after school kids club called Kidzone provides fun activities such as games, craft and some teaching.

Another group, Junior Soldiers, teaches kids to be good Christians and members of society, showing them the benefits of reaching out to help other people. This is also aimed at primary school children.

The youth program Fisheye, gives youth a place to share openly about their life, make new friends and learn about Jesus.

Many people in Ararat know the Salvos for their well stocked Thrift Shop.

The shop has about 20 enthusiastic volunteers and offers a community where people can be involved, accepted and find purpose in their life.

The Thrift Shop also assists with emergency relief, offering material aid in the form of furniture, clothing and other practical ‘bits and pieces’.

Emergency Relief is an important aspect of the Salvos work in Ararat, who work with other churches to provide assistance to those in need.

In addition the Salvos can offer food vouchers, petrol vouchers, food, clothes, furniture and prayer.

Also offering assistance to those in need is the Positive Lifestyle Program, a 12 week course that deals with issues like self esteem, stress, depression, goal setting and loneliness.

This year the Salvos have commenced working in the Willaura community, visiting Willaura Health Care and Parkland Hostel as well as forming a Life Group.

With an exciting future, more Life Groups are set to start.

“We will also be reintroducing visit to the pubs, where we will be able to meet people, offer any help, listen to them and offer prayer if needed,” Lt Thompson said.

“It’s about meeting them where they’re at.”

In the future a League of Mercy will also be formed.

“This is a group dedicated to reaching out to people in practical ways like home visits, bringing meals, helping out around the house, sharing in prayer, all in the love of Jesus,” Lt Thompson said.

The Ararat Salvation Army Corp has also introduced a prayer room, which will offer a quiet place for people to pray.

This weekend the Salvos will be knocking on doors to raise funds for the Red Shield Appeal and anyone who would like to assist as a volunteer should contact Lt Thompson on 5352 2720.

People are also more than welcome to come and volunteer their time to work at the Thrift Shop, or join in any of the groups and meetings.

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